The story of Grandmaster Yip Man's life according to his son's, Yip Chun's narration
Grandmaster Yip Man ordained all of his life to Wing Chun Kung Fu and he is the responsible for Wing Chun's nowadays popularity. Articles appear about his life worldwide.
His eldest son, Yip Chun, has published the chronicle of his father's life to the anniversary of Yip Man's hundredth birthday, which can you read below. The article deals with Yip Man and his influence on the style and because of this the Grandmaster's personal life and work is only shortly mentioned. The Wing Chun a is practised by thousands today, so the author apologises of those who he did not mention because of the lack of space. Yip Man was born on the 14th of October in 1893 under the Ching dynasty's reign (September 5th according to the Chinese calendar in Kang Shoui) in the town of Fatshan in the province of Kwantung which belonged to the Lam Hoi district at that time. This is why people frequently consider Lam Hoi in Kwantung as Yip Man's birthplace. Yip Man's father was called Yip Oi Dor, his mother's name was Ng Shui. He had three siblings: his elder brother Gai Gak (Grandmaster Yip Man was originally called Gei Man), and his sisters Wan Mei and Wan Hom.
1899 to 1905 (Ching Kwong Shui) when Grandmaster Yip Man was 6 to 12 years old, his family lived in Fatshan and he studied Wing Chun Kung Fu with Chan Wah Shun (Money Changer Wah). The location was in Fatshan town main street (Song Yun Dai Gai) in the Yip family hall. The garden is now owned by the government and the hall is no longer there. At the time studying together with Grandmaster Yip Man were Lui Yui Chai, Ng Chung Sao, Ng Siu Lo and others.
1905 (Ching Kwon Shui) Chan Wah Shun passed away in that year, but before he died he asked Ng Chung Sao to help Yip Man to complete the Wing Chun system. Chan Wah Shun's body was taken by his Kung Fu disciples to Chan village in Shun Dak, for burial.
1905 - 1907 (Ching Kwon Shui) Chan Wah Shun last words helped Grandmaster Yip Man to be accepted as Ng Chung Sao's student. Ng's school was on Sin Huen Gai Street. At this time Ng Yuen Kei Shan, Yiu Choi (Yiu Kei father) and others studied there.
1908 (Ching Kwon Shui) 15 year-old Grandmaster Yip Man secured a flat with his relative's, Leung Fut Ting help, on Kane Road, in Hong Kong, where he studied at St. Stephen College with a scholarship.
1909 - 1913 (Ching Shun Tong) through his schoolmates Yip Man came to know Leung Bike, who was the passed away Leung Jan's second son and who taught him for four years.
1914 - 1937 (Man Kwok year 3 to 26) in these twenty years Yip Man primarily work in the army and with the police. He married Cheung Wing Sing, whose family originated from one of the ministers of the Ching dynasty, Cheung Yum Hang. They had four children, his sons Yip Hok Chun (Yip Chun), Hok Ching (Yip Ching) and his daughters Ar Sum and Ar Wun. When he did not work he had pleasent meetings with other masters to learn and practice. The Yip Man name was famous in martial artist circles in South China. His garden gave home to lots of discussions about the Wing Chun style. At the time Yuen Gai San, Yiu Choi and Yip Chung, Lai Hip Chi, Tong Kai and many other people practised with him.
1937 (Man Kwok year 26) when Grandmaster Yip Man was 44 years old, living in Fatshan the Japanese invaded south China.
1937 to 1945 (Man Kwok year 26 to 34) from 44th to 52th years Grandmaster Yip Man's life, for 8 years Yip Man fought the Japanese but Fatshan was occupied and ruled by a puppet government. The Grandmaster swore not to be used by the puppet government so he became very poor and he often went hungry. Luckily his good friend, Chow Cheng Chung, gave him food from time to time. Grandmaster Yip Man wanted to repay his kindness and so accepted his son, Chow Kwang Yiu, as his student. From 1941 to 1943 he taught Wing Chun Kung Fu in the cotton mill at Wing On. At this time studying with Chow Kwong Yiu were Kwok Fu, Chan Chi Sun, Ng Ying, Lun Kai, Chow Sai and others. These were the first generation of students that Grandmaster Yip Man taught. Kwok Fu and Lun Kai are still alive and teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu in China today, in Kwong Chow, Fatshan.
1945 (Man Kwok year 34) The year Japan surrendered. Grandmaster Yip Man is 52 years old at that time.
1945 to 1949 (Man Kwok year 34 to 38) living in Kwong Chow and Fatshan, during this period of time, Grandmaster Yip Man was at his busiest at work, even though he loved Wing Chun Kung Fu he had to leave it for a time. Until, in 1948, through his very good friend Tong Kai, he was introduced to Pang Lam who begged Yip Man to teach him Wing Chun Kung Fu. Through this busy time, Yip Man coached Pang Lam on the form at the Fatshang Cheung Yee Athletic Association.
1949 (Man Kwok year 38) Grandmaster Yip Man went through Macao to Hong Kong but while in Macao he stayed for two weeks at Cho Doi Street with friends who owned a bird shop.
1950 to 1953 (Man Kwok year 39 to 42) in July 1950, through Lee Man's introduction, Grandmaster Yip Man started teaching in Dai Lam Street, Kowloon. The first Wing Chun Kung Fu class was for the Restaurant Workers Association. When he opened the class there were only 8 people including Leung Sheung and Lok Yiu. All these were restaurant workers, but later he was joined by Tsui Shan Tin, Yip Bo Ching, Chiu Wan, Lee Yan Wing, Law Peng, Man Siu Hung and others. This period of time was called the forefront of the Restaurant Workers Association. Grandmaster Yip Man also taught in the Restaurant Workers, Shang Wan branch, Union HQ in Hong Kong. Students included Lee Wing, Yue May Keng, Lee Leung Foon and others.
1953 to 1954 (Man Kwok year 42 to 43) when Leung Sheung was defeated in the union elections, Grandmaster Yip Man moved the school to Hoi Tan Street. Learning at that time were Wong Shun Leung, Wong Kiu, Wong Chaok, Ng Chan and others. Yip Man also taught private lessons at Three Prince Temple on Yue Chow Street. Students were Lee Hong and others.
1954 to 1955 (Man Kwok year 43 to 44) Leung Sheung was re-elected chairman of the Restaurant Workers union and so Grandmaster Yip Man moved back to the union HQ. This is called the later stage of the Restaurant Workers Association. At this time he was joined by Lee Kam Sing, Kan Wa Jeet (Victor Kan), Lo Man Kam, Cheung Cheuk Heng (William Cheung) and others.
1955 to 1957 (Man Kwok year 44 to 46) Grandmaster Yip Man moved the school to Lee Tat Street, Yao Ma Tei in Kowloon. The students here were Lee Siu Lung (Bruce Lee), Chan Shing, Haw Kin Cheung, Siu Yuk Man, Poon Bing Lid, Pang Kam Fat and others.
1957 to 1962 (Man Kwok year 46 to 51) during this 5 years Yip Man moved the school to Lee Chang Oak Chuen. At this time his students were Mek Po, Yeung Hei, Moi Yat, Ho Kam Ming and others. During this period of time Grandmaster Yip Man also taught private lessons in Sau Kei Wan, Shun Kei pottery shop where his students were Wong Pak Yee, Wong Wei, Yeung Chung Han, Chow Lok Gee, Wong Kwok Yau and others, in Tsim ha Tsui, Bong Lak Hong where his students were Tong Cho Chi, Lee Fat Chi, Chang Tak Chiu, Tam Lai and others, and in Tai Po Road 3 where his students were Chung Kam Chuen, Chung Wing Hong.
1962 to 1963 (Man Kwok year 51 to 52) Grandmaster Yip Man moved the school to 61 Tai Po Road, a unit in the Heng Yip building. Students were Cheung Yiu Wing, Ho Luen, Jun Ching On, Chan Woon Lam, Chang Tai Yim and Kwok See Yan. Private lessons were taught at Yee Wa tailor's shop at Tsim Sha Tsui. Students were Peter Chang and a group of people from Po Lak Hong.
1963 to 1965 (Man Kwok year 52 to 54) the school was moved to the top floor of the Tai Sang restaurant on Fook Chuen Street, Tai Kok Tsui. Originally this had been the storeroom. The owner was called Ho Luen who let them use the room. Most of the people from the school at the Heng Yip building also moved here. As well as Ho Luen there were also Yeung Chung Hon, Wat Yung Sung, Pang Kam Fat, Jun Ching On, Lee Yan Wing and Yau Hak So. During this period of time Grandmaster Yip Man also taught students, mainly from the police, privately at San Po Kong, Hin Hing Street. These included Tang Sang, Lam Ying Fat, Yuen Chi Kong, Lee Yiu Fei, Wong Kok and others.
1965 to 1972 (Man Kwok year 54 to 61) the school at the Tai Sang restaurant finished and Grandmaster Yip Man moved to live on Tung Choi Street residence because he was getting old. Although he was already partly retired he was still teaching one to one private tuition. Going to Yip Man's home during this period of time, were Wong Chung Wah (Yat Oak Goi Tse), Wong Hei,Hong Jap Sum and others. He also went out teaching to three places:
The Wing Chun Athletic Association, which, in 1967, was the first martial arts society to be officially registered with the government. The Wing Chun Athletic Association then decided to open Kung Fu classes at the association's address. The association placed Grandmaster Yip Man in charge of the instruction. Assisting him were Jun Ching On, Fung Hon, Wong Hon Chung and others. This was only about three months.
The next school was at Chan Wei Hong's home on Waterloo Road, here were learning Chen Wei Hong, the Siu Lung brothers, also Wong Chi On, Chan Kam Ming, Chung Yau, Lau Hon Lam,Man Yim Kwong and others. Chi Yau Road was the third place where he taught. When Chan Wei Hong had other business and could not continue at Waterloo Road, Grandmaster Yip Man moved to the roof top of Lau Hon Lam's home. Joining here were Wong Chi Ming and he also officially accepted a female student called Ng Yuet Dor.
Finally he also taught in Siu Fai Toi, at solicitor Yip Sing Cheuk's house. Apart from Yip Sing Cheuk the rest of the students were also mostly solicitors. This was the last place where Grandmaster Yip Man taught Wing Chun Kung Fu. Grandmaster Yip Man passed away at his home on Tung Choi Street on the 1st December 1972 (Man Kwok year 61). 26th October in the Chinese lunar calendar. He enjoyed 79 years of life.