Yip Man (1 October 1893 - 2 December 1972), also spelled as Ip Man,and also known as Yip Kai-Man, was a Chinese martial artist. He had several students who later became martial arts teachers in their own right, including Bruce Lee.
Yip was born to Yip Oi-dor and Ng Shui, and was the third of four children. He grew up in a wealthy family in Foshan, Guangdong, and received a traditional Chinese education. His older brother was Yip Kai-gak, his older sister was Yip Wan-mei and his younger sister was Yip Wan-hum.
Yip started learning Wing Chun from Chan Wah-shun when he was 13. Since Chan was 70 at the time, Yip was Chan's last student. Due to his teacher's age, Yip learned most of his skills and techniques from Chan's second oldest disciple: Ng Chung-sok. Chan died three years after Yip's training started and one of his dying wishes was to have Ng continue teaching Yip.
At the age of 15, Yip moved to Hong Kong with help from his relative Leung Fut-ting. One year later, he attended school at St. Stephen's College -- a secondary school for wealthy families and foreigners living in Hong Kong.During Yip's time at St. Stephen's, he saw a foreign police officer beating a woman and Yip intervened.The officer attempted to attack Yip, but Yip struck him down and ran to school with his classmate. Yip's classmate later told an older man who lived in his apartment block. The man met with Yip and asked what martial art Yip practiced. The man told Yip that his forms were "not too great "The man challenged Yip's Wing Chun against the man in chi sao (a form of training that involves controlled attack and defense). Yip saw this as an opportunity to prove that his abilities were good, but was defeated by the man after a few strikes. Yip's opponent revealed himself to be Leung Bik, Chan Wah-shun's senior and son of Chan's teacher, Leung Jan. After that encounter, Yip continued learning from Leung Bik.
Yip returned to Foshan when he was 24 and became a policeman. He taught Wing Chun to several of his subordinates, friends and relatives, but did not officially run a martial arts school. Some of his better known informal students were Lok Yiu, Chow Kwong-yue (周光裕), Kwok Fu (郭富), Lun Kah (倫佳), Chan Chi-sun (陳志新) and Lui Ying (呂應). Among them, Chow Kwong-yue was said to be the best, but he eventually went into commerce and stopped practicing martial arts. Kwok Fu and Lun Kah went on to teach students of their own and they passed down art of Wing Chun in the Foshan and Guangdong region. Chan Chi-sun and Lui Ying went to Hong Kong later but neither of them accepted any students. Yip went to live with Kwok Fu during the Second Sino-Japanese War and only returned to Foshan after the war, where he continued his career as a police officer. Yip left Foshan for Hong Kong in 1949 after the Chinese Communist Party established the People's Republic of China on the Chinese mainland.
Life in Hong Kong
Initially, Yip Man's teaching business was poor because Yip's students typically stayed for only a couple of months. He moved his school twice: first to Castle Peak Road in Sham Shui Po and then to Lee Tat Street (利達街) in Yau Ma Tei. By then, some of his students had attained proficiency in Wing Chun and they were able to start their own schools. Some of his students and descendants sparred with other martial artists to compare their skills and their victories helped to increase Yip's reputation. In 1967, Yip and some of his students established the Hong Kong Wing Chun Athletic Association (香港詠春拳體育會).
Death and legacy
Yip died on 2 December 1972, from throat cancer.
Yip's legacy is the global practice of Wing Chun. Some of his notable students include: Leung Sheung, Lok Yiu, Leung Ting, Chu Shong-tin, Wong Shun Leung, Wong Kiu (王喬), Yip Bo-ching (葉步青), William Cheung, Hawkins Cheung, Bruce Lee (李小龍), Wong Long, Wong Chok, Law Bing, Lee Shing, Ho Kam-ming, Moy Yat, Duncan Leung, Derek Fung Ping-bor (馮平波), Chris Chan Shing (陳成), Victor Kan Wah Chit (簡華捷), Stanley Chan, Chow Sze-chuen, Tam Lai, Lee Che-kong, Kang Sin-sin, Simon Lau, his nephew Lo Man-kam, and his sons Ip Ching and Ip Chun.
Yip also left behind a written history of Wing Chun.Many artifacts of his life are on display in the "Yip Man Tong" museum in Foshan, China.