We know that a big reason is because of the popularity of Bruce Lee and the 70’s kung fu craze. But why is Yip Man still held in such high regard?
My Sifu, Grandmaster Gregory Choi told me that the reason he is still held in such high regard is because he always told the truth, didn’t misrepresent his abilities or the art of Wing Chun and taught each student whole heartedly. He lived and followed the rules of Wing Chun called the Wing Chun Kuen Jiu Kuit 詠春拳要訣 or Wing Chun rules for success.
Many masters of days gone by often withheld the “secrets” to ensure their students continued to stay with them and pay fees for extended periods of time. Our Wing Chun System, by design is meant to be taught simply, directly and efficiently. The sooner you became proficient in your training the happier your Sifu was. He would teach you as fast as you could absorb it and without reserve, no holding back, then you could go off and use Wing Chun to become successful yourself. Nothing was taught that wasn’t fully understood, in fact, the second line in our Kuen Jiu Kuit is, 悟透此因由 Ng Tau Ci Jan Jau which translates to ” comprehend completely these reasons”. This means that we must understand thoroughly and completely all of the parts and not just some of the parts of Wing Chun Ling Tung Gong. It also means that we must understand the outcome of our decisions and actions in order to make the right choices.
His understanding of these rules is what has made him 一代宗師 Yat Doi Jong Si (a respected master of his generation). Ip Man taught in a traditional way and gave each student what they needed based on their individual nature and also their strengths and weaknesses. Some of the students from this time period were taught how to use the martial aspect of Wing Chun in a very short time. This was because they showed interest and ability in this field and they would be good candidates to promote Ip Man’s school and the efficiency of Wing Chun in challenge matches. Today there are many of his students that have used his teachings to become successful by their own rights and continue to spread the art around the world and increase it’s popularity. What they learned from him was what they needed to gain benefit at that time, but he also gained benefit himself as well. Everybody must benefit from the exchange and together they all grew stronger. Wing Chun Ling Tung Gong teaches us that we must help each other and ensure our own success by guiding our students to become successful by themselves.