Sometimes, all you wanna see is endless butt-kicking in a martial arts film. Ip Man is one such movie. But it doesn’t mean that it was mindless from beginning to end. Here’s what I learnt from the Wing Chun Master.
1. Earn respect and you will be influential. Master Ip seemed to be the symbol of the town in Fu Shan. He was deemed to be default protector of the community, where the baddest asses were sent to him should there be any doubt about their martial art prowess. Humble and unassuming, he tends to keep his art under wraps, showing restraint and would only unroll his sleeves when it’s absolutely necessary. Like when your people needed you to defend their honor. To Chinese folk, that’s big. It’s easy to go on a ego-hunt and show em who’s boss at the first opportunity. Greater is he who chooses his moments wisely, for he will win the hearts of his people.
2. Make full use of your God-given gifts. During the show, I was thinking about what Ip Man does for a living. Clearly, he was in the upper echelon of society judging by bells and whistles in his residence and also typified by his mannerisms. I made a guess and I was right – he’s a rich man’s son. He doesn’t need to work, only learn kungfu and live a peaceful life. I have heard many people saying that the only reason why I’m having a bit of success in my life is that I’m from a well-to-do family. And of course, that would be absolutely correct. Like Ip Man, I could receive a first-class education. I don’t have a huge mortgage or car loans to burden me unlike many of my colleagues. In fact, I could indulge in finding my passion in life simply because I’m freed to do it. I make no apologies for it. Woe to me if ever I should FEEL sorry that I’ve gotten a slight edge over others. No, I’m not being haughty about this. My parents have worked too hard for me to think “Oh, I should feel bad cos I’m so fortunate while other people are suffering in their financial prison.” They have worked hard precisely (and my dad told me this) so that I can have more success than they had in life. I am grateful and thankful for the opportunity. Woe to me if I don’t do anything about it. (Matt 25:14-30) If I’m called to learn kungfu, then for Christ’s sake may I pursue it with everything I’ve got. I don’t think I’m called to pay mortgages or sulk at my predicament.
3. Know what you’re fighting for. After kicking the asses of ten Japanese amateurs (so it seems), ten sacks of rice were thrown in front of Master Ip for him to tapao. And what he did next was the definitive moment for me during the film because it truly encapsulated what the man is about. He walked away and said, “I’m not here to fight for rice.” The man is so convicted, so sure of the cause that he is part of that he simply would not relent at the face of tyranny and oppression. Indeed, he’s not fighting for his sustenance or personal survival. He’s fighting for his brother, his friend, his people. He’s fighting for his country. With that kind of conviction, he could deliver every punch with purposeful intent.
4. In bad times, just do what’s necessary. Ip Man is a kungfu master. He lives and breathes it. It’s his passion. But as some of us learnt during these difficult times, everything equalises and your so-called passions get tested. Your kungfu doesn’t seemed that useful or important anymore. So does your dream of playing in a jazz band. It’s not so clear now, is it? Dreams get called into question when there are mouths to feed. But we do what’s necessary for now. In the search for purpose or fulfilling your passion, perhaps use this interim period now to do what is needed. Whatever the situation or circumstance, Ip always does his utmost to provide a safe haven for wife and son to lead their lives. Kungfu masters can work in a coal mine as well. Bad times don’t last. Perhaps especially in such times, stay prepared. You never know when your skill or talent is needed, like when the enemy wants you to kick their ass.
5. Listen to your wife. Most Important Point. I must admit that I’ve still have lots to learn and imitate in this area. It’s a sign of strength as Master Ip demonstrated utmost respect for his missus. Don’t seek to understand too much on this. Just do it. All is well when she knows she has your ears and heart. In turn, she will understand your desires and allow you to do what makes you come alive. And try not to break anything in the process.