TAIPEI, Taiwan — A semi-biographical movie, “Yip Man,” (葉問) tells the life of the first martial arts master to teach the Wing Chun (詠春) kung fu style openly. Yip had several students who later became martial arts teachers in their own right, including kung fu superstar Bruce Lee (李小龍).
Although Chinese kung fu has risen in popularity since the time of Bruce Lee, the film also showed how the renowned master established a training system for Wing Chun that eventually spread across the world and, of course, Taiwan.
Master Lo Man-kam (盧文錦), the nephew of grandmaster Yip Man, is the only grandmaster teaching Wing Chun on the island.
As a youth, Lo spent much time living with his uncle in Canton Province, China. Later in Hong Kong, he was among the first of Master Yip’s students and studied with him for nearly ten years, before joining the Taiwan military in 1960.
On re-entering civilian life in 1975, Lo opened a school in Taipei and has taught and promoted Wing Chun ever since to local and international students.
The master’s expertise in combining Wing Chun with other close-range combat techniques makes him a sought-after instructor by intelligence, police and military bodies, both at home and abroad. For instance, the King of Brunei and his brother and sons have reportedly studied under Lo.
“Imagine that you have five lovers. You have to feel which one loves you the most. In a sense, it is similar to Wing Chun kung fu” said Lo.
Marc Debus, a visiting member of the Lo Man Kam Wing Chun Association in Germany, added: “you have to feel what the other do (sic) and you have to act on it.”
This martial art, which literally means “Spring Chant,” aims at using as less strength as possible, and to defeat the opponent through a state of relaxation, he explained.
Back to the origins of Wing Chun, the legend has it that this martial art was created by a woman, Yim Wing Chun, under the Qing Dynasty, after she defeated an opponent in a martial art fight.
In Lo Man-kam’s apartment on Bade Road where he resides and teaches, pictures of Yip Man practicing stand by others of himself with personalities from all around the globe.
As a teacher at the Chinese Culture University, the Taiwanese master also trained experts from the French police and the U.S. Army in the defensive art of kung fu.
Today, students come from all around the world to meet the well-known Sifu (師父) to improve their knowledge … or to start all over again!
Another member of the German community, Frank, admitted that his first encounter with the master was very frustrating: “I had learnt Wing Chun for many years. When I met him, he said that my kung fu looked like Wing Chun, but that I should start from the beginning.”
“Ever since, we come back every year for two or three weeks to practice and learn the main system,” he added.
Indeed, learning Wing Chun in Germany triggers a real challenge, he remarked. The basic knowledge is minimal; therefore it is crucial for a teacher to create something new along the way. “Finding a good teacher is very difficult, and expensive. Finding a very good teacher is impossible! That’s why we are here!” he concluded.