Ip Man (2008) is the movie that showcases Grandmaster Ip Man’s early life. He was the famed Wing Chun teacher that taught Bruce Lee martial arts, which Bruce used some of the principles to produce his own style called Jeet Kun Do. Wing Chun is the art of short range fighting incorporating a meld of different ideas to counter the major styles that were out at that time. I’m sure I could digress into the history of the style, but we are here to see the phenomenal moves used in the famous scene where Ip Man versus the 10 black belts.
The first thing to notice is that there is a lot of techniques used to interrupt the opponents moves. When he first grabs the opponent’s leg in the air, he has taken his balance by deflecting his energy upwards using his energy in the air against him. One of the key principles that all martial arts teach, is to remain “rooted” to the ground and here we see why flying kicks against a practitioner who knows what he is doing, doesn’t work really well.
The next series of punches from the opponents are always stopped before their maximum energy point is reached. For example, when throwing a hay-maker, once punch reaches past the shoulder in the circular path, it is very hard to stop the hay-maker. Given that one of the focuses of Wing Chun is on diverting the energy, at this point, it would be best to simply move out of the punches way. However, Donnie Yen (who plays Grandmaster Ip Man) demonstrates the interruption of straight and round punches.
Punches, Locks & Breaks
Once he has locked his opponents arm, he proceeds to pummel him in the face with a series of Wing Chun straight punches. Unlike the more famous styles like Karate, where the punches begin near the body, the Wing Chun straight punch, starts from the elbow being closest to the body and then punching forward. This smaller punching motion allows for more punches to be released in comparison to the longer ones. Now, most people would say that this is weaker than the long ones, but the practitioner in question is a grandmaster. I’m sure, he knows what he’s doing and was able to refine the effectiveness of his punches along the way.
The arm and leg breaks are just the usual rolls, with the unfortunate stunt man still being trapped in the technique.
You then get to see one of Wing Chun’s more famous combinations called the Pak, Punch. Pak is the technique where you slap the hand on a 45 degree angle away from the body combined with the straight punch!
When the next opponent throws a flying kick, Ip Man evades to the side, as trying to redirect that energy would not have been as efficient if he had tried to repeat the same defense from his first opponent.
And yes, the roll punches. Here you see the fluidity of the motion of the short range punches coming into play!
Close Quarter Combat
The next series of opponents demonstrate the close combat nature of Wing Chun. Whether it is using the body’s natural bends in unnatural ways or using smaller movements to deflect the attacks from multiple opponents.
And what better way to end the scene with a flurry of punches to the opponents head!
I believe that Donnie Yen has done an amazing job portraying Ip Man and his skills as a versatile martial artist really shines through. If you haven’t seen the movies, then I highly recommend it. But as always, keep in mind that this is a movie, and there were some parts exaggerated for the audience. Still. That doesn’t take away from the excellent skills on display.