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January 8, 2011

Most of us remember the words of Neo, the protagonist played by keannu Reeves in The Matrix, as a certain program was successfully uploaded into his psyche: “I know kung fu.” Ip Man knows Kung Fu. Ip man is Kung Fu personified.

Mostly taking place during Second Sino-Japanese War, Ip Man is a semi-biographical account of Yip Man (1893 – 1972), a Kung Fu master highly skilled in the Wing Chun style of fighting, during China’s oppression by the Japanese military. At the film’s open, China is still experiencing a time of peace, and we are given a glimpse of just how important martial arts is to the economy of small provinces. Ip Man is introduced as an independently wealthy, humble and reserved husband and father. It is apparent he only fights as a last resort, and the anticipation of his physical prowess builds until he is finally confronted by a local martial arts instructor seeking to test his skills against the revered Ip Man. The scene does not disappoint.

Out-of-town hooligans begin challenging the masters of local martial arts schools and, one by one, humiliate them in front of their disciples. Their goal is to become rich by establishing a school of their own, and they are well on their way to proving their worthiness to would-be students. This plan seems to be working until they are faced with their final obstacle… Ip Man. Again, this scene does not disappoint.

Underlying tension builds quickly as the province is plagued by war, and Ip Man is forced to work to provide for his starving family. While shoveling coal beside fellow countrymen, he hears of a certain Japanese General using the Chinese for sport. By offering bags of rice, the General, who happens to be skilled in the Kung Fu stylings of Japan, watches underground matches between his fighters and the Chinese. Deciding to participate one day, the General takes on three at a time, and ends up killing a friend of Ip Man. Enraged, Ip Man requests to be taken to the secret location, and after defeating ten Japanese at one time (without a scratch I might add… well, unless severely bruised knuckles count), insists on a match with the General. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination, but trust me when I say you’ll no doubt feel the vengeance coursing through Ip Man’s veins.

During the ending credits we find out that Yip Man, later in years, took Bruce Lee as a disciple. A fitting correlation, since Ip Man has been heralded as the finest Kung Fu film since Lee’s Enter the Dragon (1973).

Ip Man is a great example of the similarities between Kung Fu and Christianity.

Below is a list of the top 5:

1. Both require a relationship between Master and disciple

2. Diligence in daily routine is the key to success

3. Both understand the importance of a spiritual well-being

4. Both must be able to recognize the Enemy and his schemes

5. Neither use their skills to hurt or offend fellow disciples

  • http://davidmunn.blogspot.com David

    have it on my watch-now in-que.

  • http://www.projectmathetes.wordpress.com/ Donald Borsch Jr.

    This article reminds me of a recurring dream I would have before I entered into covenant with Jesus. In it, Sammy Davis Jr would approach me, martini and cigarette in hand, and tell me that, “Your kung-fu has no style, baby!” Anyhoos.

    Evan, your top 5 list is interesting. Not sure about #3, but, whatever. It is still a good list. #1 strikes a resonant chord in the song that is me. Disciple ship. So many folks want Jesus as Savior, (Oh save me from my sins, please, hallelujah!), but not too many of us want Jesus as LORD, Master, King, and God. Wanting Jesus as LORD means we are wanting Him to meddle in our lives. Having Jesus as Savior alone is…well, it’s…um…it’s what we see a lot of today in The Bride.

    I wonder, though….if our discipleship is equivalent to a martial art, what are you studying? I study Holy Spirit Hapkido. LOL!

    Nice postage, Evan Dawson. I will admit I am curious now to see Ip Man. ( thought it was a menu item at my local Chinese joint.)

  • http://thirdoptionmen.org/author/evandawson Evan Dawson

    That’s funny, Donald- #3 was actually a last minute change because what I originally had sounded too much like #4. Anyway, I’ve changed it again. Glad you questioned it- as Christian men, our spiritual lives should be of greatest importance to us, though our physical bodies (temples) and renewed minds also need our attention.