History is written by many authors. The oldest tradition of sharing history, and especially with Chinese martial arts, has always been oral tradition. Pour yourself a nice cup of oolong tea to enjoy while Sifu Moy Yat (introduced to Yip Man and becoming his student in 1957), shares some of Yip Man’s personal history as well as some stories that only the walls could tell. Prepare for a rare insight into the early years of Wing Chun life in Hong Kong from a direct student of the Grandmaster.
Being an esteemed student and practitioner of Yip Man’s system, Moy Yat breaks what he describes was once the “impolite” tradition of speaking about one’s Sifu. During this video, filmed in 1991, a decade before his passing in 2001, he shares some stories of Yip Man the person, the instructor and the practitioner, with the added bonus of real demonstrations of the system as they trained them, and how Wing Chun genuinely took them beyond the art to apply its concepts philosophically to their day-to-day life.
While sitting at his desk, Sifu Moy Yat presents his oral history as seen through his own experiences, while being careful to point out that they are; “only the things that (he) saw.” After a short introduction of his first meeting with Grandmaster Yip Man, and setting the tone of what training under him was like, the video moves to the training hall to “show you how we learned it.”
Moy Yat recalls and replays, throughout this video, demonstrations that Yip Man was often too impatient to repeat to those who may have missed the explanation the first time. Echoing the same sentiments that many of his Gung Fu brothers did, in that the late Grandmaster often didn’t pay much attention to those that didn’t show any real promise of skill or intelligence. Sharing moments of how drills or applications were shown, and then being left to their own devices to discover their potential application through practising for sometimes days, weeks and months of research and development. Of course, the students were constantly eager to present their findings to Yip Man for his approval and validation with the hopes of learning more. Much credit to Moy Yat’s memory for replaying some of those memories with an assistant.
The attending audience, and viewer, is also treated to some rare stories and demonstrations of how Yip Man the person not only played his Wing Chun, but also deeper into the day-to-day character of the man. The stoic and dignified storyteller shares a glimpse into the deceased patriarch’s sense of humour to remind the audience of the human side often forgotten behind the legend, which provides some comic relief to the otherwise riveted audience hanging on his every word. Moy Yat also takes the time to answer popular questions that are on the minds of most who want to know more of the late Great Master.
Don’t let the original recording date fool you. Although the quality of the film is grainy because of the VHS-to-digital transfer, it does not blur the quality of the content that’s being shared. Overall, a nice addition to the library for any Wing Chun historian.
Moy Yat’s Ip Man
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Running Time: Approx. 67 min.
Format: Digital Download Only 640×480
Number of Discs: 1
Availability: EWC Instant Access Download
Review by: Dwight Hennings