While not the father or creator of Wing Chun, Ip Man is the reason for its overwhelming impact on our martial arts society. Every man has a vision of how things should be, even something that already exists. Ip Man's vision of Wing Chun is the one that took America by storm. Through his student, Bruce Lee, the system was unveiled before the eyes of the world. The (then) exciting new film star, Bruce Lee, through Hollywood movies and pure charisma, revealed Ip Man's Kung Fu to an unknowing world. But the legacy of the system doesn't stop at that door. Legendary practitioner and, if you know him even a little, "man with a deep soul," Samuel Kwok is a direct descendant of the great Ip Man; although not by blood but by sheer dedication and honest devotion. Grandmaster Kwok learned the Kung Fu close combat system from the biological sons of the eminent Ip Man, brothers Ip Ching and Ip Chun. It's no wonder both are Grandmasters in the combat system and philosophies their father brought to life.
Samuel Kwok, the son of a church minister, was born in Hong Kong in April 1948. To this day, he's spent over 50 years training and promoting the art of Ip Man's Wing Chun. His goal, for decades, has been to protect and preserve, specifically, Ip Man's particular style of the art. "The principles and philosophy of the art are not only used in self-defense," he said, "but is also used to improve one's health." Helping people is what Grandmaster Kwok believes is the true form and reason for the art. "Philosophy of Kung Fu is to be a better person, to help others get through life crises," says Kwok. The 74-year-old charismatic teacher went on to explain, "The principle of being humble is important. Respecting parents and strangers is most important. Martial arts was created to make the world a safer place, not for violence."
The year was 1968, and 20-year-old Samuel saw his basketball coach Chan Wai Ling practicing a Kung Fu form. The coach told him that he should train in the art for self-defense and fitness. Like all young men and women, Kwok knew everything about life and said, "you can't win a fight with that." The direction of the Hong Kong resident's path changed that day, explaining, "yeah, he (coach) beat me up a little." Who would have guessed that his road to Wing Chun's greatness began with basketball?
At 24, his father sent him to England to become a psychiatric nurse. Kwok admitted that it was one of the worst times in his life. Being sent away meant he had to leave his girlfriend behind. Respecting his father's wishes left him with a broken heart. And, while he'd be beginning a career and gaining new perspectives about life, unfortunately, the patients he worked with were violent and mentally unstable. Often, he relied on self-defense to survive during his 38-year career.
Kwok, while in England, continued his life in the church. He discovered that the congregation's priest, Peter Cao, was a former Monkey-style Kung Fu Grandmaster. By now, Kwok was thoroughly interested in training, but the grandmaster-turned-priest refused to teach anyone in the fighting arts.
However, he was introduced to another parishioner, a Wing Chun expert, Sifu Lee Shing. A student of two students of the great Ip Man. For six years, from '72 to '78, he trained under Sifu Shing, all the while pursuing a profession in nursing. He soon met two other prominent men, GM Luk Chi Fu of the White Crane Kung Fu system and his son, Luk Chung Mau.
Written by Glen Beck