IP Man and Organized Religions

I love martial arts. I have attempted to practice some form of martial art at various points in my life. I dabbled in boxing, wrestling, mixed martial arts, but my skills are amateur at best. I have read books about various martial arts. Martial arts have always been fascinating to me. The fluidity of movements is very like watching a well choreographed ballet piece. Human cultures have influenced all kinds of martial arts. Karate, Kung Fu, Taekwondo, Muay Thai, and boxing are striking arts; while Judo, Brazilian Ju Jitsu, aikido and wrestling are grappling arts. Striking arts aim to strike, while grappling art aim to hold and control an opponent. Recently, I binged on the IP Man series. Ip Man (Yip Man) was a Wing Chun Sifu (Shifu). Sifu (Shifu) is the Cantonese word was Master. Ip Man was from Foshan, China. He survived the Japanese occupation of China, and thought his region brand of Kung Fu which is Wing Chun. Bruce Lee was Ip Man’s apprentice. However, it is neither here nor there. I am writing about journeys.

I binged on the Ip Man Series during the current pandemic confinement. During my binge, I noticed a recurring theme in all four movies. The belief in one’s style of martial art over the other. In the first movie, a practitioner of the Northern Style of Kung Fu challenged Ip Man, and Ip Man soundly defeated his challenger. Fast forward to the Japanese occupation of China. Ip Man challenges a Japanese General to a fight. In this fight, pride was the trophy at hand. China wanted to humiliate Japan. The Chinese martial artist (Ip Man) wanted to show his Japanese counterpart (General Muira) Chinese martial art was better than Japanese Karate. Ip Man defeated the General Muira. Chinese’s pride was on display. In Ip Man 2, Ip relocated to Hong Kong, and he opened his dojo. He first had to weather the challenges from the local Sifus, then a western boxing champion challenged Chinese martial artists. Ip Man defeated the Western challenger. In the third installment, Ip had to show that his style of Wing Chun was an authentic style. Ip Man defeated his challenger. The final installment of Ip Man chronicled his final years. Ip Man travelled to the USA. He met his student Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee was teaching Westerners his brand of Wing Chun (Jeet Kune Do). There was some contentions, because Chinese did not want foreigners to learn their art. However, it was not the challenge. The premise in the final installment was the Karate based hand to hand combat taught in the Marine Corps was better than any Chinese martial art. Ip Man defeated two antagonist (Gunnery Sergeant and the Karate Sensei). I interpreted Ip Man’s philosophy as saying it is not the style that matter, but the amount of dedication the artist puts in the craft.

I am a cradle Catholic. I have not strayed from the faith I have practiced for many years. Missionaries from other denominations have tried to bring me in their fold. I have had discussions with Jehovah witnesses, Baptist, and many other faiths. However, I have not seen the draw to other faiths beside my catholic faith. I have not entirely agreed with some of the faithfuls in the Catholic Church, but my love for the Catholic Church has held fast. Many years ago, the Catholic Church was mired in hosts of scandals. My faith was challenged, but in all the noise clarity appeared. I realized that it is incumbent upon every catholic to hold each and everyone accountable for actions on earth. The rogue priests who take advantage of the faithful need to be ostracized. As a Roman Catholic, I believe that it is my duty to love my neighbor like God loves us all. I am a sinner like every human on this planet, and I know Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected for me.

In the end, I believe Martial art and Organized Religions are means to an end. The end is to become better versions of ourselves. Most people try to be better versions of themselves; unless some are incorrigible sociopaths and narcissists. There is no perfect martial art, and no religions has the monopoly on salvation. There are things to get in every faith and every martial art.



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