Josh from JR. JR. Recommend Ip Man movies for a brain break

Most of us are sequestered in our homes, doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. This includes some of our favorite artists, so we’re asking them to tell us about one thing – a book, movie, record, whatever – that’s helping them through this difficult time.

I’m here with my girlfriend Jena Friedeman, she’s from Chicago. We try to navigate the negotiations about who can make noise and when. I’m making music downstairs in our house, and then she’s basically working on a feature film that’s sort of constantly being rewritten, so she’s been in the writers’ rooms on Zoom. So one of us has to have headphones on all the time, basically. It’s not the worst. We don’t have kids and apart from the cancellation of tour dates, nothing is really different for us. We practically work from home. People come to LA and open up trying to work with different people. I do that once in a while, but that’s really all that’s different, don’t do that.

I watched those kung fu movies, about that Ip Man guy. He practiced Wing Chun, that kind of kung fu. He had a very difficult life and ended up teaching Bruce Lee and other famous students. There’s something beautiful about all the choreography and watching people who are so talented and have also been so disciplined all their lives. Because it’s such a different world from my everyday reality, it’s kind of like stepping back in time through Chinese history and all the way to Hong Kong. I feel like I can get lost in it, and it doesn’t stress me out about what’s going on right now.

I don’t know how many of these movies there are. I think every streaming service has different ones. There are series that are more big budget, really well done. But there are all sorts of different versions of Ip Man stories on every site. It’s interesting. The one who made Wing Chun kung fu famous, so he’s like a Floyd Mayweather, except people liked him more and he was more humble.

He’s a real guy. He’s not in those movies. These are people playing him at different stages of his life. In the latest of the big budget version, you are somehow introduced to its precious people – Bruce Lee, who went on to make it world famous.

The films are quite recent and they are subtitled. Maybe that’s also why they’re not stressful to me, because I don’t understand what they’re saying, aurally. But it changes my mind during the pandemic.

Also, and this is actually super serious: I think learning Transcendental Meditation was the best thing I’ve done in life to prepare myself for this. I did it as a kid, then I kind of forgot how to do it. My parents were in, so I thought that was silly. But I went to re-enroll and learned it myself maybe four years ago. As someone with generalized anxiety disorder and all sorts of anxiety issues, it definitely controls your cortisol levels better than any medication. I don’t know what they are going to do, because you have to learn in a three-day course. It would be great if they offered this online.

(Photo credit: Pamela Littky)

Kimberly B. Nguyen