Why People Wanted Bruce Lee Kicked Out Of Ip Man’s Kung Fu School

Shortly after becoming a student at Ip Man’s kung school, Bruce Lee faced several attempts by his peers to have him expelled. Here’s why.

While at Ip Man’s kung fu school, Bruce Lee faces several attempts to have him deported. Ip Man, who was known as Lee’s kung fu master, was a highly respected martial artist from Hong Kong. The Wing Chun grandmaster was also the focus of all four films. Ip-Man franchise with Donnie Yen.

Over the many decades that Ip Man practiced Wing Chun, Ip created a lasting legacy by running a school and teaching kung fu to countless people throughout his life. A long list of Ip’s kung fu students have become great Wing Chun masters and prominent figures in the martial arts community. But his most famous student was undoubtedly Bruce Lee, who became a martial arts legend without ever attaining the official rank of grandmaster. Instead, Lee used the skills he had cultivated at Ip’s school to create his own kung fu system, which is now known as Jeet Kune Do. But while Lee only spent a small portion of his life as a student of Ip, that period is still considered crucial to his development as a martial artist.

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Although the talents of 15-year-old Lee were recognized early on in his Wing Chun training, his enrollment there was not welcomed by all. William Cheung, a friend of Lee and the person who introduced him to Ip Man in the first place, revealed in an interview that Lee’s presence faced great resistance from those around him. [via Black Belt Magazine]. According to him, it didn’t take long for Lee to outperform students who had trained there much longer than him, which proved frustrating for his peers. Tensions between Lee and the others escalated when they discovered his Eurasian heritage from his mother’s side. In their eyes, that made Lee an outsider. At the time, teaching kung fu to non-Chinese people was frowned upon, causing many Ip Man students to bully Lee and urge their master to ban him from school.


How Bruce Lee was able to stay at Ip Man’s school

Although there was a strong push from the students to expel Lee from the school, Ip was unwilling to go that far. Cheung said Ip decided the best course was for Lee’s training to continue outside of school. As a result, Lee was removed from the class and placed under the private tutelage of Cheung and Wong Shun Leung, who were two of Ip’s senior students. After a long period of isolation from the class, Lee was allowed to return. According to Cheung, Ip had just wanted the conflict to calm down a bit.

As unfair as the situation was for Lee, good came out of it. Although his training with Ip was limited, he eventually found a mentor in Wong Shun Leung. In fact, it was once acknowledged in a letter written by Lee that he considers Wong to be the person who really taught him kung fu. The two formed a close friendship that lasted until by Bruce Lee died in 1973.


More: Bruce Lee Hated Nunchucks – So Why Did He Adopt Them Later?

Kimberly B. Nguyen