I watched Ip Man 3 with my wife and it was the best movie you can catch if :
1- You are a martial artist
2- You are a martial artist, and a husband
3- You are a martial artist, and a husband and a father
I don’t what to be gender stereotypical but I’m a guy, I’m a husband and a father. If you are a woman martial artist, a wife and a mother then perhaps this movie can connect with you in a different way.
The movie is highly realistic in the portrayal of pragmatic difficulties any aspiring marital artist face. Any decent martial artist, having a family, with kids, given the same 24 hours, the same decent martial artist is torn between many, many roles.; to train hard and be good at our discipline, to be a good spouse, and a good dad, and if it is not too much, start a school, contribute to society, make a living.
Ip Man 3 showed all that, the tension is real. As much as I love Aikido, I cannot practice it as often as I can, my family is intertwined into the fabric of my martial arts training and vice versa. Sometimes The Wife will need that attention, kids do fall sick. House do need attention from time to time. In order for us to have a balance in our art, we need to have a balance in our life. Without a balance in our life, there cannot be excellence in our discipline.
For any marital artist to be successful, the spousal support is the spine. Without the wife’s support, Donnie Yen, who play Master Ip Man so brilliantly, will not be able to achieve his mastery so completely.
Knowing when to let go
There are times where we need to drop our training completely, this is one of the toughest test for a martial artist. Because we are under the constant fallacy of wanting to pile the ‘mileage’ into our training. If we stop for a protracted period of time, we might ‘lose’ our edge.
But there are times where we have to let go, so that we can pick up other parts of our lives which is just as important. True that martial arts is important, but it is not everything. Ip Man knows when to let go, and did so, so graciously. His wife is more important, and putting his wife first, even when his reputation as a martial artist is challenged, makes him a man of great strength and character.
There was never a choice, you never see Ip Man choose, or deliberate over a decision. He knows what to do, his wife, who is dying, comes first before anything, even his Wing Chun. This is a testament of a real Martial Artist, a highly enlightened individual who is able to see priorities clearly, and decisively, no regrets, no lament.
For such an action packed movie, there was no killing, no one died. (Well actually there was one death, and it was not a direct outcome of any martial arts move.) Which proves that for someone as powerful as Ip Man, he can control his output, and preserve life. There are many situations where the circumstances are greater than him, but he didn’t lose it, he didn’t kill; he could. But he didn’t as he probably knew that if you take a life, there will be a larger, more uncontrollable consequences that will ripple out beyond his control. Call that ‘karma’ but if you don’t believe in it, you have to believe in the Long Tail of Cause and Effect. You may not bear the direct consequences of your actions, your children or your children’s children might.
While we must inflict harm on others to prevent harm from being inflicted on us and our loved ones, we must be skillful not to take life. We are trained martial artist, there are ways to end violence without the loss of life, and we must hold true to that belief, because if we don’t then any form of violence applied will be suffice, no need for years of marital arts training.
Lynn Hung who played Mrs Ip Man in all 3 Ip Man film, filled the role in the 3 installment very powerfully. Mrs Ip let the husband practice and be consumed by his passion with Wing Chun, and kept her stomach cancer diagnosis to herself, until she can no longer hide it. From then you can tell that Ip Man has decided to drop everything and spend as much time as possible with his wife. Her role as Mrs Ip Man is so subtle and yet so pivotal, so poignantly powerful.
It was the Wife, who told him to pick up the challenge and continue practicing his Wing Chun. For any martial artist who has a wife, this tension is real. My wife would like to have me home, be the husband, the father to her children, more often than she prefers. But to take me away from Aikido is also to see me less happy, which is also something she doesn’t want to see. And yet, more often than not, she will not be able to understand why we martial artist do our martial artist thing.
So for a martial artist to thrive, we need our spousal support, and we also need to support our spouse, for without our spouse, we will not have time to practice, and concentrate our our art. We are also tested again and again, if we are willing to let go of the very art we enjoy so much, so that we can appreciate something greater than marital art, that which is our life, our wife and our family.
Without a balance in our life, there cannot be excellence in our discipline.