You might have heard a lot about Bruce Lee and his lightning-quick fighting style, but you might have known much about his teacher – Ip Man.

Ip Man is a grandmaster of Wing Chun, notable for popularizing Wing Chun – a Kung Fu form currently practiced by more than 2 million specialists worldwide. 

A lot of movies and TV series were made about him. But the most popular of all was the 3-installment movie series “Ip Man”. 

The series was a massive success not only because of impressive fight scenes, incredible acting by Donnie Yen but also because of many powerful life lessons embedded within. 

One major lesson can be found at the beginning of the first Ip Man movie:  

In the movie, Ip was portrayed as a highly-skilled martial arts master who preferred to keep a low-key profile. With no burden of making ends meet, Ip Man spent most of his time training, meeting friends and playing with his son. 

His reputation came mainly from friendly closed-door competition against other grandmasters. These masters were filled with admiration and gratitude towards Ip because he never slipped a word about his defeat of them. 

So even though Ip made himself almost invisible, the Foshan people all knew he was the best martial arts master in town. 

One day, there was this thug from North marching into Foshan with his aggressive gang, tossing himself around like a hotshot. He challenged one martial arts master after another, beat them up publicly and embarrassed them in front of their students. The cocky thug also ran around bragging no one in Foshan could be his match.

But his bragging didn’t last long as he finally faced the best of the best. Ip Man easily defeated him while keeping the promise to his wife of not breaking any furniture in the house. 

Ip’s victory won him the cheers from the Foshan people and the North guy left with embarrassment and shame. 

So comes the primary lesson about humility:

People are impressed not by those who brag about their success, but by those who prove their worth through action.  

Ip Man didn’t gain his reputation by challenging each grandmaster of the Foshan town publicly like the martial arts master from the North. He only accepted closed-door competition as a way to expand his kungfu knowledge. This won him deep respect from many of his challengers. 

After his defeat of the guy from the North, he acquired even more reputation and respect for he had helped to uphold the town’s pride. 

If you try to bring others down to put yourself up, you only end up with embarrassment. On the other hand, if you stay humble, you’ll win people’s respect and make friends everywhere.

It’s not the people’s recognition that brings you happiness. True happiness comes from doing what you love, being with those who love you and having friends who’ve got your back.

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