Real people through the lens of Batman: Martial arts master Ip Man


by Jeremy DeFatta

Hello, everyone! I hope your week is going well. This has been a different sort of week for me, so today I’ll approach the Batman column a little differently. For at least a few posts, I’d like to use Batman as a historical and critical lens for viewing real-life figures.

Whether through their true deeds, through the mythologies that surround them, or through a combination of the two, there are many people the world over who are in some ways real world analogs of Batman. For my first foray into this effort, I’ll look at Ip Man.

Ip Man (or Yip Man, 1893-1972) was one of the greatest martial arts masters of the last century. He was grand master of the Wing Chun school, a fighting style originally created by a woman and intended to be learned quickly for self-defense. You’ve likely heard of him through one or more of the recent films based, with varying degrees of dramatic license, on his life and fights. You may also be familiar with the fact that he was Bruce Lee’s first master.

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