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Interview with Leo Au-Yeung, Behind the Scenes of Ip Man
Ip Man 1/1 - Page 1
Author(s) : Mike Fury
Date : 7/7/2010
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Leo Au-Yeung Chi Chung
Sammo Hung Kam Bo
Herman Yau Lai To
Yip Chun (2)
Wilson Yip Wai Shun
Movies :
Ip Man
The Legend Is Born - Ip Man
The Prodigal Son
Lexic :
Ip Man / Yip Man
Wing Chun
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Page 2 : Bringing Wing Chun to the Screen
All photos courtesy of Leo Au-Yeung.

Leo Au-Yeung Chi Chung is a martial arts master with the unique credentials of being the only appointed Wing Chun instructor for the hugely popular Ip Man movies: Wilson Yip’s Ip Man and Herman Yau’sIp Man: The Legend is Born.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Leo subsequently travelled to the UK in order to study at University. As a keen and heavily devoted practitioner of Wing Chun, he was able to train under some of the most prolific instructors in the world today. It was through his strong connections and impressive teaching abilities that he was invited to work as the Wing Chun consultant and assistant choreographer on the original Ip Man, in addition to the recently released prequel, Ip Man: The Legend is Born.

Upon returning to the UK having completed the movie, Leo Au-Yeung was kind enough to discuss with Mike Fury his work on this hugely popular series of films.

Leo Au-Yeung training with the wooden dummy


Ip Man

HKCinemagic: Leo, firstly could you tell us how you came to be involved in the Ip Man movies?
Leo Au-Yeung: I started my Wing Chun training with Master Yip Chun 15 to 20 years ago. [Ed.: Yip Chun or Ip Chun is the direct descendant of Ip Man. He is his oldest son.] After two years of study I came to England but would still visit Master Yip Chun and train with him every summer. During this time I went to all the classes and trained around eight hours a day! As I could speak English, I would also translate everything he said in his classes to westerners who visited Hong Kong and took an interest in his teachings. When I finished my University degree, I got a job in Preston, Lancashire, and met Master Samuel Kwok. Since we lived so close together and I was seeing him maybe five or six days a week, I became his teaching assistant. Whenever he was away, I would teach his classes and subsequently trained very intensely with him for four years. Later I came to London and met Master Sin Kwok Lam who taught me a lot of other martial arts in addition to Wing Chun. He was also responsible for getting me involved in the first Ip Man movie.

Ip Man, the movie, with Donnie Yen
HKCinemagic: How did you meet Sammo Hung and how closely did you work with him?
Leo Au-Yeung: When I worked as the Wing Chun consultant on Ip Man, he was also working as the action director. Sammo talked about how he’d used Wing Chun before when he made The Prodigal Son, but wanted to try some new ideas this time around. Firstly, my job was to refresh his understanding of Wing Chun because it was so many years ago that he made The Prodigal Son, back in 1981. Then I had to teach Wing Chun to the actors and stuntmen to make sure they could pull off the look of being Wing Chun experts. This meant I was working closely with the choreographers of the movie and had the opportunity to work with Sammo Hung.

Leo Au-Yeung and Sammo Hung
HKCinemagic: Working with the actors and being a teacher yourself, did you approach this as an instructor, teaching them forms and drills, or did you only show them the techniques they needed for their scenes?
Leo Au-Yeung: Most of the actors and stuntmen are experts in their own fields and based on the timeframe of making a film, it isn’t possible to teach them everything. I showed them some of the basic movements like footwork, turning and also how to properly use a wooden dummy in case that was needed at any time. After we covered the movements from the first two forms, I showed them how to punch and defend according to the Wing Chun style. As many of the people there, especially the stuntmen, were martial arts experts and had been doing it for years, it was easy for them to learn and copy the movements. So it was a case of showing them a lot of attacks and defence moves, such as how you defend a hooking punch or roundhouse kick. I gave them the understanding and concepts to use so when we got into the choreography they could pick up and use these techniques. This was my approach in making the film look real.
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