The other day I was browsing Netflix movies and one by the name of Ip Man caught my eye. I guessed correctly that Ip Man was referring to a person who I had always known as Yip Man—Bruce Lee’s martial arts instructor.

Full disclosure: I’ve never studied Yip Man’s life. Knowing full well that biographical movies are often loosely based on actual events, I have to take many of the events with a grain of salt.

Whether or not all the events and stories are true, I found Ip Man’s character extremely inspiring.

Here’s what I liked:

  • He defeats a well-known local master in his town of Foshan and agrees to keep it quiet. He doesn’t brag about victory or make a big scene like we so often see in today’s athletes.
  • When the Japanese invade his town, he accepts his new, lesser conditions admirably—going from being independently wealthy to poor and hungry overnight. (As an aside, here is one of my favorite Chinese quotes about accepting your circumstances and being grateful, “I complained about not having shoes until I saw a man with no feet.”)
  • He exuded calmness, serenity, and composure. One of my favorite scenes in Enter the Dragon is where Bruce Lee is challenged on the boat that’s heading towards Han’s Island. In an interview, Bruce Lee commented on the scene saying that if you’re secure within yourself, challenges won’t bother you. That’s the kind of composure Ip Man displayed in the movie. It’s the kind of composure that you develop from being true to yourself, over and over again.

As far as the film is concerned, it kept me engrossed the entire time. The movie follows Ip Man’s life from Foshan, through the Japanese invasion, to his leaving to go to Hong Kong. Throughout, Ip Man exudes the kind of calm and composure that always inspires me.

If you want to check it out, both Ip Man and Ip Man 2 are still on Netflix.