Have you read Bruce Lee: Wisdom for the Way? It’s a must for all martial artists. Order your copy here — it’s on sale!Wong began to understand what it means to be a martial artist. Hint: It’s not about fighting or winning tournaments. The most important parts of the picture Wong discovered were intelligently inserted into The Grandmaster, as were the words that became mantra for the film: seeing, knowing and doing. That mantra is what inspired lead actor Tony Leung to practice kung fu for three years in preparation for the role. The first year of his training took place under the shadow of not even knowing who he would portray in the film. After suffering two broken bones, which served as his comeuppance into the real world of martial arts, Leung became concerned not that he’d be unable to execute the required film fights in a convincing manner but that he might hurt his opponents in the process. The Grandmaster loosely chronicles the life of Ip Man (also spelled Yip Man), the man who trained Bruce Lee. It starts in the 1930s, when Ip lived in China, continues through the events that caused him to flee to Hong Kong after the Communist takeover and ends with his death in 1972. The movie opens with Ip reflecting on martial arts, then cuts to a rainy scene in which he faces a dozen combatants. The water really tested Leung's mettle. He later said it was the toughest scene to film. For 30 consecutive nights, Leung and the stuntmen were soaked to the teeth. Each time, no one was allowed to change into dry clothes until filming wrapped the next morning. Tony Leung as Ip Man, grandmaster of wing chun. Back to the story: In Foshan in 1936, the kung fu community is restless over the retirement of master Gong Yu-tian, leader of the Chinese Martial Arts Association. Hoping to find a worthy successor, the northern master sets up a battle of wits with the best fighter from the south — Ip Man. Most moviegoers failed to grasp the essence behind this fight. I won’t share it here out of respect for Wong Kar-wai, who said he wanted to keep it reserved for martial arts insiders. The final fight featuring Gong Yu-tian's daughter will also leave non-martial artists and Western critics wondering what the heck happened. The key moment involves fa jing (explosive energy), chi and kung fu. Likewise, viewers who rely on the English translations to comprehend all that is happening in the movie won’t grasp the spirit of the Chinese dialogue, which eloquently masks the cryptic codes of martial skill and philosophy. However, those who walk the path, who know how to open their mind so they can experience the martial arts as a way of life, are likely to get The Grandmaster. Are you up to the challenge? (Photos Courtesy of The Weinstein Co.) Go here to order Dr. Craig D. Reid’s book The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s: 500+ Films Loaded With Action, Weapons and Warriors.