Did ‘Ip Man 4: The Finale’ Really Pit Karate Against Wing Chun Martial Arts?

The final entry in the Ip Man saga wowed martial arts fans over the holidays. Ip Man 4: The Finale opened worldwide on Christmas Day. Donnie Yen returned one last time as Wing Chun master Ip Man, now defending his martial art in ‘60s San Francisco. The film’s villain, Barton Geddes (Scott Adkins) is a Karate master from the U.S. military but was their fight really Wing Chun vs. Karate?

Donnie Yen and Wu Yue
L-R: Donnie Yen vs. Wu Yue | Well Go USA

Adkins spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet on December 18 about his role in Ip Man 4: The Finale. The action hero has shown off his own martial arts skills in many films like the Undisputed, and Ninja films, Assassination Games, Accident Man, Avengement and Triple Threat as well as big studio movies like Doctor Strange and The Bourne Ultimatum.

Scott Adkins didn’t perform strictly Karate in ‘Ip Man 4’

Barton Geddes talks about Japanese Karate’s superiority to Chinese martial arts, but when it came to performing the fight with Donnie Yen, Scott Adkins wasn’t strict about his style. 

“I didn’t want it to be too Karate personally,” Adkins said. “When we originally started, it was more about the Karate. The way I see him actually is kinda like he’s a Karate guy but he’s also using American wrestling and western boxing. I didn’t want to constantly be pulling off Karate poses.”

Scott Adkins had never trained in Karate before ‘Ip Man 4’

Scott Adkins has trained in kickboxing, Judo, Kujitsu, Krav Maga and Ninjitsu. Karate was never on that list but he was prepared for any Karate moves that came up during the choreography.

“I did Tae Kwon Do which has its similarities so it wasn’t a problem,” Adkins said. “The problem is when you’re fighting Donnie Yen with the Wing Chun, it’s very quick straight punches and Karate is very wide and precise. So to capture the timing, if I want to block punch number three, because I’m trying to block punch number one, just hoping you got there in time.”

Scott Adkins still trains every day

Whichever martial art he’s practicing, Scott Adkins makes daily practice part of his routine. That way, he’ll always be ready for his next movie.

Scott Adkins in Ip Man 4
Scott Adkins in Ip Man 4 | Well Go USA

“Oh yeah, always training,” Adkins said. “I was training this morning at the MMA gym. I have to train. I get depressed if I’m not training. I’m not fun to be around. I need to get it out of my system. It’s good for the soul.”

Did Ip Man really fight a Karate master?

Ip Man was a real Wing Chun teacher and his famous student Bruce Lee appears in some of the films. However, the films are always a dramatic interpretation of what adventures Ip Man might have had during his life.

“What I’m most impressed about with all of the Ip Man movies is there’s always a very strong emotional chord going throughout the movie,” Adkins said. “This last one is no different. [Director Wilson Yip] puts a lot into the story. It’s not just punching and kicking. It’s a very personal story going on which I’ve always appreciated about the film too. He’s a really good director.”