Looking to the world on Vietnam Martial arts

            We are Vietnamese who are very fond and proud of Vietnam martial arts.  We look forward to the day when fame is brought to Vietnam martial arts the world over.  We toss about the whole night expecting Vietnam martial arts will be developed all over the world, which we think that anybody who loves them ever desires.   I also think that the level of Vietnam martial arts have undergone various periods of building and protecting the country, and have proved to the entire world their strength and capabilities.  Vietnam martial arts have had quick close contacts with world martial arts, and have brought back to this country many records in sports martial arts such as Taekwondo, Pencak Silat, etc.  We love Vietnam martial arts and, as such, we all wish that they would be developed more and more so that these arts as well as our cultural tradition may be introduced to the entire world.  There have been many writings about how the future of Vietnam martial arts will be, but those have not mentioned their orientation in the future.
According to our humble idea, all of the present various martial art sects, clubs, and associations, have their lines of action studying Vietnam martial arts.  Nevertheless, so far they have not had any practical plans due to the following reasons:

  • The lesson plans:  have the effects only on theories and complement in imparting, difficult to generalize in the reunification of Vietnam Martial Arts.
  • Rules for sport competition:  although have the characteristic of making compulsory to everyone including international learners, these rules still lack their specific traits of Vietnam Martial Arts and still lack the way to make them a general sport for everybody.
  • Arguments in Vietnam Martial Arts:   only suitable for using them as complementary documents in martial arts

          We know that in the international systems of martial arts, there are various forms such as taekwondo, karate, pencak silat, judo, etc. which have been developed extensively and their common programs are very realistic.  And Vietnam martial arts have also been developed extensively and have had prestige the world over.  But our martial-trainees feel lost when they trace back to their origin because they do not know for sure where their arts take source from. 
We have noticed that all the developed martial arts in the world have their own plans, directions, and guiding principles to expand theirs.  For example, Pencak Silat puts forward its rules for competition to invite other countries taking part in the name of Pencak Silat, and little by little it encroaches on other programs with compulsory competitions of its.  We see that this is an interesting way we should examine because of its quick and expansive diffusion.
According to our own opinion, the competition system of our age-old martial arts presently does not match with the intention to make them a generalized and internationalized sport.  This is due to the following reasons:
Similar to Thai Boxing, our field of action is not strong in the world (it is hard for us to win high position); it does not suit the Vietnamese intelligence and stratagems in their fighting techniques; it does not suit Vietnamese physical style and conditions in Vietnam and its specific arts of fighting as well.

            From the above-mentioned opinions, we have some ideas about the orientation in building Vietnam Martial Arts, which are as follows:

    • Forming a theory system of Vietnam Martial Arts based on the foundation of the five universe basic elements:
  • The five universe basic elements represented in Orient Philosophy are the star with five positions known as metal, wood, water, fire, land, which show the emblem of the five points of the star in Vietnam’s national flag.
  • The five universe basic elements foundation has been applied to Vietnam martial Arts since long ago and they have been found in the age-old martial arts.
  • The basis of the five universe basic elements has suggested their philosophic characteristics.
    • The formation of the five new competition laws based on the five universe basic element basis should be combined together with the specific characteristics and human culture of Vietnam Martial Arts.  Those new laws should have the following characteristics:
  • Easy to make known the competition standards strictly following the laws
  • Able to show the specific characteristics and theories of Vietnam Martial Arts
  • Suitable to various classes, levels of the people in their appropriate participation
  • Attractive and diversified in drilling as well as in competition
    • The new laws also show the formation of 5 performance laws based on the basis of the five universe key elements, which are as follows:
  • Stirring up the specific characteristics and theories of the techniques of Vietnam martial arts, which are suitable to all performers’ levels
  • Highly bringing out their development characteristics and diversification
  • Easy to make known and introduce thanks to their attractive, specific and abundant characteristics
    • The new laws also show the formation of martial art medicine based on the five universe basic elements, which is as follows
  • The theories of oriental medicine in martial arts
  • The methods of physical exercises aiming to improve health and cure diseases
    • The new laws also form ethics style in Vietnamese martial art practitioners:
  • Theories based on tradition and history of Vietnam
    • The new laws also form organizations to build and develop
  • Coordinating with related branches in the formation of the organizations
  • Creating the building and developing funds for Vietnam Martial arts
  • Building movements
  • Building laws
  • Development and development

          With constant thought of research and development for Vietnam Martial Arts, we earnestly wish to study, together with all those who are fond of martial arts, the formation of exercise systems as well as to apply the traditional specific techniques of the age-old martial arts to the competition with sportsmanship.  In the course of a fact-finding investigation and research, we have formed some specific ways of fighting and hope that those who are fond of martial arts will make their suggestions in order to improve these techniques.

Over-the-bridge competitive fighting
According to one legend and to politeness, when passing over a bridge a person should give up his way to elderly people.  Therefore, highly capable opponents usually test each other’s force by trying to throw the other side down to the river quickly in order to let people see that the winner is an elderly person.  From this principle, we see that this way of fighting  -  quick and skilful  -  shows that the fighter is an extremely experienced one who has received a traditional orthodox martial art such as:

  • applying an active and specific hand technique of the age-old martial art
  • applying the hand-foot chain technique
  • applying a balanced standing firmly, and actively
applying a direct nullifying technique.

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We feel that this fighting model highly agrees with Vietnam martial arts.  It may be the specific technique of Vietnam martial arts with the following strong points:

  • The over-the-bridge kung fu has not been seen in any country
  • It is suitable to Vietnam martial arts which apply skills and use less force
  • Other martial arts do not have advantages while fighting over the bridge
  • It is fair in counting the marks clearly (the loser is pushed down from the bridge)
  • It does not focus on winning or losing, or winning at any costs
It is an activity with sportsmanship and sport, which is suitable for everybody


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Chain fighting
In the history of Vietnam Martial Arts there is a legend about a woman general named Ba Tra, who was very good at martial arts and strategy and followed King Nguyen Hue.  Later, when Nguyen Hue deceased she took a number of soldiers and retreated to the zone called Tan Khanh to avoid being chased by Nguyen Dynasty.  Here, she founded an isolated zone (today this zone still bears her name known as Ba Tra Tan Khanh).  She instilled her martial art skills into the youngsters of the village to protect the local people and the war of resistance.  Among the fighting techniques of Ba Tra Tan Khanh, there were the technique called cross-leg technique.  The technique is so called because women in battle usually cross their legs aiming to show female timidity.  This body position also helps women turn their body round easily.  Deducting from these positions, we form a fighting position as follows:
Chain fighting with its high resistance and full of high technique.  It has specific, diversifying, transformative and sportive characteristics.  It is formed through the methods of martial art exercises with the application of the active chain techniques of the combination of hands and feet together.
Fighting law for experience: An 8-meter diameter yard covered with carpet.  Fighters wear protective attire (suit of armour, hard hat, etc.)

  • Given good marks if knowing how to use the chain position techniques (which is the specific trait of Vietnam martial arts)
  • Scoring marks when hitting a logical body area with the chain turning round
  • Chain dodging position 1 combined with a hand or foot technique and is not counter-attacked position
    • Hand chain position 1 with two hits
    • Foot chain position with two hits
    • One hand + one foot chain position
    • One foot + one hand chain position
    • Chain position fastening hands and hitting down
    • Nullifying and attacking opponent from the rear
    • Nullifying opponent and pushing him out
    • Controlling and threatening opponent’s chain technique
    • Specifying in fighting law

The second chain position must be different from the first one, which is as follows:

  • Moving positions in fighting
  • Nullifying opponent

Giving marks to any fighter who has:

  • continual movements
  • advantages over nullifying attacks
  • multiform fighting methods
  • techniques which are pleasing to the eyes
  • good physical force

Strong warning and lower marks to any fighter who:

  • gives an attack which is not a chain position
  • hugs, pulls, wrestles, pushes opponent

It is forbidden to hit on the head, face and man’s privy parts (feet are allowed to kick opponent’s face)
It is forbidden to show non-sports or non-educational attitudes

Technical characteristics of the fighting law:
- Applying active chain positions (This is the specific characteristic of the traditional martial arts)
- Applying the chain hand-foot position
- Applying the firm and active standing method (the technique of standing position is a particularity)
- Technically applying the direct nullifying hit

This is a sport which is suitable to all people.
This has been our small studying steps in the process of building aiming to increase the artful and sports characteristics in drilling with the purpose of heightening the techniques of the traditional martial arts.  In addition, we have introduced the specific trait of Vietnam martial arts.
With constant thought of a development for Vietnam martial arts, we are respectfully presenting some of our ideas here in the hope to win over your understanding and get your constructive advice.-

Ho van Trong, Martial Art Master and Physician
Web site:  http://hoaquyendao.hogiatrang.com



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