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Federazione Viet Vo Dao Italia a.s.d.

The way
Of Vietnamese Martial Art
to
Nguyen Van Viet
Bao Lan and
Nguyen Thien Chinh,
without whom all this wouldn’t
be possible

“the wise man knows what he


says and says what he knows”

translated from the italian by Claudia Pecci


and Fabia Scali Warner

Artistical and literary property reserved, no part of this book may be copied with electronical, mechanical or differ-
end systems without the written authorization of Stefano Targa and the Federazione Viet Vo Dao Italia a.s.d.
Federazione Viet Vo Dao Italia a. s. d.

The Way of Vietnamese Martial Art


the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

Water is one of the most formidable ele-


ments of nature, it can turn into gas, liquid
and solid; in a state of nature it can erode
rock or crumple the ground; it can give life
to a profusion of forms and doesn’t depend
on any of them.

The prevailing element in the human body


is water; in some way it keeps memory of
the things it touches. It is therefore an ex-
cellent symbol of meditation.

If the martial arts student is able to ac-


quire the essence of water, he will have
understood the great lesson of nature.

2
Summary

summary 3
1. Introduction 4
2. The essence 5
3. The origin 7
4. The technique 9
4.1. The basic stances 10
4.2. Blows 12
4.2.1. Arm techniques 15
4.2.2. Leg techniques 18
4.3. Defensive techniques 26
4.4. Falling techniques 28
4.5. Hold, lever and disarticulation techniques 29
4.6. Projection techniques and wrestling 30
4.7. Weapon techniques 31
5. The philosophy 32
6. From the teaching of master Chinh: 35
Ho phap, the technique of the tiger
7. From the teaching of master Lan: 39
Quyen, the codified forms
Introduction to “ngu cam hanh quyen”
8. From the teaching of master Viet: 43
Luyen khi, methods and applications for the development
and control of the interior energy
9. the evolution 47
essential bibliography 48

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the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

1. INTRODUCTION Credits
The making of this work has been possible
This work illustrates the soul of the Viet- thanks to all the students that have kept
namese martial arts in Italy. They initially the essence of VVD (Việt Võ Đạo) alive.
developed in Italy thanks to the work of The interaction between individuals is vital
three Vietnamese men, who in the early for any society. It is therefore evident that
70’s started to spread the teaching of their the synergic help of several people has
culture, supported by the passion for the made possible the realization of this book
art of their country. in a short time.
The following pages will explain the main As it is right to generally thank all the stu-
aspects of the art, giving the reader a gen- dents of VVD, so it is necessary to mention
eral introductive view of it. the people who have actively collaborated
Three of the nine chapters concern specific to the making of this book. In addiction to
studies on each of the three masters: an Masters Nguyen Van Viet, Bao Lan and
ensemble of theories and concepts that Nguyen Thien Chinh, to whom this work is
stimulates the curiosity of the student and rightfully dedicated, I’d like to thank:
encourages the teachers in their research Marco Taglietti, Denis Piovesan and Marco
and study. Bao for the collection of the material; Fio-
renzo Botosso, Franco Botosso and Mauri-
zio Foschi for having actively assisted me;
Emanuela Scarpa and Francesco Cabitta
for taking some pictures for the book;
Marilena Crivellaro and Roberto Ravarro as
my closest colleagues in the Technical Na-
tional Committee and last but not least:
Caterina Micci, Francesca Civitillo and
Francesca De Propris for their useful help
and the time they made me spare.

Roma, 18th april 2006


Stefano Targa

Viet Vo Dao in Italy


The first teaching of Việt Võ Đạo* started
in Italy in 1975. At first Nguyen Van Viet
got in touch with the members of the new-
born Vietnamese Martial Arts Federation
(International Viet Vo Dao). It was 1973.
Less than 2 years later he started teaching
in Rome as a member of the International
Federation. In quick succession Bao Lan
and Nguyen Thien Chinh started courses in
Padova and Torino.
The first Italian Federation of Vietnamese
*for technical reason it wasn’t possible to respect the
Martial Arts took root. right position of the accents on every Vietnamese
word in the book. It’s my intention to amend these
inaccuracies in the next edition.

4
____________________________________________________ 2 - the essence

2. THE ESSENCE

VVD is the modern synthesis of the Vietnamese schools of martial arts. It was created as
an educative movement for the realization of a well-balanced human being, integrated in
a socially valuable way.
The technique is the main way of carrying out this ideal into real life. It is an effort involv-
ing mind, body and spirit, through methods experienced and codified throughout the cen-
turies. Spirit is man’s innermost essence, that may not be perceived by the senses and
that has nothing to do with any religious connotation.
The study of the art refuses any political, racial or religious contamination and it encour-
ages the practise for the benefit of every human being, regardless of his social class or his
country, for a life in harmony with the universe of nature, free from bonds and limits.

The term VVD is made up of three ideograms:


Viet means “superior” “transcendent”. It is also the name of the Vietnam-
ese people . This ideogram can be translated as “to overcome an obsta-
cle”, ”to go beyond a mountain”.
Vo means “war”, “struggle”, “fight”. It is related to military strategy and to
VIỆT hand-to-hand combat as well. The ideogram is made up of two elements:
one means “weapon”, the other means “to stop”, “to suspend”. It refers to
the interruption of an offensive action and is often translated as “art of
VÕ war” or “martial art”. The suffix “martial” comes from classic mythology,
where Mars is the god of war.
ÐẠO Dao is “the way”, “the method”. It puts in evidence the Taoist principle of
the harmony of the opposites, symbol of the three creator elements. The
way is the inner spiritual journey and, at the same time, symbolizes a
method, a way to follow in harmony the universal and natural principles.

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the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

In conclusion, the ideographic composition has several meanings. In this context we’ll
consider two of them:
• the way of Vietnamese martial art
• the way of supreme martial art
These interpretations are useful for a definition of VVD, because they illustrate the root
and the purpose of the art.
The term VVD is in Vietnam usually associated to the Vovinam style. In Europe and in the
West it refers instead to the Vietnamese martial arts’ practise and technique.
The “Federazione VVD Italia a.s.d.”, with its regional associations, is the organization that
promotes and improves the Vietnamese martial arts in Italy, accordingly to the principles
mentioned above.
The technical and theorical program is the same throughout Italy and has been accurately
revised during the years, thanks to the constant relationship with Vietnam and to the help
of the Masters Counsel. Revision is an integrative part of the evolution of the martial art,
which is strictly related to the flowing of time, to the natural social changes and to the im-
provement of the student. In this way the effectiveness of the VVD activity is preserved
but it remains at the same time close to tradition.
He who wants to experience a martial art, wants more than a physical activity. The pur-
pose of this discipline is to know oneself and to be useful to others, after having absorbed
enough life force. This concept is well expressed in one of the main principles of VVD: “To
be strong to be useful”. If we don’t strengthen the body, we won’t have a solid basis for a
healthy spiritual and intellectual activity.
A constant and conscious practicing provides a psycho-physical wellness and the student.
learns to perceive more clearly the information coming from the self.
The knowledge of the self brings on new opportunities and enables to overcome the limits
imposed by ignorance, to explore more exiting realities, to live a fuller life.

the masters counsel – June 2004

The present “masters counsel”. On the left M° Bao Lan, 6° Dang, manager of regions Ve-
neto and Lombardia, councillor; in the middle M° Nguyen Van Viet, 7° Dang, manager of
region Lazio and manager of the Federation, counsel president; on the right M° Nguyen
Thien Chinh, 6° Dang manager of region Piemonte, councillor.

6
_______________________________________________________3. the origin

3. THE ORIGIN
In the West VVD means Vietnamese martial arts as a Master C. Phan Hoang
whole.
If we look up in Wikipedia (the biggest free thesaurus
on the web) we find:
“VVD is the philosophy behind many Vietnamese
martial arts”. In the early 70’s in France and then in
all Europe, the term already meant the mere Viet-
namese martial techniques. For the western people it
would have been impossible to distinguish the names
of the countless schools and styles.
The first who had the idea to fuse the several schools
in a complete one, was Master Nguyen Loc (1912-
1960). He decided to study with several masters in
order to improve the knowledge of all the psycho-
physical techniques at the basis of the fighting styles
of the several regions of the country. After years of
studies and discipline, he codified a movement, that
drew on the traditional Vietnamese roots. Its name
was the Vovinam VVD (1938).
In the following years many wars devastated the
country and when North and South Vietnam were re-
united (1976), the government decided to preserve
all the traditional and cultural aspects by entrusting
them to several departments. The martial arts heri- (Vietnam 1936 - ) one of the
tage was entrusted to the Sport Department . This founders of the International
was the beginning of the traditional martial arts fed- Vietnamese Martial Arts Federa-
eration: “LIEN DOAN VO THUAT CO TRUYEN VIET tion “Viet Vo Dao International”,
NAM”. It represents, together with the Vovinam afterwards developed into “Vo
school, the actual corpus of the techniques of the Viet, Vietnamese Martial Arts
Vietnamese schools of martial arts. World Federation”, of which he is
the president. He is also the
creator of the method “Viet Tai
Chi”

Bản Giốc Falls, North Vietnam


7
the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

The practice of VVD as we know it, comes obviously from the Vietnamese styles but it has
been also enriched with philosophical and technical contents, trying not to put too much in
evidence the sense of national pride*, typical of the Vovinam school. This choice lets the
practise spread throughout the world.

The technical and philosophical roots


The International VVD was born on the 3rd
of November 1973. The creators are: Ngu-
yen Dan Phu, Bui Van Thinh, Nguyen Trung
Hoa, Hoang Nam, Tasteyre Tran Phuoc,
Pham Xuan Tong e Phan Hoang as the
president. The federation created a unitary VO VIET
program, that was made up of the techni-
cal culture of each of the founding mem-
bers. This is the basis of our activity.
The traditional schools that gave their con-
tributions are:
Sa Long Cuoc, Than Long, Vovinam, Nghia
Long, Han Bai, Quan ky, Thien Mon
(Vietnamese Zen ).
The Masters Counsel of the Italian federa-
tion keeps constantly in touch with Viet-
nam and with the members of the Tradi-
tional Martial Arts Federation (Vo Co Tru-
yen), in order to enrich and widen the fed-
eral program, always respecting the uni-
versal evolution principles.

*The Word Vovinam is the abbreviation of


two words:
Vo, that means martial art and Vietnam, The official Vietnamese Martial Arts World
the name of the country of origin. there- Federation’s crest, created by Master Phan
fore Vovinam is the martial art of Vietnam Hoang

8
____________________________________________________4. the technique

4. THE TECHNIQUE
The technique is the foundation of the martial arts
practice. It is the set of activities that lead to the
knowledge and the development of the self.
Physical movement is the basis of these exercises. In
experiencing the art, the overcoming of the inertia of
the skeletal and muscular system is only the first of
the purposes. This dynamic action strengthens the
will, allowing a more efficient control on the rational
and emotional sphere.
VVD, if seriously practised, is a particularly harsh dis-
cipline. For this reason adolescents are more attracted
to it, because they have more energies to dedicate it.
To start at an early age brings many advantages:
more muscular elasticity
less ostheo articular problems
less idleness
more energy
more will to learn
After the age of 25 – 30 the character of people is of-
ten closed in rigid habits that compromise their
strength. At this age the practise is possible if the stu-
dent has treasured up the consciousness and knowl-
edge of his life experiences, and if he can wisely use
his will to overcome the obstacles of life.

The pillar of the technical performance is the psychophysical preparation. The body must
be properly trained. Muscles must be strengthened and stretched, the skeletal system
must be correctly integrated with them. This is possible only after a constant and con-
scious work. The methodical performance of the techniques greatly improves our ability
and gives new perspectives to our potentials. The breathing must be trained in synergy
with the movements and later on, with proper visualization techniques, it will lead to en-
courage and perceive the natural flux of the Khi (universal energy).

There is an infinite number of techniques in VVD,


for every kind of body. Hard techniques alternate
with soft techniques in combinations of attacks,
parries, falling techniques, acrobatic techniques,
projections, hand-to-hand combat, lever and dis-
articulations.
Techniques for the optimization of breathing are
supported by meditation and concentration exer-
cises.

The practicing of VVD leads to the creation of a


future full of wellness, promoting an ideal state of
wealth and energy. This means to invest on one-
self and to develop an inner force useful for us
and for others.

VVD is a martial art for every age, just the will to


start practicing it brings the first benefits.

In the following pages are illustrated the count-


less movements and stances that give life to the
complex corpus of VVD.

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the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

4.1. The basic stances


The stances allow balance, movement,
transformation and transmission of the
force from the ground to the limbs’ ex-
tremities. The therapeutic effect that their
performance infuses on the whole body, is
not less important, especially on the legs.
The study of these techniques should be
very accurate: in fact, all the attack, de-
fence or shifting movements are made
through one of the basic stances. They are
like the alphabet, once understood they
allow us to express ourselves fluently. The
classic forms must be practiced keeping
the barycentre of the body as low as possi-
Training for the classic Trung Binh Tan ble.
stance. The thighs are parallel to the
ground

Dinh Tan Trung Binh Tan

Lap Tan

10
____________________________________________________4. the technique

Quy Tan

Xa Tan mot

Tieu Tan

It is better to train gradually the endurance in


the stances, increasing the difficulty with time.
Only later on the training consists in passing
from one position to another.
We can divide the stances in three general cate-
gories: attack, defence and shifting. Obviously
they are often interchangeable.
The main purpose of the stance is to provide bal-
ance, without it any efficient technique would be
impossible. The position of the feet, the correct
weight distribution and the co-ordination of the
legs are the keys for a good execution of these
exercises. The position of the arms indicates the
movement we are about to perform, and the
technical typology it belongs to: attack, defence,
animal techniques.
The mere study of the stances concerns mainly
the lower limbs.

Xa Tan hai
Hac Tan

Duong Cung Tan

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the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

4.2. Blows
all the blows given with arms and legs are
defined percussion techniques, because
they transmit the power of the attack to
the opponent.
This power is transmitted to the natural
weapons following mechanical and ener-
getic principles.
The essential characteristics of a martial
technique are:
balance
strength
concentration (precision)
breathing
The effectiveness of a technique is strictly
tied to these elements. They must be si-
multaneously developed, preserved and
trained. Only their co-ordinated use makes
a correct martial exercise. For a better un-
derstanding we divide these elements in
two groups:
1. balance and power (external elements)
We can define them as DUONG (positive)
elements. They are easier to perceive by
the student. They concern a muscular and
skeletal kind of work;

2. concentration and breathing (inner ele-


ments)
We can define them as AM (negative) ele-
ments. They are less perceivable and they
concern the mental exercises sphere.

Mental and physical energies are anyway


connected. The power can be expressed as
a consequence of the mental work on the
inner energy (Khi Cong). At the same way
the breathing technique can be developed
thanks to particular muscular exercises.
In this case too is evident the eternal inter-
action between AM and DUONG.

The power of the attack can be


therefore expressed in two ways,
that can exist at the same time:
Muscular work: It is generated by
the muscular fibres’ contraction,
assisted by the bones. The muscles
must get stronger and much more
flexible, in order to make the body
move much more quickly. By train-
ing the physical structure, the body
gets sturdier and able to absorb the
impact given by counter-blow. It’s
important also to learn how to
transfer the strength from the
ground up to the leg or the arm,
exploiting mechanical principles.

12
____________________________________________________4. the technique

Energetic circulation (Luyen Khi), it is put in reverse order.


into motion by the mental consciousness All the movements must be fluent and con-
and by the practice of accumulating energy secutive. The technique can’t be efficient if
in one of the bioenergetical centres (for it doesn’t completely realizes these three
example the Dan Dien, as we’ll see later passages.
on) and transmitting it on the limb that has
to hit. The movement in this technique is
usually not very wide. It doesn’t need a
predisposition of much potential energy for
being transferred into kinetic energy. The
student can avoid therefore the spectacu-
lar charging phase typical in much of the
“hard” VVD’s techniques.
The use of energetic circulation is initially The bag is one of the tools used to prove
practised together with the “external” the efficaciousness of the strikes. It
techniques, illustrated in this chapter. strengthens the body structure to resist
Initially the technique is performed by as- the most violent counter-blows.
sociating to it mental visualizations of the The sack is also useful to strengthen the
flowing energy; later on these will become natural weapons.
proper perceptions.

USE OF THE MECHANICAL PRINCIPLES


The dynamic of attack techniques is devel-
oped in three stages:
charging
development (attack)
return
In the first stage there’s usually an in-
crease of the potential energy. In the leg
techniques, for example, the energy is de-
veloped by lifting the knee, that should be
lifted as high as possible.
In the second stage the accumulated po-
tential energy is transformed in kinetic en-
ergy. The power is addressed to the spe-
cific natural weapon (fist, elbow, hand…).
In the last stage the movements of the
first two stages are on the whole repeated

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the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

THE NATURAL WEAPONS some upper natural


As “natural weapons” we intend the most weapon
resistant body parts, that can endure a
violent impact.
Usually these parts are the limbs’ extremi-
ties (upper and lower). Here it’s possible to
efficiently release the power accumulated
with the attack movements.
These body parts are strengthened
through specific exercises. It’s anyway im-
portant for the expert student to let the
inner energy (Khi) flow into the impact
area during a violent stroke or during a
breaking technique. This makes the cells
involved in the impact more resistant, in-
creasing the self-repairing capacity of the
organism.

some low natural weapon

14
____________________________________________________4. the technique

4.2.1. Arm techniques


The arm techniques are all the blows given with the upper limbs. They can be divided in
three types: blows with a closed hand (punches), open hand strokes (side of the hand,
finger tips, wrist, palm, back of the hand) and blows of the elbows.

HAND CUT
The hand’s edge is called
Chem in Vietnamese. Ac-
cording to the trajectory
of the attack, there are
several names.
• chem vao (outside
cut)
Wrist Strike
• chem ra (inside cut)
• chem truc (front cut)
• chem hong (side cut)

The position of the hand


imitates the edge of a
sword. These techniques
can strike every part of
the body representing
an excellent compro-
mise between power
and precision.
Hand Cut

PUNCHES
Dam
In VVD there is a great
variety of punches. They
are studied in the basic techniques and much deeply in
the traditional forms (Quyen).

Direct Punch

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the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

Hook Punch Hand Cut


From Outside

Palm Blow
The great variety of punches allows us to
reach specific targets, that can be hit with
the most proper natural weapon.
The specific targets are usually the weak
spots of the human body, selected follow-
ing the criteria of the agupuncture theory
(bioenergetical circulation) and the study of
the muscular and skeletal structure
(structural frailty).
Sometimes also the blows given to a
stronger spot of the body, have a good ef-
fect. Some of this very powerful techniques
are the blows of the elbow and the direct
punches. In order to attack without any
physical damage during the performance, a
correct body conditioning is neces-
sary. Its purpose is to strengthen the
natural weapons and the supporting
structures. For this kind of training
external tools like bags, walls, a
sparring partner and overall a correct
mental job are used. The breathing
and concentration techniques give
the possibility to practise avoiding
traumas and to strengthen at the
same time spirit, mind and body.

16
____________________________________________________4. the technique

Circular Blow with the Elbow

Vertical Punch

Fingertip Attack

17
the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

4.2.2. leg techniques


Kicks are more difficult to perform than the arm blows. Although they are more powerful,
they are proportionally slower. The following considerations are important for their right
performance:
• purpose of the technique: the student has to know the function of a kick technique,
otherwise he can’t understand every single movement necessary to do it;
• initial stance: the student has to learn the techniques keeping low positions. At the be-
ginning the barycentre can be high. When the technique has been sufficiently understood,
the student has to practice it with a lower centre of gravity in order to have a quicker and
more powerful execution. Since during a fight the stances are much higher, after this kind
of training kicking will be much easier.
• low speed technique performance: if possible the student has to train and develop the

Double Flying Side Kick


technique by doing it slowly, keeping the postures relative to each phase for some sec-
onds. This way he strengthens the muscles and develops a good balance. It is useful for
this purpose to lean against a wall or another support until power and balance are suffi-
ciently trained. Later on the student will try to perform the technique keeping each single
position as long as possible.
• Attack level: once the technique has been assimilated, the student must perform it lift-
ing the attacking foot as high as possible, in accordance with his own muscular elasticity.
This improves the speed of the performance and the precision when he attacks at a lower
level (during the fight for example). Moreover in this way he stretches the muscles.
• Precision: it doesn’t refer only to the correct performance of a technique, but also to
the possibility of hitting a target, developing a good control (ability to stop the attack at a
very short distance from the target).
• Return position: after a kick he must return to a stable position, in order to start easily
a new technique or simply to keep a perfect balance.
• Special techniques: flying kicks and some sweeps, can hardly be performed slowly and
often the attack level can’t be modified. Therefore it is obvious that the previous consid-
erations must be suited to the different situations a student comes in touch with during
the practice.
18
____________________________________________________4. the technique

Breaking Technique winth Double Flying Back Kick

Front Kick

barycentre

19
the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

DIRECT TRAJECTORY
TECHNIQUE
The techniques that have a
straight attack trajectory are
more powerful than the others,
thanks to the structural align-
ment that allows the transmis-
sion of the strength from the
ground to the attacking leg.
These kicks are probably the
most ancient of the martial

Knee Blow

practice and they help the nor-


mal mobility of the articulations.
The main are: front kick, up-
wards kick, side kick, back kick,
downwards kick and straight Side kick
knee blow. Often the kicks are
used as blocking blows.

Front kick:
This technique is structurally simple, powerful
and quick. It can be done with the forefoot, the
foot plant, the heel, the instep (blow on the
genitals), the tiptoe (snake blow).

Side kick:
It’s the most difficult of the direct techniques
but it’s also the kick that generates most power.
It can be performed conveying all the strength
on the heel or on the edge of the foot.

Upwards kick:
It is performed by lifting the straight leg forward
and upwards. The natural weapon is the heel.

Back kick:
It is directed to an opponent behind us. It can
be done with the same technique of the side
kick or simply stretching out the leg backwards.
The natural weapons are the heel or the foot
plant.

Downwards kick:
It’s the opposite of the upwards kick. It is done
High Side kick lifting the leg as high as possible and releasing

Upwards kick
20
____________________________________________________4. the technique

the power with a quick movement downwards.


The heel or the foot palm have the task of trans-
mitting the power of the attack.

Straight knee kick:


It is an upwards violent straight movement of the
knee.

CURVING TRAJECTORY TECHNIQUES

These techniques can be very quick. One of the


typical characteristic of these attacks is the possi-
bility to hit the opponent with the foot deceiving
his guard. The main blows of this technique are:
roundhouse kick, waxing kick, waning kick, hook
kick, spinning heel kick, the instep kick from in-
side and different kinds of sweep. Although the
latter is a real projection technique, it’s classified
as leg technique.

High Front kick

Nha Trang (Central Vietnam) - architectonical detail

21
the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

High Roundhouse kick

Roundhouse kick

Roundhouse kick:
It’s the most employed in the sport fighting, it’s particularly quick and it doesn’t need
much energy to be done. According to the way of execution the natural weapon can be the
forefoot, the instep or the tibia.

Waxing kick

Waning kick

Waxing kick (straight leg movement from inside to outside):


It’s a relatively a simple technique. It’s a circular movement from the inside to the outside
of the body with the straight leg. The body
Spinning heel kick part involved in the impact is the external
foot’s edge or the heel.

Waning kick (straight leg movement from


outside to inside):
It’s the opposite of the previous technique.
It’s a circular movement from the outside
to the inside. The natural weapons are the
palm of the foot and internal foot’s edge.

Hook kick:
In a semi side position towards the target,
the heel or the palm of the foot attacks in
an inside outside movement. This exercise
is preliminary to the back roundhouse
kick.

22
____________________________________________________4. the technique

Sweeping technique Spinning heel kick:


it’s a difficult technique. It requires a
good elasticity and a good co-
ordination. The twisting that precedes
the attack helps increasing the final
speed, making it an extremely powerful
kick. The natural weapons are the same
as the hook kick.

Instep kick from inside:


It’s a rapid kick, it deceives the oppo-
nent’s guard with a misleading trajec-
tory. The instep is used to kick.

Instep kick

Sweeping techniques:
They often exploit the kick
dynamics. Their purpose is
to throw the opponent out of
balance. They are mainly
directed to the lower part of
the body and, according with
the type of sweeping, the
arms can help the move-
ment for a greater effica-
ciousness.

FLYING KICKS

Almost all these technique


can be performed in the fly-

Spinning Heel kick 23


the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

ing version. The attack is preceded by a jump with or without a run-up, according to the
desired effect.
The exercise develops in the air and it requires acrobatic abilities that must be constantly
trained. This is the only way to do them avoiding damages to the articulations during the
landing.
If the student isn’t able to do the basic kicks correctly, it’s useless for him to do them in
the flying version. Before training this techniques he has to train efficaciously in the corre-
sponding basic kicks, with one foot on the ground.
Obviously, if the student doesn’t jump high enough, he will not have enough time to do all
the necessary movements to perform the
kick and the technique won’t be efficient.
Anyway jumping skills must be trained
through adequate exercises.
The legs can be strengthened with a con-
stant and careful practice, starting with the
simpler techniques (for example the flying
front kick). The methodical practice will em-
power the lower limbs and it will improve the
co-ordination necessary for the more com-
plex techniques.

Flying Side kick

Flying Back kick Flying Back kick

Flying Spinning
Heel kick
Flying Spinning Heel kick

24
____________________________________________________4. the technique

Double Flying Side Kick

25
the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

4.3. defence technique


ing back is a duck. But a duck is really effi-
cient if the fighter draws back maintaining
The defence techniques are the move-
a short distance from the opponent, in or-
ments done to elude the opponents at-
der to have the possibility to make a quick
tacks. They can be classified in three big
counter-attack.
types:
The natural reaction to an attack by draw-
• Ducks ing back is not always useful in martial
• Blockings arts, because the aggressor could continue
• Parries the attack until he hits us. For this reason
it’s important to study specific structured
movements useful in the practise.

Blockings
The blocking technique stops
an attack opposing pure
strength to it. To block an at-
tack we need a natural reac-
tion but, in this case as well, it
could not be enough for a de-
fensive purpose. The blocking
technique is a violent display
of power against power . The
body parts used to do it must
be very resistant and strong to
absorb the hits and to release
the opposite strength through
the skeletal-muscular struc-
ture.
For a more efficient effect the
fighter must anticipate in time
the attack, so that its power is
Ducks considerably reduced.
They are together with the blockings the Formerly the defence techniques were
most natural defensive method. In this mainly blockings. The training consisted in
kind of techniques the fighter avoids the reinforcing the involved body parts, even
contact with the opponent. The mere draw- hitting them violently with sticks. The
training purpose was to
strengthen the bones of the
forearm (the most used body
part in this technique), increas-
ing the resistance to pain. In
this way the fighter wasn’t dis-
turbed by this sensation during
the fight.
The blockings are anyway sacri-
fice techniques, for this reason
in the modern VVD the parry
techniques are given more
prominence.

Parries
The purpose of a parry is to di-
vert the strength of the attack
and to direct it to a inoffensive
trajectory. To perform an effi-
cient parry technique the fighter

26
____________________________________________________4. the technique

must foresee the direction of the attack. If


he perceives the direction of the strength
he can do the right movement to neutral-
ize it.
The training consists mainly in the realiza-
tion of circular trajectories. This character-
istic makes the parries particularly fluid
movements, even if they are done in suc-
cession.

The philosophical con-


cepts of Taoism have
brought radical changes
in the martial art and in
the parries there’s an ex-
ample of the technical
evolution due to these
influences. The essence
AM of the defence is used
to waste the DUONG es-
sence of the attack.

27
the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

4.4. fallino techniques

Knowing how to fall is a basic defensive po-


tentiality for our body. To fall in the right way
in every situation and on every ground is an
essential part of VVD and it is an important
element that characterizes it and enhances its
value.
The falling technique on the real ground
(without mattresses) can be very difficult if its
performance doesn’t follow the basic principle
of harmony between strength and flexibility.
The hardness of the ground surface can be
won by the body’s flexibility. The study of the
basic concepts of the pre-acrobatics and acro-
batics are the more necessary, the more
complex the practise of the martial art gets.
The practise of falling correctly is a good test
for the student to see how much control on
his body he has.

Backwards straight somersault

Even if this isn’t a


real falling technique it is nonetheless
useful if the fighter must stand up
quickly after having fallen on his back.

Obstacle falling technique

28
____________________________________________________4. the technique

4.5. LEVER, GRASPS AND


DISARTICULATION TECHNIQUES
The purpose of these tech-
niques is to control the oppo-
Ground blocking of the wrist
Lever on the shoulder articulation
nent , immobilizing one of his
main articulations.
80% of the grasps is realized
with the upper limbs. The re-
maining 20% is realized with
the legs. The levers can pro-
voke a bone fracture or the
disarticulation of the joints.
The practice with a partner
strengthens the body structure
and allows a deeper knowledge
of it, thanks to the stress on
tendons and ligaments. The
mental work in this techniques
is a good way to improve the
pain threshold . For this reason
the practise of these exercises
is promoted not only for self
defence but also in the traditional VVD didactic.

The grasps and the levers are used as a way


to get closer to the opponent and throw him
on the ground. They are also useful to immo-
bilize him, reducing the width of his limb
movements.
Training with these movements is necessary
to deal with the study of fight an projection
techniques. For a safe training the student
must obviously have an excellent knowledge
if the falling techniques .

The legs grasps, called flying scissors, are


the most spectacular and difficult of VVD.
They require a complete skill of the mar-
tial arts’ basic laws, in order to be safely
performed on a hard pavement.

Blocking of the arm and neck


disarticulation

29
the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

4.6. PROJECTION TECHNIQUE


AND WRESTLING

The purpose of the projec-


tion technique is to throw Ground blocking, lever on the elbow and shoulder disarticulation,
the opponent out of balance. using lower and upper limbs
Consequently he hits the
ground causing himself a
damage in the impact. These
techniques require a hard
training to improve the mus-
cular power in relation with
the resistance. It is often
necessary to lift the oppo-
nent to throw him out of bal-
ance.
The best prosecution of

these movements can be an immobiliza-


tion or a compression on neuralgic areas
of the body. The latter are fundamental
for the wrestling, which is based on
grasps, compressions, levers, immobili-
zations and blows, while lying partly on
the ground.
Some methods of projection don’t re-
quire the use of brute force and are more
efficiently based on mechanical and bio-
energetical principles dynamically ap-
plied. During the dynamical phases of
the fight, the fighter intercepts the direc-
tion of the opponent attack, in order to
amplify his power and carry out a mis-
balancing action, necessary for the pro-
jection.

Projection realized thanks to the body ro-


tation and a lever on the opponent’s arm.

Projection done amplifying the direction of the


opponent’s attack. This is possible thanks to a
rapid downwards duck and an adequate push
from the right foot.

These techniques are studied in the applications


of the Song Luyen. They are fighting prefixed
sequences studied to train several kinds of at-
tack and defence. The roles of attacker and de-
fender alternate continuously in a sequence of
movements.

In these techniques with a sparring partner both


bare hands and weapon techniques can be ap-
plied.

30
____________________________________________________4. the technique

4.7. WEAPON TECHNIQUES


Traditional weapons have ancient origins in Viet-
namese martial arts. Their study continues today
thanks to the masters and researchers, and has
been enriched and perfected.
The practise with the white weapons is possible
only after having assimilated the basic techniques,
exercises, and theories. In fact they have the same
application of the principles of movement. A good
mastery of the weapon techniques requires time
and constant training. Initially the student does
simple exercises to get used to the weapon’s
weight and shape. Afterwards he starts making cir-
cular and consecutive trajectories. Just after that
he practices with a partner to understand better
the attack and defence movements. Usually this
training is realized with the help of the Quyens an
the Song Luyen. They are the codified technique
sequences and they can be performed alone or
with another student. Lance
Sword
The traditional weapons are divided in two fami-
lies:

• Long weapons
• Short weapons

According with the shape and the characteristics of


the weapon, more distinctions are possible.

The training with a weapon improves noticeably


the quality of the kinaesthetic intelligence. This will
later on enable the development of the perception
of the Khi outside the body.

Sabre

31
the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

5. THE PHILOSOPHY
The role of philosophy consists in studying the
main principles of reality, grasp the essence
of things and reveal the mystery of life.
In the East philosophy is basically pragmati-
cal: it has to be able to be applied to the con- 1 2 3
test in which one lives. This way of thinking
makes it the basis of all disciplines; physics,
biology, medicine or martial arts all have a
philosophical background. The general vision
is that of a strictly interlaced universe: in the DUONG AM
infinitely small we can find the key for the un-
derstanding of the infinitely big, and vice-
versa. 4
Viet Vo Dao refers to some basic concepts:
The evolution of the TAI CUC diagram
• the Dao 1. Static Situation 2. Application of Force
3.Dynamic Situation 4. TAI CUC diagram
• the eight trigrams
There is a small white circe in the black part and a
• the five elements black one in the white to indicate the presence of
• the universal essence Duong in Am and viceversa.
• the principle of cause-effect
There are two basic dispositions of the
• the interaction between macrocosm and
trigrams:
microcosm
TIEN THIEN – First Sky (or fore sky)
• the continuous evolution
HAU THIEN – Last Sky (of after sky)
• the eternal repetition of vital cycles
Every trigram has a name and various
meanings, and the dispositions indicate
We will now illustrate the meaning of these
how a trigram changes (transforms it-
notions.
self) in another, following the path indi-
cated in one of the two diagrams (see
The DAO, the three creator elements
diagrams of the First Sky and Last Sky).
Basic concepts of Taoism, the essence of Dao
In the TIEN THIEN BAT QUAI the dispo-
is the synthesis of two opposing principles
sition of the trigrams realizes itself as a
tied and indispensable one another:
balance of bipolar forces.
-AM the negative pole
In the HAU THIEN BAT QUAI the disposi-
-DUONG the positive pole
tion of the trigrams realizes itself as a
The Dao is generated from the interaction of
cyclical sequence on the basis of tempo-
AM and DUONG that have their origin in the
ral successions (seasonal cycles on the
VO CUC (Primordial or Supreme Emptiness)
first place).
The VO CUC is an element independent from
The study of these models allows us to
time, exists before time and is potentially the
predict the events as effects of specific
root of all creation.
causes, and discover the synchronicity
Every condition or element of the universe
of apparently disjuncted situations.
comes from the bipolar interaction AM-
DUONG. The syntesis of the two principles is
The Five Elements – NGU HANH
dynamic, and for this reason in the THAI CUC
The energies generate by the DAO can
diagram the elements are symbolized by
be manifested in five qualities, called the
curving lines that indicate the dynamism of
five elements:
this relationship.
WOOD, FIRE, EARTH, METAL, WATER.
The mutual transformation matter – en-
The Eight trigrams – BAT QUAI
ergy determines their presence in nature
Another way of representing AM and DUONG
and necessarily in the human being.
is with lines: a straight line indicates DUONG,
The associations between elements and
a broken line Am.
various factors allow us to reveal their
Grouping these lines in groups of two we
connections and dependencies; this is
have four possible combinations; if we place
possible due to the study of cyclical suc-
them in groups of three (trigrams) we have
cessions. The basic sequences are
eight combinations.
called: Cycle of Generation and Cycle of
The combinations of these signs form a sym-
Domination.
bolic representation of reality.

32
_________________________________________________5. the philosophy
___________________________________________________5.

comprehend their meaning. The KHI is


VO CUC the basic element of various disciplines:
martial arts, traditional oriental medicine
and other arts in general, assuming in
each different shades of meaning.
THAI CUC
The Principle of Cause – Effect
If we can perceive some effects, they are
generated by a cause. What is
“verifiable” by our sensations is the
LUONG-NGHI product of an “element” that has gener-
ated it earlier on according to the usual
timeline.
TU-TUONG Even though this is the most experi-
mented principle by normal people, it is
not always valid if the necessary time
Thai Thieu Thieu Thai and space conditions don’t sussist.
Duong Am Duong Am
The Macrocosm – Microcosm interaction
BAT QUAI An old proverb says: “So on high so on
low”.
There are things in the universe that we
Kien Doai Ly Chan Ton Kam Can Khon can perceive; big and very big things, or
Sky Lake Fire Thunder Wind Water Mountain Earth
small and very small; but obviously the
power of our senses doesn’t allow us a
complete scanning of reality.
The Universal Essence – KHI The faculty if intuition has allowed man
Everything in the universe is emanation of a to sense the presence of a microcosm
single basic essence (improperly called en- and a macrocosm beyond our percep-
ergy); it is indicated as KHI by the Vietnam- tions. The careful observation of nature
ese, Prana by the Indians, Qi by the Chi- (external vision, applied to the macro-
nese. cosm) together with introspection
The translation of these terms demands the (internal vision, applied to the micro-
use of more expressions to be able to fully cosm) allows us to assert that the laws

First Sky and Last Sky Trigrams are read from the inside to the outside of the circle

On the inside of the sky circle we can see


the diagram of the First Sky. The trigram
sky (three black lines) is placed on top in
opposition with the trigram earth (three
broken lines); this is the situation of a
basic balance. On the horizontal axis (B)
follow fire and water, then one after the
other on the axis C wind and thunder,
A
finally on axis D lake and mountain.
In this disposition the Quai are graphically
opposites of their correspondent on the D C
same axis. They are placed according to a
logical order that respects the balance
between opposites.

On the outside of the sky circle we can see B


the configuration of the Last Sky. On the
vertical axis we have fire on top
(summer,SOUTH) and water at the bottom
(winter, NORTH); on the axis B on the left
thunder (spring, EAST) and on the right
the lake (autumn, WEST); earth in opposi-
tion with the mountain on axis C
(representing respectively SOUTH-WEST
and NORTH-EAST) and finally wind and
sky on axis D (representing respectively
SOUTH-EAST and NORTH-WEST). In this
diagram more importance is given to tem-
poral cycles (seasons, night/day, etc.)

33
the way of vietnamese martial art______________________________________

Conclusions
This philosophical structure is not only a
FIRE: HOẢ
means of interpreting reality, it represents
HEART
the internal dynamism of reality itself; the
South
philosophy is at the same time interpreta-
Red
tion, explanation, representation and es-
Summer
sence. In this contest the use of symbol is
Heat
not casual: the diagrams or the Bat Quai,
Joy
differently from a simple phoneme or
grapheme, suggest a complex concept that
graphically renders itself subconsciously
WOOD: MÔC EARTH: THỔ METAL: KIM comprehensible for the mind.
LIVER SPLEEN LUNGS The importance of the knowledge of the
East Centre West philosophy is essential for the martial
Green Yellow White arts student: one of the pillars of martial
Spring --- Autumn arts is the use of the KHI and the stu-
Wind Humidity Draught dent has to apply philosophical notions
Anger Worry Sadness to handle it and know it; at the same
time philosophy takes strength from the
martial art and expresses itself through it;
WATER: THUỶ movement in martial arts includes the dy-
KIDNEYS namic principles at the basis of the uni-
North verse. Technique is that synthesis of AM
Black and DUONG visible in the THAI CUC, and is
No the fusion and balance of the two oppo-
Cold sites.
Fear

that govern the macrocosm are the


The Basic Cycles
same that apply to the microcosm.
CYCLE OF GENERATION CYCLE OF DOMINATION
The Continuous Evolution An element creates An element destroys
Everything in the universe is evolving, another element another element

changes. Nothing is still.


Evolution can orient itself in three di- wood
rections: upwards (evolution), down-
wards (involution) or oscillating from
one another (instability). Man should
be able to recognize in every period of
water fire
his life in which of these directions he
is heading.

The Eternal Repetition of Vital Cycles


Everything has a beginning and an
end, but something was present to
create it and something will remain
from it: nothing is created and noth-
ing is destroyed, everything is trans-
formed. Life is a basic principle of the
universe; it has always existed and
carries on in descendants, until the
end of the universe.

metal earth

34
_________________________________________________________6. ho phap

From the teachings of master Chinh


6. HO PHAP
THE TECHNIQUE OF THE TIGER

The tiger is a strong and extremely agile fighting have been realized in its name.
animal, and is an excellent example of The specific training for an exact perform-
power and speed. These are some of the ance of the techniques is particularly
reasons why methods and techniques of harsh; muscles, bones, tendons and inter-

Master Nguyen Thien Chinh


Position of the hands forming the tiger’s claw

35
the way of vietnamese martial art______________________________________

nal organs have to be extremely empow-


ered in order to make the attacks efficient.
The fighting system of the tiger requests a
great deal of courage and determination.
The defensive structure mainly consists in
blocking off or in sacrifice techniques: the
blows of the adversaries are absorbed to
break in their defenses. The stances are
low, and the hands form the claws that hit
and tear with violence. The hands of the
student require a severe strengthening
work.
The technique of the tiger is classified as
DUONG: strong, fast, active. The weak
points of this method are paradoxically
found in its strengths: many energies are
required in order to be fast and strong, so
like the animal tiger, the student of the
tiger technique has to solve an eventual
fight in the least possible time in order not
to find himself lacking energies. Overall,
with the passing of the years the strength-
ening of the physical structure (external/ The saber
DUONG) could compromise the natural bal- The distinctive characteristics of the saber
make it the ideal weapon of the technique of
ance between the scheletal-muscular sys- the tiger, it representing ideally strong claws.
tem and the internal organs (AM). To
counter this inconvenient a regular practice
of bioenergetical exercises is required (see than any other animal style; this can be
chapter 8). made perfect only thanks to a strong and
Harmonizing the martial practice of this conscious psychological training: while per-
style with another one having AM charac- forming the techniques one must think he
teristics (soft, smooth, harmonious) such
is a tiger.
as the style of the dragon or of the snake
Training method for the technique of the
is advisable.
tiger
The understanding of a style is not only
The psychological and physical preparation
the product of practice: the mind must
determines a good outcome of attacks and
have an active and basic role. The tech-
defences. In the technique of the tiger
nique of the tiger requires a presence of
there are three basic qualities that have to
spirit and acceptance of the fight more
be developed, and working constantly on
the dynamic tension (khi cong of the iron
shirt) is absolutely necessary.
The three qualities are:

• strength (muscular empowerment,


balance, transmission of strength
from the earth to the limbs)
• speed (muscular elasticity, coordina-
tion, control)
• agility (kinaesthetic perception, syn-
chronism/coordination).

Obviously these three characteristics are


made perfect at the same time and have
been presented separately only for didacti-
cal reasons.
Technical stage summer 2005
A series of exercises and indications for
Master Chinh explains the dynamics of some defen- training the basic qualities of the tiger are
sive movements of the technique of the tiger here described.

36
_________________________________________________________6. ho phap

Strength
After an accurate and general warm-up
and stimulation of the flexibility of the ma-
jor articulations of the body (special atten-
tion goes to the articulations of the fingers
for the performing of the claw of the tiger:
HO TRAO) The strengthening exercises can
be performed after an accurate and gen-
eral warm-up and stimulation of the flexi-
bility of the major articulations of the body
(special attention goes to the articulations
of the fingers for the performing of the
claw of the tiger: HO TRAO).
We start from the neck, touching a wall
with our forehead and pushing against it
for a few seconds; we then proceed in wid-
ening gradually the angle between the ver-
tical axis of the body (the ideal axis pass-
ing from the centre of the head to the per-
ineum) and the wall, in order to create a
larger pressure on the forehead; apply the
same method to exercise the nape and
then the sides of the head. This isometric
exercise strengthens the neck and the
relative muscles considerably; initially the The practice of flying kicks contributes in strengthen-
exercises will be repeated two or three ing the lower limbs, particularly empowering the ar-
times for a maximum time of five seconds ticulations of knee and ankle; the explosive move-
ment the flying kick recalls the leap of the tiger to-
per exercise. Once an excellent level of wards its prey
practice has been gained it will be possible
to stay in balance placing on the floor only two fingers on the floor). The distance be-
the forehead and toes. tween the hands determines the specific
To strengthen the upper limbs and the strain of different muscular groups. When
chest push-ups can be performed, paying the adequate capacity is achieved only one
attention to keeping the legs on the same arm at a time will be exercised, with the
line as the chest and brushing against the relative variations. The whole forearm and
ground each time the arms are bent. These the fingers forming the claws have to be
are performed mainly in two ways: quickly kept in contraction in order to strengthen
and slowly. In both cases the same varia- the claw of the tiger, up to resisting also
tions can be performed: using the palm of several minutes.
the hand, the fist, the wrist and the fingers The abdominals have to be ready to absorb
(all five to begin with, then without the eventual attacks of the adversary, and
thumb on four and so on up to having only must be strictly trained with static
(isometric) and dynamic exer-
cises. They also plat a basic role
for the transmission of strength
from the earth to the natural
weapons. The static work can be
performed by intensely contract-
ing the muscles of the abdomen
and keeping the contraction from
a minimum of thirty seconds up to
the specific possibilities of the in-
HO TAN dividual; on a second moment we
will hit the abdominal part of the
body with the side of the hand,
gradually regulating our strength.
Up-Down charging of the tiger’s For the dynamic exercises the legs
claw, with movement of descend- can be moved alternatively up and
ing tear; the final stance is HO
down with the lumbar region
TAN: stance of the tiger

37
the way of vietnamese martial art______________________________________

cally without losing attention. The intelli-


touching the ground, the shoulders up and gence governing this sensibility is called
the head watching the feet; also in this synesthetical.
case we start with a minimum of thirty
seconds up to how much is possible. Dynamical tension
For the strengthening of the lower limbs a The specific practice of khi cong (exercises
good start is working on the stances: for the development and circulation of the
keeping Ho Tan from a minimum of a min- khi) of this style is called iron shirt or
ute up to how much is possible; exercise in golden bell. It essentially consists of two
jumps and rapid squatting, jumping from a alternate phases: in the first phase during
squat position upwards and forwards; inspiration the body relaxes, imagining the
jumping bending the legs the least possible flow of the khi in the energetic centre (Dan
in order to use the propulsive power of the Dien); in the second phase during expira-
ankles. tion specific zones of the body are con-
tracted for some seconds (increasing con-
Speed stantly the muscular tension), imagining
In order to promote speed the muscles the flow of the khi from the Dan Dien to
must be appropriately stretched, the ten- the interested zone. The practice must
dons made more elastic and the articular later on be made perfect by a partner that
later on will hit, gradually dosing his
strength) the zones interested by the con-
traction during the exercise.

The spirit of the tiger


The method of the tiger, according to tra-
dition, is more efficiently realized in the
performance of particular techniques;
nonetheless it can be conceptually applied
to a more vast variety of movements,
since the importance lies not in the form
but in the essence of the performance: the
student should deeply envision himself in
the spirit of the animal up to nurtuting in
himself the explosive force that character-
izes the animal.

In order to efficiently perform this technique an


excellent synesthetical perception is required

excursion used at its best. To achieve this


one must coordinate at the most the
movements of the body avoiding the use-
less contractions of antagonist muscles; a
correct alignment of the skeletal system is
also necessary to move more vigorously.
All stretching exercises are valid, what
matters the most is performing them with
the adequate mental control.

Agility
Agility is a consequence of the coordinate
interaction of the limbs with the torso.
The sensorial perceptions should be devel-
oped with a constant exercising, up to ex-
panding the conscience of the movement
in every part of the body. This condition
allows us to move rapidly and automati-

38
__________________________________________________________7. quyen

From the teachings of master Lan


7. QUYEN
CODIFIED FORMS, INTRODUCTION
TO THE “NGU CAM HANH QUYEN”

The Quyen is a sequence of predetermined student starts to notice nuances and char-
movements, that could be translated as acteristics initially ignored, even in training
form. on a Quyen learned earlier on; this is be-
Initially it is practiced to gain familiarity cause he starts perceiving the essence of
with the basic techniques of the martial the form.
art, and different results can be acquired The Quyen is the spine of the martial
according to the types of movements prac- school, for in it stances, movements,
ticed. With time’s passing the martial arts strategies, breathing techniques and other

Master Bao Lan


Flying back kick

39
the way of vietnamese martial art______________________________________

ineffable information can be transmitted.


In the Quyen the student express and real-
izes his art. The use of one’s own body as
means to transmit one’s experience and
move synergy with the universal principles
allows the Vo Sinh (martial arts student) to
transcend the technique and gain access to
something more essential also in the more
global contest of the reality he lives in.
The more elaborate Quyen contain in their
sequence information that can be gained
according to the level of the person inter-
preting them:
• the mere technique:this is the lowest
level, perceived by most people and
realized thanks to efficient bio-
meccanical principles;
• principles of military strategy: valid
for both melee and war;
• notions of traditional medicine, physi-
cal well-being: some techniques
might non have a convincing martial
application, but their movements in-
fluence the flow of the Khi in relation
of a specific internal organ or more
the hand to claw, symbol of the tiger
parts of the body;
• philosophical principles: in harmony
with the basic universal laws move- comments the techniques taking place.
ment can be transcended, succeeding The ends of the literary parts of the Quyen
in the perception of the essence of a may be of various nature: mnemonical ref-
philosophical concept. erences for the performance of the tech-
niques, philosophical concepts or messages
This type of information may coexist in the addressed to few initiated (in ancient times
same Quyen, the talent of the master that secrecy was common in order to avoid the
codified it consists in making more mean- transmission of knowledge to the wrong
ingful the techniques that form it. people).
To fully understand a Quyen the meaning
Poem and symbolism of the metaphors must be known in order
In Vietnam traditional forms are studied to be able to translate this symbolism pre-
with a text, a poem that accompanies and sent in the poem, in the movement and in
the meaning that underlies it. The symbol-
ism also has the function of stimulating the
imagination of the student to favour the
corresponding zone of the brain: for exam-
ple the expression Luu Van Cuoc, translat-
able as “straying clouds” refers to the spin-
ning heel kick. This traditional heritage en-
riches the beauty of a Quyen and promotes
the imagination of the student. This
method of work composed by movement
(techniques), literary part and symbols
(poem), typical of the martial arts of Viet-
nam, increases the importance of studying
the Quyen, stimulating in the Vo Sinh a
synergical work of the cerebral hemi-
spheres.

Classification of the Quyen


Master Lan and a study delegation in Vietnam For reasons of organization and teaching
the Quyen are classified in ten categories:

40
__________________________________________________________7. quyen

according to their origin (historical roots,


style of provenience), according to their
contents (the information it transmits),
their length (number of sequences that
form it) and peculiarities (type of form,
references to the animal techniques,
stances, etc.)
This is a list of the categories with a short
description:
1. CO QUYEN: ancient forms, transmitted
over the generations; not all of their con-
tents is easy to understand, and its com-
prehension is tightly related to the relative
poem;
2. TAN QUYEN: more recent forms, based
on the performance of movements clearly
transmitting their technical contents;
3. QUYEN TAP: quyen meant for the exer-
cise of the basic techniques, used for an
elementary didactical approach; 9. AN QUYEN: Quyen of the occult tech-
4. QUYEN THAO: quyen with links useful niques, containing useful information to
to the student for the development of decipher the essence of secret techniques
rhythm and endurance; often encrypted in the poem related to the
5. TRUONG QUYEN: composed of long se- form;
quences, they have the role of transmitting NHU QUYEN: Quyen aiming at the care of
the essence of the specific techniques of health and well-being; together with an
each school; accurate work on respiration knowledge of
6. TUYET QUYEN: special Quyen that may the energetic canals (meridians) is devel-
include secrete techniques or specific tech- oped.
niques related to the sacred animals;
Introduction to the NGU CẦM HÀNH QUYỀN
7. CUON QUYEN: hard forms, where the
This Quyen is a modern sythesis of tradi-
effectiveness takes over aesthetics; their
tional techniques related to the study of
role is the strengthening of the body and
animals, codified by Master Bao Lan and
are called the steel Quyen.
officially included in the Quyen of the In-
8. HUNG QUYEN: heroical Quyen, inspired ternational Viet Vo Dao in 1985.
by the stories of heroes, where particular
The martial origins of this form are related
care is accorded to aesthetical factors
essentially to two schools: VO PHAI TAY
without forgetting the work on an ade-
SON and THIEU LAM NAM PHAI.
quate strength of the blows;
The movements of the animals are in com-
mon for Chinese and Vietnamese schools,
Acrobatic techniques are present only in due to the various bonds that have kept in
the advanced quyen
contact the two countries for millennia. The
differences that characterize Vietnamese
from Chinese styles regard the approach to
the characteristics of the emulated animal:
the Chinese concentrate mainly on the
physical movements, whereas the Viet-
namese prefer working on the spirit trying
to bring out in the movement the interior
essence of the animal.
Literally the name of the Quyen can be
translated in this way: NGU means five,
CAM animals, HANH evolution and QUYEN
form.
It is made out of 5 CHIEU (combinations)
or sequences made of single techniques
called THE.
The end of the Quyen is to delve into the

41
the way of vietnamese martial art______________________________________

spirit of the five animals and develop the physical


qualities tied to the specific essence of each of them.
The five animals are:
HAC: the crane, symbol of long life, promotes the de-
velopment of balance; the movements are strictly cir-
cular and fast if necessary, but always soft in order to
use the flow of the Khi that we can learn to keep in the
body thanks to the training of this style;
HO: the tiger, adequate style for strengthening the
whole physical structure, prefers powerful and explo-
sive movements according to the interior qualities of
this animal;
LONG: the dragon, mythological animal, can move
with techniques similar to those of the other animal
styles, but is characterized by vast ranges and long
stances, and its claw in contrast with the tiger’s tends
to grab rather than to tear; massively present in orien-
tal philosophy, its style promotes a conscious control
over the Khi;
HAU: the monkey, symbol of agility, emphasizes strat-
egy trying to take advantage of the weak points of the
adversary, using the least effort to gain the maximum
profit; this animal has a happy and playful spirit;
XA: the snake. Its attacks are based on the efficient interaction of interior and exterior
strength, its movements smooth and suddenly quick, and the related physical work aims
at the development of the Khi and the strengthening of the tendons.

The NGU CẦM HÀNH QUYỀN is a form containing the spirit of five animals, five strategies,
five fighting methods; the study of this Quyen aims exactly at the transmission of these
essences to those that have the will to practise it.

The five sequences of the animals


rd
associated with the elements
FIRE – 3 Chieu
Mãnh long bái vi
The strong dragon rattles
his tail

EARTH – 1st Chieu


Bạch hạc triển xí
The white crane opens
its wings
WOOD – 4th Chieu
Hầu nhi thâu đào
The monkey picks the apple

METAL 2nd Chieu


th Hắc hổ ly son
WATER – 5 Chieu
The black tiger leaves the
Xà vuong khởi động
mountain
The snake king hits

42
_______________________________________________________ 8. luyen khi

From the teachings of Master Viet


7. LUYEN KHI
Methods and applications for the development
and control of the interior energy

The expression Luyen Khi is made out of indicating the particular meaning. For ex-
two words: Luyen meaning “traning”, ample, Khi Phap (exercises for the flow of
“exercising”, “taking action” and Khi mean- energy), Than Khi (mental or spiritual en-
ing “breath”, “energy” and representing ergy), Luyen Khi and so on. This can cre-
the element underlying and forming the ate a predictable confusion to the student
entire universe (see page 33). just starting to practise these disciplines;
In martial arts and in Chinese and Viet- for this reason in these pages we will deal
namese medicine the word Khi is often with simple notions and exercises useful to
used with prefixes and suffixes properly the development of the flow and control of

Master Nguyen Van Viet


Duong Cung Tan

43
the way of vietnamese martial art______________________________________

(meditation).

Accumulating energy
The physical part of a human being (mind
– body) is the dynamic and interactive re-
sult of two types of energies:
Tiên Thiên Khi' – ancestral energy (innate
talents, genetical influence, primordial and
cosmic energies);
Hậu Thiên Khi' – energy of sky and earth
(acquired talents, nutrition, respiration,
secondary energies)
Whereas we cannot operate on the first
type (except by slowing their dispersion),
on the second ones we can work in order
bioenergies, limiting as much as possible to enrich them.
the use specific terminology. A correct nutrition and a regular life style

The Theory of the Canals


Out of meridian △●
According to the traditional medicine of
Vietnam, the vital energy flows in canals
VG26 △●
inside the body, and these vessels, called
meridians in the West, are used for the ap- VC26 △●
plication of agupuncture and Khi Cong.
Some of the canals are particularly sensi-
VC17 △●
tive and if hit can cause pain, fainting or
even death. These results are the conse- ST18 △●
quence of the interfering of the blow on
the natural flow of interior energy. The
F13 ◊●
knowledge of the disposition of the canals
and the relative associations with the inter-
nal organs, emotions, sounds and temporal VC3 △●
cycles (time of the day, months, seasons
etc.) allows the Vo Sinh to be able to vol-
untarily regulate the flow of the vital en- ◊ intense pain
ergy (Chuyen Khi). These experiences are
useful for medical applications (health and △ faintings
wellbeing), martial ends (combat, breaking
techniques) and spiritual reasons ● death

The Dan Dien is a bioenergeti- F2 ◊△


cal gathering centre, and is
situated in the lower abdomen
VG:governing vessel VC: conception vessel
in the area corresponding to
St: stomach. F; liver; for more indications refer to
the body’s barycentre while
an agupuncture text
standing; in relation to it we
can find the Khi Hai point of
the meridian Conception Ves- Bát Đả Huyệt - Eight vital spots
sel. During the breathing tech- In the picture are illustrated eight vital points that if
niques we can concentrate on hit can cause: fainting, intense pain or death; except
either of these two areas for the spot located in between the eyebrows that is
outside a meridian, of the others the agupunctural
correspondence is indicated. A violent stimulation of
these points blocks the natural flow of the khi, caus-
ing the indicated injuries
navel

can allow an efficient conservation of vital


energy, but particular psychophysical tech-
niques must be practised in order to in-
DAN DIÊN crease it. Respiration is at the basis of this
Khi Hai, VC6 practise; we can stay days without drink-
ing or eating, but only a few minutes with-

44
_______________________________________________________ 8. luyen khi

out breathing, otherwise we would die.


To effectively perform a respiration tech-
nique we must respect two conditions: re-
lax the body and calm the mind.

Relax the body


Our body consumes energy like any ma-
chine, and the functioning of the
neurovegetative system concerns several
functions: keeping the temperature, san-
guine flow, respiration, digestion, etc.; this
automatic work spends resources and is
necessary in keeping us alive. Also our
daily activities can consume many ener-
gies: walking, driving, speaking and so on;
to have good results in the breathing tech-
nique we must completely relax the body,
contracting only the muscles necessary to
the maintenance of the position required

A B

Imagination, together with will and concentration


and gaze, can guide the Khi up to the finger tips
(Phât Khi)

must calm the mind trying to concentrate


on one of the indicated points (for example
the Dan Dien) or on the practise of the ex-
ercise.

Breathing technique
After the acquisition of the two suggested
conditions, the exercise may start choosing
one of these positions: standing (Lâp Tân),
sitting on a chair, cross-legged in the posi-
tion of the lotus (Kiêt Gia) or the semi-
The line red curve represents the diaphragm
lotus (Ban Gia), kneeling with the back of
Diaphragmatic Breathing
our feet on the ground (Song Quy) or oth-
A: Inspiring from the nose, the air must be guided erwise lying down (Ngoa Tân); basically
towards the abdomen, the diaphragm lowers while the back must be straight but not rigid.
chest and shoulders are relaxed
B: Expiring from the nose, when the diaphragm
raises pull in the abdomen

by the breathing exercise; this way we will


optimize the absorbption of the Khi which
will not be dispersed in muscular activity.

Calm the mind


Our brain is the organ that consumes more
oxygen than any other in the rest of the
body; even with its small dimension it can
disperse the energy produced by 60 to
70% of the air we breathe. Stress, intense
emotions (both negative and positive), the
whirlpool of thoughts we have in mind all
Breaking technique of a slab of wood with the
take a great deal of energy from the finger tips of the three central fingers of the hand
breathing function; to limit this effect we

45
the way of vietnamese martial art______________________________________

During meditation concentrate on the centre In order to prepare the natural weapons
before the impact we must proceed on par-
allel and complementary fronts: physical
and mental – energetical. The first consists
in the strengthening of the limbs with
physical activity: push-ups on the fists,
wrists and fingers; work on punching ball;
blows on gradually harder targets. This
training must be carried on gradually and,
in order to avoid serious injuries, necessar-
ily followed by bioenergetical practise. Af-
ter having accumulated sufficient energies
through the breathing technique, focus the
mind on the area that has to hit, in order
to make the khi flow there. Exercise then
by guiding it mentally from the Dan Dien
to the natural weapon, in order to mini-
Master Viet in the position of the Lotus, Kiêt Gia mize traumas. Initially this practise will re-
sult slow, later on with exercise and the
Inspire with the nose following with imagi- right dose of energy only some seconds
nation and perception the flow of the air, will be necessary before performing the
pushing it towards the lower abdomen, re- blow.
laxing chest and shoulders and lowering The effectiveness of these techniques real-
the diaphragm. The pressure of the air will izes itself thanks to the presence of three
push towards the abdomen and the lumbar basic elements:
area; stay in apnea (holding the breath Strength: biomechanical and bioenergetical
with the lungs filled with air) for some sec- Endurance: capacity to resist the impact
onds and concentrate on the Dan Dien. Ex- Speed: factor that increases the power of
pire pulling in the abdomen, following the the blow
flow of the air backwards; after having suf-
ficiently emptied the lungs hold your Luyen Khi, advanced techniques
breath with empty lungs for some seconds. In working with the Khi practise works bet-
Start the cycle again trying to keep the ter than a thousand theories. Without the
same duration for inspiration and expira- constancy and will to practice the simplest
tion times. techniques, talking about advanced tech-
The action of keeping the attention niques isn’t even considerable: no steps
(perception/conscience) on a specific point can be skipped in these practises. To the
for a sufficient time makes the khi flow in serious student a detailed research on the
that region. This simple principle is at the main canals and the practise of meditation
basis of the techniques aiming at the accu- are nonetheless
mulation of vital energy. If we concentrate advisable. A sim-
our attention on one of the specific centres ple technique con-
for the gathering of the Khi (the Dan Dien, sists in remaining
for example), thanks to a constant practise sitting in one of
we will start gathering strength that can be the positions de-
increased later on. Patience and persever- scribed earlier on
ance are required to have results in this (see the breathing
technique. A feeling of warmth in the Dan technique), clos-
Dien after a prolonged practise is one of ing the eyes, re-
the signs of the gathering of energy. laxing, breathing
calmly and con-
Breaking techniques centrating on the
Breaking techniques are a test to measure Dan Dien.
the coordination of mind and body, test When the mind
courage and fuel the will to crush obsta- will become
cles. If we want better results we must clearer the an-
make body, mind and spirit (essence) work swers to our ques-
synergically. In this case the breaking tions will come
Position Son Quy
technique will have a deeper and more in- naturally. Kneeling down, backs of the
structive meaning than mere performance. feet, sitting on the heels

46
____________________________________________________9. the evolution

9. the evolution

Everything in the universe is constantly


changing, from galaxies to single cells. The
laws of nature are balanced and bring har-
The secret of richness lies not in richness mony. Việt Võ Đạo is based on natural and
itself, but in the path that leads us to it. this universal principles, and its evolution
(Master Viet) can only bring to progress if the basic
truths that fuel it are respected.
In human evolution on is the end and The meaning of life resides in acquiring
many are the ways, in fact all martial arts experience, and a real potential offer by
in their definition mark themselves as Way Việt Võ Đạo is to do so in harmony with
(Dao). Being Việt Võ Đạo a method that nature; the single man may choose to
allows us to discover the power of the grow and the road to do so; the student
spirit, it has an immense value. should enrich the chosen way with his own
The education must be brought on at the experience in order to bring an harmonious
same time between initiative and respect, evolution of the spirit of Việt Võ Đạo for
determination and tolerance, progress and himself and others.
tradition. Thus the student has to under-
stand the true meaning of Việt Võ Đạo and
shouldn’t lose the opportunity of becoming
not only a strong person, but mainly a real
person with knowledge of the laws of the
universe.
Thus in developing Việt Võ Đạo we must
help every student to become a real per-
son and at the same time we learn to be a
The ideograms of
“strong and useful person”; this is why Việt Dragon and Tiger
Võ Đạo represents more an art of life represent Sky
rather than a combat sport. and Earth, Spirit
and Matter

47
the way of vietnamese martial art______________________________________

Essential Bibliography

Books:
Autori Vari, Atlante di Anatomia. Giunti Gruppo Editoriale, Firenze 2000
Anagarika Govinda, La struttura interna dell’I King. Casa Editrice Astrolabio - Ubaldini Editore, Roma 1998
Chao Pi Ch’en, Trattato di alchimia e fisiologia taoista. Edizioni Mediterranee, Roma 2004
Chia Mantak, Tao Yoga. Edizioni Mediterranee, Roma 1989
Chia Mantak, Tao Yoga Chi Kung dell’energia. Edizioni Mediterranee, Roma 1993
Da Liu, I King e la numerologia. Casa Editrice Astrolabio - Ubaldini Editore, Roma 1982
Eckert Achim, Manuale pratico di medicina cinese. Hermes Edizioni, Roma 1996
Esposito Monica, Il Qi Gong, la nuova scuola delle cinque respirazioni. Casa Editrice Meb, Padova 1995
Hempen Carl Herman, Atlante di agopuntura. Editore Ulrico Hoepli, Milano 2003
Hoang Phan Charles, En Route. Pharmedi Inc. Montreal 1993
Jou Tsung Hwa, Il Tao del Tai Chi Chuan. Casa Editrice Astrolabio - Ubaldini Editore, Roma 1986
Ornstein Robert, Thompson Richard F., Il cervello e le sue meraviglie. RCS Rizzoli Libri S. p. a., Milano 1987
Pham Xuan Tong, Qwan Ki Do. Oriental Press s. r. l. , Samurai Sport Promotion, Milano 2004
Too Lillian, Feng Shui, l’arte di vivere in armonia con l’ambiente. Arnoldo Mondatori Editore 1999
Veith Ilza (a cura di), Testo classico di medicina interna dell’imperatore giallo. Edizioni Mediterranee, Roma 1983
Wong Kiew Kit, L’arte del Chi Kung. Casa Editrice Astrolabio - Ubaldini Editore, Roma 2002
Yang Jwing ming, Chi Kung. Edizioni Mediterranee, Roma 1990
Yang Jwing ming, Le radici del Qigong Cinese. Edizioni Mediterranee, Roma 2003

Multimedia sources:
Microsoft, Enciclopedia Encarta Premium 2005
Autori Vari, Shaolin Kung Fu, video DVD, Budo International
Levet Patrick, Vo Co Truyen, video vhs, Budo International

Other documents:
Federazione Viet o Dao Italia, “Informa Viet Vo Dao”, 1995
Federazione Viet o Dao Italia, “Informa Viet Vo Dao”, 1998
Federazione Viet o Dao Italia, “Informa Viet Vo Dao”, 2000
Botosso Franco, Teoria e Filosofia. Thesis for degree passage 2004
Foschi Maurizio, Ngu Cam Hanh Quyen. Thesis for degree passage 1995
Piovesan Denis, Coltivare la tigre in noi. Thesis for degree passage 2004
Targa Stefano, Il libro della tigre. Thesis for degree passage 2002

Internet sources:
Wikipedia

48
From the left:
Master Lan, Master Viet and Master Chinh
Federation Technical Stage, Sibari 1979

National Contest, Rome 7th May 1982

“Super Banzai” magazine July 1984

“Samurai” magazine, May 1980


finito di stampare nel mese di aprile 2006 da: Arti Grafiche Fracassa s. r. l.
www.agfracassa.191.it