The Viet Vo Dao history

The Viet Vo Dao history is strictly tied to the history of Vietnamese people and, therefore, reflects its spirit accurately.
The Viet Vo Dao is characterized by the fact that it is not the invention of one person, but it is the achievement of an entire population that, during its history, has had to struggle constantly in order to survive.
Differently from other Asiatic regions where the practice of martial arts became the prerogative of a specific and privileged social class (Kchatrya in India, Samurai in Japan), in Vietnam the martial law, born in the farming environment, has developed with it. It is difficult to specify its date of birth which certainly is located in the period when the ancient Viet Nam still stretched in the lower part of the current China, up to the Duong Tu Gian river approximately 5000 years ago.
We generally agree upon recognising the Emperor Hung Vuong I as the founder of Vietnam and the father of Viet Vo Dao. In fact, under the dynasty of Hung Vuong (2879 - 258 a. C.) the Vietnamese martial art structured with the philosophy, as the traditional medicine did.
Conventionally the Viet Vo Dao history is divided in different periods:

2879 - 111 a. C. -Period during which the techniques were defined

In a few North Vietnam's caves interesting examples of wall paintings and points of arrows were discovered in the archeological escavations of the Citadel of Co Loa. They allow to confirm the hypothesis done around the drawing which decorate the drum Ngoc Lu, important testimony of the ancient Vietnam, about the existence of different fighting techniques: not only bare-hand fightings but also the axe art (Bua Riu), the short sword art (Doan Dao), the sword art (Guom), the lance art (Thuong), the stick art (Bong Phap), the bow art (Cung).

111 a. C. 906 d. C. - Period during which the theories were formed

This period of the Vietnam history is characterized by the fightings against the Chinese invasions. The martial art, already known as a mean of defence, is associated to the military art and has a new development: the tecniques are improved, the theories are developed and the strategies are formulated.
  • Theory of the superiority of the closed tecniques.
  • Theory of the flexibility against the strength.
  • Theory of the principle of surprise.
  • Theory of the secret of delusions.
  • Theory of the method to avoid without resistance.

906 - 1009 - Period of the development

This period is characterized by a profound influence of the principles and theories of the martial art upon the military art. The Kings Ngo Quyen and Dinh Bo Linh were both great masters of martial Arts and great strategists. The changes they performed in the Army organization and in the soldiers training made national unity possible.

1010 1527 - Period of tecniques improvement and diffusion

With the stable and long lasting independence of the country, Viet Vo Dao became an art of life acquiring a larger educational value, not only limited to the war practising.
Under the Ly dinasty (1010 - 1225) all the mandarins and the officers had to practice the martial art; also the ladies of rank practiced it in order to give a good example.
Under the Tran dinasty (1225 - 1440) the academy of the Giang Vo Duong was created; it gave Diplomas and Doctorates in Martail Art.
In 1284 during the day of the feast of middle Autumn the general Tran Hung Dao asked all the directors of the martial art schools in the country to join forces in order to oppose the Unni invasion. After this, all the different tecniques were not only made public but also codified.
Thanks to this spirit of national unity Vietnamese people could oppose and push back the Unni.

The vast majority of the ancient texts about the Vietnamese martail art and the codified tecniques were written in this period. The book considered the most precious is the one of Tran Quang Khai Chieu Minh Dai Vuon (1241 - 1294) titled "Linh Nam Vo Kinh" (The Vietnamese martial art) which is the necessary historical document to understand all the principles of Viet Vo Dao which is quite unique and peculiar.

1527 - 1802 - Period of the division

(in preparation)

1802 -1945 - Period of the decadence

This period coincides whit the arrival of Nguyen dinasty and the French colonization.
The industrialization and the introduction of the modern military techniques made the Vietnamese people lose the confidence in the traditional human values and the utility of the martial art.

Under the French colonization (1863 - 1945) the teaching of martial arts teaching was forbidden so that young people ignored even its existence. Nonetheless the schools continued their activity in clandestinity; this allowed the martial art to survive, though in a state of confusion.

1938 - Period of the rebirth

It is due to Master Nguyen Loc if Vietnamese martial art could reconquer the place that they had always have in the history of Vietnamese people.
Born in 1912 a Huu Bang in Tonkino he started a long training in martial art and Vietnamese philosophy; at the end of it he codified and unified in the VO Viet Nam what he had learnt.
In 1945 in Hanoi the Master presented officially the moviment which was called Vovinam Viet Vo Dao. In 1960, before diing in Saigon surrounded by his disciples, the Master appointed his successor, Master Le Sang, and suggested to his disciples to spread Viet Vo Dao in the world.

1973 Fundation of the federation VIET VO DAO INTERNATIONAL

The 2 August 1962 the Master Phan Hoag leaves the Vietnam with the purpose of to study of studying the situation of martial art in foreign countries, particularly those in the far East and in Europe.

After more than 10 years of working and travelling, the master Phan Hoang succeeded in spreading the Viet Vo Dao in several countries and in reunifying the masters who taught in different countries the real Viet Vo Dao, though with different denominations.
This hard work has been completed with the creation of International Viet Vo Dao Federation, commonly called International Viet Vo Dao.
So was born the Viet Vo Dao movement of which more than 30 countries in the world are members.