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 differend 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 elements 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 excellent symbol of meditation. If the martial arts student is able to acquire the essence of water, he will have understood the great lesson of nature.



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

3 4 5 7 9 10 12 15 18 26 28 29 30 31 32 35 39


47 48

essential bibliography


the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________ 1. INTRODUCTION This work illustrates the soul of the Vietnamese martial arts in Italy. They initially developed in Italy thanks to the work of three Vietnamese men, who in the early 70’s started to spread the teaching of their culture, supported by the passion for the art of their country. The following pages will explain the main aspects of the art, giving the reader a general introductive view of it. Three of the nine chapters concern specific studies on each of the three masters: an ensemble of theories and concepts that stimulates the curiosity of the student and encourages the teachers in their research and study. Credits The making of this work has been possible thanks to all the students that have kept the essence of VVD (Việt Võ Đạo) alive. The interaction between individuals is vital for any society. It is therefore evident that the synergic help of several people has made possible the realization of this book in a short time. As it is right to generally thank all the students of VVD, so it is necessary to mention the people who have actively collaborated to the making of this book. In addiction to Masters Nguyen Van Viet, Bao Lan and Nguyen Thien Chinh, to whom this work is rightfully dedicated, I’d like to thank: Marco Taglietti, Denis Piovesan and Marco Bao for the collection of the material; Fiorenzo Botosso, Franco Botosso and Maurizio 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 National 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 newborn 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 Martial Arts took root.

*for technical reason it wasn’t possible to respect the right position of the accents on every Vietnamese word in the book. It’s my intention to amend these inaccuracies in the next edition.


____________________________________________________ 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 involving mind, body and spirit, through methods experienced and codified throughout the centuries. 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 encourages 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 Vietnamese people . This ideogram can be translated as “to overcome an obstacle”, ”to go beyond a mountain”. Vo means “war”, “struggle”, “fight”. It is related to military strategy and to 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 war” or “martial art”. The suffix “martial” comes from classic mythology, where Mars is the god of war. 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.



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 improvement 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 purpose 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 Veneto 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.


_______________________________________________________3. the origin

In the West VVD means Vietnamese martial arts as a 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 Vietnamese 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 (19121960). He decided to study with several masters in order to improve the knowledge of all the psychophysical 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 reunited (1976), the government decided to preserve all the traditional and cultural aspects by entrusting them to several departments. The martial arts heritage was entrusted to the Sport Department . This was the beginning of the traditional martial arts federation: “LIEN DOAN VO THUAT CO TRUYEN VIET NAM”. It represents, together with the Vovinam school, the actual corpus of the techniques of the Vietnamese schools of martial arts. Master C. Phan Hoang

(Vietnam 1936 - ) one of the founders of the International Vietnamese Martial Arts Federation “Viet Vo Dao International”, afterwards developed into “Vo Viet, Vietnamese 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: Nguyen 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 program, that was made up of the technical culture of each of the founding members. This is the basis of our activity. The traditional schools that gave their contributions are: Sa Long Cuoc, Than Long, Vovinam, Nghia Long, Han Bai, Quan ky, Thien Mon (Vietnamese Zen ). The Masters Counsel of the Italian federation keeps constantly in touch with Vietnam and with the members of the Traditional Martial Arts Federation (Vo Co Truyen), in order to enrich and widen the federal program, always respecting the universal evolution principles.


*The Word Vovinam is the abbreviation of two words: Vo, that means martial art and Vietnam, the name of the country of origin. therefore Vovinam is the martial art of Vietnam

The official Vietnamese Martial Arts World Federation’s crest, created by Master Phan Hoang


____________________________________________________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 discipline. 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 often closed in rigid habits that compromise their strength. At this age the practise is possible if the student has treasured up the consciousness and knowledge 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 conscious 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 encourage 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 disarticulations. Techniques for the optimization of breathing are supported by meditation and concentration exercises. 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 oneself 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 countless movements and stances that give life to the complex corpus of VVD.


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’ extremities. 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, defence 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 possible.

Training for the classic Trung Binh Tan stance. The thighs are parallel to the ground

Dinh Tan

Trung Binh Tan

Lap Tan


____________________________________________________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 categories: attack, defence and shifting. Obviously they are often interchangeable. The main purpose of the stance is to provide balance, 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


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 energetic 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 simultaneously developed, preserved and trained. Only their co-ordinated use makes a correct martial exercise. For a better understanding 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 elements) We can define them as AM (negative) elements. 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 interaction 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 training 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 into motion by the mental consciousness and by the practice of accumulating energy in one of the bioenergetical centres (for example the Dan Dien, as we’ll see later 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 spectacular charging phase typical in much of the “hard” VVD’s techniques. The use of energetic circulation is initially practised together with the “external” techniques, illustrated in this chapter. Initially the technique is performed by associating to it mental visualizations of the flowing energy; later on these will become proper perceptions. USE OF THE MECHANICAL PRINCIPLES The dynamic of attack techniques is developed in three stages: charging development (attack) return In the first stage there’s usually an increase of the potential energy. In the leg techniques, for example, the energy is developed by lifting the knee, that should be lifted as high as possible. In the second stage the accumulated potential energy is transformed in kinetic energy. The power is addressed to the specific natural weapon (fist, elbow, hand…). In the last stage the movements of the first two stages are on the whole repeated

in reverse order. All the movements must be fluent and consecutive. The technique can’t be efficient if it doesn’t completely realizes these three passages.

The bag is one of the tools used to prove the efficaciousness of the strikes. It strengthens the body structure to resist the most violent counter-blows. The sack is also useful to strengthen the natural weapons.


the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________ THE NATURAL WEAPONS As “natural weapons” we intend the most resistant body parts, that can endure a violent impact. Usually these parts are the limbs’ extremities (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 important 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, increasing the self-repairing capacity of the organism. some upper natural weapon

some low natural weapon


____________________________________________________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. According to the trajectory of the attack, there are several names.

• • • •



(outside 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 compromise 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


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 following 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 effect. 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 necessary. 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.


____________________________________________________4. the technique

Circular Blow with the Elbow

Vertical Punch

Fingertip Attack


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 beginning 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 seconds. 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 sufficiently 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 lifting 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 considerations 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



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 alignment that allows the transmission 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 normal mobility of the articulations. The main are: front kick, upwards 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 lifting the leg as high as possible and releasing Upwards kick 20

High Side kick

____________________________________________________4. the technique the power with a quick movement downwards. The heel or the foot palm have the task of transmitting 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 possibility 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 inside 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


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 part involved in the impact is the external Spinning heel kick 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.


____________________________________________________4. the technique Sweeping technique Spinning heel kick: it’s a difficult technique. It requires a good elasticity and a good coordination. 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 opponent’s guard with a misleading trajectory. 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 movement for a greater efficaciousness. FLYING KICKS Almost all these technique can be performed in the fly-

Spinning Heel kick


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 corresponding 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 constant and careful practice, starting with the simpler techniques (for example the flying front kick). The methodical practice will empower the lower limbs and it will improve the co-ordination necessary for the more complex techniques.

Flying Side kick

Flying Back kick

Flying Back kick

Flying Spinning Heel kick 24

Flying Spinning Heel kick

____________________________________________________4. the technique

Double Flying Side Kick 25

the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

4.3. defence technique
The defence techniques are the movements done to elude the opponents attacks. They can be classified in three big types: • Ducks • Blockings • Parries ing back is a duck. But a duck is really efficient if the fighter draws back maintaining a short distance from the opponent, in order to have the possibility to make a quick counter-attack. The natural reaction to an attack by drawing back is not always useful in martial arts, because the aggressor could continue 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 attack we need a natural reaction but, in this case as well, it could not be enough for a defensive 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 structure. For a more efficient effect the fighter must anticipate in time the attack, so that its power is considerably reduced. Formerly the defence techniques were mainly blockings. The training consisted in reinforcing the involved body parts, even hitting them violently with sticks. The training purpose was to strengthen the bones of the forearm (the most used body part in this technique), increasing the resistance to pain. In this way the fighter wasn’t disturbed by this sensation during the fight. The blockings are anyway sacrifice techniques, for this reason in the modern VVD the parry techniques are given more prominence. Parries The purpose of a parry is to divert the strength of the attack and to direct it to a inoffensive trajectory. To perform an efficient parry technique the fighter

Ducks They are together with the blockings the most natural defensive method. In this kind of techniques the fighter avoids the contact with the opponent. The mere draw-


____________________________________________________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 neutralize it. The training consists mainly in the realization of circular trajectories. This characteristic makes the parries particularly fluid movements, even if they are done in succession.

The philosophical concepts of Taoism have brought radical changes in the martial art and in the parries there’s an example of the technical evolution due to these influences. The essence AM of the defence is used to waste the DUONG essence of the attack.


the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

4.4. fallino techniques
Knowing how to fall is a basic defensive potentiality 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 acrobatics 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


____________________________________________________4. the technique

The purpose of these techniques is to control the opponent , immobilizing one of his main articulations. 80% of the grasps is realized with the upper limbs. The remaining 20% is realized with the legs. The levers can provoke 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

Ground blocking of the wrist Lever on the shoulder articulation

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 immobilize 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 martial arts’ basic laws, in order to be safely performed on a hard pavement.

Blocking of the arm and neck disarticulation


the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

The purpose of the projection technique is to throw the opponent out of balance. Consequently he hits the ground causing himself a damage in the impact. These techniques require a hard training to improve the muscular power in relation with the resistance. It is often necessary to lift the opponent to throw him out of balance. The best prosecution of

Ground blocking, lever on the elbow and shoulder disarticulation, using lower and upper limbs

these movements can be an immobilization or a compression on neuralgic areas of the body. The latter are fundamental for the wrestling, which is based on grasps, compressions, levers, immobilizations and blows, while lying partly on the ground. Some methods of projection don’t require the use of brute force and are more efficiently based on mechanical and bioenergetical principles dynamically applied. During the dynamical phases of the fight, the fighter intercepts the direction of the opponent attack, in order to amplify his power and carry out a misbalancing action, necessary for the projection. Projection realized thanks to the body rotation 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 attack and defence. The roles of attacker and defender alternate continuously in a sequence of movements. In these techniques with a sparring partner both bare hands and weapon techniques can be applied.


____________________________________________________4. the technique

Traditional weapons have ancient origins in Vietnamese 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 circular 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. Sword


The traditional weapons are divided in two families:

• •

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.



the way of vietnamese martial art_____________________________________

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 pragmatical: it has to be able to be applied to the contest 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 infinitely small we can find the key for the understanding of the infinitely big, and viceversa. Viet Vo Dao refers to some basic concepts: • • • • • • • • the Dao the eight trigrams the five elements the universal essence the principle of cause-effect the interaction between macrocosm and microcosm the continuous evolution the eternal repetition of vital cycles






4 The evolution of the TAI CUC diagram 1. Static Situation 2. Application of Force 3.Dynamic Situation 4. TAI CUC diagram There is a small white circe in the black part and a black one in the white to indicate the presence of Duong in Am and viceversa.

We will now illustrate the meaning of these notions. The DAO, the three creator elements Basic concepts of Taoism, the essence of Dao is the synthesis of two opposing principles tied and indispensable one another: -AM the negative pole -DUONG the positive pole The Dao is generated from the interaction of AM and DUONG that have their origin in the VO CUC (Primordial or Supreme Emptiness) The VO CUC is an element independent from time, exists before time and is potentially the root of all creation. Every condition or element of the universe comes from the bipolar interaction AMDUONG. The syntesis of the two principles is dynamic, and for this reason in the THAI CUC diagram the elements are symbolized by curving lines that indicate the dynamism of this relationship. The Eight trigrams – BAT QUAI Another way of representing AM and DUONG is with lines: a straight line indicates DUONG, a broken line Am. Grouping these lines in groups of two we have four possible combinations; if we place them in groups of three (trigrams) we have eight combinations. The combinations of these signs form a symbolic representation of reality. 32

There are two basic dispositions of the trigrams: TIEN THIEN – First Sky (or fore sky) HAU THIEN – Last Sky (of after sky) Every trigram has a name and various meanings, and the dispositions indicate how a trigram changes (transforms itself) in another, following the path indicated in one of the two diagrams (see diagrams of the First Sky and Last Sky). In the TIEN THIEN BAT QUAI the disposition of the trigrams realizes itself as a balance of bipolar forces. In the HAU THIEN BAT QUAI the disposition of the trigrams realizes itself as a cyclical sequence on the basis of temporal successions (seasonal cycles on the first place). The study of these models allows us to predict the events as effects of specific causes, and discover the synchronicity of apparently disjuncted situations. The Five Elements – NGU HANH The energies generate by the DAO can be manifested in five qualities, called the five elements: WOOD, FIRE, EARTH, METAL, WATER. The mutual transformation matter – energy determines their presence in nature and necessarily in the human being. The associations between elements and various factors allow us to reveal their connections and dependencies; this is possible due to the study of cyclical successions. The basic sequences are called: Cycle of Generation and Cycle of Domination.

_________________________________________________5. ___________________________________________________5. the philosophy comprehend their meaning. The KHI is the basic element of various disciplines: martial arts, traditional oriental medicine and other arts in general, assuming in each different shades of meaning. 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 product of an “element” that has generated it earlier on according to the usual timeline. Even though this is the most experimented principle by normal people, it is not always valid if the necessary time and space conditions don’t sussist. The Macrocosm – Microcosm interaction An old proverb says: “So on high so on low”. There are things in the universe that we can perceive; big and very big things, or small and very small; but obviously the power of our senses doesn’t allow us a complete scanning of reality. The faculty if intuition has allowed man to sense the presence of a microcosm and a macrocosm beyond our perceptions. The careful observation of nature (external vision, applied to the macrocosm) together with introspection (internal vision, applied to the microcosm) allows us to assert that the laws




Thai Duong Thieu Am Thieu Duong Thai Am







Can Khon

Fire Thunder

Water Mountain Earth

The Universal Essence – KHI Everything in the universe is emanation of a single basic essence (improperly called energy); it is indicated as KHI by the Vietnamese, Prana by the Indians, Qi by the Chinese. The translation of these terms demands the use of more expressions to be able to fully
First Sky and Last Sky 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, finally on axis D lake and mountain. In this disposition the Quai are graphically opposites of their correspondent on the 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 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 opposition 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 temporal cycles (seasons, night/day, etc.)

Trigrams are read from the inside to the outside of the circle




the way of vietnamese martial art______________________________________ Conclusions This philosophical structure is not only a means of interpreting reality, it represents the internal dynamism of reality itself; the philosophy is at the same time interpretation, explanation, representation and essence. In this contest the use of symbol is not casual: the diagrams or the Bat Quai, differently from a simple phoneme or grapheme, suggest a complex concept that graphically renders itself subconsciously METAL: KIM comprehensible for the mind. LUNGS The importance of the knowledge of the West philosophy is essential for the martial White arts student: one of the pillars of martial Autumn arts is the use of the KHI and the stuDraught dent has to apply philosophical notions Sadness to handle it and know it; at the same time philosophy takes strength from the martial art and expresses itself through it; movement in martial arts includes the dynamic principles at the basis of the universe. Technique is that synthesis of AM and DUONG visible in the THAI CUC, and is the fusion and balance of the two opposites. The Basic Cycles
CYCLE OF GENERATION An element creates another element wood CYCLE OF DOMINATION An element destroys another element

FIRE: HOẢ HEART South Red Summer Heat Joy

WOOD: MÔC LIVER East Green Spring Wind Anger

EARTH: THỔ SPLEEN Centre Yellow --Humidity Worry WATER: THUỶ KIDNEYS North Black No Cold Fear

that govern the macrocosm are the same that apply to the microcosm. The Continuous Evolution Everything in the universe is evolving, changes. Nothing is still. Evolution can orient itself in three directions: upwards (evolution), downwards (involution) or oscillating from one another (instability). Man should be able to recognize in every period of 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 nothing is destroyed, everything is transformed. Life is a basic principle of the universe; it has always existed and carries on in descendants, until the end of the universe.






_________________________________________________________6. ho phap
From the teachings of master Chinh


The tiger is a strong and extremely agile animal, and is an excellent example of power and speed. These are some of the reasons why methods and techniques of Master Nguyen Thien Chinh Position of the hands forming the tiger’s claw

fighting have been realized in its name. The specific training for an exact performance of the techniques is particularly harsh; muscles, bones, tendons and inter-


the way of vietnamese martial art______________________________________ nal organs have to be extremely empowered 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 strengthening of the physical structure (external/ DUONG) could compromise the natural balance between the scheletal-muscular system and the internal organs (AM). To counter this inconvenient a regular practice of bioenergetical exercises is required (see chapter 8). Harmonizing the martial practice of this style with another one having AM characteristics (soft, smooth, harmonious) such as the style of the dragon or of the snake is advisable. The understanding of a style is not only the product of practice: the mind must have an active and basic role. The technique of the tiger requires a presence of spirit and acceptance of the fight more

The saber The distinctive characteristics of the saber make it the ideal weapon of the technique of the tiger, it representing ideally strong claws.

than any other animal style; this can be made perfect only thanks to a strong and conscious psychological training: while performing the techniques one must think he is a tiger. Training method for the technique of the tiger The psychological and physical preparation determines a good outcome of attacks and defences. In the technique of the tiger there are three basic qualities that have to 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, coordination, control) agility (kinaesthetic perception, synchronism/coordination).

Technical stage summer 2005 Master Chinh explains the dynamics of some defensive movements of the technique of the tiger

Obviously these three characteristics are made perfect at the same time and have been presented separately only for didactical reasons. A series of exercises and indications for training the basic qualities of the tiger are here described.


_________________________________________________________6. ho phap Strength After an accurate and general warm-up and stimulation of the flexibility 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) The strengthening exercises can be performed after an accurate and general warm-up and stimulation of the flexibility 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 widening gradually the angle between the vertical axis of the body (the ideal axis passing from the centre of the head to the perineum) 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 exercises will be repeated two or three times for a maximum time of five seconds per exercise. Once an excellent level of practice has been gained it will be possible to stay in balance placing on the floor only the forehead and toes. To strengthen the upper limbs and the chest push-ups can be performed, paying attention to keeping the legs on the same line as the chest and brushing against the ground each time the arms are bent. These are performed mainly in two ways: quickly and slowly. In both cases the same variations can be performed: using the palm of the hand, the fist, the wrist and the fingers (all five to begin with, then without the thumb on four and so on up to having only

The practice of flying kicks contributes in strengthening the lower limbs, particularly empowering the articulations of knee and ankle; the explosive movement the flying kick recalls the leap of the tiger towards its prey

Up-Down charging of the tiger’s claw, with movement of descending tear; the final stance is HO TAN: stance of the tiger

two fingers on the floor). The distance between the hands determines the specific strain of different muscular groups. When the adequate capacity is achieved only one arm at a time will be exercised, with the relative variations. The whole forearm and the fingers forming the claws have to be kept in contraction in order to strengthen the claw of the tiger, up to resisting also several minutes. The abdominals have to be ready to absorb eventual attacks of the adversary, and must be strictly trained with static (isometric) and dynamic exercises. 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 contracting the muscles of the abdomen and keeping the contraction from a minimum of thirty seconds up to the specific possibilities of the individual; on a second moment we HO TAN will hit the abdominal part of the body with the side of the hand, gradually regulating our strength. For the dynamic exercises the legs can be moved alternatively up and down with the lumbar region


the way of vietnamese martial art______________________________________ touching the ground, the shoulders up and the head watching the feet; also in this case we start with a minimum of thirty seconds up to how much is possible. For the strengthening of the lower limbs a good start is working on the stances: keeping Ho Tan from a minimum of a minute up to how much is possible; exercise in jumps and rapid squatting, jumping from a squat position upwards and forwards; jumping bending the legs the least possible in order to use the propulsive power of the ankles. Speed In order to promote speed the muscles must be appropriately stretched, the tendons made more elastic and the articular cally without losing attention. The intelligence governing this sensibility is called synesthetical. Dynamical tension The specific practice of khi cong (exercises for the development and circulation of the khi) of this style is called iron shirt or golden bell. It essentially consists of two alternate phases: in the first phase during inspiration the body relaxes, imagining the flow of the khi in the energetic centre (Dan Dien); in the second phase during expiration specific zones of the body are contracted for some seconds (increasing constantly the muscular tension), imagining the flow of the khi from the Dan Dien to the interested zone. The practice must later on be made perfect by a partner that later on will hit, gradually dosing his strength) the zones interested by the contraction during the exercise. The spirit of the tiger The method of the tiger, according to tradition, 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 characterizes 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 useless 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 developed with a constant exercising, up to expanding the conscience of the movement in every part of the body. This condition allows us to move rapidly and automati38

__________________________________________________________7. quyen
From the teachings of master Lan


The Quyen is a sequence of predetermined movements, that could be translated as form. Initially it is practiced to gain familiarity with the basic techniques of the martial art, and different results can be acquired according to the types of movements practiced. With time’s passing the martial arts

student starts to notice nuances and characteristics initially ignored, even in training on a Quyen learned earlier on; this is because he starts perceiving the essence of the form. The Quyen is the spine of the martial school, for in it stances, movements, 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 realizes 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 interpreting them: • the mere technique:this is the lowest level, perceived by most people and realized thanks to efficient biomeccanical principles; • principles of military strategy: valid for both melee and war; • notions of traditional medicine, physical well-being: some techniques might non have a convincing martial application, but their movements influence the flow of the Khi in relation of a specific internal organ or more parts of the body; • philosophical principles: in harmony with the basic universal laws movement can be transcended, succeeding in the perception of the essence of a philosophical concept. This type of information may coexist in the same Quyen, the talent of the master that codified it consists in making more meaningful the techniques that form it. Poem and symbolism In Vietnam traditional forms are studied with a text, a poem that accompanies and

the hand to claw, symbol of the tiger

comments the techniques taking place. The ends of the literary parts of the Quyen may be of various nature: mnemonical references for the performance of the techniques, philosophical concepts or messages addressed to few initiated (in ancient times secrecy was common in order to avoid the transmission of knowledge to the wrong people). To fully understand a Quyen the meaning of the metaphors must be known in order to be able to translate this symbolism present in the poem, in the movement and in the meaning that underlies it. The symbolism also has the function of stimulating the imagination of the student to favour the corresponding zone of the brain: for example the expression Luu Van Cuoc, translatable as “straying clouds” refers to the spinning heel kick. This traditional heritage enriches 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 Vietnam, increases the importance of studying the Quyen, stimulating in the Vo Sinh a synergical work of the cerebral hemispheres. Classification of the Quyen For reasons of organization and teaching the Quyen are classified in ten categories:

Master Lan and a study delegation in Vietnam


__________________________________________________________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 contents is easy to understand, and its comprehension 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 exercise of the basic techniques, used for an elementary didactical approach; 4. QUYEN THAO: quyen with links useful to the student for the development of rhythm and endurance; 5. TRUONG QUYEN: composed of long sequences, they have the role of transmitting the essence of the specific techniques of each school; 6. TUYET QUYEN: special Quyen that may include secrete techniques or specific techniques related to the sacred animals; 7. CUON QUYEN: hard forms, where the effectiveness takes over aesthetics; their role is the strengthening of the body and are called the steel Quyen. 8. HUNG QUYEN: heroical Quyen, inspired by the stories of heroes, where particular care is accorded to aesthetical factors without forgetting the work on an adequate strength of the blows;
Acrobatic techniques are present only in the advanced quyen

9. AN QUYEN: Quyen of the occult tech-

niques, containing useful information to decipher the essence of secret techniques often encrypted in the poem related to the form; NHU QUYEN: Quyen aiming at the care of health and well-being; together with an accurate work on respiration knowledge of the energetic canals (meridians) is developed. Introduction to the NGU CẦM HÀNH QUYỀN This Quyen is a modern sythesis of traditional techniques related to the study of animals, codified by Master Bao Lan and officially included in the Quyen of the International Viet Vo Dao in 1985. The martial origins of this form are related essentially to two schools: VO PHAI TAY SON and THIEU LAM NAM PHAI. The movements of the animals are in common for Chinese and Vietnamese schools, due to the various bonds that have kept in 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 Vietnamese 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


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 development of balance; the movements are strictly circular 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 explosive 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 oriental philosophy, its style promotes a conscious control over the Khi; HAU: the monkey, symbol of agility, emphasizes strategy 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.

FIRE – 3 Chieu Mãnh long bái vi The strong dragon rattles his tail


The five sequences of the animals associated with the elements

WOOD – 4th Chieu Hầu nhi thâu đào The monkey picks the apple

EARTH – 1st Chieu Bạch hạc triển xí The white crane opens its wings

WATER – 5 Chieu Xà vuong khởi động The snake king hits


METAL 2nd Chieu Hắc hổ ly son The black tiger leaves the mountain


_______________________________________________________ 8. luyen khi
From the teachings of Master Viet

Methods and applications for the development and control of the interior energy

The expression Luyen Khi is made out of two words: Luyen meaning “traning”, “exercising”, “taking action” and Khi meaning “breath”, “energy” and representing the element underlying and forming the entire universe (see page 33). In martial arts and in Chinese and Vietnamese medicine the word Khi is often used with prefixes and suffixes properly Master Nguyen Van Viet Duong Cung Tan

indicating the particular meaning. For example, Khi Phap (exercises for the flow of energy), Than Khi (mental or spiritual energy), Luyen Khi and so on. This can create a predictable confusion to the student just starting to practise these disciplines; for this reason in these pages we will deal with simple notions and exercises useful to the development of the flow and control of


the way of vietnamese martial art______________________________________ (meditation). Accumulating energy The physical part of a human being (mind – body) is the dynamic and interactive result 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 to enrich them. A correct nutrition and a regular life style △●

bioenergies, limiting as much as possible the use specific terminology. The Theory of the Canals According to the traditional medicine of Vietnam, the vital energy flows in canals inside the body, and these vessels, called meridians in the West, are used for the application of agupuncture and Khi Cong. Some of the canals are particularly sensitive and if hit can cause pain, fainting or even death. These results are the consequence of the interfering of the blow on the natural flow of interior energy. The knowledge of the disposition of the canals and the relative associations with the internal organs, emotions, sounds and temporal cycles (time of the day, months, seasons etc.) allows the Vo Sinh to be able to voluntarily regulate the flow of the vital energy (Chuyen Khi). These experiences are useful for medical applications (health and wellbeing), martial ends (combat, breaking spiritual reasons techniques) and
The Dan Dien is a bioenergetical gathering centre, and is situated in the lower abdomen in the area corresponding to the body’s barycentre while standing; in relation to it we can find the Khi Hai point of the meridian Conception Vessel. During the breathing techniques we can concentrate on either of these two areas

Out of meridian VG26

△● △● △●

VC26 VC17 ST18 F13




intense pain faintings death



VG:governing vessel VC: conception vessel St: stomach. F; liver; for more indications refer to an agupuncture text

Bát Đả Huyệt - Eight vital spots
In the picture are illustrated eight vital points that if hit can cause: fainting, intense pain or death; except 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, causing the indicated injuries



can allow an efficient conservation of vital energy, but particular psychophysical techniques must be practised in order to increase it. Respiration is at the basis of this practise; we can stay days without drinking or eating, but only a few minutes with-


_______________________________________________________ 8. luyen khi out breathing, otherwise we would die. To effectively perform a respiration technique we must respect two conditions: relax the body and calm the mind. Our body consumes energy like any machine, and the functioning of the neurovegetative system concerns several functions: keeping the temperature, sanguine flow, respiration, digestion, etc.; this automatic work spends resources and is necessary in keeping us alive. Also our daily activities can consume many energies: walking, driving, speaking and so on; to have good results in the breathing technique 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)

Relax the body

must calm the mind trying to concentrate on one of the indicated points (for example the Dan Dien) or on the practise of the exercise. 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 position of the lotus (Kiêt Gia) or the semilotus (Ban Gia), kneeling with the back of our feet on the ground (Song Quy) or otherwise lying down (Ngoa Tân); basically the back must be straight but not rigid.

Breathing technique

The line red curve represents the diaphragm Diaphragmatic Breathing A: Inspiring from the nose, the air must be guided towards the abdomen, the diaphragm lowers while 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 take a great deal of energy from the breathing function; to limit this effect we

Breaking technique of a slab of wood with the finger tips of the three central fingers of the hand


the way of vietnamese martial art______________________________________
During meditation concentrate on the centre

Master Viet in the position of the Lotus, Kiêt Gia

Inspire with the nose following with imagination and perception the flow of the air, pushing it towards the lower abdomen, relaxing chest and shoulders and lowering the diaphragm. The pressure of the air will push towards the abdomen and the lumbar area; stay in apnea (holding the breath with the lungs filled with air) for some seconds and concentrate on the Dan Dien. Expire pulling in the abdomen, following the flow of the air backwards; after having sufficiently emptied the lungs hold your breath with empty lungs for some seconds. Start the cycle again trying to keep the same duration for inspiration and expiration times. The action of keeping the attention (perception/conscience) on a specific point for a sufficient time makes the khi flow in that region. This simple principle is at the basis of the techniques aiming at the accumulation of vital energy. If we concentrate our attention on one of the specific centres for the gathering of the Khi (the Dan Dien, for example), thanks to a constant practise we will start gathering strength that can be increased later on. Patience and perseverance are required to have results in this technique. A feeling of warmth in the Dan Dien after a prolonged practise is one of the signs of the gathering of energy. Breaking techniques Breaking techniques are a test to measure the coordination of mind and body, test courage and fuel the will to crush obstacles. If we want better results we must make body, mind and spirit (essence) work synergically. In this case the breaking technique will have a deeper and more instructive meaning than mere performance. 46

In order to prepare the natural weapons before the impact we must proceed on parallel 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, necessarily followed by bioenergetical practise. After 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 minimize traumas. Initially this practise will result slow, later on with exercise and the right dose of energy only some seconds will be necessary before performing the blow. The effectiveness of these techniques realizes itself thanks to the presence of three basic elements: Strength: biomechanical and bioenergetical Endurance: capacity to resist the impact Speed: factor that increases the power of the blow Luyen Khi, advanced techniques In working with the Khi practise works better than a thousand theories. Without the constancy and will to practice the simplest techniques, talking about advanced techniques isn’t even considerable: no steps can be skipped in these practises. To the serious student a detailed research on the main canals and the practise of meditation are nonetheless advisable. A simple technique consists in remaining sitting in one of the positions described earlier on (see the breathing technique), closing the eyes, relaxing, breathing calmly and concentrating on the Dan Dien. When the mind will become clearer the answers to our questions will come Position Son Quy naturally. Kneeling down, backs of the
feet, sitting on the heels

____________________________________________________9. the evolution


the evolution

The secret of richness lies not in richness itself, but in the path that leads us to it.
(Master Viet) In human evolution on is the end and many are the ways, in fact all martial arts in their definition mark themselves as Way (Dao). Being Việt Võ Đạo a method that allows us to discover the power of the spirit, it has an immense value. The education must be brought on at the same time between initiative and respect, determination and tolerance, progress and tradition. Thus the student has to understand 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 person and at the same time we learn to be a “strong and useful person”; this is why Việt Võ Đạo represents more an art of life rather than a combat sport.

Everything in the universe is constantly changing, from galaxies to single cells. The laws of nature are balanced and bring harmony. Việt Võ Đạo is based on natural and this universal principles, and its evolution can only bring to progress if the basic truths that fuel it are respected. The meaning of life resides in acquiring experience, and a real potential offer by Việt Võ Đạo is to do so in harmony with nature; the single man may choose to grow and the road to do so; the student should enrich the chosen way with his own experience in order to bring an harmonious evolution of the spirit of Việt Võ Đạo for himself and others.

The ideograms of Dragon and Tiger Sky represent and Earth, Spirit and Matter


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


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

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