Brief History of Vovinam

May 24, 1912

Vovinam Founder

On May 24, 1912, Nguyen Loc was born to Nguyen Dinh Xuyen and Nguyen Thi Hoa as the oldest of the 5 brothers and sisters…


Early stage of development
Mind Body Revolution

Founder Nguyen Loc endeavored to study and train in most of Vietnamese martial arts. he begins by codifying his method of learning taking traditional wrestling and Vietnamese martial arts as a foundation; then he compared and selected the advantages and strengths of each discipline to give birth, in 1938, to a new discipline which he called Vovinam.

Fall 1938

The Birth of Vovinam

In the fall of 1938, he began to teach Vovinam to several friends. During this time, he continued to research and improved Vovinam’s techniques…

Fall 1939

First Public Demonstration

In 1940, Nguyen Loc and his disciples demonstrated publicly for the first time in the Great Theater of Hanoi. The demonstration was very successful and attracted many spectators…

Spring 1940

First Vovinam Class

After the demonstration, he was invited by Doctor Dang Vu Hy, President of the Sport Friendship Association to teach Vovinam. The first Vovinam lessons began in the spring of 1940 in the Hanoi University of Education (E’cole Normal)…


Develop and popularize Vovinam

After the first demonstration, Vovinam is warmly acclaimed by all Vietnamese martial arts and sports circles, thus becoming the shining torch of national martial arts.


National events 1945-1954

1945-1946: brief period of independent
1946-1947: Franco-Vietnamese war
1948-1954: wars between many Vietnamese factions…

July 20, 1954

Geneva Treaty & the Great Migration

In July 20, 1954, the Geneva Treaty divided Vietnam into two countries: the North Communist and the South Nationalist. In July 1954, Founder and loyal disciples arrived in Saigon, and opened new Vovinam school here….

Mid 1957

In the middle of 1957, Founder fall sick and had to take a break from teaching. He authorized the oldest disciple, Master Le Sang to take over the Vovinam classes temporarily…

April 29, 1960

Passing of Vovinam Founder

Founder Nguyen Loc unexpectedly passed away on April 29, 1960. Before passing away, Founder Nguyen Loc appointed his most senior disciple, Le Sang, to continue his mission…

November 11, 1960

Banned from operating

On November 11, 1960, the Ngo administration prohibited many martial art disciplines, including Vovinam from functioning…

November 1, 1963

The ban of martial arts was annulled. All martial art disciplines were no longer being restricted, and started to appear.



In 1964, all the leading Vovinam Masters met and formed the new discipline of martial arts. “VIET VO DAO” (“THE PHILOSOPHY OF VIETNAMESE MARTIAL ARTS”) was added to become “VOVINAM-VIET VO DAO.” had developed a proposal and created a program in order to institutionalize Vovinam Viet Vo Dao. They had founded the first Council of Masters as the central organization of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao…

April 1964

Second Patriarch
(Grand Master) Lê Sáng
(1964-1986, 1990-2010)

Master Lê Sáng was elected as Patriarch (Grand Master) by the First Council of Masters of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao


Rapid Expansion of Vovinam Viet Vo Dao


Introduction of Vovinam to High Schoolers

In 1965, Master Phung Manh Chu, Director of Public Relations Committee, was successful in bringing Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao to the “New School Deal” program of the Education Department. The program started first in four public high schools: Chu Van An, Petrus Truong Vinh Ky, Trung Vuong, and Gia Long…


Vovinam begins to open many training sessions for the Military Police, the Armed Forces, the Air Force and Naval Academy. Many masters and instructors were sent to many provinces to promote Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao.

April 30, 1975

Fall of Sai Gon

On April 30, 1975, Saigon fell, and South Vietnam came under the rule of the Communist North Vietnam


Dark Period 1975-1990

Communist North Vietnam banned Vovinam-Việt Võ Đạo for 15 years (1975-1990). Master Lê Sáng, Master Trần Huy Phong and many masters were imprisoned in “re-education” hard labor camps…


Third Patriarch
(Grand Master) Trần Huy Phong

On May 12, 1986. Master Lê Sáng orally proclaimed his will and hand over the patriarch function to master Trần Huy Phong…


The World Council of Masters of Vovinam-Việt Võ Đạo
The World Federation of Vovinam-Việt Võ Đạo.

On 19-03-1995, from Gustave Roussy Hospital (France) Master Tran Huy Phong wrote a “letter from the heart” to the masters of all countries, calling on them to unite to find a solution for the future of Vovinam Viet Vo Dao.