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 (Nguyen Thi Thai, Nguyen Dan, Nguyen Ngo, and Nguyen Thi Bich Ha). His father’s family had settled in Huu Bang Village, Thach That County, Son Tay Province, North Vietnam, for generations. Later, his family moved to Hanoi. When Nguyen Loc started going to school, his father asked an old master to teach Nguyen Loc the traditional martial arts and wrestling techniques for health and self-defense reasons.
Nguyen Loc grew up in the period which Vietnam was still under the French colonial rule. At that time, young men either were seduced by the French into the lusty lives or join the revolutionary war against the French. Master Nguyen Loc believed that the only way to free Vietnam from the colonial rule was to train the Vietnamese young men to have a strong, invincible will for liberty and independence. That would must be produced by a strong body and a rational mind. Therefore, he began his missions to train the Vietnamese youth to have a moral and invincible spirit: “Live, Help others live, and Live for others.”
Carrying on that belief, he diligently practiced and researched many Vietnamese traditional martial arts as well as many foreign martial arts. He also examined tirelessly many archives about Philosophy, Literature, History,… even Anatomy and Medicine. In addition, he always attended many tournaments and competitions or discussed martial arts with many famous masters. After his research, he founded a new discipline of martial arts, which he names “VOVINAM”, understood as the “MARTIAL ARTS OF VIETNAM.”
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. In 1940, He and his disciples demonstrated publicly for the first time in the Great Theater of Hanoi. The demonstration was very successful and attracted many spectators.
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).
Many Vovinam disciples in the period of 1938-1940 often told of the tale of the “invincible spirit” of Founder Nguyen Loc. In the first demonstration, there was a high ranking French official, Colonel Maurice Ducoroy, attending. Because Col. Maurice Ducoroy, who represented the French colonial rule, was sitting in the audience, Founder Nguyen Loc did not let his disciples to bow to the audience. Instead he took his disciples to the backstage to bow to the ancestor’s altar. During the demonstration, Dr. Dang Vu Hy invited Founder Nguyen Loc to Durocoy’s seat so Ducoroy could award him a medal. Knowing that he could not refuse, Founder Nguyen Loc had to accept. But when he returned to the stage, he calmly put the medal into his pocket. His conduct had touched the patriotic feelings of the audience, especially his disciples.
Since then, Vovinam always led the demonstrations against the French and its rule, including the demonstration in the University of Hanoi and the Ministry of Agriculture. Consequently, French closed all the Vovinam classes and prohibited Founder from teaching Vovinam. This was a challenging period for Vovinam during its early time. However, Founder still secretly taught many loyal disciples at home, and continued to lead many public demonstrations.
Soon later, Vovinam cooperated with many patriotism organization to host many events commemorating King Hung (first King of Vietnam), Two Queens Trung as well as many charitable events… At the same time, many self-defense classes had opened and recruited tens of thousands of disciples. The enthusiasm for Vovinam in the public was indicated by the slogans: “Vietnamese practice Vietnamese martial arts“, “Not a Vovinam disciple, not a Vietnamese patriot“…
At this time, since the independence war was necessary, many Vovinam techniques was very simple but practical. The training focuses on the endurance, speed, and strength. Most of the training sessions lasted about 3 months. In April 1945, many Vovinam instructors were sent to remote places to promote Vovinam.
After winning World War II, France returned to Vietnam in 1946 to reclaim its former colony. On December 19, 1946, the war against France broke out in North Vietnam. Founder Nguyen Loc led his disciples to join the war. Some disciples become famous and courageous commanders while some have fallen for the freedom of Vietnam. When Viet Minh (the predecessor of the Vietnamese Communist Party) began to consolidate their power by recruiting non-communist Vietnamese and murdering those who refuse, Founder Nguyen Loc immediately halted all his involvements with Viet Minh and urged his disciples to leave the Viet Minh. Knowing that, Viet Minh ordered the capture of Founder Nguyen Loc with the purpose to force Vovinam disciples to join the Viet Minh. Upon the dangerous situation: being wanted by both the Viet Minh and the French, Founder Nguyen Loc told his disciples to return to their hometowns to wait for an opportunity. He then took the remaining disciples back to his hometown, Huu Bang village. In his hometown, he helped organize the young men into militias as well as train the new militias in combative techniques. He also assigned instructors to the Military Academy of Tran Quoc Tuan. After his responsibilities were fulfilled, he then continued his journey and train the Militia Officers of villages of Che Luu, Am Thuong, Thanh Huong, Dan Ha, Dan Phu along the way… In March 1948, He came to The Catholic District of Phat Diem and assigned instructors to train Jesuit Militias under Chief Commander Tran Thien.
In August 1948, He returned to Hanoi and opened many Vovinam classes for the young men and women. In 1951, He worked with many dignitaries to found the Vietnamese Martial Artist Federation which offers many martial art classes for the public in the schoolyard of Hang Than, Hanoi.
In July 20, 1954, the Geneva Treaty divided Vietnam into two countries: the North Communist and the South Nationalist. This event posed a great challenge to Vovinam in general and the Founder in particular. If Founder decided to stay in the North, Vovinam would be falling into the hand of the Communists. If he decided to head to the South, many disciples would leave their families and hometowns behind, and Vovinam would lose many able disciples who decided to stay. On the other hand, the South was still an unknown land, and the Founder would risk losing everything he had built from 1938 and would start from scratch; and no one really knew what was awaiting.
Finally, Founder Nguyen Loc decided to migrate to the South and started Vovinam once again under unfavorable conditions. In July 1954, Founder and loyal disciples arrived in Saigon, and opened new Vovinam school here. Soon later, Vovinam was invited to train the South Vietnamese police in Saigon and Thu Duc.
In the middle of 1954, 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. Although Founder was not physically teaching Vovinam, He was still doing researches, and analyzing Vovinam techniques as well as essential archives in order to refine Vovinam. Founder still looked after the disciples who were following his mission.
Relying on the Founder’s teachings upon the Mind-Body Revolution, Master Le Sang systemized the martial arts’ techniques and finalized the philosophical knowledge, missions, policies… Master Le Sang also gathered many disciples of the early classes to help develop Vovinam. Among the disciples are the two most active, Masters Tran Huy Phong and Nguyen Van Thu.
In 1958, Master Le Sang was elected to be the General Secretary of the Vietnamese Martial Arts Federation; he held this position until 1968. During this time, he researched many traditional Vietnamese martial arts to revise Vovinam’s techniques and originate the “one develops into three” method.
While the progress of Vovinam discipline had just began and there were still many tasks to overcome, Founder Nguyen Loc unexpectedly passed away on April 29, 1960 (April 4, 1960, year of the Rat, according to Lunar Calendar). Before passing away, Founder Nguyen Loc appointed his most senior disciple, Le Sang, to continue his missions. Founder Nguyen Loc was then buried in the Mac Dinh Chi cemetery, Saigon. Then on every April 4 (lunar calendar), all the disciples gather in front of his tomb to pay respect to him.
On November 11, 1960, since Master Pham Loi of Judo participated in the coupe led by General Nguyen Chanh Thi, the Ngo administration prohibited many martial art disciplines, including Vovinam from functioning. All the training centers were banned. All the masters either dispersed or were drafted into the army. However, despite of the hardships, Master Tran Huy Phong still continued the missions set forth by the Founder. He secretly trained many disciples in schools where he taught such as Thang Long, Ho Vu, St. Thomas. Therefore, he had created a task force of young, courageous instructors who became the foundation of Vovinam in the future.
On November 1, 1963, the Ngo Dinh Diem administration had fallen after a coup led by the military. Then a military government was established, and 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.” The Council of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao is also formed.
- Training Commission directed by Grand Master Le Sang who was responsible to develop the training curriculum and to certify masters and instructors.
- Viet Vo Dao Youth Association led by Master Tran Huy Phong was responsible for youth and social activities.
The hierarchy of the Council of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao:
- Grand Master: Master Le Sang
- Assistant Grand Master and Director of Planning Commission: Master Tran Huy Phong
- General Secretary: Master Phan Quynh
- Treasurer: Master Nguyen Van Cuong
- Director of Public Relation Commission: Master Phung Manh Chu
- Director of General Management Commission: Master Nguyen Van Thu
- Director of Justice Commission: Master Ngo Huu Lien
- Director of Ceremony Commission: Master Tran Ban Que
- Director of the Treasury Commission: Master NguyenVan Thong
- Training Commission: Master Tran Huy Phong (Director), Nguyen Van Thu, Tran Duc Hop, NguyenVan Thong, Tran The Phuong.
The Council of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao also established the rank hierarchy and uniforms as well as a training curriculum according to the rank.
The ranks of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao is as follow:
- White Belt: Grand Master Le Sang
- Red Belt:
Red Belt II: Master Tran Huy Phong
Red Belt I: Masters Nguyen Van Thu
Yellow-Stripe Red Belt: Masters Nguyen Van Thong, Tran Duc Hop, Phung Manh Chu, Tran Ban Que, Phan Quynh, Ngo Huu Lien, Nguyen Van Cuong, Tran The Phuong.
- Yellow Belt:
The first training center was opened in 61 Vinh Vien (Eternal) Street, Saigon; then numerous training centers were also opened in Saigon such as Tran Hung Dao, Hoa Lu… The philosophical knowledge was also researched and published.
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; then followed by other pulic schools such as Nguyen Trai, Vo Truong Toan, Le Van Duyet, Tran Luc, Ho Ngoc Can, Mac Dinh Chi… as well as private schools in Saigon – Gia Dinh. During this time, the new training curriculum was developed from Self-Defense to Master levels. The philosophical knowledge of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao was also taught during class.
Because of his good public relations and communication skills, Master Manh Hoang managed to secure two large centers for Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao from 1965 to April 1975. Those were the Hoa Lu stadium (later named the Youth Training Center by Master Tran Huy Phong), 2 Bis Dinh Tien Hoang street, and the Lam Son stadium, Tran Binh Trong street, behind the Petrus Truong Vinh Ky high school.
Since the number of students practicing Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao increased rapidly after a short period of time, hundreds of classes were opened and admitted thousands of students in Saigon and provinces. There was a serious need for instructors. Many masters and instructors had to teach 10-11 hours a day, seven days a week; even the third-degree blue belt students were required to teach. Finally, because of high demand and low supply, Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao had to refuse to open new classes.
In early 1966, Master Manh Hoang persuaded the National Police Department to allow Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao to be taught for the police officers. First many instructor-training classes were initiated in the National Police Headquarter, and the newly instructors were sent to the regional police departments to start Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao there. Even Grand Master Le Sang and the masters like Nguyen Van Thong, Phan Quynh, Trinh Ngoc Minh, Le Cong Danh, Tran Van Be… taught these classes. In the same time, Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao collected a financial grant from the police funds.
In 1966, South Korea persuades the Central Military Command of the Republic of Vietnam to allow Teakwood to be taught solely in the army. Upon hearing that decision, Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao declared that this was a shame to the Vietnamese martial arts of more than 4000 years. On the National Sorrow Day, July 20, 1966, Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao organized a vigil attended by thousands of disciples in the Plant-Animal Park (Thao Cam Vien), Saigon to protest the army’s use of foreign martial arts. This vigil, widely supported by the media, touched the Vietnamese nationwide. Even the Military Intelligence Agency and the Presidential Political Bureau started to investigated this event and the organizers. Even master Manh Hoang, Tran Huy Phong, Phan Quynh… were personally interrogated by Colonel Thang, Director of the Military Intelligence Agency. However, because of the persistence and the just cause, the Central Military Command issues a second order to allow Vovinam, Judo and Taekwondo to be taught in the military.
In early 1967, Master Manh Hoang convinced Lieutenant Colonel Thuy of the Military Police of the III Corps to open many training sessions for the Military Police in Bien Hoa.
In late 1967, Master Manh Hoang passed away unexpectedly because of advanced diabetes. Only 29, Master Manh Hoang made many great contributions to the growth of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao in the 60s.
From 1968, Vovinamization of Armed Forces was initiated in the Central Military Command, the 18th Army Division, the Military Police of the III Corps, the Air Force and Naval Academy of Nha Trang, the IV Corps, the IV Reinforcement Corps, the 16th Armor Division, the 81th Airborne Brigade, the 21st Army Division, the 9th Army Division Academy, the Navy of Long Xuyen, the Navy of Binh Thuy, the 3rd Army Division… In the same year, Vovinamization of Rural Development Officials was initiated with the participation of tens of thousands of Rural Development Officials in Saigon and other provinces and villages.
In early 1968, during the Tet Offensive event, Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao helped many victims of war in Saigon. This touched the hearts of many people.
In 1968, the Chief Instruction Commission was established in 30 Tran Hoang Quan Street, Saigon, together with the formation of Viet Vo Dao Association and Viet Vo Dao Youth Association. The Grand Master also appointed Master Tran Huy Phong as head of Viet Vo Dao Youth Association.
After that, many masters and instructors were sent to many provinces to promote Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao: Trinh Ngoc Minh (Nha Trang), Tran Tan Vu (Phu Yen), Ngo Kim Tuyen (Binh Duong), Nguyen Van Chieu (Quy Nhon), Nguyen Van Nhan and Nguyen Van Sen (Can Tho), Tran Van My (Hau Giang), Duong Minh Nhon (Kien Giang), Nguyen Ton Khoa (An Giang), Nguyen Van Vang (Vinh Long), Nguyen Van ?t (Ut) (My Tho)…
Soon later, the Eastern Instruction Commission was established in the province of Long Khanh under Master Tran Duc Hop and Central Instruction Commission was established in the province of Khanh Hoa under Master Trinh Ngoc Minh. In 1969, the Western Instruction Commission was established in the province of Long Xuyen (then moved to Can Tho) under Master Nguyen Van Nhan. In 1970, the Northwestern Instruction Commission was established in the province of Binh Duonng under Master Ngo Kim Tuyen.
Every year, on the occasion of the Commemorating Day of the late Founder, many Masters everywhere returned to Saigon to attend the Commemorating Ceremony as well as attended the special training sessions and promotion examinations. This created a good tradition within Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao. The Grand Master and many high-level masters frequently visited many provinces, cities, and towns to support and examine the progress of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao nationwide. Beside martial arts training and character building, Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao also encouraged its disciples to participate in many community and social services.
In early 1970, Master Tran Huy Phong established the Community Village of Viet Vo Dao in Tan Tao village, Binh Chanh district, Gia Dinh province with 3 kilometer square area. The project created more than 1000 residence unit to be sold to the disciples and friends. Besides, he and some friends formed the Viet Vo Dao Agricultural Plant to harvest the agricultural produce for the village. After April 30, 1975, the Vietnamese Communist regime tich thu (took over illegally) this property and changed it into the New Economic Zone of Duong Minh Xuan.
In late 1970, Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao and many cultural, religious, and political organizations as well as many celebrities to found the Steering Committee for the Establishing of King Hung’s Altar, and finally the altar was placed in the Hoa Lu Center. Every year, the National Founder’s Ceremony, attended by the President, legislators, government officials as well as many organizations and citizens lasted for many days.
In 1973, the Vovinamization of National Officials was initiated with many training sessions in Chi Linh Center, Vung Tau.
In 1974, a group of Vietnamese masters in France requested permission to join Vovinam because they liked the ideals of Vovinam. As a result, the Grand Master and the Council of Vovinam approved their request and entrusted them to form Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao Federation of France. The first Executive Committee included Prof. Phan Hoang (President), Pham Xuan Tong, Nguyen Dan, Phu, Hoang Nam, Nguyen Trung Hoa, Bui Van Thinh, Tran Phuoc Tastayre. The Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao Federation of France was also responsible for promoting Vovinam in Europe.
Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao also followed many exchange students such as Tran Nguyen Dao, Nguyen Thi Hue, Tran Dai Chieu, Duong Quan Viet, Ha Chi Thanh… to France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland…
In July 1974, the Grand Master appointed Master Tran Huy Phong as head of the Chief Instruction Commission and Master Nguyen Van Thong as the new head of the Viet Vo Dao Youth Association.
On April 30, 1975, Saigon fell, and South Vietnam came under the rule of the Communist North Vietnam. Since early May 1975, seeing the fall of South Vietnam, Grand Master officially proposed the blueprint to bring Vovinam overseas because he feared that the 50-year achievement of Vovinam would be destroyed.
Having many opportunities to leave Vietnam, the Grand Master and other senior masters were willing to stay in order to face the new challenges endangering Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao. On May 27, 1975, the Grand Master was detained; and shortly after Master Tran Huy Phong was also detained. While in prison, Grand Master Le Sang secretly appointed Master Tran Huy Phong to be the next Grand Master in case Grand Master Le Sang passed away in prison. During this period, Vovinam was almost disbanded; the other Masters either were imprisoned or halted teaching. Some escaped overseas to the United States, Europe, Africa, and Australia.
In 1976, Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao was present in Houston, Texas (U.S.A.) in the training centers directed by instructors Nguyen Quan and Nguyen Chinh.
On December 15, 1978, the Vietnamese regime allowed Masters Nguyen Van Ky and Do Van Phuong to open a Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao’s training center in District 8 (Saigon) after 3-year ban. Since this time, many other training centers were re-opened in other provinces such as Can Tho, Nha Trang, Binh Dinh…
In June 1980, Vovinam was invited to train the Southern Martial Arts Research of the Security Agency of the Interior Ministry (Vietnam).
In Germany, senior master Nguyen Van Nhan and other masters (of the former Western Instruction Commission) were assigned to promote Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao in Europe. Every year, the Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao Federation of Europe holds many special training sessions during the summer and winter. Vovinam Europe has been noted for its valuable publications such as Forward, the Light, the Fire of Our Generations, Green Bamboo…
Also in 1980, instructors Ly Hoang Cat Long and Do Anh Tuan began to establish the foundation of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao in Washington D.C. (U.S.A.).
Late 1980, Master Tran Huy Phong was released, but still under house arrest.
In 1981, senior instructor Nguyen Minh Hai arrived in San Jose, California (U.S.A.), and opened classes for many Vietnamese youth nearby. Until 1983, instructor Nguyen Thi Cam Binh opened a new branch with the assistance of instructor Tran Binh from South Carolina (U.S.A.).
In July 1981, Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao was present in Boston, Massachusetts (U.S.A.) with instructor Tran My Duc. The Vo Dao Training Center was located within the YMCA Center which attracted many Vietnamese as well as local residents.
In 1982, Master Nguyen Tien Hoa arrived in the United States, and was assigned to promote Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao in Los Angeles, California with Master Duong Viet Hung. A year later, Master Nguyen Tien Hoa departed for York, Pennsylvania, bearing the responsibility to promote Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao. Year after year, Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao Pennsylvania contributed many valuable human and financial resources to the Vietnamese community here.
In August 1983, the Mac Dinh Chi cemetery was dissolved by the Vietnamese Communist regime. Master Tran Huy Phong as well as some other Masters, Instructors, Disciples as well as one of the daughters of the late Founder collected and returned his remains to the Altar Hall of Vovinam Viet Vo Dao (King Hung Training Center), 31 Su Van Hanh street, District 10, Saigon until now.
On May 1985, the 25th Commemorating Ceremony in tribute of the late Founder was held in San Jose (California). Numerous Masters, instructors, and disciples gathered here to bow to the photo of the late Founder to honor his priceless effort and vow to contribute to the betterment of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao.
In 1986, Senior Master Tran Van Be was sent to lead Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao in the United States. He and Instructor Ly Hoang Cat Long settled in Chicago, Illinois. Since then many special training sessions were held in Chicago for many masters and instructors from different states within the United States.
On September 14, 1986, the Australian Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao Conference was organized by Masters Le Cong Danh, Tran Huy Quyen, Nguyen Van Thong, Le Linh Thao, Le Quang, Diep Khoi, Do Chanh Tam… at the Springvale Community Center (Victoria). The success of the conference marked the achievements of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao in Australia.
In 1988, the Grand Master was released from labor camp. He returned to Saigon to lead Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao through its darkest time.
In Vietnam, in 1989, the Viet Vo Dao Association of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon before 1975) was founded with Master Nguyen Van Chieu as President. As Vovinam became popular again in Vietnam, Vovinam disciples were allowed to compete in the Technical Tournament of the Third Region in 1990. Then Master Nguyen Van Chieu and Nguyen Anh Dung were invited to the northern provinces such as Quang Binh, Thanh Hoa, Ha Noi, Hoa Binh, Lai Chau, Yen Bai, Lang Son, Phu Tho… to promote Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao here.
In 1990, the Grand Master instructed Master Nguyen Dan (younger brother of Founder Nguyen Loc) and Master Ly Phuc Thai to host the International Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao Conference from June 30 to July 1, 1990 in California, U.S.A. This conference was attended by many masters and instructors representing Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao from different countries. During the conference, the International Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao Federation was founded with the Executive Committee as followed
- Master Nguyen Dan, President
- Master Ly Phuc Thai, Director for America’s affairs
- Master Le Cong Danh, Director for Australia’s affairs
- Master Ha Kim Khanh, Director for Europe’s affairs (in additions, the President of Vovinam Europe is Master Duong Quang Viet)
- Master Nguyen Ngoc My, Director for Africa’s affairs
In 1992, 178 Vovinam athletes participated in the first National Vovinam Tournament (from December 4 to 6, 1992) in Vietnam.
On December 3, 1993, Master Tran Huy Phong was successful in completing one of his childhood’s dreams: found the college of martial arts and philosophy (the first in 7 centuries). Master Tran Huy Phong and other professors found the King Hung University with 3 departments: Information Technology, Medicine, and Mind-Body Education. Master Trang Huy Phong is the director as well as the professor of Mind-Body Education department which will train Vovinam’s instructors and research new techniques.
In 1991, Master Nguyen Anh Dung was officially sent to Russia to promote Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao here as well as the Easter European countries. After a short period of time, a workshop was opened to train new Vovinam’s assistant instructors in Minsk, Russia. After the workshop, many new assistant instructors returned to their hometowns to start new training centers.
On April 29, 1994, the Vietnamese Communist regime established the Viet Vo Dao Commission to control Vovinam, and assigned a government official (who is not a Vovinam disciple) as the Commissioner. Because of this matter, all Vovinam Federations overseas declared that they would not comply to the puppet Viet Vo Dao Commission. Also in 1994, the Viet-Vo-Dao Commission banned all the “unauthorized” Vovinam training centers in Vietnam, including Master Tran Huy Phong’s training centers. It also prohibited Master Tran Huy Phong from teaching Vovinam.
In 1996, being encouraged by Master Tran Huy Phong, Master Tran Nguyen Dao hosted the Second International Conference of Masters on August 16 and 17, 1996, in Paris, France. The Conference decided to form the Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao World Federation; Master Ngo Huu Lien was elected to be the President and Master Nguyen Van Cuong was the General Secretary of the World Council of Masters.
In September 1996, a young man named Patrick Level arrived in Vietnam to practice Vovinam in the 8th District Center with Master Nguyen Van Chieu. Then he returned to Canari, Spain, to promote Vovinam there. On February 10, 1997, Patrick Level founded the Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao Federation of Spain with himself as President and Sergio Mora Hernandez as General Secretary. On April 1997, Master Nguyen Van Chieu arrived in Canari to open workshops for the new instructors.
In December 1996, the Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao demonstration team from Vietnam attended the annual 2nd World Cultural Festival and Games in Thailand. Their performance was praised by the audience as well as their competition counterparts.
On February 16, 1997, the California Council of Masters and Instructors met and formed the Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao Federation of California with Master Nguyen Van Dong as President.
On December 13, 1997, Master Tran Huy Phong passed away because of Kaler’s Disease (cancer of the bone marrow). His priceless contributions to Vovinam were remembered by all disciples. He was a significant figure of the Vietnamese youth and cultural movement in the late 20th century.
On July 20, 1998, Vietnam hosted the First International Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao Tournament in Phan Dinh Phung Stadium, Ho Chi Minh City, with the participation of 4 countries: Vietnam, France, Italy, and Spain.
On May 30, 1999, the first Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao Championship of North America was held in the Roosevelt Community Center, San Jose, California with the participation of more than 40 athletes from California, Washington, and Vancouver B.C. (Canada).
On August 25, 1999, Master Nguyen Thi Cam Binh of San Jose, California, was promoted to First Degree Red Belt by the Grand Master himself after the belt promotion examination in the Altar Hall. Master Nguyen Thi Cam Binh became the first woman being promoted to the rank of the Senior Masters of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao.
And the history of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao still continues…