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  Vovinam History

1912 - 1960 - 1975

     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...

Last update: March 15 2012 01:57:14 am