Practicing VIETNAMESE MARTIAL ARTS, A form of PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

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HUNG NGUYEN MANH

    Vietnam developed an early wet rice civilization. Farmers spent months and years on their own rice fields. The painting “Chong cay, vo cay, con trau di bua” [Chồng cày, vợ cấy, con trâu đi bừa] (The husband ploughs, the wife sows, water buffalo draws the rake) (Figures 1,2) has existed for thousands of years throughout the long history of fighting to protect and preserve independence for the nation within each stage of the history. During traditional holidays, there were always physical games, traditional wrestling, which helped people to practice physical balance and strength to face invaders.

    Right in the middle of the first century (Spring 40), the Trung [Trưng] sisters gathered a sufficient army force to defeat the enemy, liberate the country, form an independent country, and set up the capital in Me Linh [Mê Linh] (for three years).

    Among the generals of the two female leaders, there was the female general named Le Chan [Lê Chân] (An Bien, Hai Phong [An Biên, Hải Phòng]), who used to establish a station to practice martial arts, including wrestling. Another female general, Thieu Hoa [Thiều Hoa] (Lang Xuong [Lãng Xương], Vinh Phuc [Vĩnh Phúc]), practiced and trained danh phet [đánh phết], which was good for brain and muscles. Nguyen Tam Chinh [Nguyễn Tam Chinh], a military leader (Mai Dong [Mai Động], Thanh Hoa [Thanh Hoá]), opened a martial arts school to teach both martial arts and Chinese (Figure 3). After that, he became the founder of Mai Dong [Mai Động] wrestling village.

    In the first half of the third century, there was a strong female general called Lady Trieu [Triệu]. At the age of 19, she announced: “I only want to ride strong winds, to stomp on fierce waves, to slay whales in the Eastern Sea, to drive off Wu soldiers, to secure rivers and mountains, to throw off the yoke of slavery, not to bow down and be a servant!”

    Lady Trieu [Triệu] established a martial arts school to practice wrestling, using swords and archery to fight against the enemies, who had to exclaim:

It is easier to use spears and kill tigers
Than to face the Empress.

[Hoành qua đương hổ dị
Đối diện bà vương nan]

    In the sixth century (543), Ly Bon [Lý Bôn], leader of Thai Binh [Thái Binh] (Son Tay [Sơn Tây]), and other patriotic heroes practiced martial arts together to increase physical strength. Among them were military leaders Trieu Quang Phuc [Triệu Quang Phục], Pham Tu [Phạm Tu], Ly Phuc Mang [Lý Phục Mang]. Their uprising gained independence for our country with the name of Van Xuan [Vạn Xuân].

    At the beginning of the eighth century, Mai Thuc Loan [Mai Thúc Loan](722) fought for independence. Forty-four years later, Phung Hung [Phùng Hưng] (766-791) and his younger brother, Phung Hai [Phùng Hải], gathered people’s forces to practice martial arts and other physical activities for the uprising. The two brothers were extremely strong. Phung Hung [Phùng Hưng] (Duong Lam [Đường Lam], Son Tay [Sơn Tây]) could wrestle with water buffaloes and beat tigers. Phung Hai [Phùng Hải] could carry thousand-kilo heavy stones and boats for many miles. The two brothers defeated the invaders and protected the territory for seven years and were honored as Bo Cai Dai Vuong [Bố Cái Đại Vương].

     As recorded in the history, the one who paid a great contribution to establish a large-scale martial arts school in Duong Xa [Dương Xá] (Thanh Hoa [Thanh Hoá]) was Duong Dinh Nghe [Dương Đình Nghệ]. He was a village leader who gathered about 3,000 warriors to train martial arts days and nights. Among them was Ngo Quyen [Ngô Quyền] (Phong Chau [Phong Châu], Son Tay [Sơn Tây]) who later was famous for the Bach Dang [Bạch Đằng] victory, which ended the one thousand years of Chinese domination (according to Dai Viet su ky toan thu [Đại Việt sử ký] (the Complete Annals of Dai Viet [Đại Việt])).

BAN TU THU
12 /2019

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