HUNG NGUYEN MANH
According to Dai Nam thuc luc [Đại Nam thực lục] (Annals of the Dai Nam) (volume 17), the Nguyen [Nguyễn] Dynasty built a stable feudal system and used martial arts to stop peasants’ uprisings. Military leaders also experienced fights against the Tay Son [Tây Sơn] and matured through that way. Therefore, after having the peacetime, the emperor ordered the building of a martial arts school and establishment of a martial arts temple within Hue [Huế], the imperial citadel (north of Huong [Hương] River). The Temple of martial arts was built in 1835, Year the Goat, at An Ninh [An Ninh] Village, Huong Tra [Hương Trà] District). Bo Le [Bộ Lễ] (Ministry of Rites) established a set of records, retrieving information from the Ly [Lý] dynasty. Ly Thuong Kiet [Lý Thường Kiệt] defeated the Tong [Tống] troops; Tran Quoc Tuan [Trần Quốc Tuấn] had many victories and wrote a valuable Military manual; Tran Nhat Duat [Trần Nhật Duật] defeated Nguyen [Nguyên] troops with glorious victories. During the Le [Lê] dynasty, Dinh Liet [Đinh Liệt] was the leader for the pacification of the Wu (China). In the list, there was the prestigious and ambitious Le Ngoi [Lê Ngôi]. Under Le Trung Hung’s [Lê Trung Hưng] reign, Hoang Dinh Ai [Hoàng Đình Ái] had many successes using bows and swords.
Military leaders who had extraordinary physical strength could perform their skills in front of the emperor and got promoted without any examinations. For example, Mac Dang Dung [Mạc Đăng Dung] was a fisherman who had outstanding strength. Once, he went to the capital. While passing Giang Vo [Giảng Võ] School, he saw wrestlers and weight-lifters competing in front of the emperor. Seeing the winner being arrogant after victory, Mac Dang Dung [Mạc Đăng Dung] asked for permission to compete against the winner. However, the emperor asked him to do the lifting. He lifted two weights of hundreds of kilos without sweating and became the champion of weightlifting. Mac Dang Dung [Mạc Đăng Dung] was honored to be the leader of all wrestlers and weight-lifters. After that, he appointed Do chi huy su [Đô chỉ huy sứ] (Commander). Later on, Mac Dang Dung [Mạc Đăng Dung] defeated the enemies and won the power.
After that, he usurped the throne and created the Mac [Mạc] Dynasty. Although he was an emperor already, martial arts ran in his blood, so he always wanted to compete with martial arts mandarins in the imperial court. Anyone who lost to him would be demoted. When he met new martial arts graduates, he would challenge them to beat him in order to be considered official graduates.
During Nguyen [Nguyễn] Lords era, Dao Duy Tu [Đào Duy Từ] was famous for being cunning, and for his military manual. There was Ton That Thuan [Tôn Thất Thuần] who defeated the enemies; Nguyen Huu Tien [Nguyễn Hữu Tiến] and Nguyen Huu Dat [Nguyễn Hữu Dật] who defeated Trinh [Trịnh] troops many times by cavalry. By the time of the Nguyen [Nguyễn] dynasty, there were Chu Van Tiep [Chu Văn Tiếp], Vo Tanh [Võ Tánh] who were cunning and courageous. Also, Ton That Hoi [Tôn Thất Hội] had many merits; Nguyen Van Truong [Nguyễn Văn Trương] defeated the Tay Son [Tây Sơn] army; Nguyen Hoang Duc [Nguyễn Hoàng Đức] was named the Tiger General. Among sixteen military leaders, there were thirteen worshiped at Mieu lich dai de vuong [Miếu lịch đại đế vương] and twenty-five were worshiped at Thai mieu [Thái miếu] and The mieu [Thế miếu] of the Nguyen [Nguyễn] Dynasty.
In the 20th year of Minh Mang’s [Minh Mạng] reign (1839), the imperial court ordered three merit steles to be erected in the front yard of the Temple of martial arts for ten martial arts mandarins. On the steles were carved their names, hometowns, titles, and contributions during the reigns of Gia Long [Gia Long] and Minh Mang [Minh Mạng]. They were: Truong Minh Giang [Trương Minh Giảng] (Gia Dinh [Gia Định]), Pham Huu Tam [Phạm Hữu Tâm] (Thua Thien Hue [Thừa Thiên Huế]), Ta Quang Cu [Tạ Quang Cự] (Thua Thien Hue [Thừa Thiên Huế]), Nguyen Xuan [Nguyễn Xuân] (Thanh Hoa [Thanh Hoá]), Pham Van Dien [Phạm Văn Điển] (Thua Thien Hue [Thừa Thiên Huế]), Phan Van Thuy [Phan Văn Thủỵ] (Quang Nam [Quảng Nam]), Mai Cong Ngon [Mai Công Ngôn] (Thua Thien Hue [Thừa Thiên Huế]), Le Van Duc [Lê Văn Đức] (Vinh Long [Vĩnh Long]), Tran Van Tri [Trần Văn Trí] (Gia Dinh [Gia Định]), and Ton That Bat [Tôn Thất Bạt] (Thua Thien Hue [Thừa Thiên Huế]). In 1854, being charged of “premeditation” in the revolution of Hong Bao [Hồng Bảo] (brother of Tu Duc [Tự Đức]), the name of Ton That Bat [Tôn Thất Bật] was removed from the stele.
Under Tu Duc’s [Tự Đức] reign, there were two more steles erected for tien si vo [tiến sĩ võ] (doctors of martial arts), carving masters who passed the three martial arts examinations: in the Year of Buffalo (1865), Year of Dragon (1868), and Year of Snake (1869). They were: Vo Van Duc [Võ Văn Đức] (Quang Nam [Quảng Nam]), Vo Van Luong [Võ Văn Lương] (Quang Tri [Quảng Trị]), Van Van [Văn Vân] (Thua Thien Hue [Thừa Thiên Huế]), Pham Hoc [Phạm Học] (Quang Nam [Quảng Nam]), Nguyen Van Tu [Nguyễn Văn Tứ] (Binh Dinh [Bình Định]), Duong Viet Thieu [Dương Việt Thiệu] (Thua Thien Hue [Thừa Thiên Huế]), Do Van Kiet [Đỗ Văn Kiệt] (Quang Tri [Quảng Trị]), Dang Duc Tuan [Đặng Đức Tuấn] (Binh Dinh [Bình Định]), Tran Van Hien [Trần Văn Hiển] (Thua Thien Hue [Thừa Thiên Huế]), and Le Van Truc [Lê Văn Trực] (Quang Binh [Quảng Bình])1
However, during official approval, Minh Mang [Minh Mạng] added some criteria: Firstly, the person must have had proven merits, and could set an example for the following generations. Due to the criteria, some people were removed from the list, including Ly Thuong Kiet [Lý Thường Kiệt], who was a eunuch (?)
Tran Nhat Duat [Trần Nhật Duật], Dinh Liet [Đinh Liệt], Hoang Dinh Ai [Hoành Đình Ái] were only seen as military leaders on the battlefields. Besides, there were also some mandarins in the Nguyen [Nguyễn] Dynasty only considered as backstage counselors. Ton That Thuan [Tôn Thất Thuần] was only a vo liet, not cao liet. Nguyen Hoang Duc’s [Nguyễn Hoàng Đức] talent was not remarkable.
Finally, Minh Mang [Minh Mạng] approved for six mandarins to be worshiped in Nha giai vu ta huu [giải vũ tả hữu] (the Left house and Right house). Tran Quoc Tuan [Trần Quốc Tuấn] and Le Khoi [Lê Khôi] were famous generals from the previous dynasty. The approved list also consisted of Nguyen Huu Dat [Nguyễn Hữu Đạt] and Nguyen Huu Truong [Nguyễn Hữu Trương] who were famous generals during the Nguyen [Nguyễn] Dynasty.
To take care of the Temple of martial arts, there were twenty civilians in nearby households taking care of annual worships two times in spring. The two worships were performed immediately after the worship of Lich dai de vuong [Lich đại đế vương]. The ceremonial supplies for the worships included one buffalo, one goat, two pigs, and five trays of sticky rice.
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BAN TU THU
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