Vovinam Overview

The Vovinam | Vovinam Belt System | Vovinam Description | Vovinam Grand Master | Vovinam Grand Master Sang Le | Vovinam History | Vovinam Overview | Vovinam Philosophy | Vovinam Ten Principles

Vovinam is a type of Vietnamese martial arts. Vovinam is practiced with and without weapons. It is based on the principle of harmony between hard and soft. It includes training of the body as well as the mind. It uses force and reaction of the opponent. 

The name is a portmanteau of Vo (Vo): meaning “Martial Arts” and Vinam standing for “Vietnam”. It includes hand “don tay”, elbow “cho”, kicks “da”, throws, escape- and levering techniques. Both attack and defense techniques are trained, just as foot techniques, forms (Quyen, Song Luyen & Da Luy?en ), combat and traditional wrestling (“Vat”).

The wide range of techniques include punching, kicking etc. as well as Quyens (“Katas”, “Forms”), wrestling, sword, Con staff (not the Chinese “Gun” staff), axe, (folding-)fan and others. Self defense techniques cover defense against weaponless attacks like choking from behind or grabbing and against attacks with knife or sword.

Advanced students learn to combine the techniques and learn to defend himself/herself against armed opponents. Instructors train traditional weapons like the long stick, short stick, knife, sword and sabre. Thereby the weapons serve as training devices for reaching optimal body control. A high level of concentration is necessary for these.

Hard and Soft: The Yin & Yang-Theory (Vietnamese: “Âm-D??ng”) states that everything in the universe and on earth is initiated through the interrelation of Yin (negative) and Yang (positive). 

As to this theory there are martial arts that prefer the hard over the soft and others that prefer the soft over the hard. Vovinam Vi?t Võ ??o does not prefer any over the other. Hard and Soft are used equally to adapt to every situation, to every problem.

Based on Võ-Thu?t the student aims to develop the ability to combine hard and soft at the right relation, in combat and in daily life.

This aiming to develop both physical abilities as well as the student’s spirit.  Not only the principle of the harmony of hard & soft but also many other things resulting from the training contribute to internalizing the martial art philosophy, e.g. fighting spirit, courage, tenacity, fairness, modesty and tolerance. Above all the training morality and the way of applying the techniques shape the students’ character.

The greatest difficulty is to see through ones own ego and then to overcome it. On success in doing so the Vovinam student will gain generosity and tolerance with other people. With the awareness that the most important thing in life of a human are other humans the final goal is to be able to not only help oneself but also to help others to live in peace and harmony with ones surrounding.

With the salutation, “Hand of steel on a benevolent heart” the student is reminded about the main principle and about the goal of Vovinam Vi?t Võ ??o with every training. It is also about using the opponent’s force and reaction, hence reach maximum effect with little force/effort.

History: Founder of Vovinam Vet Vo Dao is Nguyen Loc. In his younger years he was training traditional, Vietnamese martial arts  At that time Vietnam had to endure almost 100 years of French colonialization. To his belief a strong nation could only arise if its youth was trained – a strong body, a clear mind, and a “pure” soul. He was determined to make changes.

He began studying various martial arts. He read books about history, arts, health, philosophy and religion. He united all his experiences in a new martial art and philosophy. It was so far patriotically influenced as it was made by a Vietnamese for Vietnamese people. The variety of the sources is reflected in the variety of the techniques.

Vovinam spread the world by Vietnamese emigrating from Vietnam mostly over France. After Nguyen Loc’s death Le Sang took worldwide responsible for the further development and the worldwide distribution of Vovinam.

Logo: The form of the yellow Vovinam Veit Vo Dao logo is composed from a rectangle and a circle, angular at the top, round at the bottom. This form symbolizes the perfection of the true, the good and the beautiful.

The logo is framed in a marine blue color. The red text “Vovinam” is written above the marine blue “Vi?t Võ ??o”. Its pointing letters show the way to the destination. Underneath lie the two poles Yin (red) and Yang (marine blue).

In the middle of the two poles the yellow map of Vietnam can be found. The symbol of Yin and Yang is framed by a thick, white circle, symbolizing the being of the Dao, with the mission to mediate in between Yin and Yang, to subdue the two, to enable life of all beings.

The 10 principles of Vovinam Veit Vo Dao:  The Principles vary between other Vovinam martial arts.

  1. Vovinam’s disciples promise to attain higher level of martial art in order to serve the people and humanity.
  2. Promise to be faithful with Vovinam and develop the young generation of Vovinam Veit Vo Dao.
  3. Be unanimous in spirit and heart, respect the elder, love fellow peers.
  4. Respect discipline absolutely, maintain the higher honour of a martial art disciple.
  5. Have respect for other martial art schools, only use martial art skills for self defense and protect justice.
  6. Be studious, strengthen the mind, enrich the thought & behavior.
  7. Live simple, with chaste, loyalty and high mind.
  8. Build up a spirit of steely determination and vigor, overcome powers of violence.
  9. Make intelligent judgments, carry out struggles with perseverance and act with alertness.
  10. Be self-confident, self-controlled, modest and generous.