Vovinam San Jose, California, USA - Hưng Đao Academy
Võ Đường Hưng Đao Academy
389 E. Santa Clara St.,
San Jose, CA 95113
Giờ Tập/Hour: 6:30-8:30 PM
Mondays and Wednesdays
Quản Nhiêm/Resp: VS Phạm Thế Hiển
Email: [email protected]
Continuing The Hưng Đạo Tradition
by Hoài Nam
If you have the chance to visit San Jose California please come to visit the Hưng Đạo Martial Arts Academy. It's easy to find. Just drive through Santa Clara street toward downtown San Jose and roll down your window to listen. The strong, proud "K-I-A" yells and the increasingly rapid sounds of hands chopping on the practice floor, like the thundering sounds of a cavalry's horses' hooves pounding the ground, can be heard for several blocks. Just follow the sound to find us. From afar, you can recognize the Hung Dao's students in the familiar blue martial arts uniforms, practicing in our gym at the corner of 9th and Santa Clara streets. Here, masters, instructors, students, and friends gather to practice every Monday and Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. The doors of Hưng Đạo Martial Arts Academy are wide open to welcome you.
Beside the normal physical training of a martial arts dojo, the Hưng Đạo Martial Arts Academy also focuses on instilling basic values in its students with the aim of building the complete martial artists. The Academy's instructors are proud of our heritage and tradition and continue to maintain a healthy, family-friendly atmosphere in our school.
Hưng Đạo Martial Arts Academy has actually existed for a long time. Grandmaster Lê Sáng himself chose this name for the school in 1968 (see pictures of Hưng Đạo then and now). Hưng Đạo is the honorable title given to the national hero Trần Quốc Tuấn by king Trần Nhân Tông in the 13th century, after he had successfully repelled the Mongolian invasions. Hưng Đạo Vương was a great general of the Vietnamese people. Three times he led the Tran's army to fight and evict the Mongolians out of Vietnam and protect our independence. A great leader of man, Hưng Đạo Vương is also a brilliant strategist and tactician. Leveraging his deep understanding of Vietnam's terrains and history, he developed and executed a battle plan that destroyed the mighty Mongolian army in the battle of Bạch Đằng River. In 1288, he ordered his troop to plant sharp stakes in the bottom of the river, then sent a few light boats to engage the Mongol warships and draw them into the trap. When the tide receded, the Mongol warships were caught by the buried stakes and became sitting ducks. Hưng Đạo Vương then unleashed his main force and destroyed the Mongolian navy in this decisive battle. The Bạch Đằng River battle was considered a spectacular lesson in tactics and was incorporated into the training program of the United Kingdom Royal Naval Academy for their senior officers. Trần Hưng Đạo has forever become a symbol of the heroic tradition and pride of the Vietnamese people. Beside his military talents, Hưng Đạo Vương was also a scholar, well-educated in history, literature, and strategy. He is a great role model for Vovinam students to emulate.
In the late 1960's, during the early days of building the Vovinam discipline in Sài Gòn, Grandmaster Lê Sáng formed the Hưng Đạo Martial Arts Academy and appointed masters Mai Văn Thành and Dương Minh Nhơn to run the school. At its height, the school had hundred of students per class. Unfortunately, Masters Thành and Nhơn later joined the Army of Republic of Vietnam to fulfill their duties during war time. At that point, Master Nguyễn Minh Hải was appointed to run the school. As the war escalated, Master Nguyễn Minh Hải also joined the army in the mid 1970's. Master Võ Văn Tuấn assumed the mantel to continue developing the Hưng Đạo martial arts academy. In 1975, Vovinam could not continue its activities in Vietnam for several years. Many Hưng Đạo's students returned to their families, while many others joined the refugee exodus and ended up in other countries. In 1980, Master Nguyễn Minh Hải arrived in the US and settled in San Jose. In this new location, Master Hải began to rebuild the Hưng Đạo Martial Arts Academy. At that time, there were few Vietnamese living in the area and people here had not heard of Vovinam. At the beginning, the school's activities and training were limited to a small group of friends, then gradually expanded. At one point, the school had nearly 200 students. During this time, Master Hải had trained a strong core of instructors. Later, the school closed for a few years due to economic reasons. A number of instructors opened their own schools at local colleges or joined another Vovinam school in San Jose run by Master Cẩm Bình. As Vovinam is a big family, you would always be welcomed regardless of where you come from or whom you studied with previously. This is a long tradition of the Vovinam discipline, one that will always be preserved.
In recent years, the right conditions came about to allow the reopening of Hưng Đạo Academy. Masters Phạm Thành Phương and Phạm Thế Hiển, who were both students of Master Hải, and a number of other instructors reopened the school on Thanksgiving day in 2003. A new chapter of the Hưng Đạo tradition has begun. The link between the old and current Hưng Đạo Academy is Master Nguyễn Minh Hải. In addition, Master Đỗ Văn Phước and instructor Trịnh Bỉnh Khôn, former students of the old Hưng Đạo Academy in Sài Gòn, also teach in the new school. Master Phạm Thế Hiển runs the academy today with the support of many other masters and instructors. The core management and training group includes 5 masters and 14 instructors, working in a democratic fashion as well as following guidance from Grandmaster Lê Sáng. Many of the masters here had trained in Vietnam from the main Vovinam school. As such, they have very sound techniques and training methods. Specifically, Master Nguyễn Phi Hùng, a former Vietnam national champion, handles key technical training for advanced students. Master Hùng trained in Vietnam for many years and was assigned by Grandmaster Lê Sáng to help with the development of Vovinam in San Jose.
All masters and instructors in the training staff had stable jobs and positions in society. They teach at Hưng Đạo Academy on a voluntary basis and do not expect any material rewards. Continuing the tradition of service that the previous generations of masters started, the Hưng Đạo masters want to do their part in contributing to the long march and growth of Vovinam to other countries.
The enthusiasm, sincerity and hard work of the training staff have helped to attract many students to the school. Further, Hưng Đạo academy has a diverse student body. The students are of all ages and professions. There were doctors, nurses, businessmen, engineers, managers, technicians, elementary, high school, and college students regularly attending classes. There were even a few retired seniors in the class. The atmosphere in the class is serious but also friendly, even family like. There are at least 12 cases where parents practice together with their children in class. As you can see, Hưng Đạo students come from many different ages, positions, and groups in society but all become normalized in the blue Vovinam martial arts uniform and synchronized in the yells.
At Hưng Đạo Academy, besides training to sharpen our martial arts skills, the training staff also focuses on building good, model citizens of society. After the practice hours, students also listened to many stories or discussions by the training staff. The instructors spent time to research and impart their practical knowledge and clear martial art ethics and credos to the students. Master Hải often told stories about Vovinam or sharing practical tips such as how to look up position in a map quickly, experience that he has since his days as an officer in the South Vietnam Air Force. Instructor Trần Văn Toàn, an entrepreneur, occasionally presents on the topics of science or new technology developments. Instructor Lê Đức Hòa shares his take on current events and occasionally discusses Việt Võ Đạo philosophy. The instructors take turn to discuss useful topics with the students during intermission. Everybody comes to expect this short but meaningful break time. Outside of the training hours, Hưng Đạo students also have many opportunities to strengthen their bonds through activities such as camping, picnics, and birthday or graduation parties.
Please come to visit and practice with us at Hưng Đạo Martial Arts Academy. Here, you can take on a healthy activity with our martial arts training, in a friendly and caring atmosphere. You will find an environment conducive to help each student on his/her journey of "Cách Mạng Tâm Thân", the revolution of Body, Heart, and Mind.
- [email protected]
- Contact Person
- VS Phạm Thế Hiển