Level 3 - Philosophical Knowledge for Blue Belt I

Required for Promotion to Blue Belt II

1. Please explain the first pledge of Vovinam.

The first pledge is about the ideals and purpose of practicing martial arts, which is to go beyond the current achievement of the art in order to serve the nation and mankind.

2. Why don't we need to have the final goal of achieving the ultimate peak of martial arts?

We don't need to achieve that goal because it is unrealistic and impractical.

3. Please explain the second pledge of Vovinam.

The second pledge is about the disciple's obligations toward Vovinam and the people; which is to persistently promote Vovinam and help develop young generations of Vovinam.

4. Please explain the idea of loyalty to Vovinam?

Loyalty here means being loyal to the art, to the ideals and the direction that the art has created, not being loyal to any individual. However, if an individual has been given the responsibilities of Grand Mastership, and if the Grand Master is following in accordance to the correct path, then Vovinam disciples have the obligation to assist him/her and to be loyal to him/her as well.

5. In order to promote Vovinam's teaching, what must a disciple do?

Train hard to become Instructors and Masters in order to promote the art and philosophy to the next generations Practice the ideals of Vovinam in everyday life to achieve harmony within the family, love and respect among friends, and assets of the community and nation.

6. Why is the obligation of a Vovinam disciple to help develop future generations of young Vovinam disciples?

It's beneficial to the community or the nation to develop strong generations of Vovinam disciples because youth have always and will always be the most formidable wall to defend and build a better community and nation. There exists in each Vovinam disciple a love for nation; hence, every Vovinam disciple will fight for the survival of the community and nation that disciple lives in.

7. Please explain the third pledge of Vovinam.

The third pledge is about the unity among Vovinam disciples.

8. Why is unity the most important goal of a group?

Unity is the most important goal of a group because it's decisive factor in determining the strength or destruction of the group.

9. What must a Vovinam disciple do in order to build unity?

Vovinam disciples must get rid of personal prejudices, egotistical tendencies, and any ideas of personal vengeance. If there are any disagreements or misunderstandings, they must be resolved immediately.

10. Please explain the fourth pledge of Vovinam.

The fourth pledge is about the discipline and the honor of the martial artist, which is the absolute compliance to the Vovinam's code of conduct and the upholding the martial artist's honor.

11. What is the code of conduct of the Vovinam discipline?

The code is self-imposed discipline, meaning that each disciple regulate his/her own behavior by observing others. The superiors and seniors need to lead by examples if they wish their disciples to follow their directives; if the disciples fail to follow the examples of the superiors and seniors and refuse to obey their directives, then the disciplinary methods must be applied or the disobeying disciples must be expelled from Vovinam.

12. What is individual heroism?

Individual heroism is a practice in which an individual has talents but lacks the group's discipline, refusing to self-impose oneself within the guidelines and acts upon impulses without clear sense of direction or purpose.

13. What is the honor of a martial artist?

The honor of a martial artist is the honor of a group of individuals whose ideals and actions are just and righteous, such as defending the oppressed and the weak. This is the type of honor that surpasses the individual ego to enter oneself into the ethical path of martial arts.

14. Please explain the fifth pledge of Vovinam.

The fifth pledge is about the awareness of using martial arts: always respect other styles of martial arts and use martial arts for defense of oneself and justice.

15. If a martial artist from another style of martial arts behaves inappropriately, what is the role of a Vovinam disciple in that situation?

When having to discipline a certain bad individual of another style of martial arts, Vovinam disciple must know that this is an absolute last resort in order to steer that individual into the proper way, not generalizing and insulting the honor of that entire martial arts style.

16. Please explain the sixth pledge of Vovinam.

The sixth pledge is about the direction of learning and the ethical thinking of a disciple, which are technical and ethical improvement in all life aspects (martial arts techniques and ethics, education, and profession).

17. What must a Vovinam disciple do in order to study successfully?

In order to study successfully, a Vovinam disciple must:
1. Learn and apply broadly anything that can be learned.
2. Ask carefully the things that one could not understand.
3. Think critically and carefully of the things one has learned.
4. Reason clearly (comparing, dissecting, organizing the pro's and con's)

18. What must a Vovinam disciple do in order to purify the mind?

In order to purify the mind, a Vovinam disciple must:
1. Live a healthy life: strong bodies produces healthy minds.
2. Be ethical: always be merciful, generous and understanding of others plights
3. Be candor and honest
4. Be calm and peaceful: avoids situations that could lead to hostility.
5. Be alert and helpful: one must be able to be flexible to face with all situations unexpectedly.

19. What is ethics? Why must a Vovinam disciple practice good ethics?

Vovinam ethics is the culmination of the ability to resolve, to regulate, and to harmonize all soft and hard, dark and light, static and dynamic elements of all things in the universe. A Vovinam student must train to practice ethics because it's the basis of all good habits. It's very crucial in the training of the mind and the body in martial arts.

20. Please explain the seventh pledge of Vovinam.

The seventh pledge is about the goals of living including chastity, modesty, honesty, and nobility.

21. What is the idea of leading a clean and chaste life of a Vovinam disciple?

The disciple leads a clean and chaste life by keeping one's body and mind pure yet aware of all negative aspects of society by listening, observing and confronting the facts of life to understand, resolve, and turn them from bad to good.

22. What is your understanding of a modest life of a Vovinam disciple?

A modest life is without wanting unnecessary things. One must live within his means and with the reflection of the community. Avoid giving discomforts to others because of earthly things.

23. What is the idea of honesty and candor of a Vovinam disciple?

A Vovinam disciple lives honestly with others; however, a Vovinam disciple also needs to understand the deceitfulness of others to avoid being taken advantage of and to avoid taking advantage of others.

24. How do you explain nobility?

Nobility exceeds normality as well as pettiness in thoughts and actions and therefore must be trained over times.

25. Please explain the eighth pledge of Vovinam.

The eighth pledge is about will power through training to overcome any obstacles and any forms of oppressions.

26. In order to temper your will power, what must a Vovinam disciple do?

In order to temper your will power, a Vovinam disciple must: Research and think critically using all available information prior to marking a decision. Once a decision is made, act upon that decision to achieve the desired results using all of your energy, eagerness, and determination.

27. Please explain the ninth pledge of Vovinam.

The ninth pledge is about how one must think, make decisions and act correctly and practically.

28. Why must you need to observe every angle and possibility?

You must do this so that you can determine what is right and what is wrong, whether something makes sense or not, so that you can act accordingly and in a timely fashion to prevent and minimize negative consequences.

29. What is perseverance? What are the biggest challenges in life that you must preserve?

Perseverance means that you must develop an iron will. Defeats should discourage you and oppression should not subdue you, so that you can overcome any obstacle with strength and agility.

A Vovinam disciple must persevere these goals:
1. Oppression can not subdue you.
2. Poverty can not dishonor you.
3. Wealth and power can not corrupt you.

30. How you become pro-active in every aspect of your life?

You are pro-active in every aspect in life by actively search for the answer of any questions. You must maximize your creativity, flexibility and intelligence to face all situations and circumstances. A pro-active person tends to love people, cooperate with others without underestimating the situation or overestimating one's own abilities.

31. Please explain the tenth pledge of Vovinam.

The tenth pledge is about the positive traits a Vovinam disciple must have. Vovinam disciples must have self-confidence, self-control, and be self-critical with one's self while showing humility and tolerance to others.

32. What are self-confidence, self-control, humility, and mercy?

Self-confidence: Believe in your abilities, a just cause, and your will power to expand the goodness of yourself so that you can constantly improve. Self-control: Winning yourself is the objective. Control your negative traits and behaviors and minimize your weaknesses by focusing on training martial arts skills and studying its philosophy. Humility: Be humble to peers, seniors or the elderly; listen to what they say, you may learn something from their experience and wisdom. Mercy: Render mercy to your opponents; be tolerant to your underlings. Remember that they haven't experienced what you went through.

33. What should be the appropriate behavior of a Vovinam disciple when looking back at past thoughts and actions?

Vovinam disciple looks back at past thoughts and actions with a critical mindset and outlook. You must be able to separate your strengths and weaknesses, things that could have been done differently so that you can improve. Avoid looking back with blind self-pride and impudence when achieving successes and blaming or nagging when facing failures.

translated by Linh Thai - copy edited by Uy Tran.
(Required for Promotion to Blue Belt II) - vovinamus.com