Level 5 - Philosophical Knowledge for Blue Belt III

Required for Promotion to Black Belt / Yellow Belt

1. What is the process of martial arts development in the world?

The development of martial arts worldwide is greatly effected by geography, cultural heritage, social changes, historical conflicts, and pace of social advancement.

2. How many periods of martial arts development are there, please explain?

There are 4 stages of martial arts development:

  1. Fighting against nature (animals): Because of survival needs, man and animals engaged in fighting to gain the advantage.
  2. Duel fighting: This form of fighting is also known as "might is right"; deciding/resolving conflicts between two individuals.
  3. Fighting in mass: The art of fighting against groups, or one person dominating over many others.
  4. Military integration: Applying martial arts teachings into the military to build and to protect one's nation.

3. From where did ancient societies create different art forms such as: monkey forms, tiger forms, horse forms, eagle forms, snake forms, ox forms?

The accumulated experiences from combating wild animals to protect and to survive were codified by our ancient ancestors to create such forms of fighting.

4. What are the characteristics of these forms?

The characteristics of:

  • Monkey forms : The monkey form emphasizes quickness, bounciness, and lots of swaying.
  • Tiger forms : engage in clawing, choking, and is fast and furious.
  • Horse forms : fake retreat with surprise counter-attacks (elbows, back kicks, halberds, returning-horse spear, etc.)
  • Eagle forms : surprise with claw-attacks from above
  • Snake forms : stay close to the ground, sway to avoid attacks, and fight with direct and snappy attacks
  • Ox forms : tackling, choking and locking, using the whole body to attack the opponent (throwing and joint-locking techniques).

5. From where did the concept of using martial arts to combat animals change to combating other human beings?

Constant conflicts within each civilization/society due to: marriage, division of property, electing chieftains, etc. gave way to change martial arts focus from combating animals to combating among human beings.

6. When martial arts were incorporated into military strategy, how did duels continue to affect the outcome of a battle?

Even when martial arts were incorporated in to military strategy, the influence of duels affected the outcomes of major battles when the two leading generals often fought each other. The winner will be awarded with the winning of the battle.

7. What were the reasons behind the origin of the art and science of massive combat?

Due to increasing lust for power and wealth as well as polarized ideas about protecting one's cultural heritage, the art and science of massive combat materialized.

8. In what epoch did martial arts training integrate into military strategy? Who was the first known military strategist of Vietnam?

In Vietnam, the Iron Epoch was denoted as the era in which martial arts studies were introduced into military strategy. The first known military strategist of Vietnam was the famous General Ly Thuong Kiet (prior to him, the Vietnamese people had successfully fought off many foreign domination attempts. However, these victories were due to high degrees of nationalism, not quite being able to apply the art of maneuvering to conquer the opponent as applied by Gen. Ly Thuong Kiet)

9. What are the characteristics of traditional Vietnamese martial arts?

Based on geographic features of Vietnam and a high degree of national identity, Vietnamese martial arts have three following basic characteristics:

  1. Fitting with the body frame of the small but brave Vietnamese (with effective use of geographic advantages).
  2. Hard and Soft Co-development.
  3. Integration and adaptation of multiple arts and styles.

10. What elements allowed Vietnamese martial arts to combine and adapt multi-disciplinary aspects of martial arts worldwide? What is the direction of this adaptation?

Due to its unique geography, Vietnam has been exposed and received many aspects of martial arts worldwide. This enables its people to combine and adapt them to fit their style and physical attributes to form styles that are uniquely Vietnamese.

11. What are the benefits of martial arts?

Practicing martial arts helps develop a strong and fit body, sharpen one's intellect, and strengthen one's moral character. Furthermore, martial arts training helps to protect human lives and enrich people with history.

12. In today society, are there any benefits to martial arts training?

With so much scientific and technological advances in today's society, many people think that there is no use for martial arts training. These people forget that an advanced weapon system needs a stable hand and a strong will to control. And no matter how advance technology can be, it cannot transform a coward into a hero. Hence, in whatever era, martial arts training is always very useful.

13. In ancient Vietnam and China, martial arts training were popular in what social classes?

In ancient China and Vietnam, martial arts training were very popular among religious sectors and the warrior class (Taoist priests and Buddhist monasteries welcome many disciples).

14. Japanese martial arts Way:BUSIDO originated how?

The Japanese warrior code:Bushido originated from the Samurai class;warriors chosen from the upper class and expertly trained to protect the Shoguns:Regional lords and the Japanese Emperor; they were also used to suppress uprisings and helped the Emperor to rule Japan effectively (Samurai is a warrior class - Bushido is the way or the code of conducts for those who considered themselves a samurai)

15. What are the similarities and differences of martial arts Way among Japan, Vietnam and China?

When comparing the Japanese Bushido with China and Vietnam, we observe:

  1. Similarities: Being loyal to the nation and honor; high degree of self-respect, reliability, discipline, and no fear of death.
  2. Differences: The Japanese Bushido actively engage in political and power struggles and tend to become self-righteous and worship nationalism through the symbol of one individual (the emperor); the warrior will forsake his life for the benefit of the group.

The Chinese and Vietnamese martial arts "way" is to disengage in nature. We live and train in seclusion; practices individual heroism, capable of making sacrifice for higher cause (however it tends to generate unrealistic ideals), critical thoughts and actions; values life.

16. What is our perception of martial arts Way in today society?

Today, our perception about martial arts is much broader and can be summarized with the following major points:

  • Those who follow contemporary warrior code are first and foremost a person who lives with realistic expectations and realistic ideals; they live closely among others, sharing the pains and joys of others within their society; they are people with grand ideas who possess a can-do attitude, who can plan and execute the smallest of details to achieve a long lasting career and social objectives.

  • With regards to religious faiths, today's warriors think that religions benefit people tremendously in times of needs. Hence, we accept and respect the positive values of religions, however, we stay clear all forms of superstition. We accept and adapt all philosophies, all beliefs, and all religious practices in order to balance our spiritual lives and our physical lives.

17. What is the true essence of physical and spiritual lives?

The true essence of physical and spiritual lives lies in the nurturing (spirituality) and constant training (physiology) in order to enhance our total experience of living.

18. On what two foundations do the Vovinam discipline develop a model martial artist?

The Vovinam discipline develops a model martial artist based on two foundations:

  1. Spiritually rich but realistic in actions
  2. Materially abundant but humble and frugal

19. What are the 12 attributes of thoughts and behaviors that a Vovinam disciple need to constantly train, maintain and develop? Please define them?

With oneself, a disciple must:

1. Train the body: Train in breathing techniques, martial arts techniques and general fitness.

2. Train the mind: Open the mind to new ideas and new information through education, observation, and participation in all forms of discussion and exchange of ideas.

3. Train to center through Khi Cong (Chi): Train to focus through breathing in order to have self-control, to be alert yet calm and relaxed in all situations.

To others in relationship, a disciple must:

4. Be sincere: with honesty, warmth and kindness.

5. Be committed: to be fair and generous in thoughts and actions.

6. Be loyal: to friendships, to others in the spirit of a warrior code.

To one's self in relationship with others, a disciple must:

7. Be modest: always be modest to win others' hearts

8. Be generous: always accept and forgive others (even your enemies); always evaluate to see if you are generous enough to others.

9. Be harmonious: always find ways to coexist and to unite with others to find strengths and comforts

In order to live in accordance with the honor of the Vietnamese Warrior code, a disciple must try to accomplish these three goals:

10. Develop one's self: create for one's self a stable and positive place in society in two aspects:

- Spirituality: Always try to learn, evaluate, and be sincere to correct mistakes as well as enhancing positive traits.

- Materials: Be financially self-sufficient in order to maintain impartiality and independence.

11. Develop ideals: harbor and act to fulfill honorable destiny.

12. Develop Legacy: work hard to create for yourself a worthy career and a legacy for future generations.

20. How can we achieve the following characters: humility in success and perseverance in defeat?

When we truly commit and dedicate ourselves to an ideal and a grand destiny, we will achieve humility in successes and perseverance in failures.

21. What are the differences between a title and a career? If you can choose, would you choose to have a career or a title?

  • Title: a name and a place in society, which can be changed from time to time, depending on the environment (everyone has a title).
  • Career: is the goal and direction in life; it's long term and can benefits many others not just one's self.

Therefore, titles are stepping stones for us to achieve a successful and fulfilling career. This is why when choosing, we must choose to develop a career and put it above the importance of titles.

translated by Linh Thai - copy edited by Uy Tran.
(Required for Promotion to Black Belt / Yellow Belt) - vovinamus.com