Philosophical Knowledge for Blue Belt II
translated by Linh Thai
copyedited by Uy Tran.

(Required for Promotion to Blue Belt III)

1. Please define the meaning of martial arts skills.
        Martial arts skills are techniques using strength, speed, and agility (empty hands, kicks or weapons) to defend against humans or animals.

2. Please explain what is the way of martial arts(Vo Dao).

        The way of martial arts is a path, system of thoughts and actions clearly established within a discipline with regards to the lifestyle of a martial artist.

3. What is the difference between a martial arts school and a martial arts discipline.

        A martial arts school that teaches its pupils to use martial  arts skills to defeat other humans and animals  is simply not enough. A martial arts school must also guide and instill in its pupils a proper code of conduct to ensure success and respect from others.  This code of conduct in accordance with the martial arts discipline is Vo-Dao.

4.  According to history, until what period of time did the Vietnamese martial arts Way almost materialized through the creation of martial arts university: Giang Vo Duong.

In the year 1253 during the Tran Dynasty, the first University of Martial-arts was developed along with the National Academic Institute.  It was in this period that the Vietnamese martial arts’ Way was almost materialized.

5.  Explain the characteristics of family/clan-based teaching and secret teaching.

Family-based teaching is the teaching of martial arts in the narrow confinement of family members and a few trusted disciples outside of the family.

Secret teaching refers to the beliefs that a martial arts student, no matter how trusted he/she became, the teacher always reserved a few techniques to prevent the student’s betrayal.  Thus, there are no codified and uniformed training system and many excellent techniques and training methods became extinct.

6.  What are the essential objectives of VietVoDao?

There are three essential objectives of VietVoDao:

A)  LIVE:  with all the fierceness and full capacity of mind and body.  One must always try to improve or to perfect one’s self on three inseparable aspects: A healthy body, sharp intellect, and honorable spirit; thus enabling the individual to be beneficial to his/her family and society.

B)  HELP OTHERS TO LIVE:  One does not use his/her advantages to bully or to rob others of their livelihoods or their rights to life, justice and the pursuit of happiness.  One must respect, assist, share or create opportunities for others to achieve and to advance to the same level of comfort and happiness whenever possible.

C)  LIVE FOR OTHERS:  This is also the highest objective; it asks the disciple to give up certain spiritual and physical benefits, even risking his/her life for others if deemed necessary; because our lives are connected with the lives of others, our successes and achievements are often due to assistance and support from others; therefore, at times, we must give up ourselves to help others in the time of needs.

7.  What are the  goals of VietVoDao (the Way of Vietnamese martial arts)?

There are three goals VietVoDao strives to achieve:

1) To preserve, develop and expand the knowledge of Vietnamese martial arts.  Fully exploit the Hard and Soft elements of the human body through the practice of Vovinam-VietVoDao by filtering the traditional martial arts and wrestling techniques of Vietnam, and then combine and refine the best elements of other martial arts disciplines in the world.

2) To collect, study and create new techniques and training procedures to improve and to build upon existing Vietnamese martial arts foundation.

3) To develop and train disciples on three aspects:  Strength, skills, and ethics of martial arts.

7.  With regards to strength, how does VOVINAM train its disciples?

With regards to strength training, VOVINAM helps disciples to achieve a hardened, agile and healthy body.  This body will enable the disciple to overcome all forms of challenges and many forms of illness.

8.  With regards to skills, how does VOVINAM train its disciples?

With regards to skills, VOVINAM helps arm the disciples with highly effective and practical techniques for self-defense and to defend justice and righteousness.

9.  With regards to ethics, how does VOVINAM teach its disciples?

With regards to ethics, VOVINAM helps disciples to develop an honorable spirit, a tempered will, gallantry, a strong sense of self-discipline,  a life style that fosters unity and friendship, and a tradition of selfless service.  This code of ethics is reinforced with much emphasis on humility and kindness in order to benefit one’s self, family, society and humanity.

10.  In order to fulfill above goals, what is VOVINAM-VVDs goal statement?

In order to achieve the above goals, the vision of VOVINAM-VVD that guides all organized activities, we must follow these 5 beliefs:

1) All activities of VOVINAM-VVD must be based embracing humanity as deliverance; strong ethics as guiding principles, discipline and tempered will as means of delivery.

2) The VOVINAM discipline is a grand family in which all disciples love and respect one another.  This love and respect interweaves to become the regulations of our discipline; it is the glue that keeps all disciples united to honor our discipline and to help each other to become more perfect human beings.

3) The VOVINAM discipline is always proactive in all aspects of youth education.

4) All activities of VOVINAM do not convey political or religious influences.

5) The VOVINAM discipline always respects other martial arts disciplines in order to serve common purposes.

11.  Please explain the general meaning of the Cuong-Nhu Co-Development theory.

The most common explanation is that Cuong means hard, and Nhu means soft.  In martial arts teachings, the styles that favor Cuong often have strong and tough discipline, using external strength as its base, often very stern and direct in its dealing in life.  The styles that favor Nhu often have yielding and adapt quickly to changes.  In the observation of the bamboo of Vietnam, the hard, soft, durable, and sharp elements equally interconnected to become one form.  The bamboo is then said to be the truest essence of the Vietnamese people.

Through that observation, after thorough research from many martial arts disciplines throughout the world and within national boundary, Late Founding Master Loc Nguyen utilized the principle of "HARD-SOFT CODEVELOPMENT" as the basic foundation and essence of Vovinam-VietVoDao.  Hard-Soft Co development is not simply a mix of both characteristics but an ever changing and adaptation in endless shapes and forms depending the environment and situation. It may be compared to the yin and yang.

12.  What is demeanor/behavior?

Demeanor is all that is externally descriptive of an individual, for example:  The ways one works, studies, dresses, walks and talks.

13.  Why must a VOVINAM pupil always observe his/her demeanors regardless of place, time and circumstances?

A VOVINAM pupil must always observe his/her demeanor in all situations because others will assess and or judge his/her worth as well as the honor of our discipline.

14.  What should a VOVINAM disciple always try to avoid?

There are 5 basic bad behaviors a VOVINAM disciple must always try to avoid:

1) Avoid being so arrogant and boastful of having martial arts in a crowd or in public.

2) Avoid bashing or bad mouthing the honor of other martial arts disciplines because this is unthoughtful behavior that often leads to misunderstandings.

3) Avoid all acts that provoke violence; otherwise, people will think that our discipline trains disciples to pick fights with others.

4) Avoid all unnecessary and unclear conflicts or conflicts that aim at "self-promotion" with others.

5) Avoid being drawn into ultra-nationalistic fervor, denouncing foreign martial arts with anyone.

15.  What must a VOVINAM disciple always practice?

There are 5 basic good behaviors a VOVINAM disciple must always try to practice:

1) Practice the principles of Vovinam in everyday life to earn the love and respect of others.

2) Generate goodwill with other martial arts disciplines so that they, too, can understand and respect us, and are willing to cooperate with us in the effort of expanding martial arts skills and martial arts way.

3) Be pro-active in all activities without being reminding.

4) Be ready to take on responsibilities; help others with enthusiasm without being selfish.

5) Train and retrain; constantly learn in order to improve.

16.  When studying/practicing, what are the proper behaviors of a pupil?

In class (the training center), the pupil must respect rules, orders, teachers (instructors/masters) and fellow peers.

1) Respect rules and order:     be self-disciplined with regards to the regulations of the discipline, group and/or training center.

2) Respect instructor(s):  Salute to the instructor(s) and/or master(s) when arriving to the training center in accordance with the Vovinam etiquette.  Pay close attention and follow closely to the instructions and commands given by the instructor and/or master in charge.

3) Respect fellow peers:  Be cheerful and cordial with fellow peers.  Be helpful, encouraging and assist others that are in need.  When accidentally hit hard by others, don’t be angry.  Avoid loud arguments and avoid any forms of hatred.

17.  At home, how should a disciple behave?

At home, a disciple must respect elders, those of the same age, and be giving to the young.

18.  At work, how should a disciple behave?

At work, a disciple must carry the demeanors of "a martial artist" by exhibiting valuable traits such as being alert and prompt.  In order to achieve this, one must divide the task in three phases:  Planning, execution, and completion.

19.  When planning a task/project, what behaviors and characteristics should a pupil practice?

During the planning phase of a task or project, one must:

1) Be realistic:  Hold all necessary information without guessing.  Don’t waste time arguing pointlessly.  Always have a plan of action and calculate to maximize the end results.

2) Be proactive:  Dare to think and dare to act; Endure hardships and don’t being afraid of obstacles.

3) Be Enthusiastic:  Be engaged and close with people and activities; energetically shoulder tasks with all of your might.

4) Be Fair: directly resolve the core problem/issue; always put the interests of the group above individual interests; try to be objective and without personal bias or prejudice.

20.    When executing a project, what behaviors and characteristics should a pupil practice?

When executing a project a disciple must:

1) Be determined: Once one decides to do something, one must start to execute the task right away and be persistent and enduring no matter how many obstacles are in the way.

2) Be timely: One must resolve or finish a project in a most timely manner.

3) Be flexible: One must adapt to changes effectively and quickly (remember: This is not the same as being hasty and exceeding the boundary of the laws).

4) Be perseverant: One must be willing to accept and to endure the many challenges ahead.

21.  When finishing a project, how does a pupil evaluate his/her past actions?

1) Self-evaluation: Evaluate yourself by clearly and objectively stating positive and negative aspects to learn from this experience.

2) Team evaluation: Evaluate the positive and negative aspects of those working with you.

3) Task evaluation: Evaluate the objective or the task to see if there is any else you can do to improve or to enhance it in the future.

4) Task projection: Assess similar situations and problems in the future so that you can be better prepared next time.

22.  What demeanors must a disciple exhibit when performing martial arts?

When performing martial arts, a disciple must:

  • Have fit and clean uniforms
  • Have a cheerful and relaxed attitude
  • Have tact in composure and in speech
  • Have discipline and follow the rules set forth by the organizer