Saber Techniques Reform Proposal - Paris-2022

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Ủy Ban Kỹ Thuật Quốc Tế
La Commission Technique Internationale
The International Technical Board


Grand master Trần Nguyên Đạo

President of International Technical Board


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Saber Techniques Reform Proposal





Dear masters, members of the World Council of Masters, 

As President of the International Technical Board, I have the honor to propose improvements to the Vovinam-VVD 1st level saber techniques [1]. Currently, according to the international training program, the 1st level saber techniques are taught as follows: 

-        1st Dang Black Belt level: Quyen Luong Nghi Kiem Phap and counter-attack techniques from N°1 to N°7. 

-         2nd Dang Black Belt level: Song Luyen Kiem and counter-attack techniques from N°8 to N°15. 

The remaining four saber technical levels are reserved for masters, especially for those masters who wish to specialize and become a "saber master". These saber techniques are part of our heritage and unique strength compared to other martial arts in the world, because we have been able to preserve the authenticity and substance without drifting towards the spectacular or the demonstrative aspects. 

Currently in Vovinam-VVĐ (2022) worldwide, to my knowledge, there are only a hand-full of masters who still have the knowledge of the five levels of saber techniques!

Twenty-four years ago, in 1998, at the 3rd World Congress held in Houston, Texas, USA, I submitted my second-degree red belt thesis with the aims of developing and preserving these saber techniques. I think it is time now to turn this knowledge into a book so that this Crown-Jewel of our Vovinam martial art can be preserved and advanced over time. 

However, there is an important issue that has persisted for more than 70 years: our 1st level saber techniques have several deficiencies: inconsistency and contradiction between the 3 foundational elements that compose it: Quyen Luong Nghi Kiem Phap, Song Luyen Kiem and 15 counter-attack saber techniques. In the past, I was aware of these issues, but being still young, not sufficiently qualified and in a position to submit a change proposal. 

Today, as President of the International Technical Board, I think it's time to propose this Saber reform proposal to embed the logic, synergy and consistency between the 3 foundational elements that make up the 1st level saber program. Then publish them officially in a book that will serve as an important reference. 


The 1st level saber techniques have the following main shortcomings: 


-        In the current training program, there is a complete lack of basic saber techniques such as: guards, attack and blocking techniques. These are foundational techniques that must be taught before practicing the Saber Quyen, the Saber Song Luyen or the 15 counter-attack saber techniques. It's like we don't learn the basic techniques such as punches, kicks, parries, elbows, knees... before learning Khai Mon Quyen, Long Ho Quyen, the Song Luyen, the counterattacks, etc. 

-        Furthermore, the necessary basic saber knowledge wasn’t taught: the ways of holding the saber or the use of the saber when standing, sitting, pivoting backwards... Or the types of sabers or their characteristics (size, length, thickness, weight, curved saber, straight saber, single-or double-edged saber...). 

2.Excessive Repetition: 

Currently, in Saber Quyen, there are 78 techniques, including 36 "saber slash" techniques, which represents nearly 50% of Quyen. Below is the detailed analysis: 

-        26 saber slash techniques from bottom to top: 33.3%, more than a third of the Quyen, 

-        10 saber slash techniques from top to bottom: 12.8%,

(Including a total of 36 techniques, representing 46.1% of Quyen). 

-        11 horizontal slash techniques, 

-        4 vertical slash techniques,

-        4 45°slash techniques (including 2 from bottom to top and 2 from top to bottom), 

-        7 stab techniques (3 straight strike techniques, 2 vertical strikes from top to bottom, 1 vertical strike from bottom to top and 1 horizontal strike), 

-        15 blocks,


-   1 direct jump kick (Da Bay Thang Phi Cuoc). 

3.Non-return to starting position: 

By strictly respecting the positions and regulated movements, at the end of the Saber Quyen, we return to about 3 meters behind the starting position. 

The three defects above are both an obstacle to the progress of our Vovinam-VVD practitioners and impacting the reputation of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao. For these reasons and after having studied and practiced for many years, I would like to submit this proposal to the World Council of Masters for decision. 

The principles used for improving 1st level saber techniques. 

1- Respect the pattern and objectives of the saber techniques by only proposing changes related to the three imperfections identified. 

2- Reduce repetitive movements.

3- Propose new techniques to complete the shortcomings. 

4- Change the old techniques in order to remove the contradictions, and at the same time achieve consistency between the three foundational elements that make up the 1st level saber techniques, namely: The Saber Quyen, the Saber Song Luyen and counterattack Saber techniques. 

5- Finish at the starting position of the Quyen. 

In order to implement the stated improvement principles, I would like to propose the following changes: 

1.Propose 8 basic attack techniques: 1: vertical edge slash, 2: horizontal slash, 3: slash from bottom to top, 4: slash from top to bottom, 5: 45° slash from bottom to top, 6: cut 45° up and down, 7: horizontal down, 8: stab (1-strike right, 2-strike left, 3-strike horizontal, 4-strike up and down, 5-strike down high). 


2.Propose 8 basic blocking techniques: 1st Block (high blocking, from inside to outside),


2nd Block (high blocking, from outside to inside), 3rd Block (low blocking, right to left), 4th Block (low block, left to right), 5th Block (horizontal block left), 6th Block (horizontal block right), 7th Block (low block up right), 8th Block (blocking from bottom to top left). 



3.The above 8 attack techniques and 8 blocking techniques will result in a change of the Saber Quyen as follows: 

    Current Saber (Luong Nghi) Quyen: 




      The new Saber Quyen:  



New Saber (Luong Nghi) Quyen composition : 

In this new Saber Quyen, there will be 62 techniques (instead of 78)


-        16 slash techniques from bottom to top: 25.8%, 

-        4 slash techniques from top to bottom: 6.4%,

(Including a total of 20 techniques, representing 32.2% of Quyen). 

-        8 horizontal slash techniques,

-        4 vertical slash techniques,

-        4 slash techniques at 45° (including 2 from bottom to top and 2 from top to bottom),

-        2 horizontal push-up block techniques, 

-       7 stab techniques (3 straight strike techniques, 2 vertical strikes from top to bottom, 1 vertical strike from bottom to top and 1 horizontal strike), 

-      16 blocks,

-        1 direct kick (Da Thang). 

4.With the new Saber Quyen as well as the 8 attack techniques and 8 blocking techniques, it will lead to a change of the counter-attack saber techniques and the Saber Song Luyen (will be presented at the congress). 

While waiting for the 9th VVVD congress to present this proposal and the analysis as well as the details of the changes mentioned above, I request a detailed review of this proposal in order to make additional improvements to this proposal. 

Please do not distribute these videos until the proposal has been approved by the World Council of Masters. 

See you soon at the 9th VVVD congress


Grand Master Tran Nguyen Dao.



1 : There are 5 levels in the Vovinam-VVD saber system.


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