Biography of the Grand Master Lê Văn Phúc (1934-2020)


Biography of the Grand Master Lê Văn Phúc (1934-2020)




-      Supreme White Belt (1996). 

-    Direct disciple of the Master Founder Nguyễn Lộc. 

-    Leading member of the World Council of Masters (terms 1996-2004). 

-    Member of the Supreme Council of Masters.

Master Lê Văn Phúc is not only a grand master of Vovinam Viet Vo Dao, but also a poet, a writer, a journalist for many newspapers and radios in countries such as: United States, Canada, Australia and Great Britain (BBC radio station). 

ceremonie ceinture 1970

In Vovinam, he is loved and respected for his simplicity and open-mindedness. 

Master Lê Văn Phúc was born on December 14, 1934 at Hải Dương, in North Vietnam. He started in Vovinam at the age of 17 when he moved to Hanoi to study at the high school Nguyễn Trãi. He was training under the guidance of the Master Nguyễn Lộc at Phố Hàng Trống in 1951.

 He recounted the Master Nguyễn Lộc teaching as follows: "...One year after I inquired and registered, I started to train intensively with Vovinam. It was in 1951... In all my life of practice of Vovinam, I had the honour to be corrected by Master Nguyễn Lộc only about ten times, but each corrected technique permeates deep inside me. The corrections are very fast, very strong, very sharp and also very painful. I can only endure

In general, Master Nguyễn Lộc explains that we could work within ourselves. Sometimes Master Binh [[1]] gives the lessons, while Master Nguyễn Lộc observes us. Training with Master Binh is also very hard. Whenever we make a technical mistake, he corrects us immediately in a very energetic way, a real correction so to speak. How can we stand his blows of boots crushed on our small chests? [[2]] . After training, when we massage our chests, his boots have left a nice red mark as a souvenir and we feel a very strong pain. I still don't understand how we were able to feel more motivated instead of giving up..." [[3]]. 

masterlevanphuc ngvanthongIn 1954, he immigrated with his family to South Vietnam and taught Vovinam-Việt Võ Đạo to the Royal Guards of Đà Lạt under the reign of Emperor Bao Dai until 1955. Then, Master Phúc received the order of general mobilization to enter the officers' school of Thu Duc [[4]], obtained his officer's diploma and taught Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao in the army until his military retirement with the rank of captain, and also to civilian practitioners until 1975. 

Having a graduate degree in law from Saigon University and the National School of Administration [[5]], he was appointed in 1970, Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister of the Republic of South Vietnam [[6]]. Because of his position, he was able to contribute to Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao while remaining humble and modest, a quality he had been able to learn from the Master Nguyễn Lộc. He recounts the words of the Founding Master as follows: 

"...You have to change your working methods to adapt to all situations, to innovate so that Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao is more scientific, more modern. If you notice that my teaching is not yet efficient, your duty is to improve it so that it becomes better. If my method presents some gaps, do not hesitate to complete it. By doing so, your contributions are beneficial so that Vovinam can become a national martial art…" . 

In 1975, at the age of 41, he immigrated to the United States of America under difficult conditions. Instead of being masterlevanphuc ngvanthong lesangdiscouraged and pessimistic, he mobilized his energy for creativity through poems and writings, of which the most famous are: Tôi Làm Tôi Mất Nước (I made my country lose), Bóng Thời Gian (the shadow of time), Khung Trời Kỷ Niệm (a patch of sky of memories) … 

Parallel to his professional activities, he supports Vovinam’s students and regularly contributes whenever he could. 

In 1995, in response to the appeal of the Master Patriarch Trần Huy Phong, Master Lê Văn Phúc and the members of the former Council of Masters of 1964, published on September 16, 1995, the Declaration to officially create the Provisional Council of Masters Abroad. This council is the precursor body of the World Council of Masters and the World Federation of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao which were created during the World Congress in 1996 in Paris. At the same time, Master Lê Văn Phúc was promoted to the title of Grand Master, Supreme White Belt because he is one of the members of the Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao Tradition [[7]]. 

Master Lê Văn Phúc was elected for two successive terms (1996-2000 and 2000-2004) as a member of the permanent bureau of the World Council of Teachers. In 2004, he decided to step down to make way for the younger generation. 

Master Lê Văn Phúc died on August 7, 2020 in Reston - Virginia - USA, at the age of 86 years. According to his wishes, when he was buried, his family placed the Vovinam Viet Vo Dao crest on his chest while his vo phuc and supreme white belt were placed beside him. 

         Master Lê Văn Phúc is a shinningstar of Vovinam Viet Vo Dao. His passing has left many sorrows and regrets for his loved ones. It is a great loss not only for Vovinam Viet Vo Dao but also for the literary and cultural world of the Vietnamese community.masterlevanphuc1


[1] : Grand master Phan Dương Bình (1929-2020).

[2] : At the time, practitioners did not wear Vo Phuc, but trained in a short-sleeved jersey and wore dress shoes.                                                         

[3] : Extract from the memoir of grandmaster Lê Văn Phúc: "Memory of the days of practice with the founding master", special review of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao, 1971, pages 76, 77 (Hồi ký những ngày theo học võ sư sáng tổ, đặc san Vovinam-Việt Võ Đạo, 1971).                                                                           .          

[4] : Thu Duc Military Academy or Thu Duc Infantry School. A training school for officers of the army of the Republic of South Vietnam.

[5] : A school of high administration of the Republic of South Vietnam, equivalent to the ENA in France.

[6] : Mr. Trần Thiện Khiêm, Prime Minister from 1969 to 1975.

[7] : Direct disciple of the founding master or/and member of the first Council of Masters in 1964.


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