Biography of the Grand Master Mạnh Hoàng (1938-1967)


Biography of the Grand Master Mạnh Hoàng




              • Red Belt frist degree (1967)
              • Chairman of the External Relations Commission, founding member of the first Vovinam Viet Vo Dao Masters Council in 1964.
              • Grandmaster, Supreme White Belt (1996, posthumously) 


Grandmaster Mạnh Hoàng was borned as Phùng Mạnh Chữ. vs-manhhoang-1961

At a young age, he practiced Judo with master Phạm Lợi, one of the pioneers who established Judo in Vietnam. Later on he participated in numerous championships in Vietnam in the 1950s and is one of the celebrities of the world of martial arts in Vietnam.


In 1960, master Mạnh Hoàng started practicing Vovinam Viet Vo Dao after being motivated by his best friend and colleague, master Trần Huy Phong. Thanks to a very solid foundation in Judo and by the direct teachings of master Trần Huy Phong, master Mạnh Hoàng quickly progressed to become one of the emblematic masters of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao. 

Master Manh Hoang was a teacher of Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry in Saigon. In 1961, he and other teachers, Tran Huy Phong, Hoang Quan, Dinh Duc Mau, Nguyen Van Cuong, Phan Quynh, Nguyen Xuan Thieu, Mai Trung Hoa... established Community Education Center. This is an education and social organization, with a purpose of developing and spreading culture and martial arts of Vietnam. Through this organization, Master Mạnh Hoàng opened many centers and taught for free, or for a symbolic contribution, to students from modest backgrounds in Saigon and Gia Dinh to prepare for High School and Baccalaureate exams and to train Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao in the evening. 

During the period of prohibition of Vovinam (1960-1964) by the government of Ngô Đình Diệm [[1]], he actively participated in special courses reserved for the training of instructors under the direction of Master Trần Huy Phong. These training sessions started at Anh Sang school on Phan Dinh Phung street, then expanded to Tran Quoc Tuan school (on Tran Qui Cap street), St. Thomas school (on Truong Minh Giang street), Tri Duc school (on Cao Thang street), Vietnam Hoc Duong (on Dang Tat street) etc.



Master Mạnh Hoàng – Saigon 1964

The activities of Master Mạnh Hoàng were carefully organized, well planned and well structured to avoid any waste of time. His classes gave very good results. He took care of all his students with sincerity and dedication and considered them to be members of his family. 

Master Mạnh Hoàng was also very generous. Part of his salary as a high school teacher was used for the development of Vovinam Viet Vo Dao and also for helping his followers going through difficult times. 

An outstanding speaker, sincere, endowed with a great charisma and a noble spirit, Master Mạnh Hoàng is loved by all his students, whether in the school environment or in that of Vovinam Viet Vo Dao (see annex 1).

In terms of the development of Vovinam Viet Vo Dao, Master Mạnh Hoàng has always advised and encouraged his school pupils to practice Vovinam Viet Vo Dao. This is why the Vovinam Viet Vo Dao experienced a great boom in the school environment during the period of ban by the Ngô Đình Diệm regime. Thus, the Vovinam Viet Vo Dao was able to train masters and teachers from schools who have become famous such as: Lê Công Danh, Trần Văn Bé, Trần Huy Quyền, Nguyễn Văn Thông, Nguyễn Xuân Ngọc, Nguyễn Văn Hoàn, Trần Văn Trung, Phùng Mạnh Tâm; all were students of the mathematics and physics and Chemistry courses of professors Mạnh Hoàng and Trần Huy Phong in the 1960s.


Saigon in 1964

Left/right - Up: Phan Quỳnh, Mạnh Hoàng, Lê Công Danh, Trịnh Ngọc Minh

Left/right - Down : Trần Văn Trung, Đặng Đình Phúc, Trần Văn Bé

In 1961, master Mạnh Hoàng was one of the pivotal figures in the martial arts performances at the Community Education Center, the Conference of Vovinam Viet Vo Dao, and the Three Day concert to raise fund for flood victims in the Western provinces. These events were a huge success for Vovinam. The press and radio stations had broadcast and praised the succesful of these events for many days, which created a good reputation for Vovinam. 

When the Vovinam Viet Vo Dao was authorized to resume its activities in 1964, master Mạnh Hoàng created a youth organization entitled: "Youth on the way of Vietnamese martial arts" (Thanh Niên Võ Đạo Việt Nam), whose the aim is to demonstrate and develop Vovinam throughout the country. The name of this organization "Võ Đạo" later inspired the change of name of Vovinam to later become Vovinam - Việt Võ Đạo. 

In 1964, Master Mạnh Hoàng held the position of Chairman of the Commission for External Relations of the first Council of Masters (see annex 2) of Vovinam Viet Vo Dao. Very diplomatic, humble, determined and benevolent, he knew how to forge good relations with the personalities of the members of known organizations such as: the Lions Club, the Rotary Club, the Union of Schools (Hội Liên Trường), Freemasonry (Hội Tam Điểm) as well as other associations and friendships.

In 1966, Master Mạnh Hoàng successful in bringing Vovinam into school curriculum of the Ministry of Education. The first 4 pilot schools had Vovinam program were Chu Van An, Petrus Ky, Trung Vuong and Gia Long. Vovinam was taught at other schools such Cao Thang, Nguyen Trai, Vo Truong Toan, Le Van Duyet, Mac Dinh Chi etc. later.

He was also successful in bringing Vovinam into the National Police Academy in 1966. 

Also thanks to diplomacy connections, in 1965, master Mạnh Hoàng successfully gained government approval for the use of Vovinam - Viet Vo Dao a large base that became the Hoa Lu training center at Hoa Lu Stadium in District 1, Saigon. 

At the end of 1967, master Mạnh Hoàng died unexpectedly. At first he had a high fever, he thought it was a mild flu and so it was ignored. He went to Vung Tau resort because he assumed the heat of Saigon caused the fever. Accompanying him was master Trần Huy Phong, Phan Quỳnh and a friend Nguyễn Văn Tụ [[2]]. However, the fever became more severe when they arrived at Vung Tau. Master Trần Huy Phong decided to take him to the Australian troops field hospital nearby. While waiting for test, he went in a coma and died. The test result afterward revealed he had typhoid and also acute diabetes. The illness went undiagnosed and caused his sudden death.

Grandmaster Mạnh Hoàng died when he had not even reached 30 years old. Vovinam felt a great loss and irreplaceable. His love for Vovinam and his country was full of enthusiasm and devotion.

He brought many good friends, highly reputation personnel to Vovinam. These had supported the development and enhanced the value of Vovinam in society. When he passed away, the press and media posted his works and contribution for months.

A funeral solemnly took place and according to Vovinam ritual. Many martial arts schools, organizations, religious groups, students came to pay their respect to the man they loved and respected.

Grandmaster Mạnh Hoàng was a shining star of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao. His passing had left much grief and sorrow in the heart of all people. It was a great lost not only to Vovinam Viet Vo Dao, but also to the society of Vietnam. 

During the 2nd World Congress of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao in Paris in 1996, to express gratitude towards the great master ofVovinam-Viet Vo Dao and to honor his memory, the Congress decided to promote him to the title of Grandmaster, Supreme White Belt, in "membership of Tradition" du Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao [[3]].



Annex 1 : Testimony of master Nguyễn Văn Thông (Melbourne, Australia) 

 "... Master Manh Hoang was the instrumental of the developement of Vovinam in the 60s. It was because of him, Vovinam had that significant leap. 

He was very gentle and tolerance. He treated us like his own siblings. He was ingenious in public relations. People would love and be convinced by him at the very first meeting. But unfortunate, he left us too early. 

He and Master Tran Huy Phong were like tandem cards, young and talented. He is the one who brought Vovinam into the school curriculum and national police academy. He brought us to perform everywhere to promote Vovinam. 

He also said "Viet learn Viet's martial arts" or "accept pain to disregard pain". The word “Viet Vo Dao” on the back of the T-shirt started from the days he took us to perform at the fund raising events for flood victims of the western provinces...".

Annex 2 : first Council of Masters in 1964




Lê Sáng

Assistant to the Patriarch, Technical Director

Trần Huy Phong

President of the Commission for External Relations

Mạnh Hoàng

President of the Legal Committee

Ngô Hữu Liễn

President of the Control Committee

Nguyễn Văn Thư

President of the commission of organization of ceremonies

Trần Bản Quế


Nguyễn Văn Cường


Phan Quỳnh

President of the Finance Committee

Nguyễn Văn Thông

Technical Commission

Président : Trần Huy Phong. Membres : Nguyễn Văn Thư, Trần Thế Phượng, Trịnh Ngọc Minh, Trần Đức Hợp, Nguyễn Văn Thông   


Nguyễn Hữu Nhạc


[1] :During the period 1960-1964, Vovinam was banned by the Ngô Đình Diệm government because of the failed 1960 coup. Among the insurgents are masters Phạm Lợi (Judo) and Tám Kiểng (Traditional martial arts). It is for this reason that all martial arts disciplines are prohibited.

[2] :President of the Confustanime Association in Vietnam.

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

World Council of Masters
© Vovinam- Việt Võ Đạo World Federation