Biography of the Grandmaster Trần Đức Hợp (1931-2000)



Biography of the Grandmaster

 Trần Đức Hợp (1931-2000) 


          • Supreme White Belt (1986).
          • 2nd degree red belt (1967).
          • Teacher of the Musketeers of the former Emperor Bảo Đại (1953).
          • Direct disciple of Founding Master Nguyễn Lộc (1948).
          • Member of the World Council of Supreme Masters.

 Grandmaster Trần Đức Hợp was born on September 3, 1931 in Phuc Yen, North Vietnam. He is a highly qualified disciple of Founding Master Nguyễn Lộc. He started Vovinam in 1948, at the same time and place as Master Phan Dương [[1]], in the Hàng Than district, Hà Nội. 




Hanoi, 1948

De gauche à droite : Trần Đức Hợp, Nguyễn Cao Hách, Phan Dương Bình, Nguyễn Lộc, Bùi Thiện Nghĩa, Nguyễn Dần


According to the accounts of Master Hợp, at the beginning, in his club and his promotion, there were about a hundred practitioners, and then this number decreases over time for lack of perseverance. Among the practitioners who gave up, some barely had the level needed to defend themselves [[2]]. In the end, there were only about ten practitioners who reached an average level [[3]], master Trần Đức Hợp and master Phan Dương Bình are among them. 

Shortly after Founding Master Nguyễn Lộc moved the training location to his home in Hàng Trống district. Master Hợp recalls: 

"... Brother Lộc [[4]] told us about his house at Hang Trong district and asked us to come and train with him. Brother Lộc later asked us to go to Ấu Trĩ Viên (a Children park) to have more room as we had been joined by bodybuilders who had been doing weight training in Septo. After some time of practice, the bodybuilders were not able to withstand the intensity of our training and their numbers dropped. In the end the remaining were only Brother Bình and myself. When brother Lộc moved to the Hàng Vôi district, Brother Bình and I continued to train with Brother Lộc in the hours when he was not busy with his new centers..."


Master Trần Đức Hợp migrated in South Vietnam (in Đà Lạt) in 1953. He had received permission from Founding Master Nguyễn Lộc to teach Vovinam anywhere. Therefore he was commissioned to be the Vovinam Instructor at the Training Centre Musketeers of former Emperor Bảo Đại. By 1954, he was in the army and later was transferred to Saigon. There he was assigned to teach at the military officer’s academy in Thủ Đức, instructing officers and a large number of young military cadets. In 1960 he was transferred to the rangers and continued to instruct Vovinam martial art to the soldier rangers from the town of Tây Ninh.

 In 1968, he was transferred to serve in Long Khánh, to the 18th Infantry Division. There he taught Vovinam to the regiments and battalions of the corps such as the infantry, the artillery, engineering and transmission corps. From time to time he went to the province of Bình Tuy to teach Vovinam to the paratroopers located there, until 1975. 



Centre Hoa Lu, 1967

Maîtres : Trần Huy Phong (1), Trần Đức Hợp (2), Trần Bản Quế (3),

Phan Quỳnh (4), Trần Thế Phượng (5), Lý Phúc Thái (6), Quỳnh Kỳ (7),

Trần Tấn Vũ (8), Ngô Kim Tuyền (9)

 In 1969 he had considerable help from Master Trần Văn Trung [[5]], and after graduating from classes at the military officers academy in Thủ Đức, was transferred to the Long Khánh 43rd regiment, 18th division of the infantry. As a result, Vovinam Viet Vo Dao martial art was widespread developing the first youth center in Long Khánh as well as in neighbouring provinces. 

After the fall of Saigon in 1975, he was imprisoned in a re-education camp like most teachers and soldiers of the time. In 1988, thanks to his son, he managed to take refuge in Massachusetts, United States. Since that date, he has actively participated in the activities of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao in the United States, notably in the American Federation of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao, chaired by the grand master Lê Trọng Hiệp then later by master Nguyễn Thế Hùng 

In 1995, in response to the appeal of the Master Patriarch Trần Huy Phong, Master Trần Đức Hợp 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. 

From that date, he was a member of the Supreme Council of Masters and then promoted to the title of Grand Master, Supreme White Belt, approved by the World Congress in 1996 as a member of the Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao Tradition [[6]]. 

On March 30, 2000, master Trần Đức Hợp died at the age of 69 following heart surgery. He was married, father of four, currently and living in the United States. 

The death of master Trần Đức Hợp causes great sadness in the world of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao, sorrows for his family and for all the practitioners of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao. He was a loyal, faithful disciple, a respectful master of Vovinam-Việt Võ Đạo, a shining star in the sky of Vietnam's martial culture


[1] : Same day and same promotion.

[2] : Beginner level.

[3] : Yellow or black belt level.

[4]Master founder Nguyễn Lộc, during his lifetime, asks his disciples to call him "Anh" (big brother) instead of "Thầy" (master).

[5] : Currently in Vancouver, Canada.

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






Conseil mondial ds Maîtres
© Fédération mondiale de Vovinam-Việt Võ Đạo