History of the Founder Master

Nguyễn Lộc


Youth and the embryonic period (1912-1939)

Mr. Nguyễn Lộc was born on May 24, 1912 [[1]] in the village of Huu Bang, district of Thach That, province of Son Tay [[2]], in the North of Vietnam. Son of Mr. Nguyễn Đình Xuyến and of Mrs. Nguyễn Thị Hoà. He is the eldest of a family of five siblings, three boys and two girls [[3]]. Then for livelihood, his family moved to Hanoi and from there his life grew in a soil environment favorable of a capital city.


 nguyenloc 1912-1960

The Founder Master

Nguyễn Lộc


Master Nguyễn Lộc grew up in a country in which his sovereignty had lost for 50 years and at a time when social tensions reached their highest [[4]]. On the one hand, the revolutionaries incite the population and in particular the young people to violent actions against French imperialism. On the other hand, the French colonialists use all the ruses and maneuvers to repress, terrorize or even lull the population by worldly, romantic and wanton currents in order to prevent the Vietnamese patriots from having support in the population to extend the revolution against the dominating power 

Vovinam Human 

Faced with this situation, master Nguyễn Lộc became aware of these opposing currents which are tearing the country apart; he is looking for another way in order to surpass the two tendencies and to develop a new orientation, which could lead the young Vietnamese towards a more peaceful and noble way. 

On the one hand, Master Nguyễn Lộc firmly condemns the colonialist policy and on the other, he disapproves of the violent methods recommended by the revolutionaries of the time. 

According to him, man must be at the center of all thinking. He advocates the Mind Body Revolution to guide the youth on three levels: The Spirit, the Body and the Way. He considers being human to be a good thing, but becoming a True Man [[5]] is even nobler 

For him, the True Man must be: independent, open to dialogue, peaceful, energetic, courageous, tolerant, generous, pure, respectful, determined, cultivated, strong, useful and have honor [[6]]. He must also cultivate a robust, solid, resistant and tenacious body to defend himself and to be useful to society. 

With these universal values, he wants on the one hand, to guide young people to escape the intoxication of the colonialist regime, on the other hand, to wake up those who have embarked on the violent revolutionary path and thus avoid killings and hatred. 

Master Nguyễn Lộc thinks human society is sustainable, while the colonialist regime or revolutionary violence is only temporary. He does not want future generations to suffer the consequences of a policy of intoxication or violence. Thus, his wish is to leave the Vietnamese people and humanity a model of life, a method allowing perfecting oneself through the art of cultivating one's body and mind with a modern martial art system, inspired by tradition. Vietnamese martial arts several thousand years old                      

Birth of the Vovinam martial art 

Nourished by this great aspiration, in addition to perfecting himself in culture and virtue, he endeavored to study and train in most of Vietnamese martial arts. Thanks to his extraordinary physical strength and his great talent, he is making exceptional progress. He travels extensively, visiting all the training halls and speaking with former officers of the Imperial Army (Quan Võ) as well as renowned great masters in the Vietnamese martial arts community. His goal was to enrich his knowledge of martial arts. 

He has extensively studied and worked on aspects such as: the specialties, characteristics, advantages and shortcomings of all martial disciplines. He thus noticed that each martial art has its advantages and disadvantages and if one practiced only one discipline, one would not quickly obtain the desired results. In addition, to reach a good level [[7]], the practitioner must make a long-term commitment, approximately more than 10 years. We must therefore find a new training method in order to reach the right level within a reasonable time. 

To achieve this, he begins by codifying his method of learning taking traditional wrestling and Vietnamese martial arts as a foundation; then he compared and selected the advantages and strengths of each discipline to give birth, in 1938, to a new discipline which he called Vovinam [[8]].

He then decides to experiment with his method by secretly training [[9]] some of his relatives of the same age [[10]]. During this experimental period and according to the testimony of Mr. Nguyễn Đăng Hiển [[11]], one of his first students, Master Nguyễn Lộc attached great importance to basic techniques such as: positions (Tấn), fist (Đấm), kicks (Đá), cutting edges (Chém), parries (Gạt), elbows (Chỏ), knees (Gối) etc. It also adds a pragmatic system of key and release techniques (Khoá Gỡ), traditional wrestling techniques (Vật), scissors techniques (Đòn Chân) and especially partner training techniques (Song Luyện). After a successful experimental year, which exceeded his expectations, he made the decision to present Vovinam to the public in the fall of 1939, during a demonstration at the Hanoi Opera House - Vietnam. 

The creation period (1939-1945) 

In the fall of 1939, Master Nguyễn Lộc took his first students [cf. annex 1] at the Hanoi Opera House [cf. annex 2] to perform the 1st demonstration of the history of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao. By this demonstration, he wants to measure the reception of the population and evaluate the martial values that he has studied for years. Among the students who took part in this historical demonstration, we find Miss Nguyễn Thị Minh [cf. annex 3], Mr. Tạ Quang Bửu (see note 10) and Mr. Nguyễn Đăng Hiển (see note 11) [[12]]. 

After this demonstration, Vovinam is warmly acclaimed by all Vietnamese martial arts [[13]] and sports circles, thus becoming the shining torch of national martial arts for the youth of Hanoi. Indeed, for more than 55 years (1884-1939), the French colonialist government had banned all martial arts activities in Vietnam; master Nguyễn Lộc is the first person who gave new life to the national martial arts, thus launching an appeal awakening Vietnamese consciences plunged into a deep sleep for half a century. 

It thus restores confidence and pride to young people still hesitating between romantic currents and hateful ideas.



Ha Noi Opera House

Source: Jean Noury, l'Indochine en postcards, 1992 - Photo taken around 1900.

The First Vovinam Martial Arts Class 

The affection and esteem of the people of Hanoi for Vovinam is a great surprise for the colonialist authorities, Mr. Maurice Ducoroy [[14]], General Commissioner for Youth and Sports in Indochina (Commissaire général de la Jeunesse et des Sports en Indochine). Through doctor Đặng Vũ Hỷ [[15]], president of the Hanoi Sports Association, Mr. Maurice Ducoroy invites Master Nguyễn Lộc to teach Vovinam. 

Master Nguyễn Lộc accepted and officially began to teach Vovinam in 1940 at the Normal School, Do Huu Vi Street, Hanoi. 

Then followed the opening of several Vovinam clubs, welcoming many young people from all social backgrounds such as: high school students, students, employees, workers. We then discover in Vovinam, not only effective techniques, but also a conduct of life and the spirit of True Man in harmony with the values of traditional martial arts of Vietnam. 

From this moment, the names of Vovinam as well as of Master Nguyễn Lộc become known within the population of Hanoi. Vovinam becomes a popular martial art, taught throughout the capital and in all social circles. 

During this period, the founding master trained many students, some of whom would later become renowned teachers such as: Phan Dương Bình, Lê Sáng, Trần Đức Hợp, Nguyễn Dần, Lê Văn Phúc, Nguyễn Văn Thông, Lê Trọng Hiệp, Hà Trọng Thịnh [[16]]. Others will become the historical personalities of Vovinam like Messrs Nguyễn Mỹ, Nguyễn Khải, Nguyễn Đăng Hiển, Nguyễn Bích, Nguyễn Đình Lan, Đỗ Đình Bách, Đặng Bỉnh, Đặng Văn Bảy, Trịnh Cự Quý, Đỗ Khánh, Vũ Văn Thức, Nguyễn Đôn, Nguyễn Nhân, Lê Như Hàm, Lê Đình Nhâm, Nguyễn Cao Hách, etc.                                                                                                        


Hanoi   in 1948 ,

from left to right: Trần Đức Hợp, Nguyễn Cao Hách, Phan Dương Bình,

Nguyễn Lộc, Bùi Thiện Nghĩa, Nguyễn Dần


Master Nguyen Loc and Independent Period (1945-1946) 

On March 9, 1945, the Japanese army overthrew the French colonialist power in Indochina, arrested the colonial governor of French Indochina, Vice-Admiral Jean Decoux [[17]] and restore its independence to Vietnam. Two days later, March 11, 1945, Emperor Bảo Đại [[18]] proclaimed independence, abolished all treaties signed with France since 1884 and put an end to 83 years of French rule. 

This sudden change leaves the country in chaos and disorder. In fact, most of the institutions until then managed by the French: economy, politics, army, police, education, administration, etc., find themselves without command. The first independent government, the Trần Trọng Kim government [[19]], only lasted 4 months. This is the reason why all known and competent personalities are invited to enter the government. Master Nguyễn Lộc, with his prestige as the founder of a great movement in Hanoi, is invited to enter. However, he formally refuses the offer, because for him Vovinam is not a political party and therefore does not have the vocation to engage in politics to impose his ideas. Master Nguyễn Lộc nevertheless leaves his practitioners free to participate in political life, Vovinam not affecting the freedom of its practitioners. 

Vovinam and social and charitable actions 

On the other hand, Vovinam works for society. So when the situation calls for it, Vovinam participates and provides support to the political powers to carry out social, charitable and humanitarian actions in a spirit of altruism and non-profit. 

Driven by this vision, Master Nguyễn Lộc, while refusing the offer to join the government, accepts on the other hand to help him in social and charitable actions. 

During this transitional period, Vovinam practitioners are enthusiastic and provide security in the inner and outer neighborhoods of Hanoi. In addition, master Nguyễn Lộc collaborates with other communities [[20]] to organize national holidays, such as the commemoration of the Hùng Vương kings [[21]], the two Trưng sisters [[22]] but above all humanitarian actions within the framework of the aid program following the terrible famine of 1945 which devastated northern Vietnam and killed around two million people. 

Vovinam and the Franco-Vietnamese war 

In 1946, the Franco-Vietnamese war [[23]] officially broke out when General Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque (1902-1947), commander-in-chief of the French Expeditionary Force in the Far East returned to Hanoi, gradually regained control of Indochina (Laos, Cambot and Vietnam). The Vietminh entered into guerrilla warfare, all human resources and all means are monopolized for this war. Most of the Vovinam practitioners are engaged in resistance which results in a large dispersion. All martial arts courses and promotions from 1939 to 1946 are suspended. 

However, Master Phan Dương Bình, one of the best disciples of Master Nguyễn Lộc, the most active in these difficult times, remained to assist him in the Vovinam classes given at Phố Hàng Trống and at the Hàng Than school which had known a large influx of practitioners. Master Lê Văn Phúc [[24]] is one of these promotions. 

In 1951, master Nguyễn Lộc and a number of personalities created the association of Vietnamese Martial Arts experts (Việt Nam Võ Sĩ Đoàn), which revived the Vovinam movement with mass training at the Hang Than school, Hanoi. However, in 1954, the Franco-Vietnamese war reaching a crucial phase, Master Nguyễn Lộc once again had to suspend all his activities. The French army is defeated at Dien Bien Phu. The French government signs the peace treaty in Geneva; Vietnam was then split into two: the North led by Hồ Chí Minh, who established the communist regime; the South is ruled by Bảo Đại under a monarchical Republican regime. 

Vovinam in South Vietnam (1954-1960) 

In August 1954, because of the North-South division of Vietnam, master Nguyễn Lộc and his family decided to immigrate to the South, to Saigon, with the closest disciples, in particular, Phan Dương Bình, Nguyễn Dần and Trần Đức Hợp. At the same time, other disciples of Hanoi also immigrate to Saigon like Lê Sáng, Bùi Thiện Nghĩa, Hà Trọng Thịnh, Nguyễn Văn Thông, Lê Trọng Hiệp, Lê Văn Phúc, etc. 

The first Vovinam training hall inaugurated in South Vietnam is located at 51 Frères Louis Street, Saigon [[25]]. Subsequently, she moved to Aviateur Garot Street, called the Thu Khoa Huan Club [[26]]. This club is the most important training room of Vovinam of Master Nguyễn Lộc. The practitioners are counted by hundred, most of the renowned masters are from this place.


Photo 1955

Master Nguyễn Lộc teaches at the National School of the Vietnam Gendarmerie



In addition, the Vovinam is invited by the authority of the Republic of the South to teach at the National Gendarmerie Officers School in Thu Duc [[27]] and at a certain number of units of the army engineer regiment. Unfortunately, after a short period of activity in the South (3 years, from 1954 to 1957), master Nguyễn Lộc fell ill and did not manage to realize his aspirations. However, he left to the following generations a precious culture of martial arts and a generation of well-trained young people, full of ideals, able to succeed him and continues to expand the path he has traced: building the Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao for the nation and for humanity. Among the practitioners trained during this period, there are: Trần Huy Phong, Phạm Hữu Độ, Nguyễn Văn Thư, Ngô Hữu Liễn, Trần Thế Phượng, Nguyễn Văn Nuôi and Nguyễn Gia Tuấn.

Subsequently, the Thu Khoa Huan club was transferred to Nguyen Khac Nhu Street (1st District, Saigon). Some time later, in 1957, Master Nguyễn Lộc's health suddenly deteriorated. He stopped teaching to move to Building Everest [[28]] to study martial arts and develop a philosophical system for Vovinam. He allows his followers to open more training rooms, while he retires as an advisor 



Việt Nam 1955

From left to right : Nguyễn Văn Thông, Trần Đức Hợp, Lê Sáng, Nguyễn Lộc, Bùi Thiện Nghĩa, Nguyễn Cao Hách and Nguyễn Dần

After this, the class in Thu Khoa Huan Street was moved to Nguyen Khac Nhu (District 1, Saigon). After a time, he temporarily stopped teaching, staying at Everest Building (Dinh Cong Trang street, near Nga Sau, Saigon), intently studying martial arts and building a system for the Vovinam philosophy. Additionally, he let his followers open a dojo with an independent personality; he just stood there in an advisory role only.

His behavior and teaching method 

Master Nguyễn Lộc is a very serious, open and disinterested person. He recommends improving oneself in all areas of knowledge, culture, civilization, developing virtuous behavior, refusing any corruption, not blindly obeying the hierarchy of norms resulting from the Confucianist culture [[29]] . 

Indeed, he asks his disciples to call him "Anh" (older brother) [[30]], to be sincere, serious, accessible, generous, audacious, hardworking, courageous, worthy of a man practicing martial arts. 

He refuses that these disciples send him marks of superiority such as calling him "Venerable Master", as was done in most martial arts schools of the time, or that they bow to him, prostrate themselves and obey him blindly. In his idea, he founded Vovinam to train a generation of young courageous, proud and useful to society, which is why he considers his students as his companions. 

This modern spirit is visible in most of the photos, where we often see Maître Nguyễn Lộc in formal attire, shirt and tie. His students greet him while standing, standing up straight and looking him in the face. This modern spirit has made Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao a martial art of mass, physical culture and popular sport, open to all social circles. Vovinam has nothing to hide, is neither mysterious, nor selective, nor reserved for a minority as in most martial arts schools of the time. It is thanks to this spirit that Vovinam has not regressed in the face of wars and prohibitions [[31]]; on the contrary, nowadays, it has become a global martial art and of scope. 

On the organizational level, Maître Nguyễn Lộc is not obsessed with hierarchy, or with complex management. He prefers simplicity and favors effective actions in order to easily achieve the goal. Therefore, during the entire period of construction from 1938 to 1960, the Vovinam did not have a patriarch. Maître Lộc is content to be recognized as founding master. 

Although he founded Vovinam through personal efforts, he persists in considering that this work should be dedicated to the nation and to humanity, in accordance with the ideal he pursued. According to his wishes, Vovinam should not be considered as his personal work or that of his family, but as a legacy of Vietnamese martial arts culture, a collective work to which all masters and practitioners have the right to contribute and continue like in a big family. 

His way of teaching is very meticulous; he takes care of each practitioner according to their technical skills and cultural levels. He alone can teach the new techniques; his assistants have the duty to have them revised in his absence. Later, this method will become "the teaching method of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao", an "uncoded method", but which all the masters apply and this, until today. 

As for the disciples having a good cultural level and an aptitude for management, he trains them more particularly in the social, political, psychological and management fields. He often encourages students to participate in group activities outside of martial arts lessons. Thanks to his education, most of the trained teachers have skills both technically and culturally and often achieve a good position in society. 

His disciples open training Dojo 

For three years, between 1957 and 1960, when Master Nguyễn Lộc began to be tired, he retired from Vovinam activities and moved to his younger brother Nguyễn Hải at Building Everest to rest. He authorized his disciples Lê Sáng, Trần Huy Phong, Nguyễn Gia Tuấn, Nguyễn Văn Nuôi and Nguyễn Văn Thư to create the central training center of Vovinam, headquartered in avenue Tran Hung Dao, 5th District of Saigon and the branches located at Tran Khanh Du Street, Su Van Hanh Street and Phan Dinh Phung Street. At that time, Master Lê Sáng, being the oldest and having the most seniority, was called Senior Master (võ sư trưởng) [[32]]. 

Master Nguyen Loc Passed Away 

Master Nguyễn Lộc passed away on April 29, 1960 [[33]] in Saigon. He is buried in the Mac Dinh Chi cemetery [[34]]. He leaves behind nine children, three boys and six girls. He only lived 48 years but left humanity with an extraordinary work: the Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao. 

When he left us, his work was probably not yet finished but his successors were able to fulfill his wishes and achieve the goal he had dreamed of so much, namely to popularize Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao with the ideal, " To Be Strong To Be Useful " (Khoẻ để phụng sự) and " to be the True Man " (Người thực Người). 

Today, the Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao has become one of the symbols of Vietnamese culture, widely distributed throughout the world, without distinction of ethnicity, country, religion or political opinion. 

The majority of the Master Founder's wishes were fulfilled between 1960 and 1975 by his disciples, who continue to build a work that they still consider unfinished. 

Master Nguyễn Lộc's eulogy 

Read by Elder Master Lê Sáng

During the funeral ceremony of founder Nguyễn Lộc at Mac Dinh Chi cemetery, Saigon, April 1960. 

Great brother Nguyễn Lộc! 

Life, death, everyone has to go through it, but we, like all Vovinam practitioners, did not think that this painful moment would come so soon. 

Remember when the country was still under the yoke of slavery [[35]]. Driven by overwhelming passion, you left your carefree friends to personally embark on a noble path. 

With talent, you were able to harmonize the quintessence of ancient and modern martial arts of Asia to design a discipline at the service of the nation. 

Over the years, you have developed the fruit of your invention by imparting intense strength to the youth for a better, confident, proud and useful life. 

Thanks to you, the homeland is resplendent! 

Thanks to you, young people are no longer disoriented! 

So, you have become famous all over the country, from North to South, through millions of practitioners. 

Under French rule, the colonialists feared you. They tried everything but couldn't corrupt you. Under Japanese rule, the fascists failed to shake you with money or fame. During the whole period when the country was on the move, you gave the people the sharpest weapon to be confident in the struggle to defend our dear homeland. As always, you stayed out of indoctrination to live independently, with your head held high, and with one goal: to train generations of young people in good physical and mental health. 

Why is fate so capricious to take you too soon, leaving those left with much regret and affection. 

Dear great brother Nguyễn Lộc! 

Moved to the point of not being able to eulogize you, here are your relatives in tears who do not stop crying, here are your students who came to say goodbye to you with a heavy heart. 

We mourn you, thanking you for the affectionate teacher-student bonds that unite us; we mourn you, expressing our deep gratitude to you. You considered us as members of your family, you treated us as your blood brothers. 

Today you are no longer on earth; your body is gone, but your spirit still remains, and will forever remain in the hearts of future generations and in history. 

Always faithful to our ideal, we are committed to following your example, to be worthy of your trust and to pursue the path of the Vovinam martial art. 

Dear great brother Nguyễn Lộc! 

During your lifetime, you glorified our country. Your death simply means that you have transmitted your strength to us, and now it is our turn to relay this energy to the people and to future generations. 

Associating with the sacred soul of the country, we are convinced that you will always remain by our side to guide us and remind us to fulfill our duty. 

Dear great brother Nguyễn Lộc! 

Right now gathered here, we bow to your coffin to bid you farewell and pray for you, so that your soul may be free in the Hereafter.


Source: Nội san - Trung tâm huấn luyện Vovinam, 1965

(Internal Review - Vovinam Training Center, 1965, page 5).


Annex 1: The first practitioners of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao.

Testimony of Master Trần Nguyên Đạo 

In August 1993, I was guided by the great master Phan Dương Bình and patriarch master Trần Huy Phong to find the students and high school students trained by master Nguyễn Lộc between 1938-1945, the period of creation of Vovinam. 

Veteran Nguyễn Đăng Hiển was the first person I met. He helped me find the four other former students. 

These five people are historical figures of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao, whose names are mentioned in: 

  • Internal Review - Vovinam Training Center, 1965, page 6 (Nội san – Trung tâm huấn luyện Vovinam). 
  • Introduction of Viet Vo Dao, edition Federation of Formation Vovinam-VVĐ, 1969, page 23 (Việt Võ Đạo Nhập Môn, Tổng cục huấn luyện Vovinam-VVĐ, 1969). 
  • Memoirs of Patriarch Lê Sáng, Copyrico edition, 2001, page 20, 23 (Hồi ký, Chưởng môn Vovinam Lê Sáng, 2001). 
  • Nguyễn Đăng Hiển, born in 1917, practiced from 1938 to the first lessons given at the home of Founder Master Nguyễn Lộc, Hang Than district, Hanoi. 
  • Nguyễn Đình Lan, born in 1920, practiced from 1940 to 1945 at the Normal School. 
  • Nguyễn Mỹ, retired dentist, born in 1913, practiced from 1940 to 1945 at the Normal School. 
  • Nguyễn Khải, alias Phạm Cương, retired colonel, born in 1921, practiced from 1940 to 1946 before joining the army. 
  • Nguyễn Bích, retired, born in 1925, practiced in 1940.

 vovinam nhanvatlichsu hanoi1993

Hanoi 1993.

From left to right : Masters Phan Dương Bình, Trần Nguyên Đạo.

Nguyễn Mỹ, Nguyễn Khải, Nguyễn Đình Lan, Nguyễn Đăng Hiển, Nguyễn Bích,Trần Huy Phong


Annex 2: The great historical demonstration of 1939

Testimony of Master Trần Nguyên Đạo 

My childhood dream came true on July 31, 1993 at the Hanoi Opera House, 54 years after the first historic demonstration by founding Master Nguyễn Lộc in 1939. 

At the age of 8 (1964), when I was studying the history of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao, I vowed to follow in the footsteps of the Founding Master and again performing the historical demonstration of 1939 [[36]]. This wish was granted 29 years later (1993), when I brought 40 practitioners, teachers and masters to Hanoi, under the theme: "contrast of history and a dream child", with masters from France were myself and Phi Long as well as the teachers who will become masters later: Bloume Daniel, Ha Kim Chung, Guerrib Amar, Guerrib Mai, Crozon-Cazin Serge, Tran Antonella, Py Michel, and many practitioners of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao from Nha Trang, Hanoi, Saigon and France. 

 vovinam phaidoanphap bieudien operahanoi 1993

Hanoi Opera House (31-07-1993)
French Delegation to the performers made history in 1939

In the public who came to attend this exceptional demonstration, the Ambassador of France in Vietnam is present as well as the masters of Vietnam such as: Trần Huy Phong, Phan Dương Bình, Trần Bản Quế, Ngô Kim Tuyền, Phạm Đình Tự, Trương Quang An, Nguyễn Bá Dương and Văn Chu Đồng. 

There were also practitioners trained by the founding master Nguyễn Lộc in the years 1938-1945 and who had participated in the demonstration in 1939, among which master Phan Dương Bình and veterans Nguyễn Đình Lan, Nguyễn Mỹ, Nguyễn Khải, Nguyễn Bích and Nguyễn Đăng Hiển 


 vovinam monsinhphap bieudien operahanoi 1993

The Vietnamese-French students performed at the

 Hanoi Opera House - 1993

After the demonstration, these elders could not hold back their tears. Veteran Nguyễn Đăng Hiển said: "… In the past, during the demonstration, on the stage, there were only Vietnamese practitioners and the spectators were guests of French high society. Is the opposite, it is the French practitioners who demonstrate Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao on stage, while the distinguished guests are Vietnamese, former practitioners like us. How could we hold back our emotion? ... " . 

Annex 3: Miss Nguyễn Thị Minh

The demonstration was confirmed by Miss Nguyễn Thị Minh, who later became Ms. Nguyễn Lộc, as well as by Mr. Nguyễn Đăng Hiển, as well as their participation, there were about twenty practitioners, including two women, Ms. Nguyễn Lộc and Mrs. Thái, wife of Mr. Y, currently both living in California, United States. 

Mrs. Nguyễn Thị Minh, was born on September 1, 1929, is the daughter of Mr. Nguyễn Ngọc Hoán and of Mrs. Bùi Thị Ngọ. She married Master Nguyễn Lộc in 1945; from this union are born nine children: 

Nguyễn Thị Thanh Phương,

Nguyễn Thị Thanh Mai,

Nguyễn Đạo,

Nguyễn Thị Thanh Ngà,

Nguyễn Chính (*),

Nguyễn Thị Thanh Phú

Nguyễn Thị Thanh Bình,

Nguyễn Thị Thanh Mỹ,

Nguyễn Quang. 


 madame nguyenlocvn

Ms. Nguyen Loc Visit Hanoi

  70 years old - 1999

Resident in the United States from 1975, Mrs. Nguyễn Lộc regularly participated in the activities of the World Federation of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao. She died on May 17, 2015 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States. 


(*) Master Nguyen Chinh 

Master Nguyễn Chính is the fifth child of Master Nguyễn Lộc. Born on August 19, 1955, he started learning Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao in 1974 at the Hoa Lư center in Saigon with master Khâu Thanh Danh [[37]]. 

On April 30, 1975, during the fall of the Republic of South Vietnam, Master Nguyễn Chính and his family set out for exile to the United States of America; they embark on the boat Truong Xuan [[38]] with the help of the master patriarch Trần Huy Phong. 


 master NguyenChinh

Master Nguyễn Chính

Master Nguyễn Chính still actively participates in the activities of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao in Houston, Texas. In 2000, on the occasion of the 4th World Congress of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao, he obtained the 4th Dang Black Belt by successfully defending his thesis. A member of the World Federation of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao and of the World Council of Masters, he was elected President of the Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao of Texas for the 2000-2002 term. 

After the testimonies of:

- Mrs Nguyễn Lộc.

- Grand master Ngô Hữu Liễn.

- Master Nguyễn Chính.


[1] : April 8 of the year Nham Ty, (year of the Rat), according to the lunar calendar

[2] : Currently Ha Tay.

[3] : The children of Master Nguyễn Lộc's family are in the following order: (source: Mrs. Nguyễn Lộc & master Nguyễn Chính):

1. Nguyễn Lộc,

2. Nguyễn Thị Kim Thái,

3. Nguyễn Văn Dần,

4. Nguyễn Quang Hải,

5. Nguyễn Thị Bích Hà.

[4] : During the period from 1912 to 1938, Vietnam was still under French rule, which lasted more than 80 years (1862-1945). There were many movements, revolutionary organizations and resistance against French colonialism.

[5] : Man in the universal sense (Man and Woman).

[6] : Later, these values became the Honor Codes of Masters hence the 10 fundamental principles of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao established by the 1st Council of Masters of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao in 1964, then transformed into 9 international fundamental principles by the 7th World Congress of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao in May 2012 in Paris.

[7] : Good level: average level, yellow or black belt equivalence of our time.

[8] : Nội san – Trung tâm huấn luyện Vovinam, 1965 (Internal Review - Vovinam Training Center, 1965, page 4) and Việt Võ Đạo Nhập Môn, Tổng cục huấn luyện Vovinam-VVĐ, 1969 (Introduction to Viet Vo Dao, Federation edition of Vovinam-VVĐ training, 1969, page 15 to 26).

[9] : At the time, martial arts were still banned by the colonialist government.

[10] : Among the first practitioners are: Nguyễn Dần (younger brother of the founding master), Nguyễn Đăng Hiển (cf. note 11), Miss Nguyễn Thị Minh (cf. annex 3) and Tạ Quang Bửu *.

(*) Mr. Tạ Quang Bửu (1910-1986). He represented the Vietminh league at the time of the signing of the Geneva agreements on July 20, 1954, which separated Vietnam into two parts. Foreign ministers: John Foster Dulles (United States), Molotov (Soviet Union), Anthony Eden (United Kingdom), George Bidaut (France), Chu En-lai (People's China), are also signatories to these agreements.

[11] : The veteran Nguyễn Đăng Hiển one of the first students of the founding master, he participated in 1938 during the first courses given at the home of master Nguyễn Lộc. (Source: after her accounts and the testimonies of Mrs. Nguyễn Lộc, the masters Nguyễn Dần, Lê sáng, Phan Dương Bình and Trần Huy Phong).

[12] : According to the testimonies of Mrs. Nguyễn Lộc, masters Nguyễn Dần, Lê sáng, Phan Dương Bình and Trần Huy Phong.

[13] : From 1939/1940, the colonialist government begins to soften its policy concerning the martial arts, but most of the masters doubt and mistrust, continue to practice in clandestinity.

[14] : Mr. Maurice Ducoroy (1895-1960), commander in the navy, in service on the cruiser Lamotte-Picquet, arrived in Vietnam in October 1939; it is placed under the authority of Admiral Jean Decoux. In 1940, he was appointed Director of Sports and Youth in Indochina, then on December 15, 1941, General Commissariat for Physical Education, Sports and Youth in Indochina..

[15] : The name of doctor Đặng Vũ Hỷ has been mentioned several times in the historical texts of Vovinam (cf. note 8). He is one of the dignitaries of physical education of the French colonialist government.

[16] : These masters are Supreme White Belt, member of the Supreme Council of Masters of the World Federation of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao.

[17] : Vice-Admiral Jean Decoux (1884-1963, appointed Governor General of French Indochina and High Commissioner of France in the Pacific by Marshal Philippe Pétain on June 25, 1940.

[18] : Emperor Bảo Đại is the 13th Emperor and the last of the NGUYEN dynasty in Vietnam. His birth name is Nguyễn Phúc Vĩnh Thụy, born October 22, 1913 in Huê (Vietnam), died July 31, 1997 in Paris.

[19] : Trần Trọng Kim (1883-1953) was a teacher. A renowned Vietnamese historian and politician.

[20] : Testimony of Mr. Nghiêm Văn Thạch (1929-2016), former Deputy Commissioner General of Scouts in Vietnam. In 1945, he was 16, a member of the Boy Scouts in Hanoi. Mr. Nghiêm Văn Thạch confirms that there is a collaboration between the Scouting Association in Tonkin and Vovinam to carry out social and charitable actions.

[21] : It is a dynasty of 17 kings between 2888 BC. AD and 258 BC. AD Considered the founders of the country and celebrated each year on the tenth day of the third lunar month (in April).

[22] : The Trưng Sisters (12 - 43 AD): Trưng Trắc and Trưng Nhị, are two historical figures who opposed the Chinese yoke in Vietnam. They are revered in Vietnam as Vietnamese national heroines, instigators of the first anti-Chinese resistance movement, after 247 years of domination. Many temples are dedicated to them and an annual holiday is granted in February to commemorate their disappearance. A district of Hanoi is named after them, as are many streets and schools across the country.

[23] : Also called the Indochina War, it is an armed conflict that took place from 1946 to 1954 between France and the Viêt Minh. The conflict ends after the defeat of the French army at Dien Bien Phu and leads to the Geneva accords. France (George Bidaut, Minister of Foreign Affairs) signed them (July 20, 1954) with Vietnam (Tạ Quang Bửu) and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs: John Foster Dulles (United States), Molotov (Soviet Union), Anthony Eden (United Kingdom) and Chu En-lai (Popular China). These agreements divide Vietnam into two rival states, bordering on the 17th parallel. The North is ruled by Hồ Chí Minh who established the communist regime; the South is ruled by Bảo Đại under a monarchical Republican regime. France renounces its colonialist intentions and withdraws from Indochina. This war claimed more than 500,000 victims.

[24] : Testimony of the great master Lê Văn Phúc (1934-2020): "… A year after I inquired and registered, I started to really learn Vovinam. It was in 1951… In all my life of Vovinam practice, I only had the honor of being corrected by Master Nguyễn Lộc about ten times, but each corrected technique permeated deep within me. The corrections are very fast, very strong, very sharp and also very painful. And I can only endure. In general, master Nguyễn Lộc explains so that we can work by ourselves. Sometimes, master Binh gives lessons, while master Nguyễn Lộc observes us. 

     The training with Master Binh is also very hard. With each technical error, he corrects us immediately in a very energetic way, a real correction so to speak. How can we endure his crushed boots blows on our little chests? After training, when we massage our chest, his boots left a nice red mark as a memory and we feel a very strong pain. I still didn’t understand how we managed to be even more motivated instead of giving up everything ... ". 

Source: Master Lê Văn Phúc, Hồi ký những ngày theo học võ sư sáng tổ, đặc san Vovinam-Việt Võ Đạo, 1971 (Master Lê Văn Phúc Memory of the days of practice with the founding master, special review of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao , 1971, page 76).

[25] : This club at 52 Frères Louis Street, becomes rue Vo Tanh, then rue Nguyen Trai, near the Nga Sau Saigon crossroads.

[26] : The Thu Khoa Huan club, Aviateur Garot Street, becomes Thu Khoa Huan Street, a street that connects one side of the Doc Lap palace to the Ben Thanh market, Saigon. Today this club no longer exists, becoming the Tan Hoang Ngoc hotel, located at 52 Thu Khoa Huan Street, Saigon.

[27] : Thu Duc Military Academy or Thu Duc Martial Arts Inter-School, also known as Thu Duc Infantry School. A training school for officers of the army of the Republic of South Vietnam.

[28] : Building Everest, Dinh Cong Trang Street, currently No. 8 Nguyễn Văn Tráng Street, 1st District, Saigon. In the years 1957-1960, the master Nguyễn Lộc came here to rest in convalescence and died there.

[29] : Is a hierarchical classification of all the standards that make up the system of a divine state: Emperor, Master, Father (Quân, Sư, Phụ) to guarantee consistency and maintain the rigor of society. Confucian culture is founded on the principle that a standard must be strictly observed (blindness) and to be implemented as the codes of life. On the other hand, master Nguyễn Lộc advocates permanent evolution: "… You must change your working methods to adapt to all situations, innovate so that Vovinam is more scientific, more modern. If you notice that my teaching does not 'is not yet efficient, your duty is to improve it so that it becomes better. If my method has some shortcomings, do not hesitate to complete it. In doing so, your contributions are beneficial so that Vovinam can become an art national martial… ". Extract from the memoir of the great master Lê Văn Phúc: "Memory of the days of practice with the founding master", special review of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao, 1971, page 76, 77 (Hồi ký những ngày theo học võ sư sáng tổ, đặc san Vovinam-Việt Võ Đạo, 1971, trang 76, 77).

[30] : This way of calling master Nguyễn Lộc is confirmed by almost all of his direct disciples such as: Mr. Nguyễn Đăng Hiển, master Phan Dương Bình, Lê Sáng, Trần Huy Phong, Hà Trọng Thịnh, Phạm Hữu Độ, Lê Trọng Hiệp, etc. 

According to the account of master Lê Văn Phúc in "Memory of the days of practice with the founding master", special review of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao, 1971, page 76 (Hồi ký những ngày theo học võ sư sáng tổ, đặc san Vovinam-Việt Võ Đạo, 1971, page 76). "… At the time when we were training, we were allowed to call master Nguyễn Lộc, "older brother" …". 

This name is also related in the eulogy of Master Nguyễn Lộc.

[31] : Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao was banned for the first time for four years (1960-1964) under the Ngo Dinh Diem government and the second time under the communist regime in 15 years, from 1975 to 1990.

[32] : From 1938 to 1964, the title of patriarch master did not yet exist. When master Nguyễn Lộc was still alive, he presented himself as founding master of Vovinam.

[33] : April 4 of the year of the rat of the lunar calendar.

[34] : Mac Dinh Chi cemetery is located in downtown Saigon, between Phan Thanh Gian Street today called Dien Bien Phu, and Hien Vuong Street, currently called Vo Thi Sau.

[35] : Under French rule (1862-1945).

[36] : It was an "impossible" dream, because at the time Vietnam was still in civil war (1954-1975), between North and South.

[37] : Master Khâu Thanh Danh, is one of the disciples of Master Trần Huy Phong, he is currently domiciled in Saigon, Vietnam.

[38] : The Truong Xuan boat is the first boat for political refugees (boat people). He left Vietnam when the Communist army from the North invaded Saigon on April 30, 1975. With 4,000 people on board, including all of Master Nguyễn Lộc's family: Mrs. Nguyễn Lộc, Master Nguyễn Dần, Mr. Nguyễn Hải, Master Nguyễn Chính… or about twenty people. Master Nguyễn Tiến Hội, founder of Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao in Germany is also present on this boat.


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