Vovinam | Fighting Styles


Vovinam refers to a kind of martial arts from Vietnamese, which can be practiced either with or completely without weapons. Vovinam is based on principles of both soft and hard harmony and includes full mind and body training with help of the opponent’s reaction and force. “Vo” means “martial arts”, whle “vinam” means "Vietnam". Both tactics of defense and attack are trained along with foot tactics, forms, combats and classic wrestling.

Vovinam was initially introduced in the year 1938 by Grandmaster Loc Nguyen who hoped to create disciplines that focused on a wide development of the soul, mind and body. He extensively researched on fields of literature, philosophy, medicine and anatomy, which were later used as foundations of Vovinam.

The forms that appear on the yellow logo of Vovinam Viet Vo Dao comprises out of a circle and a rectangle, angular on top and round below. This form is meant to be a symbol of true perfection, along with the beautiful and the good. This logo can be found within a color of marine blue, while “Vovinam” is written in red above “Viet Vo Dao” written in marine blue. The pointing letters are meant to show which way to go. Below, two poles lie in red and marine blue, representing yin and yang, framed by a white and thick circle which represents Dao. Between these poles lies the yellow Vietnam map. The mission is meant to show a mediation of yin and yang – bringing them together to allow every being and their lives.

Ever since the 1950s, Vovinam kept expanding into Saigon, along with its provinces like Da Lat, Gia Dinh and Bien Hoa. Vovinam’s introduction to Southern Vietnam provinces still proved to be a struggle after Grandmaster Nguyen Loc’s death in 1960 at the young age of 49. The chief master title was then awarded to his long-term disciple, Grandmaster Le Sang.

Vovinam’s broad array of tactics include kicking and punching along with wrestling, forms (quyens), swords, axes, folding fans, con staffs and others. Tactics of self-defense cover overall defense against attacks without weapons, such as choking or grabbing and attacks with swords or knives.

More advanced students get to learn how to bring together certain tactics and learn how to defend themselves from armed opponents. The instructors train with classic weapons like long sticks, short sticks, sabers, swords and knives. Therefore, these weapons that serve as devices for training and achieving ultimate bodily control need high concentration levels.

The Vovinam principles are as follows:

  1. The disciples of Vovinam promise to get higher martial art levels to serve humanity and people, in general.
  2. The disciples of Vovinam promise to be forever faithful to Vovinam to develop younger Vovinam generations.
  3. The disciples of Vovinam are unanimous when it comes to the heart and spirit, always respecting the elders and loving fellow peers.
  4. The disciples of Vovinam have respect to other schools of martial arts, while only using skills of martial arts to protect justice and as a form of self-defense.
  5. The disciples of Vovinam are studious and hope to enrich their behaviors and thoughts, as well as strengthen their minds.
  6. The disciples of Vovinam live a simple life with high minds of chaste and loyalty.
  7. The disciples of Vovinam build spirits of vigor and strong determination to overcome violent powers.
  8. The disciples of Vovinam make smart judgments and carry out every struggle with perseverance, while acting with full alertness.
  9. The disciples of Vovinam are self-controlled, self-confident, generous and modest at all times.

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