Sáng Tổ Nguyễn Lộc (1912 - 1960)
Founder Grandmaster Loc Nguyen

Vovinam (Martial Arts of Vietnam) was first introduced in the fall of 1938 by Grand Master Nguyen Loc.  Master Loc thrived to create a discipline that concentrated on a vast development of the mind, body and soul.  He did extensive research in the fields of philosophy, literature, anatomy and medicine, later to use them as the foundation of Vovinam. 

Grand Master Loc was born on May 24th, 1912, the oldest of five (Nguyen Thai, Nguyen Dan, Nguyen Ngo and Nguyen Thi Bich Ha).  His parents (Nguyen Dinh Xuyen and Nguyen Thi Hoa) moved the family often, partly due to the French rule over Vietnam, making life difficult for some.  The Nguyen family traveled through Huu Bang Village, Thach That County, Son Tay Province and North Vietnam, before finally settling in Hanoi. 

The French made it difficult for many to live a normal life.  One could either abide by their laws, or suffer the consequences.  There were revolts from anti-French groups, which created a lot of hostility, making it hard on those seeking a simple life without violence.  So when Loc was old enough, his father thought it was a good idea that his son learned self-defense.  His father seeked the help of an old kung fu master, and asked that his son be taught the traditional martial arts and wrestling, for health and as a form a self-defense. 

After years of transformation, Loc was now a young man with a vision.  He saw little change between the past and present.  Vietnam was still under French rule, and hope for a new and prosperous future seemed dim.  There had to be a change.  Vietnam had to be independent; it had to be free to govern itself.  He believed the only approach to freeing Vietnam from colonial rule was to train those with a strong will for liberty and independence, to join hands and take action.  Carrying on that belief, he continued his practice of martial arts, also studying those overseas.  He attended many tournaments and competitions, discussing martial arts with many well-known masters of that time.  He spent long hours researching subjects such as philosophy, literature, history, anatomy and medicine, with intent of making them the bases of his discipline.  The idea was to train an individual to attain a stronger body, and rational mind, thus, creating an invincible sense of spirit.  He completed this task, and introduced Vovinam in the fall of 1938.  

In 1940, he and his disciples demonstrated publicly for the first time at the Great Theatre of Hanoi.  The debut was a success, attracting spectators from all around.  In the audience that day was a high-ranking French Official, Lt. Colonel Maurice Ducoroy.  Upon the demonstration, Ducoroy invited Loc to stage, to present the Vovinam Founder a Medal of Accomplishment.  Loc, unable to shun the invitation, met with Colonel and accepted the medal.  Although, he felt wearing this medal would go against everything he and his people believed in.  Instead, he calmly placed the medal in his pocket.  His actions touched many that day, most of all, his students.  It was an act of true patriotism.   

After the successful demonstration, he was approached by Dr. Dang Vu Hy, President of the Sport Friendship Association, and was asked to teach Vovinam at the Hanoi University of Education (E’cole Normal).  Presented with such an honor, Master Loc graciously accepted.
 Vovinam led the rebellion against the French rule in 1945.  Student demonstrations broke out the campus of Hanoi University and the Ministry of Agriculture.  Consequently, the French closed all Vovinam schools and classes, prohibiting its ongoing teachings.  Despite it all, Loc secretly taught from his home, and continued to lead many public demonstrations.  Vovinam instructors were sent out to promote and teach martial arts to those wanting to learn.  The enthusiasm for Vovinam could be greatly indicated by slogans that read, “Vietnamese practice Vietnamese martial arts.  Not a Vovinam disciple, not a Vietnamese patriot.”

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