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              Han Bai, whose real name is Le Bai, was born in 1889.  He founded Han Bai Shaolin in North Vietnam in the early 1920's.  Han Bai was famous within the Vietnamese martial arts circles as well as in Southern China in the beginning of  the century.
             Modifying, adjusting and improving what he had learned from different Chinese martial art styles, he created a unique fighting system which was suitable for the Vietnamese physique as well as the real situation at that time. Han Bai forms for empty hands and for weapons bear characteristics that are completely different from those of either Chinese Shaolin, Vietnamse kungfu, or Binh-Dinh kungfu (a well known Vietnamse martial art style).  Let us take a look into the biography of this prominent Martial Art Master.

    FOUNDER LE BAI (1889 - 1928)
        Han Bai was born in a family with martial arts tradition.  His father was an officer in the Royal Popular Forces, located in Hue, the old capital of Vietnam.  He started his training in martial arts at a tender age.   Highly motivated, he never stopped in his pursuit for self betterment and constantly sought out good teachers to learn from.

          At age 19, while working at the railroad station in Yunnam, China, he visited the city of Guanshou where a mishap turned into good fortune and took him into higher points in his martial arts quest.  
         One evening, when he was enjoying his dinner at a restaurant,
    a group of thugs surrounded and attacked him.  Although he fought valiantly, he was heavily outnumbered and ended being knocked unconcious.

                  The thugs carried him outside and threw him down on the sidewalk.  They were a notorious band and no bystanders dared to intervene on his behalf or give hin medical assistance.  Then the famous martial art master Lee Quan from Guishou and his wife happened to pass by.  They found Bai and brought him home to treat his injuries.  

              After Bai recovered, seeing that he was good-natured and had a strong willingness to improve his martial arts, Lee Quan and his wife taught him everything they knew.  Soon, Bai's prowess even surpassed Quan's own son, who was about the same age.  Once Bai had absored everything they could teach him, Quan wrote a letter of introduction for him to bring to his fellow martial art master, Chiu Kwan Chow in Yunnan.  

              Once back in Yunnan, Bai put his freshly learned skills to test in fights against local well-known martial artists, never losing even once.   While training under Chiu Kwan Chow, Bai had two fellow students who were Vietnamses: Bay Mua and Ba Cat. The latter subsequently had a student, Mr. Quach Van Ke, who later found the school of Lam-Son Martial Arts in Saigon prior to 1975.

              Han Bai returned to his country in 1918.  After a long period of study in which he modified and improved empty hands, weapon techniques and forms so make them more suitable for the Vietnamese physique and the real social conditions of the time, he opened a martial art studio in Hanoi, North Vietnam, and named it Han Bai School of Martial Arts.  From then on, he became famous throughout North Vietnam.  

    He was conferred the tittle of the Nobility of Martial Arts Academician ("Han Lam Vo Hoc") and thus became known as
    Han Bai.  He was not in favor of teaching a lot of forms nor did he pay a lot of attention to beautiful, spectacular techniques, choosing substances over forms.  He had a flexible method of teaching which changed from one student to another depending on that particular student's physique and character.  Therefore it was not unsual that he would teach "hard" techniques to one student while choosing "soft" ones for another.  Grandmaster Han Bai passed away on the 6th of March of the Lunar calendar, 1928, at the age of 39.

    FROM 1928 TO 1961
              His most senior student, later to be recognized as the First Supreme Grandmaster of this school, was Nguyen Van Dac.  When Dac moved to Lang Son, the responsibilty to expand the school went to Vu Ba Oai, the Second Supreme Grandmaster.  In the late 1920's, Mr. Vu Ba Oai moved to South Vietnam with the pledge to dissiminate his style in this region.  During the initial period, Mr. Oai only accepted to train a handful of students at his private residence.  

                 This is due to the lack of  means to open a martial arts studio, and also because the South Vietnam was a French colony at that time, the French strictly forbade any martial arts teaching.  The first group of students consisted of Mai Van Khue, Do Du Anh, Truong Minh Lam, Huynh Van Mi.  The second group consisted of  Dr. Nguyen Anh Tai, Le Bat Tri, Vuong Quan Ba, Nguyen Van Thom; Attorney Le Van Thu, former Minister of Justice of the Second Republic of Vietnam; Mr. Jeam Pham Duy, the late Military IV Corps Air Commondore Nguyen Huy Anh; Dr. Tran Lu Y, former Health Minister; Admiral Diep Quang Thuy, former Chief of  Staff of the Vietnamese Navy, etc...

            In 1950, Sifu Vu Ba Oai and Dr. Nguyen Anh Tai officially petitioned  for the openning of  a profesional martial arts school  named  Han Bai Duong ( School of Han Bai ). Although the name of Han Bai was already  in existence, it had not been officially recognized because Sifu Vu Ba Oai was only teaching small groups of students at his residence.  He had no legal documents for the founding of the association.  During this period, the most notable group of students consisted of Le Hong Phap, Vo Van Nghia, Brigidier General Ho Trung Hau, and  Master Dang thong Phong.  

             In 1961, due to the lack of good and efficient administrators to run the school, Han Bai Duong was forced to temporarily cease its activities.  After that, Sifu Vu Ba Oai and the senior classmates Huynh Van Mi, Nguyen Anh Tai and Vuong Quan Ba all had students training with them at their private residencies.

    FROM 1961 TO 1996
    Some Han Bai Duong students from the 1950's also taught the Han Bai style in classes at local high schools.  Among them were Nguyen Van Minh, who taught at a high school next to the Airbornes' barrack, near Bay Hien Intersection of Saigon; Nguyen Van Doi  who taught at Le Ba Cang High School  on Cao Thang street in the Ban Co district; Master Dang Thong Phong  who taught at the Minh Duc, Trang Bang High Schools; Nguyen Ngoc An who was the former Minister of the Second Republic's Department of Information and Open Arms Policy; and a number of other people whose information we have not yet determined.  

                The fall of South Vietnam in 1975 caused a disruption to the lives of many of Han Bai Duong's students.  Many of them became refugees and came to the United States, including Grand  Master Vu Ba Oai, Huynh Van Mi, Vuong Quan Ba and others.  Some of Grand Master's students continued to teach privately at their new residences in the United States, but in a much smaller scale. Master Dang Thong Phong came to America in 1986 and established the Internation Tenshinkai Aikido in Westminster, CA.

    After 36 long years of discontinued activity, on August 20, 1996, Grandmaster Vu Ba Oai  signed a Letter of  Delegation to entrust upon Master Dang Thong Phong the responsibility  to oversee the reorganization of Han Bai Duong.  In May 25, 1997, in the first meeting of former Han Bai Duong students after 36 years of discontinuity, a decision was made in an atmosphere of joy to revive the Han Bai Duong style.  

      Master Phong has also received the mental supports from his former fellow school-brothers, Huynh Van Mi ( Los Angeles, CA ) and Vuong Quan Ba ( Phoenix, Arizona ), in carrying out his mission.  As of this writting ( October 1997 ), Grandmaster Vu Ba Oai  is 96 years old while Mr. Huynh Van Mi and Vuong Quang Ba are over 85 years old.  Master Phong's pledge is to form
    NEW talents  to replace the AGING ones in  order to :

    To maintain the presense of the Han Bai style of Martial Art,
    To reconize the deed and merit of the Founder,
    To show appreciation for the lagacy left by Sifu Vu Ba Oai and his school-brothers who had promoted this school.

           Master Phong and Master Ha Kim Danh taught the Han Bai Duong Kung Fu from 1997-1998. However due to Master Phong's busy schedule, the Kung Fu class was discontinued at this time. Hopefully it will be resumed in the future.

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