HAN BAI ŠUONG
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.
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
FOUNDER LE BAI (1889 - 1928)
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.
FROM 1928 TO 1961
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.
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
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...
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
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;
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.
THE NEW ERA
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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Dojo, Austin, TX. USA . ( 1995 )