The History of The Martial Arts
In order to put your Cuong Nhu training into proper perspective, you must first have some knowledge of the history of the martial arts in general. Martial arts history contains many examples of how styles were developed technically and philosophically. The people of different regions developed their own methods of offense and defense. Through the melting pot of centuries and conflict, these methods evolved through the efforts of the men and women who practiced them. As technology replaced warriors on the battlefields, these martial methods evolved into martial "Ways" to train the body and spirit.
The Father of the Martial Arts
Bodhidharma came to China from India in 520 BC to spread Ch’an, or Zen, Buddhism. He taught exercises to the monks at the Shaolin Temple that eventually evolved into Shaolin chuan fa (kung fu).
Tai Chi Chuan
Tai Chi Chuan, the Ultimate Fist, was developed in the 1200’s in China by a Taoist, Chang San Feng, who had studied Tao Yin, a Chinese breathing art. Tai Chi Chuan has had a strong influence on Cuong Nhu’s soft style principles.
Wing Chun Kung Fu
Wing Chun was developed in the 1700’s at the Southern Shaolin Temple in China to be used as a secret weapon against the occupying Manchurians, but they burned the temple before the style could be taught. Abbess Ng Mui escaped and taught the style to Yim Wing Chun, whose name means “Beautiful Springtime”, for whom the style now takes its name.
Kodokan Judo was founded by a Ju-Jitsu Master named Jigoro Kano in Japan in 1882. Kano wished to popularize his art by eliminating the more dangerous jujitsu techniques and promoting his art as a “martial sport.” Judo was taught in Japanese schools, so Kano developed the colored belt system to motivate the kids.
Shotokan is a style of Okinawan Karate developed by Gichen Funakoshi. In 1922 he introduced the art to Japan where it became very popular. Karate originally meant “Chinese hand” reflecting the origins of the art, but Funakoshi changed the name to mean “empty hand.”
Aikido was founded by an Aiki-Jujitsu master named Morihei Uyeshiba in Japan in 1938. Aikido, or “the Way of Combining Internal Energy”, specializes in harmonizing with your opponent’s energy and then using that energy against them.
Chinese Kung Fu spread to neighboring countries where it mixed with their indigenous martial arts. In Vietnam, Nguyen Loc founded Viet Vo Dao, but in 1946 his successor Le Van Sang changed the name to Vovinam, the national martial art of Vietnam. Cuong Nhu gets its animal techniques and Code of Ethics from Vovinam.
The martial arts were being practiced in Europe as well as in the Orient. In 1719, James Figg opened a school in London that taught bare-fist boxing as well as various weapons systems such as the staff and cudgel.
Cuong Nhu Oriental Martial Arts
In 1965 in Vietnam, Cuong Nhu was founded by Grandmaster Dong Ngo. Called O Sensei (Great Teacher) by his students, Dong saw the need for a mixed martial arts style that included striking, kicking, and grappling as well as locks and throws. Influenced by aspects of seven different martial arts, he named his new style Cuong Nhu, or “hard/soft”. Click here for more about Grandmaster Ngo Dong