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Cuong Nhu Martial Arts

Dragon Nhus

The Cuong Nhu Martial Arts Newsletter

Winter 2023

Welcome To The Online Dragon Nhus!

Welcome to the online Dragon Nhus, the Cuong Nhu Martial Arts newsletter.  The Dragon Nhus has been a Cuong Nhu tradition that grew from a simple typewritten newsletter into a full size, 30 page glossy newsletter.  For many years, the Dragon Nhus has been carefully assembled, edited and managed for printing by Sensei Danny Pietrodangelo. The newsletters were then distributed to each dojo during the International Annual Training Camps (IATC).  Under Sensei Danny's leadership, the newsletter won the Apex Award of Excellence for a Newsletter and a Hermes Creative Award.  This was a monumental task that Sensei Danny managed for the Association "to serve the people", embodying our first Code of Ethics.

Thank you, Sensei Danny, for your years of dedication and hard work. 

You can find more of Sensei Danny's work here.

With the advancement of digital media and the ability to incorporate videos and other media into an online format, the Association is moving the newsletter to the Cuong Nhu  website.

A small team of Cuong Nhu members has been working to present this inaugural digital version to the membership to close out 2023.  Future issues will have additional content, so be on the lookout for requests to contribute.

If you are interested in joining this team or contributing material to future issues, please email us at

Your Dragon Nhus Team,
    Parnee Poet, Editor In-Chief
    Mark Lake, Managing Editor
    Shawn "Smack" McElroy, Copy Editor
    Khanh Linh Lieu, Production
    David Salcedo, Contributor
    Jessica Ngo, Advisor
    John Burns, Advisor
    Donald Williams, Advisor

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IATC 2024 Theme:  Intertwining Roots

from Grandmaster John Burns

I’m looking forward to IATC 2024, and I want to share some thoughts about the theme, Intertwining Roots.  Trees are seemingly individual, independent beings that turn out to have vital connections with one another.  Lately I’ve learned some interesting things about trees.  It started when I was on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, admiring the huge, intertwined steel cables that by twisting together, create something that’s flexible and also strong enough to support a huge structure and an immense amount of traffic.  I thought I’d go online and read about the cables and the building of the bridge.  Maybe it would make a good theme for IATC.  The words “intertwined steel cables” brought up some sites about “intertwined roots,” and somehow I started reading about trees instead.

Did you know that Coast Redwood trees, the tallest trees in the world (and iconic here in California), have relatively shallow roots?   However, their roots spread wide and intertwine with the roots of their neighbors, so they support each other against winds and floods.  These massive, towering trees, each one an image of strength and endurance, are drawing much of their strength underground from their community.  Other forest trees, even ones of different species, intertwine roots, sometimes grafting together and sharing water and nutrients directly, like sharing a blood vessel...  and this:  Aspen trees may share their roots entirely.  What looks like a hundred individuals might really be a single root system with a hundred trunks growing from it.  On top of that (or actually, underneath it), there is the extensive web of fungus threads in the soil that permeates – and connects – all the roots in the forest.  You may have heard about how this network is used by trees to communicate and share resources between their roots.  There are “parent trees” that ensure the survival of new generations by sharing resources through this web, while the fungus does its part to help the forest survive by gathering and sharing nutrients with the trees.

These are meaningful metaphors for Cuong Nhu, a community founded by someone whose name meant “tallest tree,” where so many dojos use tree imagery in their names.  Of course, like the Redwoods, we link up and keep each other strong – as martial artists, as people, as family.  Like the forest, we share resources, teaching and training together, supporting and advising each other.  That is what it means to be community.

For the martial art of Cuong Nhu, there’s another layer of meaning that’s important to understand:  The art O’Sensei Dong created, with roots intertwined from seven styles, was designed to be greater than the sum of its parts.  It requires us to be a community, beyond being the best individuals we can be.  That’s because no single one of us can master all the possibilities of Cuong Nhu.  On the other hand, together, as a community, we can come close.

As individual students, we’re asked to master underlying martial arts principles, build our strengths and skills, and thus become experts in Cuong Nhu.  Growing from the same network of roots (our curriculum), we’re trees of different shapes, sizes and types, expressing the same principles as best we can.  Cuong Nhu itself is the forest; it encompasses all of us, and we need the forest to be complete and to thrive.  As individuals, we will always have weak areas as well as strengths.  As a style – as a community – with intertwining roots – we’ll always have all of it covered.

Sakura Dojo, Ocala, FL

Sensei Tanner and Sensei Keith Sparring at IATC 2023

Cuong Nhu Association Board Updates

from Master Donald Williams, Association President

Dear CNMA Association Members,  

The cold weather is kicking in and the wintertime festivities are in full effect!  We are all enjoying our time with family and friends and reflecting on this past year’s growth and successes.  We have been training hard and moving forward in our progression as a style and the Association has been working feverishly to assist the style in its continued success.  Membership is climbing back up after the past few years of COVID related lows.  Returning to in-person practices and generating new member dues have brought the association and budget back into the black. 

Budgeting has been key in assisting the growth of dojos by providing opportunities for instructors to travel to schools in all of our regions to give tests and seminars.  We have also approved a budget for a matching equipment fund. 

There are a lot of events planned for 2024 throughout the regions.  Southeast Martial Arts Conference (SMAC) in Florida, IATC in North Carolina, Northeast Training Camp (NETC) in New Jersey, West Coast Training Camp (WCTC) in California, Instructor Training Seminar (ITS) in Atlanta, as well as Regional Tests in every region.  We look forward to seeing you there!  Check out the events page on for more information.

Remember that Cuong Nhu is the “Art of Love” and through love, we will continue to live a joyful life.

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Master Denise and the Cuong Nhu Dragon of Tallest Tree
Cuong Nhu Center in UF Homecoming Parade

Nick and Vasant from Hunterdon Dojo, Milford, NJ

Applying the Three O's

 from Phy Nguyen

In martial arts, you cannot learn from Senseis and classmates without an open mind, you can’t have strong relationships without an open heart, and you cannot achieve anything without open arms to embrace community.

11 years old, Brown Belt Paper, December 2, 2023, World Headquarters Dojo

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World Headquarters Senseis After Super Q Demo at IATC 2023

Sensei Alek Breaking Boards During His Sandan Test at IATC 2023

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Curriculum Changes
from Master Jessica Ngo

We have exciting news!  Grandmaster John returned  Pinan 5 to the 2 brown stripe curriculum.  Starting in January 2024 it will officially become part of testing again!

Other minor curriculum changes were made, and can be viewed in our online manual.  Scroll to the bottom of each rank to see the latest changes.

New test forms have also been made available on the Cuong Nhu site - so, Heads of Schools, it's time to update your materials....

Below is the learning speed version of Pinan 5.

(Remember, videos are for review after learning from a Sensei.)

Memories of Richard Seedorf

from Master Allen Hoss

I first met Richard (Rich) Seedorf during my last couple of years as an architecture student at Georgia Tech in the early 70’s. Rich joined the faculty and became a welcome addition to the younger creatively progressive Professors that so influenced my generation of Tech architects. Though I never had Rich in a design lab I knew him to be an excellent and inspirational teacher.  I particularly remember Professor Seedorf standing up for my somewhat controversial graduate thesis that had found its way to controversy between the old guard and the new progressives. Thanks Rich!

We stayed loosely in touch for a few years after my graduation but found our paths crossing in the later 70’s.  My new architectural partnership along with several artists rented 6-7 old, dilapidated storefronts on 10th and Peachtree in midtown Atlanta.  Rich and his architecture partner, Rick, rented one of the storefronts adjacent to our group.  My relatively inexperienced partner and I often found ourselves going to Rich and Rick for advice on running an architectural practice.  We also found we had much in common.  We each appreciated good design and Rich was an early advocate for what is now known as sustainable design.  We all found ourselves early members of the Georgia Solar Coalition, now the Southface Energy Institute.  A few years passed and I started Cuong Nhu in 1981.  Somewhere along the way, not too long afterward, I encouraged Rich and his business partner, Rick, to give Cuong Nhu a try…  and they did.  They both showed up at Sung Ming Shu (SMS) and started class.  Rick didn’t stick, but Rich did, and I am so grateful for having shared the common bond of both architecture and Cuong Nhu with him.  Many years ago, Master Mary Davis and I got together to compile a list of SMS Black Belts, as there were quite a few.  We were afraid we might forget as time passed.  Richard Seedorf was #11 on that list which now numbers 75.  Rich was part of the foundation upon which SMS was built (architecture pun intended).  Rich was a dedicated, talented, and active member of the dojo family for years until he moved away.  He also brought his wonderful kids, Gavin and Natasha, into SMS.

Rich was a big guy.  Here’s a quick funny memory as such. He was testing for black belt at the old CN Center in Gainesville, FL.  Many of you will remember the Center, a former bowling alley, had a pretty low ceiling with fluorescent lighting.  Rich was performing Bo 3 solo for O’Sensei.  The weapon kata involves a leaping overhead strike to begin.  When Big Rich jumped and swung, the Bo hit an exposed overhead fluorescent light and the bulbs exploded in a shower of small glass particles that fell to the dojo floor surrounding Rich.  O’Sensei immediately yelled for Rich, “don’t move” until all the glass could be swept up and away from his bare feet.  As if a black belt test isn’t drama enough!

After Rich left Atlanta he moved several times.  At each new home, he continued to train in Cuong Nhu and continued his work as an architect.  Finally settling in Aspen, Colorado, Rich started a new architectural practice and a new Cuong Nhu Dojo.  He built up the dojo and developed a strong student body leading several students to black belt and beyond.  In doing so, Rich also achieved the rank of Godan.  Running an architectural practice, a dojo, and achieving a senior rank in CN is a LOT of work.  It takes the kind of dedication and spirit that Rich carried with him throughout his life.

Several winters ago, Grandmaster Quynh and I were invited to Aspen Mountain Dojo to give tests and lead training.  We had a great time.  Rich and his students were so energized and welcoming.  We both felt the Aspen juice. GMQ was just learning to snowboard, so he was in heaven.  Of course, though he was a relative beginner, he insisted on boarding the black ice.  I’m not a skier so Rich encouraged me to try some simple cross country.  It was a gas.  Rich also showed me some of his current architectural projects, including a beautifully designed Workforce Housing development built for the year-round residents of Aspen that keep it running for the wealthy visitors....  typical Rich architecture, which meant it had a good design and sensitivity to community needs.  That night we went dancing at a techno club where the music didn’t start until midnight but didn’t stop until dawn.  It was the first time I tried some Red Bull.  We had a blast. I will always remember that time together with my dear friends, Rich and Quynh.  It is so hard to accept that they are now both no longer with us.

Rich was a kind and gentle spirit in a big body.  He possessed tremendous drive and energy and was extremely talented.  The last time I expected to see Rich was at IATC a few years ago just before Covid.  He couldn’t make it because the airport in Aspen was iced over. I missed him then, and I miss him now knowing that I will not see him, to share our love of Cuong Nhu, to share our architecture discussions and just to hear his very robust and special laugh come from his
smiling happy face.

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My First Sensei
Sensei Chris Court

Sensei Rich Seedorf passed away in October 2023 after battling cancer for the past year.  I was lucky enough to fly out to Colorado and see him a couple of days before he passed.

I know we all have a special place in our hearts for our first sensei.  Rich was mine.  In college, after realizing my wrestling career was probably over once I graduated, I noticed my architecture professor at Oklahoma State University had posted a flyer for the Cuong Nhu Oriental Martial Arts program.  I signed up and was hooked.  When Rich left OSU for Aspen, Colorado, he trusted me to run the dojo in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  I ran it until I graduated and then became a US Marine Corps officer.  Rich, having served in the Army during the Vietnam era, had a hard time understanding why I would go into the Marines versus becoming an architect, but he understood the warrior code and accepted my decision.  When I left the Marines six years later, Sensei Rich had an architecture job set up for me in Aspen, where I got to train with him for a couple more years. 

He loved Cuong Nhu...  and more importantly, he loved sharing it with all of us.  You could see in how he talked about things, that O'Sensei was a major influence on his life.  I'd never received a beat-down from an old man until I sparred with Rich.  As Robert First said, "He's the tallest person I ever had the pleasure of kicking in the head."  He walked the fine line between the philosophical and the practical.  He will be missed dearly.

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Richard's Obituary

Richard Everett Seedorf died peacefully in his home in Basalt, CO on Oct 19, 2023, shortly before his 81st birthday after a brief but heartbreaking battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife Anita and his two children, Gavin and Natasha, as well as his sisters Donna Seedorf-Harmuth, Ellen Patterson and Sally Polly.

Rich was a devoted husband and loving father as well as a talented architect, designer, teacher, and martial artist. He enjoyed riding his motorcycle (while wearing shorts and sneakers), appreciated a beautiful car, especially Porches and had elegant but uncomfortable furniture. He wore his grey hair long, wore almost exclusively black clothes and drank Coors Light. He used to play drums, he liked to dance to Techno, he was a fan of Pink Floyd, Queen and the Rolling Stones. Rich was always willing to try new technologies. He was an early adopter of Sketch Up for use in architecture, he purchased an Oculus and played in VR. He found joy in sketching. His drawings of beautiful old buildings fill countless sketchbooks. His eye for the essentials never wavered.  

Rich met his wife Anita in Vail at a bar called the New Gnu in 1968. He was on R and R from the Army Corps of Engineers during the Vietnam war and wearing his hair cropped short. It was love at first sight and the two soon married in England, Anitas homeland. For the wedding Rich only managed to grow out his beard and so he sported groovy mutton chops for the wedding photos. They came back to the states to settle but managed to travel extensively around Europe and even lived in Paris several times, once while Richard was working on the design for a car dealership and restaurant on the famous Champs Elysees. Anita and Rich were together until the very end, holding hands and exchanging kisses until several days before he died. They were married for 54 years.

Rich had another family he belonged to - Cuong Nhu Martial Arts. He started practicing in Atlanta at the age of 38 and received his Godan (fifth degree) at the age of 71. In between, he opened two schools and promoted many black belts in the style. He was a powerful fighter and creative instructor who was much loved and respected by his students and fellow instructors. He is greatly missed and mourned by those who called him Sensei.

There will be a celebration of life for Richard Seedorf sometime in the next six months but in the meantime, his children and wife would love to hear any stories about him from his friends. You can email them to:

In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to HomeCare and Hospice of the Valley…

Photos (from top):

1.  Sung Ming Shu Dojo black belts (1992)

2.  Gavin and Richard Seedorf

3.  Richard Seedorf

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Keep an eye out for important emails announcing events in 2024!

2024 Cuong Nhu Events

If you are organizing a seminar or regional test event no matter how big or small, please add it to the

Cuong Nhu Events page.

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Sensei Rachel Gowan Testing for Yondan at IATC 2023

Growing Together to Reach Higher
from Sensei Tanner Critz

My Cuong Nhu story today is about rediscovering after loss. I’ve always seen my journey through Cuong Nhu as a tree. I get stronger. I get better. I learn more. I give more. As this cycle builds, the tree grows. Training and learning are like rain and sun. My own improvements blended with my students and our combined building of this community saw the trunk thicken, the canopy of leaves grow full and rich, and fruit sprout from our branches. Each year, Grandmaster Quynh and Master Jessica would come and tend the tree. They would check on me, the teachers, the students. They would course correct for problems they saw in the distance, and infuse each part of the tree with the energy to reach higher instead of settling into place.

Godan Paper, May 2022, Gouitsu Dojo

Komokuten Dojo (Renton, WA) Medieval Combat Seminar Using Pool Noodles for Spear Tips

Kids Class (4 Person Push Ups), Sung Ming Shu Dojo, Atlanta, GA

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What's In A Dojo Name?

Master Elizabeth Roman suggested featuring how dojos chose their names.  In honor of this suggestion, Master Robert and Master Elizabeth tell their story first.

WolfPack and Shiwa Dojos

Masters Robert First & Elizabeth Roman started Wolfpack Dojo in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1997.  After 11 years, when the NC State policy changed so graduating students could no longer work out at NC State, we started to search for a site so those students could continue to train.  Thus, we started a second dojo in Raleigh, NC,  Shortly after finding a new dojo space and many of us spending many, many hours making it a workout space, we started the process to find a name for the dojo.  

One evening, Elizabeth attended a "Shiwa Peace Tour '' which was hosted by a group of Monks in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition who were traveling through the United States to raise funds to purchase an ambulance for one of the rural cities in India.  The experience was heartwarming and the idea of Shiwa as a dojo name became a possibility.  Elizabeth asked Robert his thoughts on the name and he thought it was perfect.  We presented the name of Shiwa Dojo first to Geshe Ghelek, a Raleigh resident who is a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition mentioned above, to make sure it was not disrespectful to use.  Geshe Ghelek said Dojo in Tibetan means Go!  So Shiwa Dojo means Peace - Go!  Geshe Ghelek was all for the name, and when we presented it to the students, they also liked it.  It was months later, after Shiwa Dojo was really active that we realized that Shiwa Dojo was located off of Peace Street in Raleigh, NC.   

Master Robert First and Master Elizabeth Roman

Rising Phoenix Dojo

A long time ago I read a story called “The Tallest Tree” by Gail Malone.  In it, was a story about how O’Sensei went from street fighter to the head of our Martial Art. The title was a homage to the Ngo family name. I started Cuong Nhu in the early 90’s stepping away in the early 2000’s. My passion for Cuong Nhu was reborn in 2015 with our Golden Jubilee.  In 2022 Rising Phoenix Dojo was Founded.

"A phoenix always roosts in the tallest tree". When I work out by myself outside, I bow to the tallest tree.   Rising Phoenix Dojo was named to honor the spirit of the Ngo family name and to recognize my journey and rebirth in Cuong Nhu. 

Sensei Howard Feldman

Unity (Gouitsu) Dojo in Little Rock, AR

Kim Hiep Si Dojo in Orlando, FL

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Growing in Community

from Sensei Seth Plockelman

I would like to think of my time with Cuong Nhu as a journey of relationships and friendship.  Without those bonds of friendship, my growth in the style would not be as strong. I have always found that a good strong community is needed for one's growth.  Friendship is needed for development, because without it, incoming criticism is taken as condemnation and disrespect. The closer you are with one's friends, the more they are able to challenge your short-comings and faults.  This is especially meaningful in an environment where you are learning to take instruction and criticism from an instructor from the very start. The hard part with any community is learning how to take in the good and keep out the bad.  To grow on your own terms without the agenda of others.  This takes you having a lot of confidence in those that seek to guide and instruct you.

The growth of my time in Cuong Nhu has had a lot more to do with self-understanding, self-respect, and the growth of a non-defeatist attitude than just the growth of my abilities in the martial arts.  In the end, it's what I value most about my training.  We grow old and our abilities decrease, but our wisdom and strength of character remains far past our bodies failing.  To me, day to day discipline is only achieved by having the right goal in mind.

Black Belt Paper, April 11, 2015Sung Ming Shu Dojo

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Dojo Feature:  40 Years of Northern Lights

Northern Lights Dojo, Marquette, Michigan
from Parnee Poet

Northern Lights Dojo (NL) celebrated their 40th anniversary with Grandmaster John Burns and Master Didi Goodman on October 20-21 with a regional seminar and test.  Four Midwest region schools were represented at this historical gathering:  Evergreen (Sheboygan, Wisconsin), Flowing Chi (Saginaw, Michigan), Tara (Appleton, Wisconsin) and of course, Northern Lights.

The Northern Lights lineage to O'Sensei began with Joe Contarino, a student of Master Lap.  Joe was given permission to start the school as a brown belt in 1983 while working on his medical residency in Marquette until 1985.  Joe started a tradition that continues to this day, of hugs at the end of each class, leading to Northern lights sometimes being referred to as the "hugging dojo."  Following Joe, heads of Northern Lights were:  Greg Berth (1985-1986), Trish Koshollek-Perrault (1986-1989), Terry Keller (1989-1992). Richard "Bud" Place (1992-2013), Tim DeMarte (2005-2019).  The current dojo Head since 2019 is Sensei Kevin Cardoni.

Senseis Kevin Cardoni, Tim DeMarte and Terry Keller teach the Northern Lights kids classes.  Senseis Kevin, Tim, Kory Miron, James VanEck, Greg O'Hagan, Stephanie Vollmer, Joanne Jones and Aaron McLeod teach the adult classes.

Excerpt from the  Northern Lights Women's Self Defense Manual

"In the early 1990's, public interest in women's self-defense was increasing, and the instructors at Northern Lights Cuong Nhu began to get requests for such a course.  Sensei Trish began to offer 2-hour seminars to various women's groups.  In the spring of 1992 a pilot project was developed.  It was a six-week course that met two hours a week, taught by Senseis Trish, Bud Place, and Mike Holman, with Mark Valenti as an assistant.  It was coordinated by Bud. The students were Cuong Nhu members and their friends.  The participants were invited to become part of an ongoing developmental committee, and the summer of 1992 was spent evaluating the pilot and extensively reworking the curriculum, methods, and structure.  Goals were written, the team-teaching concept was developed, and guiding principles were established which set the tone for the course. 

 The project was named 'Awareness' and was ready for presentation to the public.  The instructor team for 'Course WSD-2' consisted of Jennifer Boyer, Andrea Colasacco, Nicole Eiler, Mike Holman, Jody Hironaka-Juteau, Nicole Mattis, Kathy Rose, and Mark Valenti, with Nicole Fende and Bud Place as Co-coordinators, Bud Place as Program Director, and Gerard Wiater, consulting psychologist.  The program was operated as a branch school of NL, of which Terry Keller was Head Instructor."  Sensei Joanne Jones took over running the NL Women's Self Defense Classes from Sensei Bud in 2017 and continues to keep this important program going!

Sensei Bud started his own jujitsu style, Matsukaze Ryu, in 2008 and created a beautiful oar kata, Mizu-no-Odori (Dance of the Water), that he performed at IATC 2006 for his Godan test.

Sensei Shane Daniel Robertson influenced many people at Northern Lights too.  He and Sensei Nicole Fende opened Loving River Dojo in Manchester, Connecticut in the early 1990s.  They both taught in the NL Women's Self-Defense course too.  Sensei Nicole was one of the lead Self-Defense instructors for many years.  Sensei Shane died in Köln, Germany on November 4, 2018 at 46 years old.

Excerpt from the 40th Anniversary Northern Lights handout:

"...  Our hope is for these leaders to not be forgotten with time.  Many of our leaders were brown belts and new black belts.  If any of them did not accept the challenge to lead, we would not be here today.  We also hope this inspires you to see that a brown belt can start a dojo that lasts over 40 years!  A student from the kids class can become the head instructor.  New black belts can start their own dojo, and keep the style growing.  A student may go on to start a new martial art...  When the challenge to lead comes to you, we hope you take it on!"

Congratulations to Northern Lights for spreading Cuong Nhu to so many people for over forty years!

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Sensei Effie (Black Gi) and Sensei Elie (White Gi) Sparring at IATC 2023

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What Happens At Training Camp?
from Sensei Mark Lake

Is training camp a physical event or a social event?  Of course, the answer is "yes".

Sensei Phil Moo has created an outstanding video summary (below) of what you can expect to experience at the world famous Cuong Nhu International Annual Training Camp (IATC), affectionately known among our members as our "family reunion".  O'Sensei even created a philosophy about training camp:

Five Togethers of Training Camp:

Physically we train together

Socially we eat and live together

Intellectually we think together

Spiritually we learn, share and grow together

Enjoy togetherness and harmony

If you desire to take your training and your spirit to new levels, don't miss training camp! There are scholarships available to help with costs, so please talk with the Head of School at your dojo for more information.

IATC 2024 is scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend, May 23-26.

Click here for IATC Scholarship information.

Learning to Accept Myself
from Sensei George Lauster

Wanting acceptance as a child and young adult, I found ways to minimize myself despite my large size. I am kind and compassionate, I lean down a lot, I keep my demeanor toned down, and I am always the calmest in the room. But now, here in the dojo, was a safe place in which I learned sufficient control, and I found a community of people that wanted me to be big and powerful. They unlocked a part of me that was never allowed to develop. Here I could engage my entire body, my entire length and size, to an extent I never had before. Still, today, sparring is the joyful center of training: pushing me to my limits physically, mentally, and spiritually, with some of the best people I have ever met. 

Until Cuong Nhu and Unity dojo I had never considered myself big, now I do in all aspects of my life. This comfort in my larger self, and a sense of confidence in being myself, has affected all aspects of my life. As a father, I am still kind and calm, but I encourage my boys to grow beyond their fears of who they are, or are not. At work I have stepped forward to lead various projects and efforts. I knew how before, but now I am comfortable utilizing all my knowledge and experience, and standing in the arena.

Two Black Stripe Paper, August 11, 2020, Gouitsu Dojo

O'Sensei Ngo Dong

Grandmaster Quynh Ngo

The Deeper Meaning of the Cuong Nhu Patch
from O'Sensei Ngo Dong as told by Grandmaster Quynh Ngo

Why is the Cuong Nhu patch represented by red and black versus black and white like most yin yangs? Why is Cuong Nhu truly "the art of love"? 

The Cuong Nhu yin yang represents the heart of the human. The heart has two halves which allows the circulation to and from the heart to run in a circle. One part of the heart distributes blood out to the body so the blood circulating throughout the body contains the oxygen. When we exercise, the oxygen in our blood is depleted so it returns to the other side of the heart ready to replenish the blood’s oxygen supply.

As the oxygen in the blood is depleted, the blood becomes more black than red. When it is pumped back out from the heart to the body, it is pure red.

At any given time the blood has red and black coloring in it as there is always some oxygen in reserve in the blood - it never completely runs out. If this were not so, and the returning blood contained no oxygen, you would die.

The Cuong Nhu yin yang is a circle like the heart. The red and black represent the balance from within. The black represents the hard style - it is replenished by the soft style - the red. The red symbolizes the time spent nurturing and renewing from within.

The symbol represents more than exercise; it also represents the philosophies embodied in the mind and body. These are the first two phases. The mind and the body must be in tune to operate efficiently. The body pumps as is done with the physical aspect of exercise. Without the mind to peer inside yourself, represented by the red circle, the heart does not serve its purpose. The pure body pumps physically but is preserved through the mind. A clear mind allows the body to purify itself again so we are more than just kicking and punching. The mind is behind the body in all our actions.

The third phase is the spirit. The spirit is the balance of the mind and the body. This is represented by the red circle in the black and the black circle in the red of the yin yang.  Without spirit, the yin yang, the red and black, can separate. With the spirit - the red and black - the two haves of the yin yang are pulled together to maintain a full circle. The spirit brings continuity without separation.

The Cuong Nhu patch sits over the heart because we are more than physical. The patch over our hearts represents a deeper meaning - everything comes from within. When everything comes from within, we are guided by love.

Thus, Cuong Nhu is truly "the art of love".

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Master Jessica Promotes Sensei Elie Haddad to Nidan at IATC 2023

Black Belt and Dan Rank Promotions in 2023

Please visit the Cuong Nhu Promotions Page to see all of the recent Black Belt and Dan Rank promotions.

Congratulations to all!

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Dragon Nhus will return in 2024...

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