Thứ Sáu, 24 tháng 9, 2010

History of Nga Mi Son Phat Gia Quyen

By William H. J. Thomas
First appeared as a speech at the March 4th, 2000 Anniversary Dinner

The history of martial arts in Vietnam began with the first arrival of the Viet people in what we now know as the northern provinces of present-day Vietnam. In the several thousand years since that arrival a very special tradition of self-defense has developed which today is an integral part of Vietnamese culture and a direct result of the character and characteristics of the Viet people.

Early in its development Vietnam found itself placed next to two giant empires: the cultures of India and China. From the first of these Vietnam took its important religion of Buddhism; from China Vietnam took science and medicine, Confucian ethics, the techniques of landscape painting and calligraphy, and certain methods from Chinese martial arts.

But from well before Vietnam's recorded history, the Viet people had, through necessity, created methods of hand-to-hand combat which were based on several realities: The small, lean, compact, and naturally strong bodies of the Vietnamese; The difficult terrain of much of the country (allowing for methods of unexpected attacks and rapid retreats); and the natural weapons at hand, chiefly strong agricultural tools which could be fashioned into short bladed weapons or long weapons such as staffs, spears, or long blades like the Kuan Dao or the long handled broadsword.

The Vietnamese found themselves pressed from their earliest days by their war-like northern neighbor of China. As early as 111 B.C., during China's newly established Han dynasty, an invading Chinese army crossed into Vietnam to make it a part of the Han Chinese Empire. Over the next 2 thousand years, China would wage approximately 20 full-scale wars against Vietnam.

If nothing else these invasions gave the Vietnamese ample opportunity to observe some of the finest martial arts skills then available. And this allowed them to remake those methods of body training and bare-hand and weapons self-defense with which they had been working for many centuries.

How do Vietnamese martial arts differ from those of other East Asian and Southeast Asian nations? Northern Chinese are generally tall and big boned and their styles tend to involve long range fighting techniques, with a great reliance on kicks. The Chinese from the southern coast area are generally smaller and more compact in build and have developed styles for close-in fighting, relying heavily on fast hand methods and body punching, while remaining well-grounded.

The Vietnamese have developed techniques which involve both long-range and close-in fighting, but these Viet methods also appear to be more angular and given to side-to-side attacks then the Chinese or Thai boxing. Always shifting positions the Vietnamese may attack high or low, whenever and opening appears, or may drop to the ground to punch or kick with an extreme down-to-up technique. Also key to Vietnam's martial styles is the practice of going from low, well-grounded stances to entire series of high kicks, spin kick, side, round-house, and axe kicks which depend on the fighters ability to be very strong but possessing a light bone structure. This springing leg method is one of the most striking and practical aspects of our own style we call Buddha Martial Arts (Nga Mi Son Phat Gia Quyen).

This tradition, which we here together represent, is known to very few today, even in its native Vietnam. This may appear strange but up to the present this quite comprehensive self-defense school has developed, been taught and practiced largely in secret, and then chiefly in the difficult mountain region on Vietnam's southern border with Cambodia.

Nga Mi Son Phat Gia Quyen is believed to have started in Vietnam a little over 300 years ago. Our tradition says it was started by a Buddhist monk named Nga Mi Son who was the first teacher to join together this system of self-defense with meditation methods we call Spirit Training. We believe only a limited number of Buddhist monks were allowed to learn these deadly techniques from generation to generation. So secret were the practices that little is known of the actual history of our sect until the early 20th century with the life of the venerable Master Bao Truong. This is the man we call the Grandmaster. He was the teacher of our present teacher Master My Le. The Grandmaster became a Buddhist monk as a child, was said to have attained enlightenment at age 14, and then traveled throughout the Buddhist world (Particularly in India and Nepal), before settling for some years among the Montongard tribes of Vietnam. It was with the Montongards that he perfected his unusual knowledge of herbal medicine.

The Grandmaster took Master My Le as a student when the ladder was five, and then, some seven years later, the two went to Seven Spirit Mountain on the Cambodian border to begin intensive training. In 1984 when Master My Le returned to his home he began taking his first students. Approximately ten years ago the history of Nga Mi Son Phat Gia Quyen really changed. The Grandmaster was concerned that the Sect would become extinct because of the Hanoi government's desire to suppress spiritual and martial groups. He asked Master My Le to bring the sect's practice to the United States.

Master My Le, settling here in Maryland, first found a small number of students to train in private in the basement of his house. Then three years ago a first school was opened in Rockville at its present location. The rest of the history you all know. It is the story of how Master My Le and his principal instructors Khai So and Ken Pham have built a thriving school and temple to serve a community of Buddha Martial Arts practitioners made up of people from many nations and ethnic backgrounds.


I. Who were the Founders of Spirit Mountain Martial Arts ?

Spirit mountain Martial Arts had its' earliest existence among the religious who knew martial arts within the ancestral worship in Vietnam. These religious were the sons and the daughters of an ancient historical myth which said that the descendants of the Vietnamese had come from the dragon and of a lovely fairy . The Vietnamese people saw this ancestral dragon as a masculine and earthly human, while the beautiful fairy as a feminine and spiritual being. The marriage of the dragon and the fairy had produced one hundred offspring which possessed the best qualities from both parents. The early religious martial artists looks at their mythological ancestry of Vietnam. They saw a wholeness in the Vietnamese people as of having two worlds tightly joined together. These two worlds mingled together to symbolize the yin and the yang. For the yin and yang gave the deep meaning to the religious in the completeness of the circle. The yin and yang circle embodied the earthly world and the spiritual world which collide and infuse unceasingly within each other. This union of the two worlds had led many Vietnamese men to become religious, who the carried the tradition of Vietnamese martial arts and religion from one generation to the next. Around the first and second century, Vietnam was engulfed with the philosophy from Buddhist monks from India. From these men, some religious Vietnamese in ancestral worship took on new Buddhist characteristics in the healing art of the health which is governed by equilibrium of the five elements composing the body: medal, wood, water, fire, and earth. Buddhist doctrine had greatly augmented and influenced the traditional Vietnamese martial arts. Soon, various religious Vietnamese Thiền Sư began to counsel and teach their disciples meditation and spiritual understanding to attain the universal energy of life giving. The lifestyle which requested upon a disciple was one of constant letting go to pursue a religious life. A disciple had to renounce all worldly life, including family and possessions . This was the first step in the rigorous training of mind, body, and spirit in the earliest tradition of Spirit Mountain Martial Arts.

II. Where did the historical training of Spirit Mountain Martial Arts take place ?

The training ground took place deep within the forests and jungles of what is now called \"Th?t S?n\" mountain ranges. It was a place of solitude, where ferocious animals roamed about and the constant changing weather could be lethal to anyone in this environment. To aid the disciples in this place, they were taught with the external and internal art of surviving to resist attack and to protect oneself. They also had to master chi qong against ailments. Overall, all early disciples had to master martial arts, as well as meditation, to live in the treacherous mountains of \"Th?t S?n\".

III. Who had learned along this lineage tradition of Spirit Mountain Martial Arts ?

Many disciples had climbed to the mountain of \"Th?t S?n\" to learn the tradition of Spirit Mountain Martial Arts, but only a few were able to persevere and endure with the rigorous, strenuous, and dangerous training. For the training took days, months, and even years before a disciples becomes a Zen master within the sect of Buddha Martial Arts. When the disciples reach this stage, they have learned from the religious masters the ancient principle and disciplines of external and internal art of living. These Zen masters soon had disciples from Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, India, China, Japan, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Spirit Mountain Martial Arts then spread to many different ethnic people who wanted to pursue a religious life in ancient principles and disciplines. The ancient traditions were kept alive for years and generation through direct discipleship from one master to one or a few disciples. Spirit Mountain Martial Arts is an ancient living Vietnamese tradition that has been kept and observed today. After many generations had passed, it has gathered many things from different Asian countries. It has gained many internal and external forms which are offered today. It has many secrets which still needs disciples to reveal to.

IV. Who has been keeping the tradition of Spirit Mountain Martial Arts alive recently in Vietnam ?

Zen Master Nguy?n Thanh T?ad followed the living of Spirit Mountain Martial Arts since his early childhood. He traveled extensively to Nepal and India, and had lived for more than ten years among many indigenous groups of people who had tradition of Spirit Mountain Martial Arts. He had attained many secrets, resulting in becoming the fourth successor of Nga Mi Sơn Phật Gia Quyền (Spirit Mountain Martial Arts) in Vietnam. This was strongly indicated by his given religious name, Bảo Tr߾ng. Bảo in Vietnamese, means to protect or to take care with great concern and responsibility and Tr߾ng means a rod or a weapon. In protecting the Vietnamese martial art traditions, Zen Master Nguy?n Thanh T?ad witnessed several aspects about Spirit Mountain Martial Arts. Its martial art forms, techniques, and disciplines had many similarities with many southeastern countries' martial arts, but Spirit Mountain Martial Arts contains better techniques in uniting mind, body, and spirit. Additionally, Zen Master Nguy?n Thanh T?lso saw a jeopardy within Spirit Mountain Martial Arts. Since its' beginning, the sect had always taught directly and secretly only traditions to family members, relatives, and to those who, genuinely, want to learn. Slowly after months and years, many secrets of Buddha Martial Arts tradition would be buried along with the demise of the masters. The danger of losing the ancient principles and disciplines was of great concern for Zen Master Nguy?n Thanh T?Naturally, he wanted to save the traditions of Nga Mi Sơn Phật Gia Quyền. He tried to protect the essence of the sect by keeping it alive in the body, mind, and heart of his disciples. His disciples were then anyone who desires to learn authentically martial arts. They would no longer have to be a people who had to renounce a worldly life to a life of solitude training. This opening door to rich foundation of the Founders of Nga Mi Sơn Phật Gia Quyền had been an invitation for everyone since Zen Master Nguy?n Thanh T?

V. Who is passing on the tradition of Spirit Mountain Martial Arts today ?

The disciples and the successor, which Zen Master Nguy?n Thanh T?ad chosen, are carrying on the Vietnamese martial art tradition today. Many of the disciples are passing on the tradition in Vietnam, but Spirit Mountain Martial Arts' next successor has arrived in the United States today. His name is Master My Le with a given religious name as Bảo Thành. Bảo means again to protect or to take care with great concern and responsibility and Thành means success. For Master My Le is carrying the visions and dreams of the founders by teaching to anyone who authentically desires to learn Spirit Mountain Martial Arts. He can only succeed by uniting others alongside with him. Where there is division, there is weakness. Where their is unity, there is strength. He hopes to see people and loves to talk to them about Spirit Mountain Martial Arts; for he is looking for students to reveal the secrets of Spirit Mountain Martial Arts to.


Spirit Mountain Martial Arts is a traditional Vietnamese martial art. The name of this secretive sect in Vietnam is called Nga Mi Son Phat Gia Quyen. Throughout the history of Nga Mi Son Phat Gia Quyen, it has always rooted itself alongside with religion.
Sinh and Kia
This name has only been used within the last three hundred years in Vietnam, but its' existence dates back to the earliest history of the people Viet Nam. The sect is influenced by Buddhist philosophy from Indian monks who crossed over to Vietnam with their religion and their martial arts disciplines.

This traditional Vietnamese fighting art arrived in the United states to proliferate its' highly specialized methods of kung-fu to anyone who genuinely wants to learn. In this country, it has adapted itself with the name of Spirit Mountain Martial Arts, under Master My Le as the continuing successor of Nga Mi Sơn Phat Gia Quyen.