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28/02/2022 - 07:56

Tiger Kung Fu by Phổ Lợi River

On the journey to follow Lord Nguyen for expanding the territory to the South, the descendant of Marquis Nguyen Huu Canh left a branch of Nguyen Huu by the Pho Loi River (Phu Vang District) and gave birth to Tiger Kung Fu handed down so far.

Master Doan Phu performing Tiger Kung Fu moves with the roar of Roaring Tiger kata

Kung fu on the journey to expand the territory

Along the banks of the Pho Loi River flowing parallel to National Highway 49 (Hue - Thuan An) are the peaceful rural villages such as Duong Mong (Phu Thuong Ward), Duong No (Phu Duong Commune),  in the past belonging to Phu Vang District, now merged into Hue City.

The birth of the river like a miracle of human hands is also a "marvelous chance" for this place to give birth to the unique martial art sect of the Vietnamese people, taking the quintessence of the tiger as a philosophy for training. Currently, the Ancestral Hall of the Tiger Kung Fu sect (White Tiger Kung Fu) is located in Trung Dong Hamlet (Phu Thuong Ward).

Nguyen Huu Can said that Master Doan Phu is the son of Mrs. Nguyen Huu Thi Truc, younger sister of the late Grand Master of the 19th generation of White Tiger Kung Fu sect. Tiger Kung Fu sect in Hue Ancient Capital was originally the traditional Kung Fu of Nguyen Huu lineage, a descendant branch of Marquis Nguyen Huu Canh (1650-1701); he was also the Founding Patriarch of Vietnamese Kung Fu sect - White Tiger Kung Fu.

According to the historical documents, Marquis Nguyen Huu Canh (born in the Year of Tiger (1650) in Chuong Tin Commune, Phong Loc District, now Van Ninh Commune, Quang Ninh District, Quang Binh Province) was the third son of Mr. Nguyen Huu Dat ( title Chieu Vu Marquis) descending from the military leadership lineage.

He achieved many feats and was ordained by Lord Nguyen Phuc Tan as (a post of high-ranking military mandarin) at age 20. Born in the Year of Tiger, he had a martial physique, dark skin, and excelled at kung fu, so he was honored by the contemporaries with the title "Black Tiger".

On the journey to expand the Southern territory, the family of General Nguyen Huu left a branch of Nguyen Huu family in Phu Vang land, Thua Thien Hue. Currently, the ancestral temple of Nguyen Huu branch lies in Mai Xuan Village, Duong No Village - Phu Duong Commune - Phu Vang District (now belonging to Hue city).

Master Doan Phu with his students in a training session

Marvelous chance for "tiger back to the village"

Đại Nam thực lục (Chronicle of Great Vietnam) (volume 154) recorded that in the year of Goat (1835), King Minh Mang issued an edict for Thua Thien Province to dig the Pho Loi River.

Till 1839, when the Pho Loi River was filled, the king ordered General Ta Quang Cu, the Commander of the Provincial Army, to take charge of dredging the Pho Loi River and to lead Anh Danh Army Official Training School.

According to the descendants of Nguyen Huu’s family in Phu Thuong, at that time, the great-grandfather of Nguyen Huu’s family was Nguyen Huu Hoa, a descendant of Nguyen Huu Canh, who was an army officer holding the post of Head of Palace Internal Affairs under the Military Headquarters of the Nguyen Dynasty.

Commander Ta Quang Cu appointed Head of Palace Internal Affairs Nguyen Huu Hoa to oversee the work of dredging Pho Loi River. Here, Mr. Nguyen Huu Hoa settled down and taught White Tiger Kung Fu to his descendants.

It was not until Nguyen Huu Khanh generation (Nguyen Huu Hoa’s grandson), the 18 Grand Master that this kung fu began to be taught outside. It was not until Nguyen Huu Khanh's son generation, Master Nguyen Huu Can that this martial art was widely promoted.

Unique Tiger Kung Fu

Together with his elder brother, the late Master Nguyen Huu Can, Mr. Nguyen Huu Khanh’s daughter, Mrs. Nguyen Huu Thi Truc, was also taught kung fu by her father. Having inherited kung fu from her father, Mrs. Nguyen Huu Thi Truc later taught kung fu to her son, Master Doan Phu, who is currently Grand Master of Vietnamese Kung Fu – Tiger Kung Fu, in Duong No Village.

“Vo Ho is a marvelous creativity of the Vietnamese people. It imitates the iconic movements of a tiger in survival combat, combines with the principles of yin and yang (flexibility-firmness), the five elements (mutuality, contradiction…) in order to form moves, kickboxing, build a kung fu philosophy with the identity of the sect. Yang of Tiger Kung Fu aims to strengthen tendon, skin, and muscle for kickboxing. Yin of Tiger Kung Fu considers training qi, internal force and vigor to be the foundation of health and kung fu," said Master Doan Phu.

On that foundation, the sets of kata is formed: Tiger kata (Firm kata) uses strength, augustness, fierceness (baring fangs, stretching claws) to threaten, overpower and defeat the opponent with a decisive move and a majestic roar (Tiger roar kata).

Tiger's tail kata (Flexible kata): using flexibility, undulation of tiger tail with soft but hard inside when growling, wagging its tail and jumping to capture the prey accurately as an image. Therefore, the moves of Tiger Tail kata are often dexterous. When the opponent is pulled to the right range, the force to push back is borrowed to defeat the opponent. The opponent’s power is borrowed to fight, lock, and defeat the opponent with Tiger kata.

In the Tiger kata of Vietnamese Kung Fu – Tiger Kung Fu: Tiger kata and Tiger Tail kata coordinate in a harmonious and dexterous way to achieve the effect of firmness-flexibility in performing kata in order to practice the body, hand, kick, and eye skillfully so that the internal force and vital force can develop through the great force and divine force of each respective kata.

Aside from Tiger kata, Tiger Tail kata, the unique feature of Tiger Kung Fu is Roaring Tiger kata: practicing the roar of the tiger to firstly circulate the lung air for expanding the lung, making the voice loud to show a martial artist’s augustness, frighten the opponent, exhaust his limbs, and then overpower the opponent and end the match.

Kata of Tiger Kung Fu includes 1.Tiger Cub kata, 2. Black Tiger claw kata, 3. Tiger Four kata, 4.Tiger Chain kata, 5. Royal Tiger kata, 6. White Tiger flower kata, 7. Five Tigers-Defending-Mountain kata, 8. Roaring Tiger kata. In addition, in terms of nourishing kung fu, there are White Tiger Flower kata and Crouching Tiger nourishing qigong.

Master Doan Phu is over 70, but his body remains sturdy, and his voice is full of internal force. Every afternoon, when the students came, he puts on his martial art uniform, goes to the yard and teaches kung fu to the students.

“The core of martial arts is to teach people to be healthy, to live confidently, and not to be afraid of evil and tyranny. Benevolence - righteousness - decorum - wisdom - faithfulness is seen as the motto of action. Therefore, no matter what they do, where they are, the people with kung fu can be calm, self-confident in life, use wisdom to avert danger, help life, help people, contribute to building and safeguarding the country,” said Master Doan Phu.

Story and photos: Bui Ngoc Long

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