History Styles Philosophy Ranks/tree

Seven Styles of Influence

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 of 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.

Shotokan Karate
From Shotokan, Cuong Nhu borrows the principles of rooting deeply in stance, forceful striking, blocking, and breaking, as well as many kata.

Shotokan is identified with Japan, but its origins are in Okinawa. The development of Okinawan martial arts was strongly influenced by Chinese fighting techniques, and developed into the local art known as Okinawa-te. Chinese missionaries and merchants brought more martial arts techniques to Okinawa, and many Okinawan masters traveled to China to further their training. By the 17th century, Okinawa was under Japanese domination, and national policy forbade the possession of weapons. In this hostile environment, Okinawa-te evolved into karate (kara: Chinese, te: hand) and became tremendously important as a means of self-defense. In 1922, Master Ginchin Funakoshi, then president of the Okinawan Martial Arts Promotion Society, gave impressive demonstrations in Japan. He attracted a large number of students and remained there to teach. Many Okinawan masters followed Master Funakoshi and established their schools throughout Japan. Funakoshi, like many martial arts masters, was multi-talented. The name of his style, shotokan (sho: writing, do: the way, kan: house or hall), came from Funakoshi's pen name, "Shoto," and was a tribute to his mastery of calligraphy. It was Funakoshi, in fact, who change the writing of the term karate to mean the art of the empty hand (kara: empty, te: hand).

From Judo, Cuong Nhu borrows the principles of relaxation in conflict, uprooting an opponent, as well as traditional practice of many of the throws and takedowns.

Grappling, wrestling and throwing techniques were parts of traditional Japanese combat training and have survived in many forms into modern times. All are generally characterized by simple, decisive movements. For example, jujitsu (ju: soft, yielding, jitsu: techniques), formalized by Hisamori Takenouchi in 1532, advocates close combat techniques of striking to vital target areas, throwing, joint locking and choking. In 1882, Master Jigoro Kano, an expert in jujitsu, created a new martial art by eliminating jujitsu's lethal elements and adding rules and regulations. He called his new art kodokan judo (ju: soft, do: the Way), calling it the Gentle Way. Judo involves anticipating an opponents attack, unbalancing and throwing the opponent using minimum effort, or using locks and immobilizations. A judoka trains in free form attack, free falling and discovering the opponent's weaknesses and responding to his movements.

From Aikido, Cuong Nhu borrows the principals of fluid motion when dealing with the hard ground or a forceful attacker, as well as many of the wrist and arm locks and submissions.

Aikido is another style that evolved from jujitsu. Aikido (ai: combine, ki: internal strength, do: the Way) is a defensive art involving joint manipulations, throws and some elements of kendo. It advocates the coordination of mind and body, harmonizing the use of the attacker's weight and strength to the defender's advantage. In 1938, the first aikido school was established under Master Morihei Ueshiba, the founder. A soft-style martial art, aikido is a very spiritual practice, the essence of which is love and compassion for the well-being of the attacker.

From Vovinam, Cuong Nhu borrows most of its animal and weapon forms as well as much of its code of ethics and core philosophy.

Vietnamese martial arts began their evolution during the wars against invaders from surrounding countries, and due to the small stature of the Vietnamese people, took the soft style approach to self-defense. In 1253, the first National Martial Arts School was opened at the Imperial Court, offering degrees (up to PhD) in the martial arts. This school taught empty hand combat, uses of 18 different weapons, martial arts tactics, weather forecasting, and war strategies. Years later, the first martial arts tournament was held and Tran Quoc Toan became national champion. Fifteenth place went to a princess named Thuy Tien. Tran Quoc Toan was a national hero for his activities as a youth for helping to defeat invading Mongolian troops. At the age of 16 he had already taken command of an army of teenage volunteer soldiers. The people of the Binh Dinh province, located in central Vietnam, are famous for their expertise in the Vietnamese martial arts. Two martial arts experts from this area were Quang Trung, one of Vietnam's kings, and his female general Bui Thi Xuan. Xuan, renowned for her courage and leadership, was the chief instructor of a martial arts school and proved her expertise by defeating a tiger to save the life of a man she later married. In 1946, Grand Master Nguyen Loc systematized the different styles of the Vietnamese martial arts and named the resulting art vovinam (vo: martial arts, vinam: Vietnam). His successor, Le Van Sang, later changed the name to viet vo dao (viet: Vietnam, vo: martial arts, dao: the Way).

Wing Chun
From Wing Chun, Cuong Nhu borrows the principle of centerline control, as well as many of our hand drills and sparring tools.

Yim Wing Chun, whose name translates "forever springtime," was a woman who studied kung fu under the Buddhist nun Ng Mui. The style she taught dealt with close combat and economy of movement. According to legend, Yim witnessed a fight between a crane and a snake and incorporated both animals’ skills with the training she received from Mui to develop Wing Chun. The style is quick, compact, and economical. Stances are short and punches are thrown in quick succession as low kicks target the groin, thighs and knees.

T’ai Chi Ch’uan
From T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Cuong Nhu borrows the principles of balanced movement and fluid redirection, as well as many balance and partner drills.

There are many stories about the founding of Tai Chi Cuan and the century in which it occurred.  The official Chinese version of the story goes that in the 14th century during the Yéan dynasty, Master Chang San-feng, a Taoist priest, studied tao yin, an early Chinese breathing art and the forerunner of tai chi. Considered the founder of T’ai Chi Ch’uan (the ultimate fist), he introduced and systematized this internal form of martial arts. It focused on training of the bones and muscles, overcoming an opponent at the moment of attack and controlling breathing and movement from the slowest to the fastest.

From Boxing, Cuong Nhu borrows the principles of light, quick feet and compact defense, as well as many hand and movement drills.

Evidence of fist fighting has been discovered in carvings believed to be about 7,000 years old. All around the world, variations of this sport have found their way into the mainstream or subculture of almost every society. Boxing as we know it from modern competitions like the Olympics was of great interest to Cuong Nhu’s founder, O’Sensei Dong, in part because he and his brothers had boxed for fun since childhood. He incorporated it into Cuong Nhu to contrast the set patterns and formulas of most oriental martial arts since it moves along organic lines.

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