1)      HISTORY: The System of Shaolin Kungfu That Son Martial Arts (That Sơn Đạo Nhân) was established in 1870.

A)     BACKGROUND – Grandmaster Thất Sơn Đạo Nhân whose real name is Nguyễn Đa was born in 1852 in Phu Cat Village, Binh Khe district, Quy Nhon province (now under Binh Dinh province). Earning the bachelor of martial arts under 5th Thieu Tri period in 1845, he was not only a master of martial arts and patriot, but a bodhisattva as well.

B)      ESTABLISHMENT PROCESS – After the Nguyen dynasty signed the treaty allowing the French to colonize 6 western provinces of South Vietnam in 1862, Thất Sơn Đạo Nhân immediately joined the patriot forces against the newly established French colony in South Vietnam. While bows and steel were their primary weapons, the French military possessed powerful arms and the latest naval warships.  After years of conflict, led by such national heroes as Truong Cong Dinh, Thu Khoa Huan, and Nguyen Trung Truc, that ended in failure, Thất Sơn Đạo Nhân, along with other insurgent troops retreated and hid in That Son region (The Seven Mountains) in Chau Doc province to avoid capture by the French. Here, he consolidated the forces and instructed the troops in the art of fighting for the continuation of the struggle.

C)      Tran Van Thanh, a follower of Master Buddha of Tay An, was the leader of an uprising (namely Bay Thua, Lang Linh) to conquer the invaders in the border of Tri Ton district, An Giang province. During the uprising, he was promoted to Sergeant Major under the Thieu Tri period.

D)     Sergeant Major Tran Van Thanh, while recruiting troops to fight the French colony, was joined by Thất Sơn Đạo Nhân and his followers. Under Sergeant Major Tran Van Thanh, Thất Sơn Đạo Nhân was in charge of training the entire army.

In March 1873, after a 5-day battle armed only with swords and bows against a large-scale French army, with then modern-day weapons such as warships and guns, the rebel forces loss and Sergeant Major Tran Van Thanh was killed.

Thất Sơn Đạo Nhân then, once again, took the remaining troops into hiding in That Son region. There, they further refined their art of fighting and waited for the opportune time to march against the French.  When the time came, he led his troops to attack the French barracks, Ochna integerrima, but failed to achieve victory due to the opponent’s increasing violence.

One day, The French colony’s powerful army troop surrounded the whole region, home of the anti-French colony stronghold. Aware of the possible persecution, he advised all his soldiers to give up their arms and hide their weapons and become civilians. He then escaped to Ta Lon Mountain where he began practicing Buddhism and gradually achieved enlightenment…

(…when practicing Buddhism, he adopted an alias as Ngọc Thanh …)

At Ta Lon mountain, he also accepted many followers and at times would come back to That Son to visit his old followers. He often advised his followers to practice martial arts and Buddhism philosophy, and not to take any action without his command.

2)      Meaning of Ancient Shaolin Kungfu That Son Martial Arts – It is called Ancient Shaolin Kungfu That Son Martial Arts because Thất Sơn Đạo Nhân who was a Buddhist follower that learned the martial arts from a Shaolin Kung Fu master and was influenced from Buddhism philosophy.

A)     SHAOLIN KUNGFU – Shaolin Kung Fu Martial Arts was created by Bodhidharma who was the 28th Indian patriarch of Zen Buddhism. When he introduced Buddhism to China, he became the father of Chinese Zen Buddhism. During this time, he visited the Shaolin temple on Song Chan mountain range at around 427 A.D. Here, he would he teach both Buddhism and martial arts, a combination that became known as Shaolin Kung Fu, which would eventually pass to later generations.

B)      THẤT SƠN – Meaning the Seven Mountains and located in Chau Doc province, where Thất Sơn Đạo Nhân taught his disciples Shaolin Fung Fu martial arts. The grandeur of the sacred That Son mountain range was the perfect place to practice religion and achieve enlightenment by monks. Because it was full of obstacles which made accessibility difficult, they were protected from military invasion. The grand That Son is surrounded by rich and fertile plains expanding to the west of Vietnam, which was home to many of Vietnam’s national heroes. With great and repeated efforts by invading forces wanting to conquer its people, and claim the fertile land to expand their own borders, the simple and generous people here are very indomitable as well.

C)      MARTIAL ARTS (VÕ) – In general, martial arts are defined as methods and techniques of fighting when being attacked by the opponent.  Martial arts can be applied with inner or outer forces, depending on each individual’s practice. People practice martial arts for physical health and fitness, mind development, confidence, and to defend and protect their country.

D)     WAY (VÕ ĐẠO) – is the path…an honest path and also the starting point of every species in the universe where only equality and harmony exist. This kind of martial arts was introduced to China by Bodhi-dharma and then spread throughout South East Asia. Static against active and ethics against violence are the main principles.

E)      ANCIENT (CỖ TRUYỀN) – Ancient Shaolin Kungfu That Son Martial Arts is inherited from the Bodhidharma and its value and ethical principles which have been welcomed by successive generations are increasingly developed. It was precious fate that in 1879 Thất Sơn Đạo Nhân taught Buddhism philosophy combined with his martial art experience for the forces against the French colony and applied the practicing methods fit for each body condition, which originated Ancient Shaolin Kungfu That Son Martial Arts.

Generation of Successors:

Direct successor of Grandmaster Thất Sơn Đạo Nhân and also an anti-French colony soldier