Binh Thai Dao school of Kung Fu used to develop very well with its popular fame over a long period of time. Because of various reasons, it gradually declined right at its cradle, An Thai village in An Nhon district, Binh Dinh Province.
The two martial arts instructors Trong Ha (left) and Khac Tai (right) were demonstrating a stance in front of their disciples
Hopes of restoring Binh Thai Dao fighting style are revived in early 2010 as some dedicated people came back the town with strong determination to resurrect it.
The 3rd Grand Master Diep Le Bich from Binh Thai Dao martial arts school (Binh Dinh martial arts style-An Thai) has frequently arranged her time for home returning trips from her present settlement in Britain. She came back the homeland with aim to restore and develop the martial arts school created by her great grand masters.
She opened a class, offering the authentic martial arts of Binh Thai Dao style in Nghe An Province 7 years ago. Among over 200 followers at that time, 2 youths named Pham Trong Ha and Pham Khac Tai particularly adored it.
“Binh Dinh martial arts was so famous that many young people in our locality were eager to enroll in the class. The Grand Master Diep Le Bich herself had taught us for 4 months before returning Britain. We continued our practice with video tape guides. Occasionally, other masters of Binh Thai Dao school from Binh Dinh or other localities came to instruct us more…”, said Trong Ha.
After their 4-year-long period of persevering practice in Nghe An, Trong Ha and Khac Tai moved to Qui Nhon City in pursuit of more advanced techniques. They were taught by many masters for a whole year time. After acquiring a certificate of Vietnamese martial arts instructor, Trong Ha, 23, and his fellow-countryman - Khac Tai- took charge of teaching Binh Thai Dao in An Khe and Quy Nhon.
Last second lunar month, the Grand Master Diep Le Bich gathered her fellows and organized a ceremony of restoring Binh Thai Dao school at Ngu Bang Pagoda of An Thai village. She then assigned the task of opening and maintaining Binh Thai Dao training centre to the two devoted Nghe An-born disciples.
“Before her trip back Britain, the Grand Master Diep Le Bich had made her careful recommendations to us that we should try our best in the effort of training our followers. Obeying her teachings, we have stayed in Ngu Bang Pagoda to impart our knowledge and techniques of the martial arts that we have learned from our masters to the followers. The classes have been open 6 days a week,” said Khac Tai.
In the very first course of Binh Thai Dao, An Thai villagers and local residents from other neighbor villages responsively enrolled in the classes. Total number of enrollees reached 150, at the age of 5 to 30. The second course aiming to attract school age students to learn martial arts on summer vacation also had a large enrolment.
One full moon night of the fifth lunar month, we visited Ngu Bang Pagoda to find hundreds of the trainees engrossed in practicing the martial arts at the pagoda yard in the moonlight. Many villagers came to watch the practice with happy faces, commenting on stances.
“Binh Thai Dao is the most famous school of kung fu at An Thai. Thus, knowing that the training centre opened, I encouraged my grand children to participate the movement of the Binh Thai Dao style practice for the improvement of health and the preservation of the homeland’s martial arts essence,” said the old man Nguyen Co, 65.
Besides the 2 instructors Trong Ha and Khac Tai, other higher-rank fellows from Binh Thai Dao school have supported the training centre by offering teaching in person. “My Grand Master was Hai Xiem, a disciple of the Great Grand Master Tau Sau (Diep Truong Phat) who founded the Binh Thai Dao school. I and several fellows used to have disciples when we taught Binh Thai Dao style at An Thai before. But then, few of the disciples pursued the martial arts because of various difficulties. How happy I am to see the movement of Binh Thai Dao practice reviving now at larger scale. I, thus, arrange my time to teach them more although I am living far at another place…,” confided Nguyen Phi Binh.
Ngu Bang Pagoda’s yard is now a bustling place for Binh Thai Dao practitioners every evening. They have intensively trained in preparation to join the 3rd International Festival of Vietnamese Traditional Martial Arts at Quy Nhon City in early August. The movement restoring and developing Binh Thai Dao style is a great happiness for not only the famous school but also Binh Dinh Province, the Land of Martial Arts.