Tourists who visit Quang Trung Museum will see martial arts master Ho Si preparing performances at the museum in every morning.
Master Ho Si instructs his disciples to practise martial arts in the courtyard in front of the museum.
He is one of young masters who are very successful in Binh Dinh as he could earn his living with martial arts.
Living with martial arts
When the museum required a performance showing the quintessence of Tay Son martial arts in 1999, Master Ho Si has started his work at the museum since then.
In such a performance, he often shows his martial arts techniques with a rod and fights against two other fighters. He is also a performer with a musical instrument.
After finishing his tasks in the morning, Si plays a role as a teacher in the afternoon. In the courtyard in front of the museum, he instructs new students to practice Binh Dinh’s traditional martial arts.
“In the old days my father taught us all 10 new techniques in one day and we then had to practice again and again,” Si said. “But present-day children require something new every day; thus, I have to teach them a new technique each day, helping them get interested in practicing martial arts”
This is one of changes his family has to follow as the new life requires new ways in propagating the traditional martial arts.
He often comes home in Hoa My hamlet, Binh Thuan commune, which is 12 km far from the museum, on Tuesday each week and practices martial arts with his family members. His family members have practiced traditional martial arts in the past five generations.
Five-generation stories of a martial arts club
Tuesday is a rare chance for master Ho Si and his father, brothers, and nephew to practise martial arts together. Practising martial arts at home is one of daily routines formed when grand master Ho Sung’s sons were still children.
Master Ho Sung’s family, the next generation of Master Ho Nganh, made the rod become a “brand name” of Thuan Truyen martial arts village in the old days. Martial arts talents were surprised at the power of the rod performed by the Ho’s martial arts practitioners and Master Ho Nganh’s creativeness in using rod.
Unlike other masters and martial arts clubs, grand master Ho Sung and his family members have a quiet life, separating from martial arts-related activities outside.
Ho Sung and his wife live in a house surrounded by three big courtyards where there are all essential facilities for practising martial arts. Scores of martial arts practitioners have performed in these courtyards over years.
In the old days, where there was no power, the courtyards were still full of martial arts practitioners. They often lighted four oil lamps and started practising martial arts on every night in the summer. When there was full moon, they could practise without any oil lamps.
At present, as usual, Ho Sung still allows people to practise martial arts from 7 pm to 10 pm. “If the power is cut now, no one is able to practise martial arts as it is pitch dark,” he said.
Seeing young people practising martial arts, Sung often recalls his youth. At that time, young people had to cut trees on the mountains and evaded the military service in the daytime but they industriously practised martial arts at nighttime.
His village was devastated by the wars; however, they still tried to practise martial arts. He himself had to evade the military service at that time by going everywhere. He opened many martial arts club to earn his living when moving to a new place, from Quy Nhon to Gia Lai and Kon Tum.
When the summer comes, hundreds of martial arts practitioners gather at his house to learn martial arts. “It’s easy to learn martial arts today,” he said. “When the country was just liberated, those who wanted to learn martial arts must be 15. They had to practiced very hard.”
Ho Sung’s martial arts club is now a branch of the province’s martial arts gifted school. The school’s representatives will come to his club to see young martial arts practitioners once every three months. Those who have natural aptitude for martial arts will be advised to continue their martial arts practice at school after they have permission from their family.
The grand master Ho Sung is very proud of his grandson called Ho Duc Hanh. He is just 13 but has practised martial arts as he was a child. After his father passed away, he has followed Ho Si to learn martial arts and won many prizes at martial arts competitions of provincial magnitude. He often performs martial arts at the museum in the summer.
Ho Sung also has two other grandchildren, Ho Thao and Ho Thu, who also show natural aptitude for traditional martial arts.