Origins of Qwan Ki Do :

The origins of Qwan ki Do :

As a young child, in his homeland of Viêt Nam, young Pham Xuan Tong had the privilege of becoming a student to a Great Master of Martial Arts:

Dai Su * Châu Quan Ky

For almost 15 years, at the school called Vo Duong Hô Hac Trao, young Pham Xuan Tong deepened his knowledge and mastered several styles of Hakkas : Thiêu Lâm Nam Phai, Nga Mi Phai, and Châu Gia Duong Lang Phai (the Mantis style of the Châu family).


He also increased his knowledge of Vietnamese Martial Arts derived from very ancient Vietnamese methods including Vo Quang Binh, Vo Binh Dinh and Vo Bac Ninh (Quan Khi ..). Young PHAM XUAN TONG trained with his great uncle PHAM TRU who himself learned from his great grand-father Phan Van Miêng, who was very well known towards the end of the nineteenth century in the city of Dông Hoi (Quang Binh Province).

While living in Viêt Nam, young Pham Xuan Tong greatly benefited from the experience of several of the country's best experts and perfected his training.

Late Grand Master: Master Chau Quan Ky :

Master Châu Quan Ky was born in 1895 in the province of Quang Dông in China. His family was of Hakka ethnicity and renowned for its skills in stone cutting. Furthermore the family possessed and jealously guarded its own practice of martial arts and traditional medicine.

At a very young age, Master Châu Quan Ky's father passed away, and his mother, unable to raise him alone, entrusted her son to his uncle to ensure a proper education. Master Châu Quan Ky's uncle was a venerable Taoist priest who directed an important martial arts school…Very quickly young Master Châu Quan Ky demonstrated an undeniable talent for martial arts.  The level of technical skill he achieved was exceptional and astonished those around him.  He continued in this pursuit and enriched his uncle's work by adding the results of his own research…

        In 1936, he left China via Hong-Kong, to live in Trà Vinh in South VietNam, where a large Chinese community resided. He quickly acquired a reputation in that area due to his knowledge of martial arts and traditional medicine…His renown spread throughout South VietNam, best described in the following incident...In the course of a local celebration, two Chinese participants were demonstrating martial arts in a very unconvincing manner. In order to save face in front of the Vietnamese public, the organizer asked Master Châu Quan Ky to perform a more realistic martial arts demonstration.  Although hesitant at first, Master Châu Quan Ky did it and dazzled the audience. The two Chinese martial arts demonstrators doubted Master Châu Quan Ky’s real skills and challenged him, then were defeated.  Consequently, several of the Chinese asked to become his disciples.  For a long time, Master Châu Quan Ky would divulge his knowledge to Chinese students only.

In 1956 he went to work in Cho Lon, a suburb of the South Vietnamese capital as an herbalist and acupuncturist.

Subsequently, at the request of his countrymen, he moved to a Taoist Temple in Gia Dinh where he became the Master of Ceremonies for the Cult of Dead. 

During this period Master Châu Quan Ky met a very young Pham Xuan Tong who became one of the first disciples of this temple…

Eventually, Master Châu Quan Ky upon the advice of many Vietnamese Experts, including Grand Masters Lê Van Kiên, Lai Qui, Long Hô Hôi, agreed to become a naturalised Vietnamese citizen and be licensed to teach by the Martial Arts Federation (Tông Cuôc Quyên Thuât ViêtNam).  Subsequently, he opened his first official school in 1958 in Phu Nhuân, Vo Duong: Hô Hac Trao...

      Master Châu Quan Ky first started feeling unwell in 1967 while researching control of physical energy.  He drafted his will.  While he was visiting, Master Pham XuanTong’s own father found Master Châu Quan Ky unconscious.  He died a few hours later in the Cho Rây hospital due to a stroke

Master Pham Xuan Tong had already been chosen as his successor.  He was named in the will and inherited a portion of the books he had specially written with him in mind…

An overview of the Chinese martial arts style of " Hakkas " People :

The name Hakkas literally means "Traveling families".  These two words Hak and Ka are pronounced in Mandarin (official Chinese), K’ê Chia, Hakka, Hac Ka. They were transformed by the Vietnamese who say "He".

The Hakkas lived in China in the area which covers the provinces of FouKien , Kwan Si and KwangTung. The major cities are Mei Hien and Ki Aing (Mai Huyên and Gia Hung) in the province of KwangTung.  The Hakkas are known for their love of learning.  They are energetic, courageous, skillful and most of all very learned in martial arts (T' a Kung Fu).  They are able to deal with life's challenges and excel in getting ahead.

Under the Manchurian Dynasty of Tsing “Thanh Triêu 1644-1911” among the leaders of the “Tai-Ping Revolution”, were Hông and Yang both Hakkas (Hông Tu Toàn). There were excellent physicians among the Hakka people as well as great generals.

Today the Hakkas can be found mainly in the province of KwangTung (Quang Dông) in Hwai Chow, Ki Aing Chow and Chao Chow (Huê Châu, Gia Ung Châu, Triêu Châu)…

The Nga Mi Phai or Emeï P'ai :

The Nga Mi method was diffused widely in the entire Sichuan region during the Tsing Dynasty (Thanh Triêu 1644-1911). Different styles had multiplied and had attained their peak numbers  (about 300 according to the Manuscript of Professor Trinh Cân).  For example, the famous Taoist monk “P’ak Meï T’ao Jin  (Bach Mi Dao Nhân, the man with the white eyebrows) of Emeï Shan represented just one style. At that time the Sichuan region was also known for “Da Lôï Dài”  (freestyle ring combat) which challenged all styles to measure up to it, thus enriching the development of martial arts techniques in that region.


In addition to internal corporal techniques (Thuong Phap Nga Mi) and the famous hand techniques (Quyên Phap Nga Mi), one could also observe specialties such as “Nga Mi Hoa Long Quyên  (the form of the Fire Dragon of Nga Mi), “Nga Mi Kiêm Quyên”  (the Arm Locks of Nga Mi), “Hông Khâu” ,”Luc Truu” 
(six principles of elbow strikes), “Ngu Giac Quyên”, Pha Tu Quyên (technique of the lame man), “Thât Bô Huyên Công” (or Quyên Quan Ky in Qwan Ki Do), “Hâu Quyên”  and “Ap Hinh Quyên”  (the fight of the wild geese).


The hand techniques of Diêm, Bàn, Quan, Dê (direct, circular, descending, ascending) combined with quick movements can comprise a very powerful surprise attack (Nhât Thu, Liên Thu, Vi Thu). When defending, suppleness and evading "Tranh, Ne”, take precedence.  So too do blocking aggressive moves (Công, Tiêt), and the use of lures to fool a defense, including the famous method of “Diêm Huyêt ” (strikes to the vital points)… The wealth of these techniques is the result of many centuries of research by an entire region.

The Nam Quyên or Nan P'ai :

The Nam Quyên technique was developed in the 16th century, at the same time as the Nga Mi Phai.  This practice had spread all along the south shore of the Truong Giang River, in the provinces of Phuc Kiên, Quang Dông, Quang Tây, Giang Tây, Chiêt Giang, Hô Nam, Hô Bac, Tu Xuyên, Giang Tô. The Nam Quyên is very structured and rich in its techniques and exercises.  There are many different styles of Nam Quyên.

The Nam Quyên Quang Dông  (province of Kwan Tung), was made very famous by the castes of Hông Gia, Luu Gia, Sai Gia, Ly Gia,  Mac Gia, also called “ Ngu Dai Luu Phai”  (five famous castes). The Nam Quyên Quang Tây, is also called Châu Gia Quyên, Dô Long Quyên, Hông Môn Phuc Hô Quyên…The Nam Quyên Phuc Kiên (Nam Quyên Thiêu Lâm or Shao Lin Nan P’ai) with the legendary Ngu Hinh Quyên includes: Long (dragon), Xà (snake), Hô (tiger), Bao (panther), Hac (crane) as well as the Ngu Tô, the La Han, the Mai

Hoa Trang, Su Quyên (Thach Su), Dia Thuât Quyên (Dia Sat..), Kê Phap, Hâu Quyên, Ngu Mai Quyên is  also a region full of legends about the revolutions of the ShaoLin Temples.

We can also quote the Nam Quyên Hô Nam, with the Vu Gia Quyên, Hông Gia, Tiêt Gia, Nhac Gia.  These four formations are best known in this region, but also the Nam Quyên Hô Bac. The five most famous methods of " Hô Bac" are Không Môn, Nhac Môn, Hông Môn, Ngu Môn, Tôn Môn.  However, in the region of Tu Xuyên (Sechuan), the Nam Quyên Tu Xuyên is remarkable for its eight styles: Tang, Nhac, Triêu, Dô, Hông, Hoa, Tu,  Hôi. One most also note the Nam Quyên Giang Tây with the famous 36 Lô Tông Giang Quyên…, the Nam Quyên Chiêt Giang with the Hac Hô Quyên, the Kim Cuong Quyên…, and also the Nam Quyên Giang Tô whose technical variations reflect the differences in the cities of Tô Châu, Vô Tich, Thuong Hai, Thuong Châu…

The Duong Lang Quyên - T'ang Lang Ch'uan Or the praying mantis :

This is a practice which imitates the movements of the praying mantis insect. It first originated towards the end of the Ming Dynasty.  According to ancient descriptions of Chinese martial arts, this style was refined by a martial arts expert, Vuong Lang, from the village of Tuc Mac in Son Dông Province (Shan Tung), in northern China.  Vuong Lang having failed his university martial arts competition, researched exclusive techniques when observing a praying mantis hunting down crickets.  He thus discovered an excellent and incomparable fighting technique: the Duong Lang of the North or Bac Pahi Duong Lang.  We can find in this method, the "Nam Nhanh" (five fiery principles): Nhanh Tay (rapid upper limbs movements), Nhanh Chân (rapid lower limbs movements), Nhanh Buoc (rapid body movements), Nhanh Thân (rapid body), Chiêu Thuc Nhanh (quick technique applications). Or again the "Bay Dài " the "Tam Ngan"...

In the same period, the Duong Lang of the South or the Nam Phai Duong Lang was born in Quang Dông Province, by an expert, Châu A Nam.  Technical and training concepts of Nam Phai Duong Lang or Châu Gia Duong Lang are completely different from the Duong Lang of the North or Bac Phai Duong Lang.  The techniques of Châu Gia Duong Lang or Nam Phai Duong Lang are very short movements, delivered in very close proximity to the opponent, and just the Praying Mantis stances are similar…

An overview of Vietnamese Martial Arts throughout Viet Nam's history :

VO  is, in Vietnam, a common term, but it is also an authentic cultural and martial institution.
Vietnamese martial art, or VO, is the culmination of an entire people's efforts, a people, who, for 4,000 years, has never stopped struggling to survive.

During the Hong-Bang dynasty (2879-258 BC) the emperor of Van Lang (the ancient name for Vietnam) grouped together culture, medicine, philosophy and Vietnamese martial art, which were all closely linked, under the designation of VO (Vo Hoc, Vo Y, Vo Ly).

From 221 BC (Tan dynasty) to 939 AD (Ngu-Qui dynasty), for almost a millennium, Vietnam was colonized by China, following the Tan (Che Hoan Ti) invasion.

This difficult period gave rise to rebellion led by great masters of martial arts.  (The "Trung" sisters, Trieu Trinh Nuong, Ly Nam De, Trieu Quang Phuc)...

Emperor Ngo Quyen (939-965) a Son Tay partisan and victor of the greatest battle of the Vietnamese revolution Bach Dang Giang, freed his people from Chinese oppression.

At that time, training was done in a familial or school setting according to very strict rules. VO became less secretive due to political circumstances during three periods:

The first, under the dynasty of the Tien Ly (1009-1073).

The second, under the dynasty of the Tran (1225-1400).

The third, under the dynasty of the Quang Trung (1788-1792).


During these three periods, martial arts had the same status as literature in the national school system.  Doctorates in martial arts were created, and the Royal University for Martial Arts opened (Giang Vo Duong).

Unfortunately, under the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945), and during the French colonization (1883-1945), VO was deplorably neglected and faded away to such an extent that most young people ignored its existence.  In spite of this, training persevered.  This situation gave rise to different schools in order to preserve its secrecy, and also to divert the attention of colonial powers.  These schools took on the names of  regions:  Vo Bac Ninh,  Vo Quang Binh, and Vo Binh Dinh (Bac Ninh:  northern region, Quyang Binh:  central region, Bin Dinh:  south-central region).

(Also, Master Pham Xuan Tong was taught Vietnamese Martial Arts by his great uncle Pham Tru, expert in the ancient Vietnamese methods of Vo Quang Binh, Vo Binh Dinh and Vo Bac Ninh (Quang Khi), which were handed down to him by his uncle Phan Van Mieng, who was renowned at the end of the 19th century in the province of Dong Hoi).

During the beginning of the 20th century, although in the shadows, Vietnamese Martial Arts remained very active in the training of warriors.
After the independence of 1945, Martial Arts  reassembled in groups in the north, center and south of Vietnam.  However, due to certain events, training was very discreet.
Traditional schools, Vo Phai Bac Ha, materialized:  in the north, Vat Lieu Doi (traditional fighting), Nam Hong Son, Vo Vi Nam, Vo Nhat Nam and Vo Tong Hop; in the center, Binh Dinh schools:  Vo Tay Son, Vo An Thai, Vo An Vinh, Vo Nha Chua and Vo Thanh Long.

While in the south, Masters Chau Quan Ky, Han Bai and Lai Quy put into place the Association of Sino-Vietnamese Martial Arts, the Tinh Vo Hoi, Vo Phai Nam Bo Vietnamese schools regrouped:  Vo Tan Khanh, Vo That Son, Thieu Lam Hong Gia, Vo Lam Son, Con  Luan and Nam Tong.

At this time, and since 1975, Vietnamese martial arts are regrouped under the Federation of Vo Co Truyen (traditional Martial Arts)…

Vietnamese Martial Arts in Other Countries: Their Development in the Last Thirty Years :

At the beginning of the last century, many Vietnamese immigrated to France:  students, Vietnamese who were in the French colonial army, or simply people who, decided to go there for professional reasons.  Why France?
During the colonial period, Cochinchine (Saigon) was considered a colony by the French administration (1887) and Ton Kin (Ha Noi) was a protectorate.
This Franco-Vietnamese relationship affected equally the army, religion, commerce, the family, and all levels of  intellectual, cultural and educational matters.  For that reason, certain types of Vietnamese people left for France and remained there, whereas others returned to Vietnam after a few years of training.  Still other Vietnamese, for professional reasons, immigrated to other European countries, such as Germany, Switzerland, Italy or even to America.  Among these were practitioners and masters of Vietnamese martial arts.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Japan opened itself to the West, which allowed the development of Japanese disciplines such as  Jujitsu and Judo, both in Europe and in America.  Other martial arts were hardly mentioned.
In 1945, after the Second World War,  other disciplines such as Aikido, Karate or Taekwondo were officially introduced.

In the 1960's, the phenomenon of Bruce Lee “Ly Tieu Long” films promoted other martial arts disciplines, which up to that time were unknown by the public.  Such was the case for Kung Fu Wu Shu,  Penchat Silat and, of course, Vietnamese Martial Arts.  This was a very favorable period for Martial Arts and it was at that time that the Masters of Vietnamese Martial Arts who lived in Europe, and particularly in France, formed the first official group with the intention of  promoting their discipline throughout the western world.
The first historical Martial Arts conference was held  in December 1960, and took place at  at Mr. Bui Van Thinh's residence in Massy-Palaiseau, in the Paris region.  It was later held in Limoges.  A huge number of the representatives were asked to help create the first movement of Vietnamese Martial Arts in the western world (beginning in France).

The following Masters and their methods created a unified Federation:

The late Master Nguyen Dan Phu (Thanh-Long), Dean of the Masters
Master Phan Hoang (Nghia Long), President, immigrated to Canada
Master Pham Xuan Tong (Quan Ky), Federal Technical Director
The late Master Hoang Nam (Sa Long Cuong)
The late Master Nguyen Trung Hoa (Vo Da)
Master Tran Phuoc Philippe Tasteyre (Han Bai), retired
The late Mr. Bui Van Thinh (Thien Mon or Vietnamese Zen)

The following joined the group in 1972:

The late Master Tran Minh Long Emile Jeannerose (Minh Long)
Master Nguyen Tien (Nghia Long)
Master Tran Huu Ha, retired

From that time on, and following the deaths of some of the pioneers, the representatives, the remaining Masters, and their practitioners still struggle to preserve their methods.  National recognition, and the development of their art outside Vietnam and in many continents still focus their efforts.