Cuong Nhu Frequently Asked Questions

Cuong Nhu means “hard-soft” in Vietnamese. Cuong Nhu offers a wide variety of techniques which is the result of blending seven styles of martial arts, from the hardest to the softest. It is a unique and complete program in martial arts training, combining techniques from:

Shotokan Karate (Japan)
Vovinam (Vietnam)
Wing Chun Kung Fu (China)
Judo (Japan)
Aikido (Japan)
Tai Chi Chuan (China)

In 1965, the first school of Cuong Nhu was founded in the city of Hue, Vietnam by Master Ngo Dong. Cuong Nhu was more than just another style of martial art. It provided an ideological foundation for its students, young people who had grown up in a sadly disjointed and war-torn society, who were hard-pressed to meet their spiritual needs. Master Dong taught martial art techniques to help his students improve themselves, develop themselves physically, perfect their personalities, and use these attributes to achieve higher meanings in daily life and to serve society.
Cuong Nhu is excellent for self-defense. The wide variety of techniques in both areas, hard and soft, enable one to apply techniques accordingly when faced with various situations. For example, when confronted with several attackers coming from different directions, mobility is the best self-defense, and allows elimination of the attackers one by one. Self-confidence, self-control, modesty, and a non-defeatist attitude greatly enhance your ability to defend yourself.
There is no good answer to this question. It depends on many factors: the physical and mental ability of the student, the situations, the people involved, and more. However, this is certain: the more you learn Cuong Nhu, the better chance you have of being able to defend yourself.
No. A child as young as five can learn Cuong Nhu. A person as old as seventy can also learn Cuong Nhu under proper instruction. Realistic goals are set based on the needs and ability of each student.
There is no such thing as one best style. The effectiveness of a system depends on the ability of the student to learn and the ability of the teacher to teach. It is the person who makes the style, not the style that makes the person.

In Cuong Nhu, a wide range of techniques are offered to provide flexibility in training, so that even the physically and spiritually weak individual can develop their bodies and minds gradually and naturally. Cuong Nhu is also excellent for young people. The instruction is geared toward building the student’s moral character as well.

Most classes are open to everyone regardless of age, sex, or physical ability. There are members who are rated nationally in tournaments, as well as people with physical disabilities. Some members practice and teach Cuong Nhu eight to ten hours a week; while others, because of other priorities in their lives, can attend class only once a week. Anyone can become a good member in Cuong Nhu as long as they have the desire and determination to do so.
Only if your life or another person’s life is in danger. Cuong Nhu should be used to avoid conflict. Self-control should be used to avoid violence. Insult is not sufficient reason to resort to physical violence.
Mainly, there are two types of philosophy that we teach:
a. General philosophy: This deals with overall development — that is, honesty, high moral character, self-discipline, respect for others and self, humility, and patience.
b. Martial arts philosophy: How to judge a situation, when to fight, when not to fight, how to fight, where to hit, with what to hit, with what kind of weapons to defend, what to do against multiple assailants, and many other points of strategy.
A good instructor is someone who:
– loves to teach and help others
– is sincere, considerate, mature, confident
– has understanding and patience
– can motivate the students
– has a good attitude and good techniques
– cares and is protective of her or his students

Observing classes is a good way to judge whether or not a school will be a good learning environment for you. Watch how a class is conducted; see if the students and instructors treat each other with respect and care; observe the safety measures employed to keep the students safe in their training. Listen to your intuitive feelings about the group and the instructors, and try a few classes on a trial basis.

Color belts denote the level of ability and indicate the rank of the wearer. Our rank levels start with the beginner, who wears the white belt. There are one and two green stripe levels attained before the green belt, which is achieved after approximately one year’s training. Next are two levels of brown stripes, the brown belt, followed by two levels of black stripes, and the black belt.

Our Cuong Nhu levels each tell a story. Earning the ranks is as the life cycle of a tree. The white belt is the seed or gemma — the beginning. When the young tree breaks ground and develops its first tender branches and leaves, this represents the green stripes and green belt. As the tree matures and becomes firmly rooted, it develops strong bark and becomes stronger — this is represented by the brown stripes and brown belt. The black stripes are like the tree starting to flower and produce other seeds. Finally the seeds are sown and the cycle begins anew. This is why it is often said that at the black belt level you truly become a beginner.

Safety is of utmost importance in Cuong Nhu. Realistically, most people practice martial arts to protect themselves, so there is no reason one should get hurt while practicing. Instructors are always present to supervise all sparring. Safety is enhanced with the use of soft, padded gloves and feet protectors. Non-contact rules for below black belt rank are strictly enforced. Most Cuong Nhu instructors have completed CPR/First Aid training and have knowledge of traditional oriental revival techniques.
Meditation is done before and after each class and in special sessions. Meditation gives you knowledge about yourself, enlightens and deepens your thoughts, thus eliminating troubled thoughts from your mind. Meditation is a way of flowing toward spiritual growth. It is a search for perfection (beauty, truth, and goodness), a need for a meaningful existence (the art of appreciation) or an escape to find freedom in a permanent life. Meditation also helps cultivate the awareness of our internal strength, thus allowing the perfect coordination of mind, body, and spirit.
No. Even though members of our style participate in tournaments from time to time and do extremely well, we do not specialize in tournament preparation. Participation allows us to learn from and expose ourselves to other styles. Cuong Nhu is a strong style because of its multi-faceted aspects. However, the tournaments give us a testing ground on which to evaluate our techniques. Tournaments also provide opportunities to make friends and share in the martial arts experience. You cannot grow if you isolate yourself.

Tournament participation is completely voluntary. Learning to win over yourself, not others, is the ultimate goal. A win over others is only temporary. When you win over yourself, you become your own master and the rewards are permanent.

I’ve trained in martial arts for around 5 years, and after a couple injuries, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to return. I watched a class at Moon Dragon, and loved it! I’ve been training here for a little less than a year now.

Each class is a great workout and I learn something new every time! The curriculum is fit to the student’s needs, and the pace of a student’s training is dependent on how they learn. Nothing is forced.

The teachers are understanding, knowledgeable and patient. They listen to you and engage with the student very well. No one is left on their own to hobble along. There is no judgement in the dojo, and the energy is kind and caring. I’ve found a second family with the people in the dojo, and come to love them all very much. There is a high level of respect and discipline in the dojo, and although it is very orderly, it is also very fun. There is no competitive pressure, or pressure to be the best. I’ve found a haven in this dojo, and as well as being something that constantly enriches my life, it’s also saved my life many times.

I would recommend this dojo to anyone. It is accepting and I couldn’t ask for better teachers and classmates.

Elizabeth R.
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