Sensei Dang Thong
AREA OF EXPERTISE :
Aikido : 6th Dan
Judo : 5th Dan
Taekwondo : 6th Dan
Han Bai Duong Vietnamese Shaolin Kung-fu : 8th Dan
THE EARLY YEARS.
Sensei Dang Thong Phong was born in 1935. His career in Martial
Arts started in 1950, when he entered the
Han Bai Academy of Martial Arts, Saigon, Vietnam, to begin training in Han Bai Duong Vietnamese Shaolin Kung-fu and Judo.
He continued his training in Judo and in
Aikido in 1958 at the Vietnam Aikido & Judo Association, Saigon, Vietnam. In 1963 he started training in Taekwondo at the Thu-Duc Military Academy of Martial Arts and Physical Education,
ACCOMPLISHMENTS DURING THE WAR.
In 1967 Lieutenant General Choi Hong Hee, the President of
International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) invited Sensei Phong to come to Seoul, the capital of South Korea, to visit local Martial Arts schools and study about the way his Federation was organized. Also in 1967, Sensei Phong traveled to Aikikai World Headquarter, Tokyo, Japan for advanced training and obtained his 3rd degree in Aikido.
Upon returning to Vietnam, he was promoted by the government of the Rebuplic of
Vietnam (South Vietnam) to the post of Technical Director of the Thu-Duc Military Academy of Martial Arts and Physical Education.
In 1968, upon receiving Credentials
from O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba that authorized Sensei Phong to organize and expand Aikido training in the entire land of Vietnam in the spirit of Love and Peace, Sensei Phong founded the Aikido Tenshinkai Federation, of which he retained the position of President until today.
The name Tenshinkai was given to the Vietnamese Branch of Aikido in
Vietnam in this event by O ' Sensei Morihei Ueshiba. Ten means Heaven, Shin means Heart, and Kai means Organization.
Putting them together gives Tenshinkai the meaning of
the Organization of
In 1969, Sensei Phong led the first team of Vietnamese Taekwondo athletes ever to compete in the Southeast
Asian Friendship Games in Hong Kong.
Subsequently he was promoted to the rank of Technical
Director of the Republic of Vietnam's Military Martial Arts Federation.
In 1970, Sensei Phong started a program to
teach Aikido at various Military Academies and in several fighting units of the Rebuplic of Vietnam's Arm Forces. He also introduced Aikido to four Model High Schools in Saigon, Vietnam in the year of 1972.
From 1971 to 1973 he held the post of Secretary General for both Vietnam Judo Federation and
Vietnam Taekwondo Federation.
THERE IS A WILL, THERE IS A WAY.
In April 1975, South Vietnam fell to the hands of
Communists. Being an Officer of the Rebuplic of Vietnam's Armed Forces, he was taken prisoner and sent to successive Re-education camps, a name for Communist prisons.
After three years in the camps, he twice escaped and while seeking for ways to leave the country, he was re-arrested both times. He spent a total of seven and a half years in Communist prisons.
After his release from prisons, Sensei
Phong attempted to escape from Vietnam for many times but achieved nothing but failures. In one attempt, when he tried to leave the country by boat, he was caught and spent the next eight months in jailed. In another attempt, he tried to leave Vietnam by crossing Cambodia to reach Thailand, but was captured by Communist soldiers in Cambodia. He endured vicious beatings, and only
was released later because he pretended he was a businessman on travel.
He was sent back to Vietnam and spent nearly three years in prison. In 1985,
after seventeen failed attempts, he successfully and finally escaped out of Vietnam on his eighteenth try. Sensei Phong set foot on American soil on February 26, 1986.
ON THE MISSION OF LOVE AND PEACE
In America, never forget the mission that O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba entrusted upon him, Sensei Phong worked hard to re-establish the present of Tenshinkai Aikido Federation. In 1988, he founded Westminster Aikikai, Tenshinkai Headquarters, which is located at 8536 Westminster Boulevard, City of Westminster, Orange County, California.
On the 24th of October 1991, Aikido Foundation, Aikido World Headquarter at Tokyo,
Japan, formally recognized International Tenshinkai Aikido Federation as a Federation with sanctioned activities in the United States.
In the same year, Sensei Dang Thong Phong was invited to attend the 60th Anniversary
of the founding of Aikido in Tokyo, Japan.
Besides his teaching at Westminster
Aikikai, Sensei Phong also hold many seminars at the Dojo and various locations which included Oakland, CA, Texas, Florida, France, Holland and Vietnam. In 1994, he taught at several
International Seminars in France and in Holland for three weeks.
Also in the same year, Sensei Phong was honored at by the PRIDE OF THE
VIETNAMESE Organization as being among those who, for nearly a half century, have dedicated their talents and hard work to he betterment of society, thus bringing glory to the country of Vietnam and its people.
On February 9, 1997, during the Ceremony to celebrate
the 29th Anniversary of Tenshinkai Aikido Federation at the Westminster Aikikai Dojo, California, Shihan ( Aikido Professor ) Masatake Fujita, General Secretary of the Aikido Foundation, Aikido World Headquarter from Tokyo, Japan, attended and represented
Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba to promote Sensei Dang Thong Phong to 6th degree.
From June 10 to 21, 1997, on the invitation of several
Aikido Dojos in France, Sensei Phong taught at an International Aikido Seminar, which was attended by delegates from several European countries.
Besides Aikido, Sensei Phong was recently
given the responsibility to rebuild the Han Bai Duong
Vietnamese Shaolin Kung-fu after 36 years long of discontinued activities. Under his guidance and instruction,
the first class of Han Bai Duong Shaolin started in September 1997.
In recognition of his contribution to International
Martial Arts, Sensei Phong was inducted into the World Martial Arts Organization's Hall of Fame in Costa Mesa, California in July 1997.
See also :
Tenshinkai Aikido History
Han Bai Duong
Vietnamese Shaolin Kung-fu History
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Austin Aikido TENSHINKAI
Dojo, TX. USA . ( 1995 )