Renaissance man from the north tells all

Published: 31/01/2009 05:00

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Trinh Dinh Lam, a self-taught poet, musician and martial arts expert from the northern province of Thanh Hoa, talked about Bong Son, a martial arts style that was gifted to his family by a beggar in 1465.

Lookatvietnam - Trinh Dinh Lam, a self-taught poet, musician and martial arts expert from the northern province of Thanh Hoa, talked about Bong Son, a martial arts style that was gifted to his family by a beggar in 1465.

Born in 1946 in a family famous for its six generations of martial artists, Trinh Dinh Lam started studying martial arts at 12 years old. Today, he is head of Bong

Trinh Dinh Lam started studying martial arts at 12 years old and today he is head of Bong Son Martial Arts in the northern province of Thanh Hoa.

Son Martial Arts in the northern province of Thanh Hoa.

During the war, he had to quit high school, but he kept his family tradition alive, even teaching himself various other styles. He is also a poet and musician.

With his help, many of his students have attained prizes in martial art and music contests, both in the country and around the world.

Origin of Bong Son

According to Trinh Dinh Lam, Bong Son entered his family in 1465 when his forefather Minh Sang Vuong Trinh Kiem was presented three martial art books by a beggar in return for helping him one rainy night in August. Since that fateful day, his family has studied the art based on these books. They have also studied many other martial arts from various countries including China.

At the age of 12, Lam was taught his family’s traditional martial art by his father.

“At that time, my father taught martial arts in many places. Trainees from many regions in the country came to my family to learn. Many of my father’s students won big prizes in contests. I wished I could have the chance to show my skill,” Lam recalls.

Although the martial art came to his family long ago and is famous in the region, it had no name until 1984.

At that time, a long time after the martial art was forbidden in the country, his dojo had a chance to compete with the professional Minh Hai martial art club in Thanh Hoa Province.

“After we won the competition, the director of the provincial Department of Physical Training and Sports suggested we name our style. Without thinking, I named it Bong Son. It means moving mountain,” Lam says.

Outstanding leader

At 20, Lam started to teach Bong Son in the club with his father.

It takes at least 13 years to become a skilful practitioner of Bong Son. Some trainees have been coming here since they were eight or 13 years old. Thousands of trainees have studied Bong Son.

Almost all famous martial art athletes in the province were trained in Lam’s dojo.

People often mention Lam’s contribution every time they talk about Thanh Hoa’s martial arts.

In the province, Lam is also famous for helping poor trainees with accommodation and food. This means that sometimes he earns a mere VND5,000 per day.

Between 1986 to 1994, Lam taught many martial artists in the province, many of whom have brought pride to Vietnamese sport.

The sisters, Trinh Thi Mui and Trinh Thi Nga, are symbolic examples. They first came to him aged 13. After studying traditional martial arts, they studied Pencak Silat and Taekwondo.

With hard training and the efforts of Lam, the two sisters have won many prizes including gold medals at the SEA Games.

Nguyen Van Hung and Nguyen Trong Cuong are other successful examples. They are now famous Taekwondo athletes. These two brothers are among many who started their careers at the Bong Son dojo and went on to win prizes.

In Thanh Hoa, Lam is not only a famous martial artist, he is also famous for teaching vocal music. Fifteen of his trainees have gone on to pass entrance exams into the Ha Noi National Music College. Moreover, this multi-talented teacher has composed 28 songs.

Witnessing his skill, it is hard to believe that he stopped his education in the first year of high school and is self-taught.

To live and run the club, Lam has worked many jobs such as blacksmith, carpenter and foreman of a construction team of 50 workers.

Lam has still lived a poor life, but he is full of rich love for his students. Now, his four children have their own families; he has numerous nephews and nieces, but he has never forgotten the love of Bong Son.

(Source: VNS)

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