Vietnamese martial arts are influenced by efforts to defend the country from foreign threats and also by the people whom Vietnam conquered (Champa). The most influential in the country's martial arts is China with its thousand-year occupation of Vietnam. But through thousands of years of internal, civil strifes: dynastic changes (dynasties), foreign conquests, warlordism and guerrilla tactics, the Vietnamese martial artists used what they learned from their neighbors and evolved a unique form of martial arts.
The martial arts were used by Vietnamese kings to train their troops and to defend the country against China's invasions of Vietnam. In addition to the army, family clans and Buddhist temples cultivated a variety of styles to defend themselves in national disputes.
Due to the wide range of influences there is no definable point in time where Vietnamese martial arts started to live. Vietnam, as a distinct entity has officially existed since apx. 2879 BC, though first human settlement can even be traced back much earlier.
Having long shared history with China, Vietnamese culture is closely linked to and part of Chinese culture and philosophy. Officials' abilities not only included the use of the brush but also the sword. There was an academy of martial arts in the capitol, Thăng Long, today's Hanoi, since the 11th century: Lý Dynasty (1009–1225), Trần Dynasty (1225–1400). When talking about Vietnamese martial art people started to use "Vo Thuat" (martial art).
While Vietnam was separated in several states many martial arts were created. During the Tây Sơn Rebellion (1771–1788) quite a few of them arose. Binh Dinh Province, where the rebels were based, is still a place of many martial arts.
During the time Vietnam had to suffer the French colonialisation, traditional martial arts were forbidden - but kept developing secretly.
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