SENSEI DANG THONG PHONG’S 80TH BIRTHDAY
To all of Sensei’s friends, colleagues, and students,
We are pleased to announce the good news that on May 3, 2015, we will be celebrating Master Phong’s 80th birthday. For this occasion our group of Tenshinkai Aikido students are working towards the publication of a special magazine to mark the 65th anniversary (1950-2015) of Sensei’s martial arts career that includes Boxing, Han Bai Shaolin Kungfu, Judo, Taekwondo, Aikido and Kendo.
To make it more interesting, we would like to invite all of you to send in articles, documents, photos, etc. so we can print them in the aforementioned magazine. Please allow us to put forth some ideas on your contribution:
I. Your favorite photo(s):
- It may be a picture(s) of Sensei Phong alone, or taken with you, in class or outside, etc.
- With some explanation on why it is your favorite photo.
II. Words of appreciation for or birthday wishes to Sensei Phong:
- Picture of just yourself, or taken with Sensei Phong.
- Please share a few words on how he may have influenced your personal life and/or training; or words of praise to honor Sensei Phong, the one who has dedicated half of his life to martial arts in general and Aikido in particular.
- If you were one of his classmates, or are colleagues of his in any martial arts, please share a few words for his birthday.
III. A story (or stories) about Sensei Phong that you like most:
- The story may have been told time and again in the past, or it could be one you believe no one has ever heard. Please say why this is your favorite story about him.
- “A picture speaks a thousand words,” so please if you have any, make sure to include them. If not, please send a photo of yourself or your dojo, etc.
Please limit your article to 10 pages or less.
Include your first and last names so we can give proper credit. Files from 4MB to 10MB are best.
Deadline: Feb. 25, 2015
Via e-mail please send your contribution to Mr. Di Au:
8562 Westminster Boulevard,
Westminster, CA 92683, USA
ATTN: Di Au
If via USPS please include a CD containing the photos and written materials for we don’t have the manpower to re-type them.
E-mail is best!
Please send it in at your earliest convenience so to help us meet the print-shop’s deadline.
Sensei Dang Thong Phong’s Profile
- 1950: at age 15 began to study martial arts at Han Bai Duong, then a famous school. Beside Hanbai Shaolin the school also taught Judo, French fencing, English boxing and Aikido.
- 1957: though at the time merely a brown belt in Shaolin and Judo, Sensei Phong received consent from his Sifu to teach classes at Minh Duc High school in Trang Bang, Tay Ninh.
- 1958: returned to Saigon to study Aikido under Master Dang Thong Tri at Han Bai Duong, and later under Master Mutsuro Nakazono at the Dakao martial art hall.
- 1962: obtained his Nidan in Aikido from Master Nobuyoshi Tamura.
After Master Nakazono left Vietnam, Sensei Phong went to Nhatrang to teach Aikido and Judo at the Nhatrang Youth Office, the Dong De military academy, and at the Nhatrang Judo Club. After that he went to Qui-nhon, Binh Dinh, to teach Aikido and Judo at the Binh Dinh National Police Office.
- 11/1964: returned to Saigon to participate in the Taekwondo Instructor course led by Maj. Paik
End of October, Master Tri relinquished the Central Dojo and the task of managing the Vietnam Aiki-Judo Association to Sensei Phong. Everyday after his 5-hour TKD class, Master Phong returned to Saigon to teach Aikido and Judo at the Central Dojo for 2 hours. After one year of perseverance with such a schedule he obtained his First Dan in TKD.
- 11/1967: went to Japan for additional training at Hombu Dojo, promoted to Sandan by O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba.
- 1968: received a letter from O-Sensei and Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba assigning him the duty to expand Aikido throughout the land of Vietnam in the spirit of Love and Peace.
In 2/1968 upon returning from Japan Sensei Phong founded the Tenshinkai Aikido Federation. At about the same time, with authorization from the National Ministry of Education, he brought Aikido into several public high schools such as:
1/ Gia Long Girls’ High School
2/ Trung Vương Girls’ High School
3/ Petrus Ky Boys’ High School
4/ Chu van An Boys’ High School
And brought Aikido into the Republic of Vietnam’s Armed Forces at:
1/ Female Combatants Military Academy
2/ Thu Duc Military Academy of Martial Arts and Physical Education
3/ Thu Duc Military Infantry Academy
4/ Dalat Active Officers’ National Military Academy
5/ 5th Infantry Division
- 1969: led the first delegation of Vietnamese Taekwondo athletes to participate in a 9-country competition in Hong Kong.
- 1970: voted into the position of Secretary General of the Vietnam Taekwondo Federation.
- 1972: held the position of Secretary General of the Vietnam Judo Federation.
- 1975: spent 3 years in re-education camps, followed by 17 failed attempts to flee the country by land and by sea.
- 02/1986: 18th attempt being successful, was reunited with his wife and 2 children the US after almost 11 years of separation. Stayed in Sacramento, California for 4 months, then moved to Southern California to find employment. Worked at several different jobs at first.
- 08/1988: opened his first dojo in Garden Grove. After the forty days received notice of removal due to construction to begin for a business center. A month later he found a larger place to set up as dojo and office for the Tenshinkai Aikido Federation. Also the Central Dojo of this system.
-10/2000: the dojo burned down, all documents and invaluable souvenirs gone to ashes. Only a week later Sensei Phong had found another place for his students to train without interruption. Eight months later the dojo moved to a different address but in the same original center as before. It had remained here since.
In spite of all the difficulties he faced, Sensei Phong retained his autonomy, refusing to join any organization, including the U.S. Aikido Federation. Three years later World Aikido Headquarters once again recognized him as a member of Hombu Dojo just as he had been before leaving Vietnam.
Since 1994, Sensei Phong has returned to Vietnam many times to help the local Aikido practitioners. He taught in several seminars to advance their technical levels and promoted some of them so to raise their credibility with their own students.
Sensei Phong has traveled several times to Europe (France, the Netherlands, England, etc.) to teach at seminars. Most local pratitioners reacted favorably to his method of teaching as well as his distinctive Tenshinkai techniques.
Tenshinkai Aikido will soon celebrate an important event that includes:
1/ The 47th anniversary of the founding of Tenshinkai Aikido
2/ The 1st anniversary of the founding of Fountain Valley Aikikai
3/ Tenshinkai & Aikikai black belt certificates issuance
4/ Sensei Phong’s promotion of 7th Dan
5/ Martial art photo display of Sensei Phong and Tenshinkai Federation.
6/ Publication of a special magazine on martial arts activities with emphasis on Aikido