“Time flashes by as a galloping horse race by the window”, it’s already one year since our Grand Master Lê Sáng has left the earthly realm for the blissful beyond.
On the morning of 17-9-2011, over a hundred disciples representing hundreds of thousand of Vovinam students from worldwide have congregated at Tổ Đường (at 31 Sư Vạn Hạnh boulevard, District 10, HCM City) to attend the commemoration ceremony. Many arrived early, they bantered and exchanged greetings with one another. Everyone seemed to share a same observation that time has elapsed so rapidly and it has been over one year since the Grand Master’s passing.
The area where the table used for receiving guests and stone slab bench that the Master used to sit to do his reading and pondering has been upgraded to be more commodious and spacious. The altar chamber is colorfully decorated with fresh bouquets and easels of flowers, sent in from associations and clubs from around the world, as offers of respect.
Besides the 8 out of 9 members of the Managing Masters Council leading the ceremonial rites, representatives from many national and regional Vovinam federations such as South East Asia, Việt Nam, Sydney, and many provincial Vovinam associations including Hà Nội, Bình Định, Phú Yên, Khánh Hòa, Ninh Thuận, Bình Thuận, Kon Tum, Lâm Đồng, Bình Phước, Bình Dương, An Giang, Kiên Giang, Cần Thơ, Tây Ninh, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu, etc and local chapters within HCM city are also present. Among the special guests are several senior masters who have been with the discipline since 1960’s such as Nguyễn Văn Thông (photographer), Nguyễn Bình, Nguyễn Việt Thông, and Cao Văn Cát.
After paying respect to the Founding Grand Master, Master Nguyễn Văn Chiếu, the Chief Executive of the Managing Masters Council read aloud the biography of Grand Master Lê Sáng. With great admiration and deep grief, everyone from the World Federation, the senior disciples, the domestic as well overseas delegations, disciples and friends took turn offering fragrant incense in memory of their Patriachal Master in silence. At this occasion, Master Nguyễn Văn Sen recited a poem titled “Nghiêm Lễ to My Revere Master” dedicated to the Grand Master by Master Nguyễn Đức Quỳnh Kỳ.
Speaking at the ceremony, Master Nguyễn Văn Chiếu summarized the activities of the Managing Masters Council and of various associations including the establishment of South East Asian Vovinam Federation, the organizing of Master level exam and the 2nd Vovinam World Championship, etc. Presenting next year’s plan, Master Nguyễn Văn Chiếu discussed a few changes in the belt exam grading guidelines (giving bonus points for candidates with associated or bachelor degree at red belt level), replacing the black with yellow belt without stripe, establishing a fund for supporting discipline development goals on voluntary basis, for projects including the construction of the ancestral altar hall Tổ Đình at Dinh mountain (in Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu province), preparation for the 26th SEA Games in Indonesia in November, etc. On behalf of the Managing Masters Council, Master Nguyễn Văn Chiếu urged everyone to work together in unity to further advance our martial art discipline. In accordance with cultural and Vovinam traditions, the ceremony ended with a cordial meal joined by many participants, at Phú Thọ hotel.
Normally a death anniversary is the time for family members to gather and pay respect to the dead but it’s also an opportunity for everyone to meet, exchange news and work out any issues and misunderstandings they may have. The traditional activity had taken place during this Grand Master’s death anniversary. Given current difficult economic condition, a number of disciple from the Central region traveled long distance for this gathering, a disciple from the South Western region, who just recovered from ailment also made the journey to attend this event, and many among them carved time out of their hectic schedules to participate in this first anniversary. During this special occasion, several disciples of the same club who have not seen each other for over 40 years had a chance to “meet and greet” after all.
During this commemorative gathering, more than a few members of the Vovinam family expressed a wish to obtain a biography of Grand Master Lê Sáng in video, picture and printed form. This type of materials is deemed desirable and necessary and the action will be implemented by the Managing Masters Council as stated by the Chief Council Executive, as Master Nguyễn Văn Chiếu has announced during the the 100-day wake ceremony on April 01, 2011…
English version – translation by vovinamvvd