Strolling Tết Market with Grand Master

Posted: Tháng Mười Hai 31, 2011 in English

“Don’t worry, I’m alright, and will not be coming back to hospital anymore!”, Grand Master Lê Sáng expressed optimism with a few disciples” as we were going to Tết shopping in the morning of February 2, 2010 (tháng Chạp or 29th day of 12th lunar month). Master Nguyễn Văn Sen sentimentally recalled those words of the Grand Master as we talked on the morning of February 1st, 2011 – which happened to be on 29th day of tháng Chạp, at Tổ đường.

Though the Grand Master still practiced breathing exercises regularly, due to his advanced age his effort yield minimal desired result. From mid of January 2010, his cardiovascular instability makes his limbs swollen. Based on the advice of Dr. Võ Quốc Trung, on Jan 28 2010 he was submitted to Nguyễn Trãi hospital for treatment. After half a month of treatment, he was discharged. Receiving this news, we were all delighted, as our Master will be home enjoying “Tết festival” with us at Tổ đường. Frankly, we were not concerned about providing care for the Master at the hospital during Tết celebration, but in our hearts and in many other fellow students’ hearts as well, we wish to gather at Tổ đường to offer sacred incense to the Founding Master Nguyễn Lộc, as we always do in the morning of the 2nd day of Tết, as a tradition of our discipline.

About 10 am on February 2, 2010, Master Nguyễn Tôn Khoa finally completed the check-out procedures to discharge him from the hospital, while Master Sen, his wife, Master Khoa, Master Võ Văn Tuấn, Master Lê Văn Hùng and I were present at the hospital since 8 am. When Grand Master get situated comfortably on Master Tuấn’s 7-seat car, we discussed among ourselves, since this Tết festival Grand Master does not have plan to travel anywhere due to his health conditions, we can drive Master to Tết flower market and do some Tết shopping – an indispensable activity during the preparation to celebrate Spring Festival. We brought up the idea to our Grand Master and he gladly agreed. So, Master Tuấn became the chauffeur, while Master Sen and Master Hùng closely accompanied Grand Master.

Our car commenced from Nguyễn Trãi hospital to Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai street and run into a traffic jam at Lý Thái Tổ roundabout, the traveling speed slowed down quite a bit. Have the opportunity to watch the bustling streets, busy sellers, buyers… everyone is preparing to welcome spring, with a rapidly changing urban landscape on these days, the Grand Master was very happy. From Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai street, the car headed toward the Thống Nhất Palace (Unification Palace, formerly known as Independence Palace), veered toward the Nhà thờ Đức Bà (Notre Dame Cathedral), then moved down to Đồng Khởi street and finally got into Nguyễn Huệ boulevard, so our Grand Master can see the flower decorated street as it is in the final stages of preparation. Witnessing the jubilant scenes of vibrant, lively city center and familiar places, Grand Master could not hide a regret that he will not be able to contribute much anymore to Vovinam-Việt Võ Đạo and for the people of Vietnam…

Knowing that Grand Master loves plants and trees, after strolling around the flower market on September-23 Park, Master Tuấn drove him to the Đông-Tây (East-West) Avenue to admire more flowers and bonsai plants… Seeing the garden full of flowers showing colorful petals, he appeared to enjoy it thoroughly…

At 11 am, the Grand Master seemed tired, the masters took him back to Tổ đường to rest. On the way, while being cheerful Grand Master expressed a sense of nostalgia when he recalled some good old times including the discipline traditions such as wrapping and cooking bánh chưng together (a type of rice rolled cake specifically for Tết), sharing pork meat with members for Tết celebration, cordial year-ending party… all that took place among the disciples prior to 1975. Then he sighed: “our discipline of the old days was solid and steadfast in solidarity!” Master Tuấn reminisced: “Listen to Grand Master’s recollection of the good old memories that I was personally participating, I have a plan in mind, when our Grand Master is fully recovered, I will discuss with the masters to restore these discipline traditions because this type of activity is certainly within our control.” Unfortunately, now our Grand Master had gone forever… From that memorable day it has been a full year, but his optimistic and cheerful attitude and his vigorous life perspective, with his powerful words still remain pristine in my heart”.

On 29th day of tháng Chạp last year, our Grand Master went to Tết fair and festival; On the 2nd day of last new year, though not feeling very well, he was still cheerful welcoming a number of senior masters at the founder’s altar hall for about half an hour. Today, again on 29th day of tháng Chạp , my Master would not be able to stroll the Tết market with us anymore and on 2nd day of Tết this year… I shall miss my Master’s cordial and warm words of wisdom…


Disciple Nguyen Hong Tam

English version – translation by


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