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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 7:33 pm
by Louis Swaim
Moved to a new thread.

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 09-06-2007).]

PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 10:29 pm
by HengYu
Historical Information.


I have found two very interesting extracts that serve to build the historical perspective around the Ho Chi Minh clip of Tai Chi Chuan practice.

Extract 1.
'in the weeks that followed, Giap redoubled his efforts to organise people in the north. By spring of 1946 practically every hamlet, village, street, and factory had a self-defence force that endeavoured to be self-supporting and self-sufficient in weapons and supplies. Stronger units had one or two companies of men; weaker ones at least a platoon. Those in Ha Noi fared best. Members there procured knives, hunting rifles, bombs, even Japanese machine guns. Assisted by the government with military training under careful party leadership, these self-defence groups even had a training school; the Ho Chi Minh Self-Defence Force School, at which Gaip regularly gave lectures.'

(Victory At Any Cost; By Cecil B. Currey - Page 116)

Extract 2.
'Reacting to the situation (i.e. Mao coming to power), Ho Chi Minh and Giap visited Peking in December 1950 and nanking the next month. leaving a handsome man by the name of Nguyen Chi Thanh temporarily in charge of military affairs as head of the Central Political Bureau of the army; his was the name that Americans would come to know. Ho and Giap did not return empty-handed, having signed an agreement whereby the Chinese would supply munitions, machine tools, and medicines. They also undertook to train the Vietminh in China and to send soldiers and administrators to Vietnam as advisors.'

(Giap: The Victor in Vietnam; By Peter Macdonald - Page 92)

The first quote gives a perspective to what Ho Chi Minh might have been filmed doing - assisting in the development of the Ho Chi Minh Self-Defence Force School. The second quote, shows that Ho Chi Minh was in China in 1950 - just 7 years prior to master Gu going to Vietnam. As a speculation, could Ho have met Gu in 1950?

And according to the book entitled 'Ho Chi Minh: A Life', by William J Duiker - there is a photograph of Ho Chi Minh in his old age - and the accompany caption reads;

'In the last years of his life, Ho Chi Minh continued to garden and perform exercises.'

Again, this probably refers to Tai Chi Chuan practice. Ho Chi Minh died in 1969 at the age of 79. It may be cosidered remarkable that during a war of such viciousness, and unequaled inhumanity, Ho managed to live a relatively long life. Indeed, Duiker says this of Ho, right near the end of his life;

"Party leaders urgenlty requested Soviet and chinese docotors to provide assistance. Ho attempted to maintain his regular morning schedule of physical exercises; he watered his plants and fed the fish daily." (Page 561).

And here is an interesting example of the Vietnamese viewpoint, regarding their own history;

'The depth of this conflict is well illustrated by an anecdote told to me by Roger Hilsman, former director of the Office of Intelligence and Research in the Kennedy Administration, about his recent visit to Hanoi. While touring the Vietnamese military museum, Hilsman expressed some disappointment that there was only half a room devoted to the war with the Americans while there where some 14 rooms devoted to the Chinese and two or so to the French. "Mr Hilsman," his Vietnamese interlocutor responded, "the Chinese occupied us for a thousand years and we fought them for another thousand; the French were here for 150 years; you Americans were just a passing episode."'

(Chinese Defense and Foreign Policy - edited by Dreyer & Kim - Page 177)

Thank you

PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 11:41 am
by HengYu
Thank you. Below are two more quotes, adding to the historical context, and giving a perspective around the era the footage was taken.

Extract 1.
'Thus unexpectedly reprieved on her north-western frontier, China within two years faced another threat, this time in the south. France had established her influence in Vietnam by restoring the Nguyen dynasty in 1802. IndoChina was then brought under French control by a series of treaties. The Annamese, who normally were by no means disposed to interpret their position of tributary to China in any but a cultural sense, now requested assistance from Beijing. Chinese irregulars, the "Black Flags", were already operating against the French, and in 1883 China sent regular troops. Yixin and Li Hongzhang believed that China was not as yet sufficienlty strong to oppose the French, but the recent defeat of the French by Prussia had encouraged a group of young hawks who had formed the "Purist" party. The hawks also had a more serious argument, that France would not be content simply to conquer a non-chinese tributary state but would use that conquest as a spring board to penetrate China via Yunnan and Guangdong. When a further French expedition was sent to Vietnam it was met by a Chinese army. The Chinese were defeated and forced to negotiate. On 11 May 1884 the French secured Chinese recognition of all French treaties with Annam. The Purists protested this, and when they were offered command against the French they enthusiastically accepted the challenge. Their enthusiasm was short-lived. The French sank China's southern squadron, destroyed Fuzhou naval yard, blockaded Taiwan and intercepted the grain tribute. A Chinese victory on land restored China's self-respect but did nothing to check the devastating operations of the French navy; so in spite of victory in battle China was forced once again to a humiliating peace, and to the loss of her inlfuence in IndoChina.'

(Rebellions and Revolutions: By Jack Gray - Page 118-119)

This shows the background to the mistrust that the Vietnamese often held the Chinese within. The Chinese signing the treaties with the French, was viewed by the Vietnamese as a betrayal. Eventually, the Japanese successfully invaded Vietnam - and Ho Chi Minh, along with the Viet Minh forces, bravely fought the Japanese as an ally of the West. Armed by America and Britain, Ho was promised an independent Vietnam, if they, the Vietnamese people, fought Japan - an enemy of the West.

However, this did not materialise. As soon as the Japanese surrendered, power was handed back to the French - and they were at their strongest in the south of Vietnam. Ho and his forces consolidated in the north, and prepared to go to war with France. The film footage fits in about 'here', within the historical narrative - and coincides with the founding of the Ho Chi Minh Self-Defense Foirce School. The enemy was clearly defined - in this instance, the French. And Phuc Carem's comments above, then make perfect sense within this context. Following the defeat of the French strategic reserve at the battle of Dien Bien Phu in north Vietnam, North Vietnam was recognised as a legitimate country.

China, now under Mao and his Communist regime, had been trying to court favour and influence in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh an dothers, had been invited to Beijing and treated with respect and honour. This brings me to my second quote;

Extract 2.
'On his doorstep in Asia, Mao's influence failed to spread, even against deadbeat regimes like that of Ne Win in Burma. But Moa's biggest setback was losing Vietnam. In the 1950's and early 1960's, China had been Hanoi's almost sole backer in its wars against the French and then the Americans, ever since Stalin had allocated it ot mao in 1950. But the Vietnamese had developed suspicions about Mao from as early as 1954. That year he launched the Superpower Programme, while doing everything to attract Russian assistance, Mao began by trying to gain access to embargoed Western technology and equipment. One prime candidate for cracking the embargo was France.

At the time, France was bogged down in IndoChina. Mao's plan was to make the Vietnamese intensify the war "to increase the internal problems of the French" (Chou put it), and then, when France was on the ropes, to step in and broker a settlement. The idea being that France would then reciprocate by acceding to Mao's embargo-breaking approaches.

Mao had been co-directing the war in IndoChina. During the Korean War, he had halted large-scale offensives in IndoChina to focus China's resources on Korea. In May 1953, when he decided to end the Korean War, he sent Chinese officers straight from Korea to IndoChina. In October of that year, the Chinese got hold of a copy of the French strategic plan, the navarre Plan. General Wei Guo-qing, carried this from Beijing and delivered it to Ho Chi Minh in person. It was this vital intelligence coup that led to the decision by the Communist side to give battle in Dien Bien Phu, a French base in northwest Vietnam where the Vietnamese. with massive Chinese military aid and advice, won a decisive victory in May1954.

The Vietnamese took Dien Bien Phu on 7 May, and the French government fell on 17 June. This was China's moment to step in. On the 23rd, Chou met the new French prime minister in Switzerland, without the Vietnamese, and worked out a deal.

China now put immense pressure on the Vietnamese Communists to settle for terms he had negotiated with the French, wich were far inferior to what the Vietnamese had hoped for. Vietnam's later leader Le Duan said tha Chou Enlai threatened "that f the Vietnamese continued to fight they would have to fend for themselves. He would not help any longer and pressured us to stop fighting."

Ho Chi Minh told his negotiator, Pham Van Dong, to concede, which Dong did, in tears. Le Duan was sent to break the news to Communist forces in the south. "I travelled by wagon to the south," he recalled. "Along the way, compatriots came out to greet me, for they thought we had won a great victory. It was so painful." Seeds of anger and suspicion towards Beijing took root among he Vietnamese.'

(Mao: The Untold Story; By Chang & Halliday - Pages 696-697)

Effectivley, Chinese negotiations had deprived the Vietnamese of 'full' and 'complete' independence. The Chinese settlement, allowed the south of Vietnam, to remain unliberated. And this eventually led to the USA creating and supporting a puppet regime in the south, against the North.

Master Gu may well have been sent to Vietnam in 1957, by Chou Enlai. But Chou Enlai was directly responsible for the negotiated betrayal of the Vietnamese, against the French. And I think it is indicative of the sense of that betrayal, that Chinese-Vietnamese relations cooled considerabley after 1954. Chou Enlai, it seems, was probably attempting somekind of 'fence-mending' when he sent master Gu to Ho Chi Minh - but the fact that he only stayed a mere six months in Vietnam, and no mention is made of him by Ho Chi Minh - in any of his biographies, shows that Chou's action was merely an 'empty' gesture, designed to string the Vietnamese governemnt along, as long as possible, in a vain attempt for the Chinese to keep whatever influence they could, in the region. Eventually, of course, the Vietnamese withdrew virtually all contact with the Chinese, and sided with the Soviet Union. Things got so bad infact, that the Chinese went to war with the Vietnamese in 1978, and got severely mauled for their efforts. And one can not help but think that in many ways, it was the Vietnamese that preserved ancient Chinese culture - whilst the Chinese Communists, drunk on the madness of power, systematically set about destroying their own cultural heritage.

Thank you

PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 7:51 pm
by Louis Swaim
Greetings Hengyu,

Although I applaud your efforts in research, I’m not sure that after steeping these tea leaves you’ll get a satisfying cup of tea, if your objective is to understand Ho’s interface with taijiquan. What exactly are you aiming to uncover? As for the historical judgments, they will vary from one historian to another. Regarding the Geneva negotiations, it may be helpful to keep in mind, as Stanley Karnow wrote, that “Zhou put China’s priorities first.” (Vietnam: A History, p. 200) That’s usually the way it works. Zhou Enlai was an affable and charming man. Teddy White recounted a story about his time as a wartime reporter in China in the 1940s when Zhou Enlai encouraged him to eat pork at a dinner in his honor. When White explained to Zhou that it was against his religion to eat pork, Zhou just smiled and stated that in China this dish was not called pork; it was called duck! White grabbed his chopsticks and dug in, and later wrote, “I’ve been eating pig ever since.” White considered Zhou a friend, but as charmed as he was by him, he knew that Zhou could be a ruthless partisan.


PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 9:28 pm
by HengYu
Dear louis

Thank you for you interesting assessment.

'What exactly are you aiming to uncover?'

On the face of it, this seems slightly illogical - if I knew before-hand, what I was going to uncover, then I would already know, and therefore have no need to search for it.

And such a direct question, can not be answered in polite society - if it is a Confucian society!

However, we might deduce the following from the above debate;

1) The film footage referenced dates from 1946-47.
2) The two articles, although extremely interesting, have no direct connection to the footage in question.
3) Master Luo has no link with Ho Chi Minh.
4) Master Gu has a link - in 1957, as far as the article can convey. But no direct link with the footage.

As an academic, I am employing the approach of building a contextual analysis around the footage, so that we may understand the back ground, both politically and militarily to the footage.

In a very real sense, Ho Chi Minh embodies the history of ancient Vietnam - and directly effected and moulded the recent, modern history of Vietnam. China has been effecting Vietnam for thousands of years. Modern China - both before and after 1949 - particularly.

Therefore, we need to know what happened before 1946-47, what happened during 1946-47, and what happened after 1946-47. The latter being important in an attempt to incorporate master Gu's brief visit to Vietnam. Chou Enlai for instance, is painted in a more or less sinister fashion by many historians - as Mao's righthand man. Whatever he did for Ho Chi Minh was in the national interests of Communist China, the will of chairman Mao, and for the expedient manipulation of the West. Those who try and naively depict Chou Enlai as a 'personal friend' of Ho Chi Minh, doing little favours here and there, serve only to trivialise history, and demean the sacrifice fo war and struggle. Disparate historical viewpoints, (like diverse opinion via posting), only serve to assist the common knowledge, and helps keep us free from the tyranny of those who think that their way, is the only way.

Good luck in your studies.

Thank you

[This message has been edited by HengYu (edited 09-07-2007).]

[This message has been edited by HengYu (edited 09-07-2007).]

PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 9:46 pm
by Louis Swaim
Greetings Hengyu,

Regarding my question, 'What exactly are you aiming to uncover?'--You are absolutely correct, and you've caught me in a poor choice of words. I probably could never convince anyone that a pig is a duck.

Please accept my apology. And from one researcher who has enjoyed many a wild goose chase, happy hunting!

Take care,

PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 10:03 pm
by HengYu
Dear Louis

Thank you for your kind words!

Sometimes - the wild goose is caught!

Thank you

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 1:43 pm
by HengYu
A colleague of mine, started a similar thread to this on another forum, and that thread has developed much the same - around the subject, so that our knowledge of the subject might be broaden, deepened and generally enhanced;

Ho Chi Minh;action=display;num=1188681058;start=30

Thank you

PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2007 8:50 am
by HengYu
Public Demonstrations of Vietnamese Martial Arts.


The film footage referenced above, is believed to be from the time period 1946 - 1947. The time-frame is problematic from a Vietnamese historical perspective. But I have been trying to build-up a context within which the Tai Chi demonstration could have plausibly occured.

In August 1945, the Japanese surrendered in Vietnam, obstensibly to a small occupying British force, that effectively took control of the soythern city of Saigon. The Japanese soldiery was dis-armed, and then many re-armed by the British to fight against the Viet Minh. In the north of Vietnam at about this time, 200,000Kuomingtang Chinese soldiers landed in Tonkin, again obstensibly representing the Aliies in taking the surrender of the Japanese in north Vietnam. The Viet Minh leader, general Giap, was building a fighting force, to pontentially combat the presence of the Chinese, Japanese, British and the colonial French. The British were actively allowing the French to re-take control of Vietnam - going against an earlier agreement that Ho Chi Minh would rule an independent and free Vietnam, in return for fighting the Japanese.

In early 1946, Japanese were fighting Japanese, the British left, the Chinese clashed with the French, the Vietnamese nationalists clashed with the Viet Minh, and the French clashed with anyone who got in the way of their re-establishment of power! French forces moved into north Vietnam, attacking and taking Hanoi and Haiphong. In May of that year, Ho Chi Minh went to France to negotiate a settlement - he was gone four full months.

Ho returned in September 1946, to find a Vietnam in total confusion. The Viet Minh had to eventually retreat into the jungle areas of the far north in 1947, to escape superior French firepower. They remained there untouched, for six months. The footage might have been filmed here. However, in the following link, it is clear that a public demonstration of Vietnamese martial arts did occur 1945;

Vietnamese Martial Arts

'The revival of the tradition in Vietnamese martial arts is connected with Nguyen Loc (1912-1960). He was born in Son Tay (Ha Tay Province, near Hanoi). In 1938, he founded the first club of Vo Thuat for all interested people (including foreigners!). He named his school Vovinam Viet Vo Dao (often referred to as "the best from Vietnamese martial arts").

In 1945, a first public demonstration of Vovinam Viet Vo Dao took place in Hanoi and subsequently Viet Vo Dao clubs arised in all regions of nothern and central Vietnam. After the death of Nguyen Loc, his successor - Le Sang - organized a big meeting of masters in Saigon for fostering the plan of spreading vietnamese martial arts worldwide. In 1972, the European Viet Vo Dao Federation was established and in 1980 the corresponding World Federation followed (president: Phan Hoang).'

As Ho toured and lectured at the Ho Chi Minh Self-Defense Force Schools, situated in and around Hanoi in early 1946 - the footage could have been taken then, despite the tenuous military and political situation. The chance is increased, when one considers that Viet Vo Do was being demonstrated in public, as early as 1945, also in Hanoi! The only reservation I have, is that the footage does not look like it was taken in or around a city. This does not mean that it wasn't, of course, but in this search for knowledge, no stone should remain unturned.

Thank you

PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 7:28 pm
by HengYu
Although it has been sometime since I have posted on this thread, I have at last made a small breakthrough. I showed the Ho Chi Minh taijiquan clip to a Wu taiji master - who suggested that further back in history, Old Yang and new Wu looked similar. However, he then forwarded the following clip of Yang Sau Chung - Yang Cheng Fu's son performing his form. As you can see, yang Sau Chung is using what looks like the same 'bent back' as Ho Chi Minh;

Thank you

PS: I have also seen that sometime ago, Formosa Neijia posted this link above - thank you.

[This message has been edited by HengYu (edited 01-25-2009).]

PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:58 pm
by yielding
Speaking of Yang Sau Chung's (Zhen ming) form being similiar to Wu's.....

I am trying to find out more about a public push hands event Yang had with Wu's grandson n Hong Kong. It was held in the 60's I think. I heard it was suppose to be a friendly push hands event, but it got nasty when Wu tried to use his feet and kick Yang to make him look bad. Anyone else hear this story?