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Experience of the Master

Alex Stepul started boxing as a young adult in 1973. Through perseverance and passion for the sport, he progressed very quickly and in 1976 he was named boxing champion within his weight class in Kiev, Ukraine. He continued pursuing the martial arts and in 1990 he graduated from the National University of Physical Education and Sports of Ukraine with a master's degree in Boxing. From 1979 to 1983, Alex focused his attention on a different branch of martial arts, which was Viet Vo Dao. He started learning the Vietnamese martial arts within the school of Dai Bang Phai and in the years of 1994 through 1998 and was awarded first and second place in the International Viet Vo Dao Championship. Throughout his career, Alex acquired the 5th dan in Viet Vo Dao, which is one of the highest ranks within the school of Dai Bang Phai. Along with these achievements, Alex also mastered Tai Chi, an ancient “soft” style of martial arts originating in China, which focuses on stress relief. While in the Soviet Army Alex was a Self-Defense instructor of technical offence and defense. He is experienced with all kinds of weapons; chains, nanchaku, knives, bats, spears and improvised weapons. Alex has more than 25 years experience as a trainer of martial arts and has outstanding teaching skills.

Viet Vo Dao Dai Bang Phai (School of the Eagle) History

From the beginning of its history, the natural and spiritual resources of Vietnam have been fought over by would-be conquerors from both inside and outside the country.

2300 years ago the Dam Viet Empire, which was formed in the territory of modern Vietnam and was founded in the first written certificates of China, had considerably expanded its area of influence and became of great importance for its neighbors. During this period, Martial Arts were basic survival skills and therefore the most valuable possession of the people. Knowledge of a fighting technique was considered as a gift and could even provide promotion on a service ladder.

In the 10th and 11th centuries, the support for a truly Vietnamese hand fighting style became the main focus of the central province of Bing-Ding. The most renowned fighting skills were developed in Bing-Ding, within a school called Dai Bang. Dai Bang had a direct relation to the victory of Teyshon peasant revolution under direction of Ngyen Hue. In the spring of 1771, Ngyen Hue, along with his brothers Ngyen Niak and Ngyen Lee, organized the first peasant uprising in the country against the ruling Trinh overlords, who were extremely unpopular at the time.

On December 22nd, 1771, Ngyen Hue ascended to the throne in the city of Fusuane, changing his name to King Kuang Chung. The peasant army, under the control of Ngyen Hue, came out victorious over the specialized and well-trained armies of the overlords. Ngyen Hue and all of his armies have been well trained to the traditional fighting style Bing Ding. The style was based on traditional hand-to-hand combat techniques. The aftermath was Ngyen Hue's decision to create the school Dai Bang (which means “Eagle”).

During the Teyshon Revolution, under guidance from the three brothers, "The Canon of Martial Arts" was created. In it, the virtues of honesty, fairness, dignity and courage were all considered the ideal attributes of a fighter. The technique of their fighting was precise: "while attacking, strike the body and the stomach of the opponent. Defending and retreating, beat on hands and legs ". Using these techniques they developed, they could resist to several armed opponents. These techniques were shared amongst the peasants, who practiced the development of techniques fighting with hatchets, iron switches, chains, and other objects which were earlier not used in the army. A lot of time was spent on perfecting the techniques and on how to throw various objects such as coins, small stones, chopsticks, etc.

Therefore, 1771 is considered the founding year of the school Dai Bang. Viet Vo Dao has been known to Europeans since 1938. During this period, the colonial pressure of France weakened and a lot of immigrants from Vietnam moved to the countries of Europe and the Americas, having brought with them the culture and art of Vo Dao.

The history of Viet Vo Dao and the school of Dai Bang in Ukraine began when Master Le Van Thanh started teaching this art to a few dedicated students including Alex Stepul. Le Van Thanh learned his skills from a very well known Grand Master Le Suan Tung who also taught ten more styles of traditional Vietnamese Martial Arts. He was born 1896 in Binh Dinh Providence. This makes Alex part of the third modern generation of this art which is very rare and relatively unknown to the martial arts world.

It was not traditional in Vietnam to have lower and higher ranks of fighters, such as the belt or dan systems in other martial arts. There was only the teacher and the student. Distribution of Viet Vo Dao to the world has demanded the introduction of ranks of skill. Therefore a system of belts has been introduced to help the practitioner measure his progress within the art.

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