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Cuong Nhu (pronounced /kuhng new/) Oriental martial arts was originally developed by Dr. Ngo Dong (O’Sensei) in 1965 in Hue, Vietnam. The Cuong Nhu Oriental Martial Arts Association (CNOMAA) is a federally recognized non-profit educational organization. Cuong Nhu is a mixed martial art that blends elements of Shotokan, Wing Chun, Judo, Aikido, Tai Chi Chuan, Vovinam, and Boxing. It is this blending of hard and soft styles from which Cuong Nhu derives its name, which is Vietnamese for Hard (Cuong) / Soft (Nhu).
The first Cuong Nhu dojo in the United States was opened in 1971 in Gainesville, Florida, at the University of Florida, where Ngo Dong achieved his Ph.D in Entomology. The headquarters of the style was permanently relocated to the United States in 1977, following a daring escape from Vietnam by Ngo Dong and his family.
The current head of style for Cuong Nhu is Grandmaster Quynh Ngo.
Students at beginning levels of Cuong Nhu first concentrate on learning hard style Shotokan karate and Wing Chun techniques such as blocking and kicking, along with basic mat skills such as rolling, falling, takedowns and applications. Emphasis is given to the “loading” of techniques, and to turning the loads/transitions into 3-dimensional defense/attacks.
As students’ techniques evolve to more advanced levels, softer style techniques (judo, aikido and tai chi) and boxing are introduced along with throws and take-downs. Personal safety and self defense are important keynotes in Cuong Nhu training. An advanced student of Cuong Nhu will practice applications of self defense that involve engaging, controlling, and finishing multiple attackers at all levels and at any age or ability. The nature of the attack will determine the level of response from a Cuong Nhu practitioner.
Cuong Nhu’s Kyu rank Kata consist of four basic forms along with Pinan Katas one through five, Tension Kata, Jutte, Enpi, and Chinte. Kyu rank weapon katas include original tambo (short staff) katas one through three and original bo (long staff) katas one through three. At blackbelt, Cuong Nhu includes higher levels of original hard style empty hand katas, original soft style empty hand katas Nhu 1, Nhu 2, and Lotus, as well as the study of more advanced weapons, including but not limited to bo, tambo, tonfa, sai, and spear.
All Cuong Nhu students start as a white belt learning hard-style shotokan and wing chun. As they move up, they begin to earn green stripes. After they earn two green stripes, they earn a green belt. As a green belt they are more open to more soft-style martial arts and weapons. They earn two brown stripes, then a brown belt, earning the title sempai. As they get more experienced, they get two black stripes, then a black belt. In addition to the martial arts requirements, all Cuong Nhu black belts must have teaching experience and a CPR certification.
People who have earned a black belt have gone through all the kyu ranks and have earned the title of sensei. Then they start to go through the dan ranks. Starting with one red stripe (Shodan), then two red (Nidan), three red (Sandan), and ending with four red stripes (Yondan). Then they get a half red half black belt, earing the Godan dan rank. The next belt the get is a Rokudan belt, earning the title of master. Then they get another special belt, becoming a 7th degree black belt. The same goes for a eight degree belt, which is currently the highest rank, besides grandmaster.
As white belts students start with hard-style shotokan. Students learn the first four beginning Katas, (Taikyoku) and a kata called ‘machine gun’ that emphasizes a rapid volley of hard strikes. As they get green stripes, they learn the first three Pinans. Once a green belt, students learn Pinan four. Once they have one brown stripe, they learn Pinan five. At two brown stripes, they learn Jutte for their brown belt test. For their black stripes they have to learn Enpi and Chinte. For all Dan and black belt they have the choices between Tiger, Monkey, Snake, Crane and Nhu 1 and Nhu 2.