The teaching programme of the Water Method is divided into two branches : energy exercices and fighting techniques. Both must be done in the mildest way since Thuy Phap belongs to soft martial art category. Everybody knows that the Asian kung fu world (China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam) expresses its skills in two forms : the hard, strong ,external ability to hit opponents (Karatedo, Taekwondo, Vovinam Vietvodao, all Shao Lin styles); and the gentle, smooth, internal manners to control partners and oneself (Aikido, Tai Chi chuan, Wu Tang, Wing Chun, Thuy Phap).
To complete the Thuy Phap training course, the practitioner needs , on average, a four-year study, at the frequency of two hours a week. He must master eight “quyên” (a series of movements like a choregraphy, called in Japanese “kata”, and in Chinese “chuan/quan” or “shadow boxing” according to the English translation), breathing exercices and “khi cong”(better known as “Qigong” in western countries). Everyone who attends Thuy Phap martial course has to go through traditional sets of the Water Method : dual training, use of weapons( sword, bamboo stick, fan), self-defence techniques etc...
At first, beginners study basic postural forms and the way of moving their limbs. Secondly, they skill in “quyen” which stresses on the unity of physical strengthening, artistic gesture and medical virtue. The eight Thuy Phap “quyen” aim to improve internal conditions of the body by limbering up muscles, softening articulations, easing the flow of vital energy.This process refers to the fact that the fluidity of external movements positively affects the growth and development of each internal organ. And why only eight “quyens” ? The traditional Asian medical theory relies on the correlation beween the major organs of the human body with the eight trigrams in the Ying/Yang concept. Thus, martial arts practice always observes the interrelationship of the eight trigrams which ensure the balance of the Ying and the Yang, crucial point of life enhancement.

An anecdote. Chinese people believe that the number eight brings luck. To tease them,Vietnamese people have chosen the number nine for talisman because it is the highest single figure (undoubtfully upper than eight), and because they think an uneven number launches dynamic move ahead whereas an even number lays static state. Consequently, one suspects that a 9th Thuy Phap “quyen” would exist and still be kept secret. One dreams to discover one day the hidden book which reveals the mysterious 9th “quyen” with a mystical title “Vu dang thuy kêt Quyen” (= The still flying last rain drop).

Due to the name of the method, the mass of liquid within the human body plays the key role. It “transports” the “khi” (qi in Chinese spelling) through meridians and collaterals (passages which reach every part of the body and connect organs to one another). So the fundamental principle of Thuy Phap “quyêns” is to transfer weight from right to left and vice versa , and to execute all the curve-shaped movements quietly and without disrupt like flowing water. This allows the vital energy to get into and out of the Dantian naturally (Dantian is the “Khi storehouse” located in the lower part of the abdomen). The muscles coordination and the breathing rhythm should be integrated. When the whole body is in continuous motion, all joints are connected, and the vital energy is trained in many aspects through every acupunture channels to the tips of the limbs. The harmony of the internal energy with the circular external movements provides a feeling of relaxation, quietness, an effective resistance to interference from the outside. Finally it helps to build up health and prevents some benign illness.

Beside “quyens”, there are breathing exercises at the end of each lesson in order to release muscular tension and to reduce stress. Advanced students can practise Thuy Phap Khi Cong (Khi cong = Breath work) to be in perfect health. It’s actually a quyen without fighting ability. The process aims to develop a high level coordination of corporal postures with various breathing patterns. In doing so, it improves joint flexibility and resilience, and lastly upgrades mental stillness and combat skills. The Thuy Phap Khi cong is regarded more as health maintenance than as a therapeutic intervention or a metaphysical cult.

The Thuy Phap fighting frame involves a large range of fist and kick forms because it has inherited a great part from different martial arts schools, but the features are conform to the water power theory. The boxer moves continuously and smoothly, shifts the body weight constantly from the left to the right and vice versa, avoids static stances, jumps or quick and strong movements. He needs to cling to his partner to tap every energy release, to absorb and neutralize every punch or kick. He only attacks when he feels that the opponent is withdrawing. Hence, the Thuy Phap fighting work enhances the practioner’s selft protection ability ; its purpose is not to hurt or to kill the adversary but to subjugate him. The morality of the Thuy Phap school is to respect the integrity of the human being, to stay in harmony with environment, to keep away from scrap as much as possible.

In addition to this bare-handed boxing system, a high level performer can also use weapons : sword, fan and bamboo stick. Till the XXth century, well-brought Vietnamese were the ones who had studied literature, philosophy, poetry, music, painting and martial arts. This upper social class disliked hard vo thuat, only the mild Thuy Phap fit their distinguished fighting study efforts. To show up, they went out with a precious sword in hand, but they weren’t allowed to bear weapons when they attended ceremonies in presence of the Emperor or mandarins, so they took fans to protect themselves. They were keen on handling sticks too, because the bamboo tree is the symbol of the righteous human being. They helped to design Thuy Phap weapons “quyen” (until the middle of the XVIIIth century mostly influenced by peasants, fishermen and warriors’s behaviour) into graceful ways of execution (an exhibition of deep knowledge of martial arts related to Vietnam history, and combined with zen attitude) in respect of their well-born manners.
Therefore the Thuy Phap Weapons discipline taught today is a heritage from this up-trend period, and is very different from current Vietnamese arms training (still inspired by military habits).

made by chris..