DISCUSSION

 

 

IV.
THE MEDIEVAL MILITARY EXAMINATION

 

 

 

 

       

 

       The Military Examination for promotting Martial Arts of Battle Fields was established since medieval period, in 11th century, under LÝ Dynasty (1009-1225) of Đại-Việt.

       In 13th century, under TRẦN Dynasty (1225-1413), the Military Examination had reached his full scope and its Rules had used as model under the Dynastiy of Posteriors LÊ (1428-1527 ; 1533-1599 ; 1600-1788), winner of MING and passed on untill 18th century under the Dynasty of Tây-Sơn (1778-1802), winner of QING.

       But under Nguyễn Dynasty (1802-1945) the Military Examination feld into decline. (Cf. « Việt-Nam Ways and Customs» - Việt-Nam Phong-Tục -  from Phan-Kế-Bính and « Old Habits » - Nếp Cũ - from Toan Ánh).

 

       At the thime of de la Posteriors-LÊ Dynasty, Lord Trịnh-Giang (1729-1740) juged that thess Rules of military Examination from medieval times began always from written examination on Military Strategies Books and on Litterature before Martial Arts practices events, that could leave valorous candidates, capable to fight. Thus, on December 29th of the year 1731, Lord Trịnh-Giang feld in again the traditional Military Examination Rules established since the 13th century.

       In this time, Militaries Examinations were established every three years in the Duodenal Cycle (12 years) :

       - Examinations of Local Recruitment (Sở-Cử 初 舉) organized during the years from Astrological Signs of Mouse, of Horse, of Cat (of Hare, according to chinese Astrology) and of Cock.

       - Examinations of Great Recruitment (Bác-Cử 博 舉) organized during lthe years from Astrological Signs of Dragon, of Dog, of Buffalo and of Goat.

 

 

Rules of Military Examination

on 13th to 18th century

 

1 – The Local Recruitment (Sở-Cử 初 舉) : 

 

       According to the «What Happened Next LÊ History - LÊ-Sử Tục-Biên», this is what the Rules of Local Recruitment Examinations - "Sở cử" were :

       There was first a general written Test about Military Classics (Vũ-Kinh), then Three successive Examinations of Fighting Technique. The Winners were called "Military Bachelors" (Viên-Sinh), or "Military Officers" (Biền-Sinh) if they were sons or grandsons of Mandarins (Quan-Viên Tử-Tôn).

       Then there was an Examination of Strategy, whom Winners were called "Military Graduates" (Học-Sinh), or "Confirmed Military Officers" (Biền-Sinh Hợp-Thức) if they were sons or grandsons of Mandarins (Quan-Viên Tử-Tôn).

 

 

2 – The Great Recruitment (Bác-Cử 博 舉) : 

 

      Acccording to the 37th Official Book, in « Ancient Historiography of State in Việt-Nam - Text and Commentary of the Complete Mirror of Việt History established by Impérial Order (Khâm-Ðịnh Việt-Sử Thông-Giám Cương-Mục) from Institut of the Nation History (Quốc-Sử Quán) Publication, 1856-1884.», Lord Trịnh-Giang redefined on December 29th of the year 1731 the Rules established since the Middle-Age for Military Examination of Great Recruitment inherent in Battle Fields Martial Arts, as following 

       - In first evant, the Archery and the Vouge "Siêu-Đao" (超 刀) (Great Breach Knife holding a dorsal Hook) wielding would be juged ;

       - In second event, the Vouge "Siêu-Đao" wielding, the Sword wielding, the Archery on horseback shooting and the Archery on foot shooting with movements would be juged ;

       - In third event, candidates answered a general question about the Seven Military Classics for showing their education, and a detailed question of Strategy for showing their capacity. These Seven Military Classics « Vũ Kinh Thất-Thư » (武 經 七 書) are :

       1. The Art of War of Grand Duke Khương-Tử-Nha (Jiang Ziya Tai Kung Bing Fa - 姜子牙 大 公 兵 法), dealling with the Six Ways for Fighting and the Three Ways for Using Fighters (Lục-Thao Tam-Lược - 六 弢 三 略), written under CHU (Zhou - 周) Dynasty ;

       2. The Hoàng-Thạch-Công's Treatise of Requests (Huang-Shih-Kung Su Shu 黄 石 公 愬 書), with Three Books, written at the « Military Conflicts between HÁN (HAN 漢) and SỞ (CHU 楚) Period - 楚 汉 战 争 時 代 » (206-202 BC) ;

       3. The Art of War of Tôn-Tử (Sun-Zi Bing Fa - 孫 子 兵 法), with 13 Chapters writen under NGÔ Dynasty (Wu - 呉) at the « Springs and Autums Period - 春 秋 時 代 » (722-481 Av. JC) ;

       4. The Art of War of Ngô-Khởi (Wu-Qi Bing Fa - 吳 起 兵 法), with 6 Chapters wrien under NGỤY Dynasty (Wei - 魏) at the « Warring States Period - 戰 國 時 代 » ( 481-221 Av. JC) ;

       5. The Art of War of Tư-Mã Điền-Nhương-Thư (Ssu-Ma Tian-Rang-Ju Bing Fa - 司 马 田 勷 舒 兵 法) of TỀ Dynasty (Qi - 齊) writen at the « Springs and Autums Period - 春 秋 時 代 » (722-481 Av. JC) ;

       6. The Art of War of Uất-Liễu-Tử (Wei-Liao Tzeu Bing Fa) - a disciple of the Spirits Valley's Transcendant Being (Quỉ-Cốc Tiên-Sinh) - including 24 Chapters in Five Books, writen under the HÁN (Han - 漢) Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) ;

       7. The Questions and Replies of Lý-Vệ-Công (Li Wei Kung Wen Dui - 李 衞 公 問 對), in Three Books, writen under the ÐƯỜNG (Tang - 唐) Dynasty (618-690 and 705-907).

       The Winners who were qualified in these three events were promoted to the rank of «Tạo-Sĩ - 造 士 » (Doctors ès Martial Arts). Those who were qualified only in two first events were promoted to the rank of «Tạo-Toát - 造 蕝 » (Second Rank Doctors ès Martial Arts).

 

 

3 – The Large Selection (Hoành-Tuyển 宏 選) :

 

       Given that in this Great Recruitment, there was a quota of winners, and that talented persons could thus be led, the Examination Rules of the Large Selection (Hoành-Tuyển) were instituted, inspired from Civil Examination fo the Large Composition, for judge Military Talents.

       The candidates recognized capable were honoured and promoted Militairy Ministers or Generalissimos.

       The informations on the Rules of Military Examination from the Large Selection ( Hoành-Tuyển ) was lost.

 

***

 

       According to the «Notes of Seen and Heared Things» (Kiến Văn Tiểu-Lục) from Lê-Quí-Ðôn :

       . On the 5th year of Bảo-Thái reign (1724) the examination of Great Recruitment eut lieu à l'établissement de la Great Glory (Thịnh-Quang Sở) :

           - The first event was an interrogation on the Meaning of Ten Phrases from Seven Military Classics « Vũ Kinh Thất-Thư » (武 經 七 書) ;

          - The second event included Two Exercices of Martial Technique : first of all, to wield the Pertuisane* "Đâu-Mâu" on horseback, then to engage in fighting with Cavalry Vouge "Siêu", with Sabre and Shield and to wield the Sword, the Breech Knife. The valor of clashes were based on according to successes or failures in order to determinate victorious and defeated ; afterwards, a degree were increased or reduced according an exam of bravery.

           - The third event was an Essay on the Troops Training Method and on the Tactic of Pitched Battles formation in order to fight the ennemy, to keep citadels and fortress.

Remarks : *Pertuisane "Đâu-Mâu" - Mr Lê-Quí-Đôn did'nt used the termes "Đâu-Mâu" according to the common desinence of "a kind of Helmet in ancient times, worn to combat" (Cf. Dictionnary "Việt-Nam Tự-Điển" from "Ban Văn-Học, Hội Khai Trí Tiến Đức Khởi Thảo"), but he named a kind of Pertuisane "Mâu", belonging a specifical pole-arm from Đại-Việt.

       . On the 3rd year of Vĩnh Khánh reign (1731) the Rules of Military Examination were redefined :

       - The first event included the Archery and the Vouge "Siêu-Đao" (超 刀) wielding with three levels for each of two exercices ;

       - In second event, the Cavalry Vouge "Siêu-Đao" (超 刀) wielding, the Sword wielding and the Spear wielding were judged, following the examination of Archery on horseback shooting and the examination of Archery on foot shooting.

       For horseback Archery, three targets were arranged, the one distant a hundred steps from the another ; the candidate had to gallop with his horse and shoot thre arrows : to hit two targets given him the excellent note, one targent, the inferior note. For Archery on foot shooting, it was practically similar.

       It existed in all Five Tests of Examination (Năm Tao thi) :
       1) Test of Examination of Archery ;
       2) Test of Examination of Vouge "Siêu-Đao" (超 刀) wielding and Shield wielding ;
       3) Test of Examination of Sword wielding and Cavalry Spear wielding ;
       4) Test of Examination of Pertuisane on foot wielding ;
       5) Test of Examination of Pertuisane on horseback wielding.

       The valor was noted following the success or the failure and it was increased or reduced one degree after a bravery examination : the rule is to strike three times on the head with a bronze War Mace wrasped around with straw.  The candidates who did neither raise ones's eyebrows nor moved were qualified.

       - In third event, The candidates had to compose an Essay on Military Strategy.

 

 

Committee of
VÕ-TRẬN-ĐẠI-VIỆT
Bình-Định Sa-Long-Cương
FRANCE
Martial Arts Masters

TRỊNH Quang Thắng.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

     - « Ancient Historiography of State in Việt-Nam - Text and Commentary of the Complete Mirror of Việt History established by Imperial Order (Khâm-Ðịnh Việt-Sử Thông-Giám Cương-Mục)», Institute of the Nation History (Quốc-Sử Quán) - under Nguyễn Dynasty - "36th Official Book " and "37th Official Book", Publication 1856-1884 . (Cf. French Translation and Explanatories Notes by Philippe LANGLET from Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient).

     - « Compendium of Sighted and Heard Things (Kiến Văn Tiểu Lục)» from Lê-Quí-Ðôn, 1779.    

     - « Ways and Customs of Việt-Nam (Việt-Nam Phong-Tục)» from Phan-Kế-Bính, 1915.    

     - « Old Habits » (Nếp Cũ) from Toan-Ánh, 1964.

 
 
 

 

 

 

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