Cau quyen, a dangerous form of martial arts

Cau quyen is a form of Vietnamese martial art which incorporates postures demonstrating dog movements. Dangerous attacks targeting lower parts of the body to swiftly defeat the opponent are typical of Cau quyen.
Many martial arts stances were developed based on movements of animals, particularly the twelve zodiac animals, according to Ho Tuong, master of the Tan Khanh – Ba Tra style. These movements include Kim ke doc lap (golden rooster stands on one leg), Hung ke quyen (fighting cock fist), Xa quyen (snake fist), Ngoa ho tam duong (coat dodges crouching tiger), and Mieu tay (hidden cat).

Similarly, Cau quyen is based on movements of a dog, particularly in its attacks, which usually target unprotected parts of the body from the abdomen downward. Cau quyen’s odd but deadly movements can speedily crush the opponent.

Toa chuu cong tat - Sitting with one hand parrying the opponent’s attack and
the other hand attacking the opponent’s standing leg.

Ha bang long cuoc - Kicking the opponent’s standing leg.

Ngoa dia long thang – Lying down while kicking the opponent.

Song cuoc nghich kich – Using both legs to kick back at the opponent’s lower body parts.

Song trao hien dao – Kneeling down while attacking the opponent with both hands.

Ngu chi cong ha – Using five fingers to attack the opponent’s groin area while parrying his attack with the other hand.

Tran Van Tuan is one of the few Tan Khanh – Ba Tra followers who have mastered Cau quyen.

Doc tieu cuoc – Kicking the opponent’s groin with the heel and foot while falling back.


Cau quyen exercises focus on four elements: firm defense, swift and strong attack, swift and balanced movements and a flexible body. Practitioners must train often to skillfully use fists, elbows, knees, shins and heels to defend and attack. 
When attacking the opponent, a Cau quyen practitioner must make strong fists and move his legs to evade the opponent while attacking positions at the lower parts of the body. A Cau quyen practitioner must be very quick and flexible to be highly effective in fighting.

Toa chuu cong tat in real fighting.

Applying Ha bang long cuoc in fighting.

Attacking the opponent with Ngu chi cong ha.

Using legs to lock the opponent’s legs while lying on the ground.

Long kich dinh cuoc – Kicking the opponent’s leg to prevent his attack.

Applying Ngu chi cong ha to attack the opponent while using the other hand to parry.

Kin tieu truc cuoc – Kicking the opponent with the heel.

Tao dia kich cuoc – Attacking the opponent by kicking his leg.

Song tuc khoa tuoc – Using two legs to lock and break the opponent’s legs.

Cau quyen practitioners are required to have swift and strong attacks using their legs.


As Cau quyen’s deadly blows are highly lethal, the martial art is not widely used. Master Ho Tuong has passed on his knowledge of Cau quyen only to outstanding Tan Khanh – Ba Tra followers, including Tran Van Tuan, Nguyen Trung Nam, Nguyen Van Thang and Nguyen Tran Dang Khoa.

Story: Son Nghia Photos: Nguyen Luan

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