Nguyen Hoang Ngan

Nicknamed the “Kata Queen of Southeast Asia“, Nguyen Hoang Ngan is Vietnam’s most successful Karate competitor. A former World Champion, she was the face of Vietnamese Karate for many years. A winner of multiple titles, she is a 7-time winner of the South Eastern Games (SEA Games).

Nguyen Hoang Ngan was born on 21 October 1984 in the Dong Da district of Hanoi, Vietnam. She was one of three children, having a brother and sister.

Nguyen’s first martial arts exposure came from the television show “Journey to the West“. She was fascinated by the main character, Ton Ngo Khong ( the Monkey King) and his fight scenes.

Nguyen began attending THCS Be Van Dan School in 1995. That year she began learning Shito-Ryu Karate at the Dong Da dojo of Doan Ding Long, who was a former head of the Vietnamese Karate team. He seemed soon realised she had a talent for kata and steered her in that direction.

In 1997 Nguyen was selected to represent the People’s Police Karate team. She had a successful start to her competitive career and was soon having success at the National Championships.

Nguyen was selected to represent Vietnam at the 4th Asian Cadets, Junior and U-21 years Karate Championships held in Macau, China in 1998.

In 1999 Nguyen began attending THPT VIET DUC School.

August 2000 saw Nguyen win her first international title as a junior. She was selected to represent Vietnam at the 5th Asian Cadet, Junior and U-21 years Karate Championship held in Macau. She won the Individual Kata event.

The 21st SEA Games took place between 8-17 September 2001 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Karate events were held between 9-11 September. Nguyen was selected to be a member of the Vietnamese Woman’s Kata team. The team won a silver medal. This was Nguyen’s first major adult medal.

Nguyen also won a bronze medal at the Individual Kata event at the Asian Youth Championships held in Japan in 2001.

In 2002 Nguyen left school. Later that year she represented Vietnam at the 22nd SEA Games, held in her home city of Hanoi. The Games were held between 29 November and 13 December. In the Karate tournament held between 6-8 December, she was a double gold medallist. She won both the Women’s Team Kata and the Women’s Individual Kata events.

Nguyen was selected to represent Vietnam at the 3rd World Junior and Cadet Karate Championships held in France on 24 October 2003. She finished in fifth place in the Junior Female Kata event.

On 18 November 2004, the 17th World Karate Championships was held in Monterrey, Mexico. Representing Vietnam, this was Nguyen’s first World Championships as a senior. She competed in the Women’s Individual Kata event.

In 2005 Nguyen was sent by Vietnam’s Department of Karate and Sports, to Japan. They wanted her to undergo specialised Karate training.

The 7th Asian Karate Championships was held between 21-22 May 2005, in Macau, China. In the Women’s Individual Kata event Nguyen won a silver medal. Later that year she competed at the 23rd SEA Games held in Manila, Philippines. In the Karate tournament, she won a silver medal in the Women’s Individual Kata event and a gold medal in the Women’s Team Kata events.

In preparation for the 2006 World Karate Championships, Nguyen competed in a number of Open Karate tournaments. In January 2006 she finished in second place at the French Open. At the German Open held in September, she finished first place.

The 18th World Karate Championships were held in Tampere, Finland between 12-15 October 2006. Ngyuen reached her first World Championships final. In the Women’s Individual Kata she lost to Sara Battaglia of Italy in the final. Later that year she won another silver medal at the Asian Games, held between 12-13 December.

Having now reached a World Karate Championships final, Nguyen worked hard between World Championships, in a quest to reach another final. She won two Paris Open titles and a German Open title. She also won a Women’s Team Kata title for Vietnam at the 24th SEA Games.

The 19th World Karate Championships were held in Japan were held in Tokyo, Japan between 13-16 November 2008. In a repeat of the previous Women’s Individual Kata final, Nguyen faced Sara Battaglia in the final. This time Nguyen defeated Battaglia to become World Champion.

Nguyen continued her success at the 8th World Games held in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, between 16-26 July 2009. She won the Women’s Individual Kata title again Maria Dimitrova of the Dominican Republic, with Sara Battaglia finishing in third place. Nguyen followed this with a first-place finish at the German Open.

Between 9-18 December 2009, the 25th SEA Games were held in Vientianne, Laos. The Karate tournament was held between 10-12 December. Vietnam had a successful tournament, finishing on top of the medal table with 6 gold; 4 silver; and 1 bronze. Nguyen contributed two gold medals to the total. In the Women’s Team Kata event she won gold with teammates Do Thi Thu Ha and Nguyen Thu Hang. She also won the Women’s Individual Kata event.

2010 was a mixed year for Nguyen. At the 5th International Istanbul Open Karate Tournament, held between 1-3 October, she was a double gold winner. In the Women’s Individual Kata event she defeated Turkish competitor, Kubra Akarsu, in the final. With teammates Do Thi Thu Ha and Nguyen Thu Hang, she won the Women’s Team Kata.

Between 27-31 October 2010, the 20th World Karate Championships were held in Belgrade, Serbia. Nguyen made her third consecutive World Championships final where she lost to Yohana Sanchez of Venezuela, in the Women’s Individual Kata event. She had sustained a knee injury just before the final.

Because of her injury, Nguyen missed the 16th Asian Games held in Guangzhou, China, between 12-27 November 2010. In December she travelled to Japan to have surgery on her knee. It would take her around two years to recover from her knee injury.

In January 2011 Nguyen decided to go to Japan to study. She enrolled at Kokushiken University where she studied Hotel Management and Economics. She was able to manage her time between studying and competing.

On 21 September 2012, Nguyen returned to competing after being out of action for around two years. At the German Open, a Premier League tournament hosted by the World Karate Federation (WKF), she won the title.

Between 21-25 November 2012, the 21st World Karate Championships was held in Paris, France. This was Nguyen’s first major international tournament following her injury. She did not make the podium, with rivals Rika Usami and Sandy Scordo winning gold and silver. However, at the 9th World Games held in Cali, Columbia, the following year she lost to Sandy Scordo in the final of the Women’s Individual Kata event.

Nguyen was appointed a teacher for the WKF in October 2013.

At the 17th Asian Games held in Incheon, South Korea, in 2014, Vietnam struggled to win a gold medal. They won 10 silver medals and 23 bronze medals. Nguyen had been the favourite to win the Women’s Individual Kata event. However, in the final, she lost to her younger opponent Kiyou Shimizu.

In 2015 Nguyen graduated from Kokushinkan University. She re-enrolled at the university to do a postgraduate course. She was also appointed the coach of the National Vietnamese Women’s Karate team. This was so that she could bring her wealth of knowledge to the team. However, she would also still complete at open tournaments.

Nguyen graduated from Kokushinkan University in 2016. In April she returned to Vietnam from Japan. She had turned down the chance of a lucrative career in Japan. She wanted to help develop the next generation of female Vietnamese Karate competitors.

In 2018 Nguyen started teaching at the Khach San La Tianh Shinri Dojo.

The 30th SEA Games held in Manila, Phillippines on 7-9 December 2019 saw Nguyen’s successful transition to being a coach. She coached Nguyen Thi Phuong to a silver in the Women’s Individual Kata event. She also coached the Women’s Kata Team, consisting of Lu Thi Thu Uyen, Nguyen Thi Phuong, and Le Thi Khonh Ly, to gold.

During the global Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020, the WKF created an initiative campaign called #Learnkaratewith for Karate fans from around the world to have online Karate sessions with some of the Karate world’s top stars.

On 3 July 2020 Nguyen gave the third #Learnkaratewith training session for the WKF. She focused on Karate basics and how they are applied to the kata, Suparinpei. The previous training sessions had been given by Antonio Diaz and Douglas Brose.

For many years Nguyen Hoang Ngan was Vietnamese Karate’s most successful competitor. She has made a successful transition to being a top coach and instructor. She is helping to groom the next generation of female competitors, who are beginning to find success under her guidance.

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