Vieät Nam's vov­inam takes on the world

Viet Nam News - - SPORT - By Thanh Haø

Tra­di­tional mar­tial arts have been de­vel­op­ing for cen­turies in Vieät Nam, with hun­dreds of styles na­tion­wide, in­clud­ing Nam Hoàng Sôn, Taây Sôn Bình Ñònh and Vov­inam. Viet­namese styles have been be­come pop­u­lar around the world thanks to their typ­i­cal char­ac­ters and prac­ti­cal­ity.

"Viet­namese mar­tial art has de­vel­oped be­cause of its di­ver­sity, beauty and prac­ti­cal­ity. It is favoured not only be­cause of the per­for­mances but also its ori­gin and unique tech­niques. In com­par­i­son to other mar­tial arts such as karate of Ja­pan and taek­wondo of South Ko­rea, the Viet­namese styles use prin­ci­ples to help the soft to beat the hard, the short beat the long and the weak beat the strong," said master Thanh Phong of Thanh Phong Club in Haø Noäi.

"All moves are de­signed to en­hance com­fort dur­ing prac­tice and per­for­mance. It is much bet­ter when you prac­tise in har­mony with na­ture. This helps strengthen your skills and moves," Phong said.

Vov­inam is the most pop­u­lar style of mar­tial art in Vieät Nam, as well as around the world. On its 80th an­niver­sary in late De­cem­ber, the Vieät Nam Vov­inam Fed­er­a­tion con­firmed there were more than 2.5 mil­lion prac­tis­ing the mar­tial art in 70 coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries. The strong growth of the art­form can be seen through the es­tab­lish­ment of the world fed­er­a­tion, as well as con­ti­nen­tal fed­er­a­tions in Asia, Europe and Africa.

Master Nguyeãn Loäc founded the mar­tial art in 1936 and in­tro­duced it to the pub­lic two years later.

Loäc high­lighted his so­called ' rev­o­lu­tion of mind' to train­ers, who are asked to al­ways re­new them­selves and help oth­ers.

Vov­inam in­volves the use of dif­fer­ent body parts such as hands, el­bows, legs and knees. Train­ers also learn to use weapons, in­clud­ing swords, knives and fans. They also prac­tise at­tack­ing and de­fen­sive skills.

Vov­inam be­gan to spread in 1970 and has de­vel­oped in many coun­tries with hun­dreds of schools in Poland, Bel­gium, Rus­sia, France, and ASEAN mem­bers.

The first world cham­pi­onship was or­gan­ised in 2009, mark­ing a turn­ing point in its his­tory.

"I found that mar­tial arts which are Olympic sports are easy to un­der­stand and pras­tice. They also have beau­ti­ful moves. This is why they are pop­u­lar all over the world. Vov­inam needs to be im­proved fol­low­ing these trends so that it could be known widely, and in the near fu­ture it could be one of the of­fi­cial sports at of­fi­cial com­pe­ti­tions," said Mai Höõu Tín, pres­i­dent of the Vieät Nam Vov­inam Fed­er­a­tion.

Nam Hoàng Sôn is a mar­tial art that has ex­isted for nearly 100 years and is prac­tised mostly in north­ern Vieät Nam. It has be­come hugely pop­u­lar in Haø Noäi with thou­sands of train­ers.

The mar­tial art was de­vel­oped as a com­bi­na­tion be­tween Viet­namese and Chi­nese styles by master Nguyeãn Nguyeân Toä in 1920.

In their first three years, prac­ti­tion­ers learn Chi­nese styles. They later in­tro­duce Viet­namese tech­niques, as well as im­prov­ing their strength and in­ner force. The mar­tial art is home to many fa­mous masters, in­clud­ing Muøi Ñen, Caû Nhaâm and Ba Ñen, who trav­elled around the coun­try to com­pete.

After nearly a cen­tury, the mar­tial art has changed to make it more dy­namic and ef­fec­tive but many orig­i­nal per­for­mances are still in ex­is­tence.

Ac­cord­ing to master Buøi Ñaêng Vaên, Nam Hoàng Sôn's beau­ti­ful moves and spe­cial tech­niques at­tracted at­ten­tion in Poland, the Czech Repub­lic and Ger­many.

The mar­tial art has also made its mark on the na­tional film in­dus­try. Vaên and some other masters have been cho­sen as mar­tial art direc­tors in a num­ber of movies. He is one of the first masters to open cen­tres which chore­o­graph stunts and train ac­tors since 1993.

Masters of Nam Hoàng Sôn also col­lab­o­rated to de­velop other for­eign mar­tial arts such as pen­cak silat and wushu in Vieät Nam. Vieät Nam has seen some suc­cess in these mar­tial arts at in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions.

On the sub­ject of tra­di­tional mar­tial arts, Bình Ñònh Prov­ince in the cen­tral re­gion can­not be ig­nored.

Mar­tial arts are di­ver­si­fied with many skills and a com­pli­cated range of moves, us­ing the yin and yang the­ory as a guid­ing prin­ci­ple. Based on the pur­pose of fight­ing in war it is ef­fec­tive and suitable for Viet­namese peo­ple who are gen­er­ally small in stature.

Like other mar­tial arts, Taây Sôn Bình Ñònh is prac­tised with and without weapons. It in­volves the use of the hands and legs. Apart from cud­gels, spears and swords, Bình Ñònh masters could also use scarves, short staffs and poi­sonous weapons.

In­ner force and strength are also im­por­tant in this art­form.

The best masters could lie on bro­ken glass while be­ing run over by a truck, or let sharp spears stab their throats.

To­day, vis­i­tors to mar­tial arts vil­lages or schools in Bình Ñònh have the chance to learn about the his­tory and de­vel­op­ment of par­tic­u­lar styles as well as watch typ­i­cal per­for­mances or even take part in train­ing with masters.

Master Laabi Ha­tim from Mo­rocco has prac­tised Viet­namese mar­tial arts since 1980. He said he was ini­tially at­tracted be­cause it showed the rich cul­ture of Vieät Nam but was also a really ef­fec­tive form of com­bat.

Ha­tim is just one of many for­eign­ers who train in Viet­namese mar­tial arts. He flies to Vieät Nam and vis­its Bình Ñònh to learn more ev­ery year.

In a con­gress of the Vieät Nam Tra­di­tional Mar­tial Arts Fed­er­a­tion last June, del­e­gates spoke about so­lu­tions to main­tain and de­velop Viet­namese styles in the com­ing years.

Fed­er­a­tion Pres­i­dent Hoaøng Vónh Giang set a tar­get that mar­tial arts would spread to 100 coun­tries by 2030. They would pro­mote the art­forms in lo­cal schools, col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties. It was also suggested that po­lice of­fi­cers and sol­diers be trained in some of the Viet­namese mar­tial arts. VNS

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