Foreigners Think of Vietnamese Martial Arts


A Vietnamese journalist describes his experience below:
I had known about Vovinam (school of Vietnamese martial arts) for some time before I finally decided to visit the Centre of Sports and Physical Education in District No. 8 of Ho Chi Minh City, an excellent training center. There, I was surprised to see French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Romanian students practicing. My friend, a martial arts master, told me that more and more people, including many foreigners, were interested in Vovinam. In 1998, the Vovinam School organized the first International Tournament of Vovinam in Ho Chi Minh City on the occasion of the three hundredth anniversary of Sai Gon – Ho Chi Minh City and the sixtieth anniversary of this School of Martial Arts (1938-1998). Spectators packed the Phan Dinh Phung Sports Centre. The clapping continued uninterrupted during friendly matches between Vietnamese fighters and competitors from France, Italy, and Spain. Ho Chi Minh City Television re-broadcast the match several times in response to requests from people who wanted to see the tournament again and again.

“I was deeply moved to see foreign contestants perform Vietnamese martial arts exercises,” one fan, who is a law student, said. “During one competition, a Spanish fighter’s belt fell off. He knelt to re-tie the belt, bowed to the referee, and resumed the fight. By doing so, he showed great respect for the spirit of martial arts from the East and from Vietnam.”

“I am happy Vovinam has become popular,” Tran Tien, senior master of martial arts, said. “Some foreign practitioners perform very well. It’s understandable that their skills are not yet perfect, but they will be in the future. If Vietnamese practitioners do not practice regularly, their foreign colleagues might leave them behind.”