Supporting and promoting international sport worldwide

Spotlight on Vovinam

Việt Nam (Vovinam) is a combat sport with its origins in Vietnam. The Vietnamese name is Việt Đạo, meaning martial arts of Vietnam. The sport is relatively new in comparison with other eastern martial arts and was founded in 1938 by Nguyễn Lộc, a Vovinam grandmaster. In his younger years he mostly trained in the traditional Vietnamese martial arts, but by 1938 the new style of Vovinam was introduced to the public. By 1939 grandmaster Lộc oversaw a demonstration of the sport in Hanoi, and from there it quickly spread across the country. It was also taken up by overseas Vietnamese, especially in France, but the French banned the movement in 1942. Four years later Vietnam officially went into war with France with Lộc taking this opportunity to organise his students to form a resistance in the Hanoi area. However, a disagreement followed with the Viet Minh leading to a disbanding of his group. Lộc later emigrated to South Vietnam in the 1950s. After his death in 1960, one of his students, grandmaster Lê Sáng continued with leading the sport until his death in 2010.  

Vovinam is a full-contact sport. One can use your hands, elbows, legs, knees and a range of weapons. The weapons include swords, knives, chisels, claws and fans. The type of movements involves learning to use hand-held weapons, making counter-attacks, and using lock-ups and levers. Of all the traditional Vietnamese martial arts, Vovinam is by far the largest and most developed with over 60 schools around the world. The sport can be practiced with or without weapons and specializes in training of the body and the mind. A student will learn both attack and defense techniques using force and reaction of their opponent. Some of these include traditional wrestling, kicking, punching and others. Part of the development training of a student involves self-defense techniques in weaponless attacks and against attackers armed with knives or swords. The weapons that are used for training include a long or short stick, a sabre, a knife or a sword.   

From 1938 to 1964, Vovinam had no specific uniform that identified with the sport. Martial arts were banned in Vietnam until 1963, which presented the opportunity for the first Council of Vovinam-Việt Đạo to gather in 1964 with the first task to codify the sport. A rank hierarchy and uniforms were established with the colour blue officially adopted. Between the years 1973 to 1990 a separate development used the colour black. The Vovinam-Việt Đạo World Federation is the highest recognised authority with the task of overseeing the development of the sport worldwide. The federation oversees rule setting and the management of international competitions, including the World Cup.  

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