Vietnamese Martial Arts

Many countries immediately come to mind when people think of martial arts. Whether it's Chinese Kung Fu, Japanese Karate, or Korean Tae Kwon Do, years of exposure have made these arts known and accessible to most people.

Of course, many countries have rich martial arts traditions, we just haven't heard about them yet. The new book The Martial Arts of Vietnam by Augustus John Roe is a great introduction to the incredible variety of martial arts in Vietnam. The author spoke with me from his home in Hanoi where he told me about the fascinating and varied arts found in his new book.


Arrival in Vietnam

Originally from the UK, Roe's lifelong martial arts interest took him to Asia and then, on a whim, ultimately to his new home, "I studied Tae Kwon Do, Wing Chun, and some White Crane Kung Fu as well. I was really interested in martial arts in general, so naturally I wanted to go to Asia." After spending time in Japan and Korea, Roe got a call from a friend teaching in Vietnam. His friend invited him for a stay over Christmas. With time on his hands and an adventurous spirit, Roe went for a visit. "I soon got involved in the local martial arts scene and saw no reason really ever to leave."

Vietnamese Martial Arts

Vietnam Martial Arts

Roe started studying the martial arts of the Seven Mountains region initially and as his curiosity grew about the influence of nations, cultures, and centuries of conflict in the region he began to study other Vietnamese martial arts. As he explains, "My personal interest coupled with a lack of information about Vietnamese martial arts made me want to seek out other styles. This gave me a better understanding of where the system I studied fit in to the bigger picture. Basically, it was a passion to learn and to know more."

So what are Vietnamese martial arts like? They are like and unlike many martial arts you probably already know. The book breaks down the arts by region as the influence of the terrain, whether mountainous, delta, or farmland has influenced the arts as much as the necessity of defense and practice of tradition. What makes them different from other arts? Roe explains, "The different geographical and cultural aspects, all kind of contribute to make something that is distinctly unique from China or Japan or other countries."

Among the numerous styles of Vietnamese martial arts, there are traditional wrestling, weapons, empty-hand, beast styles, and more. Vietnamese wrestling, Dau Vat, is similar to Chinese Shuai-Jiao without a jacket. The goal is to make the opponent land on their shoulders using a variety of methods including throws and sweeps. There are forms of Qigong that accompany many arts and weapons forms as well. The most popular art, Vovinam is a complete system incorporating all of the aspects one would expect of a martial art today, such as grappling (both ground and standing) weapons and standing defense.

From Roe's extensive first-hand experience with so many arts, masters, and styles he was able to compile them all into a comprehensive guide that is as complete as any I have ever seen. His book is dense with detailed information that paints a picture of arts not so exotic as to be inaccessible, but rather they are different enough to make them interesting and certainly leaving any martial artist looking for a class to check out in their neighborhood.

The Martial Arts of Vietnam

Martial Arts of Vietnam

You can also read a young-adult, adventure novel inspired by a number of stories from Vietnam's martial history in another of Roe's books, "Where Tigers Roam."

$16.99
Roe started studying the martial arts of the Seven Mountains region initially and as his curiosity grew about the influence of nations, cultures, and centuries of conflict in the region he began to study other Vietnamese martial arts. As he explains, "My personal interest coupled with a lack of information about Vietnamese martial arts made me want to seek out other styles. This gave me a better understanding of where the system I studied fit in to the bigger picture. Basically, it was a passion to learn and to know more."

So what are Vietnamese martial arts like? They are like and unlike many martial arts you probably already know. The book breaks down the arts by region as the influence of the terrain, whether mountainous, delta, or farmland has influenced the arts as much as the necessity of defense and practice of tradition. What makes them different from other arts? Roe explains, "The different geographical and cultural aspects, all kind of contribute to make something that is distinctly unique from China or Japan or other countries."

Among the numerous styles of Vietnamese martial arts, there are traditional wrestling, weapons, empty-hand, beast styles, and more. Vietnamese wrestling, Dau Vat, is similar to Chinese Shuai-Jiao without a jacket. The goal is to make the opponent land on their shoulders using a variety of methods including throws and sweeps. There are forms of Qigong that accompany many arts and weapons forms as well. The most popular art, Vovinam is a complete system incorporating all of the aspects one would expect of a martial art today, such as grappling (both ground and standing) weapons and standing defense.

From Roe's extensive first-hand experience with so many arts, masters, and styles he was able to compile them all into a comprehensive guide that is as complete as any I have ever seen. His book is dense with detailed information that paints a picture of arts not so exotic as to be inaccessible, but rather they are different enough to make them interesting and certainly leaving any martial artist looking for a class to check out in their neighborhood.

You can also read a young-adult, adventure novel inspired by a number of stories from Vietnam's martial history in another of Roe's books, "Where Tigers Roam."

www.augustusjohnroe.com

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