Traditional wrestling

Starting first as a folk sport, Vietnam’s traditional wrestling remains popular with its unique traits.
The uniqueness of Vietnam’s traditional wrestling is seen in how the match starts. A wrestling match is announced by the repeated boom of a drum, drawing the attention of the spectators. The drum adds rhythm and motivates the wrestlers. The beating of the drum regulates the fight. The rhythm from the drum combined with the audience cheering and applauding creates a festive atmosphere for the game.

According to tradition, the first match is an honorary match, in which two well-known wrestlers perform unique wrestling moves. Their moves are performed slowly to help spectators understand more about wrestling. This is an obligatory ritual to inform the tutelary deity and the ancestors about the wrestling festival.

The traditional costumes for wrestlers during matches are loincloths and belts.

The wrestlers are performing the pre-match ritual.

Depending on the rules in their respective localities, the movements of wrestlers may vary.

A tournament always starts with an honorary match.

Vietnam’s traditional wrestling is unique.

The drum referee is the one who keeps the rhythm and follows the match.

A match is underway under supervision of the referees.

The wrestlers are careful before each action. 

There are two matches, 5 minutes for each round.

The loser is the one who lies on his back with his shoulders touching the ground. 

The belts of the wrestlers are often made use of to perform diverse actions. 

Hitting is against the rules.

A wrestling match consists of a number of very rapid and unique actions.

When the honorary match ends, the bare-chested wrestlers wearing red shorts with a silk belt around their waists come to the stage. The wrestlers perform the pre-match ritual first. They dance with light footsteps with their arms making supple and undulating movements. Depending on the rules in their respective localities, the movements of the wrestlers may vary. This ritual is to show respect to the ancestors and the martial arts masters who taught wrestling to younger generations.

The competition consists of a number of very brief, aggressive rounds. Hitting is against the rules and the sport instead focuses on grappling. The winner is the one who turns his rival’s back to the ground.
By Viet Cuong

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