Martial artist spreads message to Italy

HANOI (VNS) — The first international Vietnamese traditional martial arts championships kicked off on Sunday in the capital.


Never stop practising: Master Nguyen Van Viet has spread Vietnamese martial art techniques across Italy for many years. — VNS Photo by Thuy Dung

The event was attended by Nguyen Van Viet, the man who introduced Vietnamese martial arts to Italy.

Born in Nam Dinh Province, Nguyen Van Viet is now technical director of the International Federation of Viet Vo Dao in Italy. He began practising martial arts at an early age with his father and uncle, and became a black belt in Taekwondo at 15.

Arriving in Italy in 1971, he enrolled at the Medical School 4 and started teaching Viet Vo Dao in 1975.

“Over the past 40 years, the Viet Vo Dao Federation in Italy has welcomed about 2,000 local athletes,” said Viet, the President of the Italian Council of Masters.

“No one had any idea of the sport in the beginning, so I organised a show to try and attract people’s attention. We started with 25 students at that time. Being a 23-year-old student myself, I used my spare time to teach this martial art in different provinces. My journey to spread Viet Vo Dao has been tough, but I’m proud to see how it has grown,” he added.

Tiziano Gagliardi, an Italian student of Viet, was excited about a recent trip to Viet Nam.

“I was extremely emotional about visiting the country where my teacher was born.”

Gagliardi stressed that the spiritual power of Vietnamese martial arts had helped him to overcome his difficulties. It had been invaluable regardless of the tough training regime.

“When people start to learn a martial art, they always try their best to show respect to their teachers. That’s a life skill that I want to spread. The philosophy and spiritual values are not just encouraged, they are my top priority.”

Viet also emphasised the essence of the development and preservation of Vietnamese culture.

“I believe what I have been teaching is not limited to self-defence techniques. All of my students are always loyal and never stop practising no matter how busy they are. At major festivals, they all gather together and live like a family. It makes me proud to see how they love each other without envy or hostility.”

There are now about 400 centres in 45 countries in the world offering Vietnamese martial arts training.

The festival at the My Dinh Indoor Athletics Gymnasium welcomed 50 delegations, including the US, Australia, France, Belgium, Germany and Italy.

“However, there are many styles of martial arts in Viet Nam, and when different groups compete with each other, the following generations are unable to learn their core values.” — VNS