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Sand wrestling: a 200 year-old Tết tradition

Update: February, 04/2017 - 05:00
Down and dirty: He succeeds finally as his rival is ’lấm lưng, trắng bụng’- pinned down.
Viet Nam News

THỪA THIÊN- HUẾ — The sound of drum beats and the smell of incense  woke up villagers of Thủ Lễ in central Thừa Thiên- Huế Province early Thursday morning (Feb 2) for the traditional wrestling competition.

As per tradition, young men in the villages around Quảng Điền District gather in the village for the wrestling bout held after Tết in every sixth day of a lunar new year.

According to Ngô Tuấn, an elderly man from Thủ Lễ Village, the bout was first held in 200 years ago in order to select of healthy men as soldiers for the Nguyễn Dynasty (1802-1945) in Huế.

Tuấn said the bout is held every year to maintain the village tradition and offers villagers and visitors around Huế a chance of recreation during Tết, the Lunar New Year. “In addition, the bout is to encourage young men in the district regular trainings for good health,” he said.

Hoàng Quốc Toàn, a wrestler who entered the final round of the bout, said he loves this traditional game due to its fair-play martial philosophy.

Wrestlers at the bout are all amateur and they play by traditional rules, which require a competitor not to kick, punch or choke his rival during a session. Winner of a session is determined as he makes his rival ‘lấm lưng, trắng bụng’ or ‘dirty back and white belly’: when the competitor’s back falls on the sandy bout and his belly opens to the sky.

Any harmful attack to the rival will be stopped by the game referee and the rule violators will be sent away. Each competitor has to beat two rivals continuously to enter semi-final round, where he must defeat another for the final game.

The game was cheered by drum beats by an elderly commentator who has expertise at traditional wrestling rules.

Cheerful shouts were an important part of the game. Those wrestlers produced nice gestures to fall his rivals down received applause for cheering while the audiences gave booing scream toward those who used dirty tricks during their game.

Yesterday game lured hundreds audiences from all over Huế. — VNS

Việt Nam News’ reporter Phước Bửu captured nice moments of the yesterday game.

Bump and grind: Wrestlers must respect the fair play rules of traditional wrestling.
Sweaty serenade: A wrestler attempts to turn his rival up.
On his knees: a traditional gesture to make the rival fall down.
Beast mode: Some produce actions that look just like tiger attacks.
Feeling each other up: The competitors start by investigating their rivals.
Love shack: The wrestling bout is set on the yard of Thủ Lễ Village’s communal house. — VNA/VNS Photo Phước Bửu

 

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