|Acrobatic: Vovinam martial arts seen in a performance event. Vovinam has spread across the world in recent years. — Photo bongda.com.vn
First introduced in 2001 in Africa, vovinam, a world-famous Vietnamese martial arts, has quickly become popular and is now being practiced by more than 22,000 people in Algeria.
Though vovinam has been practised in Algeria and throughout Africa for some 14 years, it has quickly grabbed the attention of even larger numbers of people here. From only a small club in Algiers, there are now more than 22,000 participants in 30 out of the country's 40 provinces and cities.
Additionally, the acceptance of vovinam has developed remarkably, in both quantity and quality, spreading from Algeria to 11 other countries in north and west Africa.
Not only the Algerians, but a large number of media have shown their interest in Vietnamese martial arts. The World Vovinam Championship in Algeria, which has been regularly seen live on television, has become the largest vovinam event in the world.
Talking to Viet Nam News, deputy chairman of the World Vovinam Federation (WVFF) Nguyen Van Chieu highlighted that his most memorable moment in this competition was his witnessing the popularity of vovinam worldwide, especially in African countries such as Algeria, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Ivory Coast, and Mauritius.
"Regarding the last training visit in 2012, both Algeria and Senegal have shown significant technical improvements. We were impressed by the enthusiasm and support from the audience, which created an electric atmosphere in the event hall. The Algerians not only cheered for their own team, but also showed great admiration for Vietnamese athletes by asking for autographs and pictures," said Chieu.
He also noted that vovinam in Algeria has seen remarkable development, which was evidenced by brilliant performances.
"Due to good preparations and technical investments, there were many times when Algeria was the direct opponent of the Vietnamese."
Yet, the great care taken in learning vovinam in Algeria is not limited to only members of the national team, as in most countries. Its popularity has now spread to large groups of teenagers, including girls.
Also, many young adults and those who are middle-aged, even security guards and doctors who took part in the organising team, are learning vovinam.
Hammouche Nasro, a 21-year-old Algerian athlete, said: "Many years ago, vovinam was completely new in Algeria. For the nearly three years I've been learning, it has become more and more popular. My coach, who is also one of my neighbours, taught us the pure spirit of the martial arts even before we started to practice. He first told us the history of vovinam in Viet Nam and how it was used by the Vietnamese during wars."
He emphasised, "We were taught vovinam to defend ourselves, not for any evil purpose."
While vovinam has gradually become well-known, grandmaster Chieu showed his concern over the lack of thorough care for the marital arts in Viet Nam.
"I had the honour to visit and practice in many countries worldwide. To compare among those who are interested in vovinam, frankly speaking, foreign countries showed more appreciation for our martial arts," said Chieu.
"From the government authorities to sports officials, all are respectful, showing the tradition of venerating teachers and respecting morals."
The fourth World Vovinam Championship 2015 was held on July 30-August 1, in the capital city of Algiers, drawing more than 200 contestants from 18 countries.
The Vietnamese delegation won their fourth consecutive title with 19 gold and five silver medals. Host Algeria came in second with 15 gold, 12 silver and six bronze medals. — VNS