by Nguyễn Việt Dũng
Phạm Văn Tâm is able to control four kites at the same time using his hands, hip and shoulders. VNS Photo Việt Dũng
Phạm Văn Tâm in Bình Tân District is taking a traditional Vietnamese activity of kite flying to new heights by flying four of them at the same time.
Having flown kites since he was a kid, he picked up the sport of kite flying in around 2004.
"I once saw a foreign kite flier in Vũng Tàu. His technique was amazing, he was able to control his kite however he wanted, and so I began looking into it and gained a passion for the sport," the 50-year-old told Việt Nam News, adding that he has practised every day for years.
Tâm usually practises in a large vacant area in the district in the afternoons when there are strong winds.
He controls two kites a handle each, using both hands, and a kite each is attached to his shoulders and hip using belt buckles.
He can move his kites around, creating appealing visual formations as their tails leave trails.
There is an amazing technique he uses and is very proud of: moving the four kites close together and then spreading them in four different directions.
Watching him perform shows flying multiple kites is an incredibly hard feat: his arms visibly strain to control them, and he often has to brace himself to avoid getting dragged by the wind.
"Controlling four kites requires strength and precise control of my body parts to move the kites at my will. Everything has to be in sync."
In the beginning it was very difficult since he had to focus on how moving his shoulders would also affect his arms, and how walking could hamper his hip movement, he explained. It took a lot of persistence, he said.
Now, by attaching six kites to each pair of wires and using the same technique, he is able to control 24 kites, albeit with much greater difficulty.
He reckoned he was the only man in Việt Nam who could pull that off, and in fact few could anywhere in the world.
Tâm can also control 24 kites using the same technique. VNS Photo Việt Dũng
Spreading the love of kite flying
Tâm opened a club called Sao Vàng (Yellow Star) Kite Club in Bình Tân District, which has attracted many kite lovers. Besides having a place to share their hobby, members can also take part in contests, and children can learn how to make kites.
"Tâm is working on forming a kite flying team to perform in kite festivals in Việt Nam and other countries," Đoàn Ngọc Định, a club administrator, said.
"Many members are practising it passionately, and Tâm has been helping us learn it. ... We hope more local kite flying clubs [are set up]."
Nguyễn Văn Nữa, who joined the club recently, told Việt Nam News he enjoys kite flying because it helps him exercise and is a good way to relieve stress.
"Being able to make my kite to fly in any way I want is really fun."
"Now that I can control my kites successfully I might be able to represent Việt Nam in international kite flying contests in the future." Tâm said. VNS