Stay updated on Covid-19 in Southeast Asia. For more information, click here.

A scene taken from the movie “The Rebel”; Source:

A small Vietnamese girl flies high, kicks and uses both legs to grasp and trip an enemy’s soldier: one of the catchiest scenes from the Vietnamese movie ‘The Rebel’. The technique the young girl used, “flying scissors”, is one of the most recognizable tactics of “Vovinam”.

Vovinam is a genuine Vietnamese Martial Art (“Vo” means “Martial Arts”; “Vinam” stands for “Vietnam”). Any Vietnamese can show you that some techniques are purely Vovinam, quite distinctive from, for example Muay Thai (Thailand) or Judo (Japan).

Showcase of various Vovinam techniques; Sources:;;

By far Vovinam is Vietnam’s most popular traditional form of Martial Arts. The Martial Art of Vovinam was founded by Master Nguyen Loc in 1938. He researched other Martial Arts with the intention to combine specific aspects from each into one style that would be suitable to the physique of the Vietnamese people: thin, but fast, flexible and enduring. Made by Vietnamese, for Vietnamese, so to speak.

Since 1964, the title “Viet Vo Dao” has been added, to become “Vovinam – Viet Vo Dao”. Viet Vo Dao stands for the philosophy on which Vietnamese Martial Arts leans, a/o the principle of Yin and Yang, or soft and hard techniques.

Along with martial arts philosophies and health maintenance techniques, Vovinam – Viet Vo Dao (VVVD) provides a system of martial arts techniques that encompasses various forms of self-defence that are very effective in real life combat. The goals of VVVD are to:

i)    Preserve and develop the martial arts of Vietnam, applying “soft and hard core-development”;

ii)   Research and innovate new martial arts’ techniques to improve VVVD technical resources;

iii) Train students on Strength, Techniques, and Philosophy to develop a solid body, strong endurance against obstacles and disease (Strength), self-defence and just causes (Techniques), and a rational mind, invincible will and gallant character (Philosophy). Students will be living in a self-disciplined and forgiving way and become model citizens, serving oneselves, one’s family, one’s state, and mankind.

VOVINAM; Not only a Sport, but part of the Nation’s Culture; Source:

In 1939, the first public demonstration of Vovinam took place in Ha Noi; subsequently clubs were established in all regions of northern and central Vietnam. Master Le Sang – successor of Master Nguyen Loc – organized a meeting with southern masters in Saigon with the view of spreading Vietnamese martial arts worldwide. In 1973 the “French Vovinam – Viet Vo Dao Federation” was established, gradually evolving into the “International Vovinam – Viet Vo Dao Federation”, which finally became the “Vietnamese Martial Arts World Federation”.

Nowadays, VVVD is very popular in Viet Nam, from big cities to small villages. It’s cheap to register for a class anywhere. Students can practice with and without weapons while in combat or in daily life. It includes training of the body as well as the mind – the fighting spirit, courage, tenacity, fairness, modesty, and tolerance. Above all, the morality involved in VVVD training and the way it teaches how to apply techniques shape the students’ character.

VOVINAM – A sport for all ages (mark the kid’s dark blue belt)

Practitioners wear blue uniforms and earn belts just as in other traditional martial arts. A student begins with a light blue belt, same colour as the uniform. When VVVD student pass their first exam, the belts are changed into a dark blue colour, which stands for hope – the hope of being successful in learning VVVD.  Upon positively completing the following 3 exams, yellow stripes are added to the blue belt. The 3rd yellow stripe is followed by the yellow belt: the student has reached instructor’s level.

Demonstration of Vovinam – Viet Vo Dao by yellow belt practitioners, in California, US.


Higher levels include the red and white belts; the red stands for blood and fire, symbolizing a fighting spirit. Finally, white stands for infiniteness and bones, symbols of the depth of the spirit. The white belt designates the master to the absolute mastery of Vovinam – Viet Vo Dao.

It’s a bit ironic that Vovinam – Viet Vo Dao is getting popular in Europe, especially in France, since the founder developed this martial arts as a means to train Vietnamese youth against French colonialism. However, today the sport is also put into effect in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Belgium, Switzerland and other countries.

“Vovinam – Viet Vo Dao”: not only a sport but also part of the nation’s culture,

embracing a heritage accumulated across generations