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Dau Vat

From: Tim Foley

My name is Tim Foley and I'm heading to Vietnam on August 2nd. I'm a sports journalist currently focusing on traditional wrestling styles around the world. In Vietnam dau vat seems to be the name for the traditional style of wrestling within the broader discipline of vovinam . I'm having trouble finding a time and place to witness dau vat competitions (I'm a former college wrestler and coach). Do you have any recommendations or people I should contact? Any hints? Thanks for any help you can provide.

Here are the only full write-ups I could find, they are the ones which piqued my interest.



Thanks for your help,


T.R. Foley

From: David Waters
Date: Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 12:48 AM

Tim, I highly recommend you acquire through an ILL near you Do Phuong Quynh’s rich and helpful Traditional Festivals in Vietnam (The Gioi, 1995). The piece lists numerous festivals which include or feature wrestling competitions. For example: the Dong Ky Firecracker Festival (January 4), the Cua Village Festival (January 4), the Mai Dong Festival, which involves “a wrestling contest designed to commemorate a method used by the lady commander [Trieu Tam Trinh] to enroll soldiers” (January 4 to 6), the Lieu Doi Wrestling Festival (January 5 to 10), the Co Loa Festival (usually begins January 6), the Friendship and Spring Strolls Festival (January 8), the Thuong Lap Temple Festival (January 10), the Lim Festival (January 13 to 15), the Tho Tang Festival (January 14 to 23), the Tho Ha Festival (January 20 to 22), the Vi Khe Flower Festival (January 20 to 30), the Chua To Festival (late January, presumably), the Yet Kieu Temple Festival (February 8), the Binh Da Festival (March 5 to 7), the Dong Bang Festival (August 15 to 20), the Than Temple Festival (October 6 to 11).

As you may have noticed, most of the festivals Do lists as having wrestling competitions occur during the month of January. If you plan to travel Vietnam during the month of August it appears the Dong Bang Festival (August 15 to 20) on Thai Binh Province may provide you an opportunity to view a competition. That said, according to several online sources the Festival now runs from August 20 to 26. Furthermore, if you plan to attend the Dong Bang Festival you might consider visiting the relatively near-situated Lieu Doi Village on Ha Nam Province, regardless of if the village has a wrestling competition scheduled.

If interested, here are some other Vietnamese wrestling related matters to ponder and enjoy:

The techniques of the martial art Viet Vo Dao, founded in 1945 in Hanoi by Dr. Nguyen Loc, are taken largely from vo binh dinh, dau vat, judo and muay Thai.

The culturally significant rain invoking ceremony of Dong Phi Village begins when two old men engage in what is called the “sacred” wrestle (vat tho). (Can’t make this stuff up, folks)

The Lieu Doi Wrestling Festival is held in honor of a young man and village hero with the family name of Doan. As the legend goes, one day after a flash flood the young man found a sacred sword. Later, when foreigners from the north invaded, with sword he defeated the enemy before dying on the battlefield from lethal combat wounds sustained during the fight. Today villagers worship the young man as the founding father of Wrestling in the village.

Written about festival wrestling competitions in Do Van Minh’s Viet Nam: Where East and West Meet (1962), “On feast day, wrestling matches were held, with teams of wrestlers struggling for prizes. Contests often took place between teams defending the colours of their villages. The Contestants, whose heads were completely shaved, would fight clad only in loin-cloths, while drums beat.”

Lastly, regarding the popularity of another kind of choreographed wrestling, you may be interested to know World Wrestling Entertainment t-shirts (John Cena, the Undertaker, Stone Cold) are the chosen fashion statement of countless a pre-teen and teenage male in Vietnam. World Cup fandemonium aside, I venture to say the WWE might be the favorite televised sport of the pre-teen and teenage Vietnamese male demographic.

David Dylan Waters


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