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Traditional Japanese martial art in Vietnam

Fri, 19 Sep 2014 . Last updated Tue, 03 Apr 2018 14:16

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Being introduced to Vietnam by a Dutch instructor, Katori Shino Ryu, a traditional Japanese martial art has received the great attention of Vietnamese people and members of expat community in Vietnam.

Narita is 7 kilometers from center Tokyo. Shibunkan Dojo of great master of Risuke Otake, is the only place in the world teaching comprehensively of Katori Shinto Ryu. Thousands of people all over the world have come to Japan to learn the traditional Japanese martial art. The fame of the martial arts has gone beyond the Japanese border reaching the different countries around the world. And in Vietnam, there is one such place where people can come to learn the art. One Dutch man brought martial art to Vietnam not long ago.

Malte is a Dutch man who has been living in Vietnam for 14 years. He works for an organization for education of the Netherlands. He has family in Vietnam and a Kenjutsu school in Ho Chi Minh City. With the burning passion from martial art, Malte practiced different martial arts since he was young. And when he grew up, Malte took up Kenjutsu. His Kenjutsu instructor in Japan allows him to open a training center in Vietnam as he traveled here to work.

Kenjutsu School Tenshin Shoden Katori Shintoryu is one of the oldest Japanese martial art. It was founded in 1480 by Lizasa Choisai Lenao who was swordsman. This is the source of many traditional Japanese martial arts.  This allows the school to maintain its independence and antiquity. In 1960, it became the first martial art recognized as the intangible cultural heritage. However, the 20th generation head master, Yasusada lizasa did not teach his family and instead appointed his representative instructor, Risuke Otake. Most trainees to join in the school have to strictly follow 4 article agreements. Anyone violating this will be punished by the deity of martial arts. Participants have to seal by their blood.

Katori Shinto Ryu was propagated into Vietnam in March, 2012 by Malte Stokhoff. Being a foreigner, introducing a foreign martial art to Vietnam, Malte faced a lot of difficulties. However, the art later received great attention from locals and even members of expat community in Ho Chi Minh City.  After officially introducing Kenjutsu to Vietnam, Malte has to find place to start training with his students. Luckily, famous Vietnamese actors and martial arts trainer Johny Tri Nguyen allow Malte to train in Lien Phong training center. From the first classes in Lien Phong training center, Malte has now classes in 2 other venues both located in district 1, Ho Chi Minh City.  

From few people at first, his club now receives dozens of members of different ages, genders and social stratums. But all of them share the passion for the art. The martial art also receives the attention of many Vietnamese trainees as well. Trainees have to spend a lot of times practicing the basic techniques. It can take years to mature all techniques before moving on more difficult skills. Kenjutsu training includes different weapons besides the sword such as halberd, spear, staff, throwing blade art and sword-drawing art. However, not many trainees can learn all these arts. Apart from some here learnt the halberd; most of trainees only practice with sword.

However, according to Malte, the most important thing that all trainees need to learn is the culture of the art. Because martial art without culture just makes you violent. So culture is very  important, culture in this meaning is respect for weak, young, old and also remember where the martial art comes from. With more than decade training, Malta more understands the art very well and his knowledge about the value of the art in the aspects of culture and military greatly impresses people.

With great determination, Malte together with his students has successfully maintained the development of the martial art in Vietnam. For now, Malte starts to think about handing over the future of the art to the Vietnamese. It is now his 14-year in Vietnam for Malte. He has a family, a good job and freedom to do what he passionate about. And he hopes what he built here can benefit the Vietnamese physically and spiritually, connecting the people of Japan and Vietnam even when he leaves.

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Source: VTV4 – 

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