Martial arts, promoted by 51-year-old instructor Dang Van Sung, have gained ground in France where a lot of people like to get fit.
Sung left Vietnam for France when he was only one-year-old. He started studying martial arts with his uncle at the age of 12. After practicing for nearly ten years, he won two consecutive free martial arts championships in France in 1978 and 1979.
In 1978, Sung began teaching martial arts for the French military and then for both military and police forces in 11 other countries.
In 1996, he finally earned enough money to realise his dream of opening a Vietnamese martial arts school, which now enrolls some 150, mostly French, practioners.
“Many people in France are interested in the technical efficiency of Vietnamese martial arts. A lot of my students are policemen who are particularly attracted to the discipline and respect inherent in Vietnamese martial arts,” said Sung.
He was proud of his school as one of the few organizations that have been awarded by the European Union (EU) for its assistance to the handicapped. Sung recalled that he had opened a class for 50 blind people to help them adapt to life and, after seven years of research, his methods were recognized and awarded by the upper house of the French government in 2006.
Instructor Sung took a new step towards promoting Vietnamese martial arts when he established a traditional martial arts federation in France in 2010. Ever since he has received many requests to support establishing similar federations in Europe (Italy, Germany, and Austria) and Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, and Burkina Faso). There is high hope that these federations will cooperate with the traditional Vovinam federation in Vietnam in forming an international traditional martial art club.
Over the past 15 years, Sung's school has organized many cultural events including Lion Dance day in Marseille for the 2009 Lunar New Year (Tet) festival, which was attended by 7,000 people.
Instructor Sung said that 2013 will be French-Vietnamese Exchange Year and he has planned a series of activities in Marseille, Paris, Toulouse, Nice, and Lyon to promote Vietnamese culture and martial arts throughout the country of residence.