Football (soccer) is exceedingly popular in Vietnam, and volleyball, badminton, wrestling, bicycling, chess, and dominoes are also widely enjoyed. Since 1952, the country has participated in the Olympic Games, with competitors in swimming and water sports, martial arts, rowing and canoeing, weightlifting, table tennis, and track. Tran Hieu Ngan won Vietnam’s first Olympic medal at the 2000 Summer Games (in women’s tae kwon do). The Vietnamese game of sepak takraw is a volleyball-like sport played with a rattan ball, a net, and the feet; Vietnam’s women’s team has been a formidable competitor at the Asian Games . [Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

Wrestling has traditionally been popular on the village and school level in Vietnam. Vietnam has its own styles of martial arts (See Below). Boxing was banned in 1995 because it was considered too violent and brought back in 2002.

Bodybuilding popular in Vietnam in some circles. There are body-building clubs in Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam sponsored a surfing competition at China Beach near Danang in 1993. The surfing scenes and the prelude to the surfing scenes are among the most memorable parts of the film "Apocalypse Now.

Hanoi will host the Asian Games in 2019. It beat out the Indonesian city of Surabaya in a vote in January 2012. Hanoi hosted the Southeast Asia Games in 2003. As of 1996, there were only four Olympic-size pools in the entire country. The nations top volleyballers, boxers and martial artists all share the same gym. Other top athletes had to help sell tickets to earn their keep.

Badminton is a popular sport in Vietnam. The Vietnam Open in badminton is an international open first in 1996. After being held in 1997, the competition was halted for eight years and held again in 2006. In 2007 it was made a BWF Grand Prix event.

The Bitexco Vertical Run is a vertical foot race held at the Bitexco Financial Tower in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The run starts at the ground floor lobby and finishes at the 49th floor observation deck. Its participants are referred to both as runners and as climbers, and are often stair and tower running enthusiasts. The race covers a vertical distance of 178 metres and takes in 1,002 steps. [Source: Wikipedia]

See Separate Article on Soccer

Vietnam and the Olympics

Vietnam made its Olympic debut in 1952 as the State of Vietnam. After the Partition of Vietnam in 1954, only South Vietnam competed in the Games, sending athletes to the 1956 and 1972 Olympics. Since the reunification of Vietnam in 1976, they have competed as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, attending every Olympics from 1980 onwards. The present Vietnam Olympic Committee was formed in 1976 and recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1979. Vietnam has never competed in the Winter Olympics, but will begin in 2014. [Source: Wikipedia]

Tran Hieu Ngan took Vietnam’s first ever Olympic medal when she won a silver in women's 57 kilogram tae kwon do event at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Before that Vietnam’s best showing was a wrestler who made it to the quarter finals at the boycotted Olympics in Moscow in 1980. In 2008 in Beijing, Hoàng Anh Tuan won a silver medal in the men’s 56 kilogram weightlifting event. Hoàng Anh Tua was just two kilograms behind the winner Long Qingquan from China who lifted 292 kilograms.

The 1996 Vietnamese summer Olympic team in Atlanta consisted of six athletes (two runners, two swimmers, one pistol shooter and one judo participant). The team had difficulty raising money for the $2,000 a head plane ticket and almost didn't make.

Medals per capita at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing: 1 per 85,262,356 in 2008. Of countries that got a medal only India did worse. At Beijing in 2008, gymnast Thi Ngan Thuong Do, who finished in last place in the women's floor exercise, tested positive for the diuretic furosemide. Arne Ljungqvist, who was involved with the drug testing, said he believed the Vietnamese gymnast inadvertently used furosemide, a common drug. "My interpretation is this was probably the result of poor information given to the athlete, who did not have the knowledge of what to avoid and what she was allowed to take," he said. IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies Do Thi Ngan Thuong was kicked out of the games and had their accreditations revoked. Furosemide is a diuretic popular for shedding water weight, but also can used as a masking agent to flush other banned substances from the body.

Tra'n Hieu Ngân Wins Vietnam’s First Olympic Medal

Tra'n Hieu Ngân won Vietnam’s first ever Olympic medal when she won a silver in the women's 57 kilogram (lightweight) tae kwon do event at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Reuters reported: "Vietnam won their first Olympic medal — a silver — after Tran Hieu Ngan fought her way into the final of the women's 57 kg class in taekwondo but then lost to South Korea's Jung Jae-eun. Jung dominated the final, winning 2-0. [Source: Reuters, September 28, 2000 ]

"Taekwondo, which is making its debut at the Sydney Games, is an ancient martial art which resembles karate but focuses on kicks with bare feet and is Korea's national sport. After Ngan won her semifinal match 9-6 against Virginia Lourens of the Netherlands 9-6, guaranteeing Vietnam at least the silver, she celebrated by hugging her opponent, kissing the floor and jumping into the arms of her coach.

"Ngan, 26, is the fourth of eight children and comes from the small fishing town of Tuy Hoa, capital of the central coastal province of Phu Yen, where her family runs a sweet shop. The town is about 350 kilometers (220 miles) northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. Ngan, who was recently engaged, took up taekwondo when she was 14 and won her first national championship in 1994. She also won an Asian tournament in 1998.

Vietnam News Agency reported: Ngan is one of the seven Vietnamese athletes attending the Sydney Olympics. Before the victory came, Ha Quang Du, Minister-Chairman of the Viet Nam Sports and Physical Training Committee and President of the Viet Nam National Olympic Committee, said that the delegation had prepared well for its participation. Four Vietnamese athletes passed through the qualifying rounds to bag tickets to the Sydney Olympics and three others won medals at sporting events of the Southeast Asian region. However, very few Vietnamese athletes had attended the Sydney Olympics and the committee would outline a programme for greater participation in the Athens 2004 Olympics. [Source: Vietnam News Agency, September 28, 2000]

Hoang Anh Tuan Win Silver Medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing

In 2008 in Beijing, Hoàng Anh Tuan won a silver medal in the men’s 56 kilogram weightlifting event. Hoàng Anh Tua was just two kilograms behind the winner Long Qingquan from China who lifted 292 kilograms. Hoàng Anh Tua lifted 290 kilograms, four kilograms ahead of bronze medalist Eko Yuli Irawan of Indonesia. The Associated Press reported that the home crowd chanted and waved Chinese flags as Long Qingquan lifted 132 kilograms in the snatch and 160 kilograms in the clean and jerk. The seventeen-year-old only failed one lift - his final clean and jerk at 164 kilograms when the gold was already in the bag. Despite his young age, Long was the favorite in the 56 kilogram division after a strong performance at the Chinese team trials earlier this year. He took command of the competition right from the start, cruising through the snatch event with three solid lifts. He didn't look quite as powerful in the clean and jerk, only managing a tie with Hoang, who waved his fists in joy after making 160 kilograms in his final attempt to grab the silver. World champion Cha Kum Kol of North Korea only managed fifth place. He nearly bombed out in the snatch, but saved face by barely clearing 128 kilograms in his last attempt. [Source: The Jakarta Post, Associated Press, August 10 2008]

Hoàng Anh Tua'n was born in 1985 in Bac Ninh Province. At the 2005 Junior World Championships, he won the silver medal in the men's 56 kilogram class, with a total of 276 kilogram. He participated in the men's 56 kilogram class at the 2005 World Weightlifting Championships and won the bronze medal, with a total of 279 kilogram. Tua'n participated in the men’s 56 kilogram class at the 2006 World Weightlifting Championships and won the bronze medal. He snatched 124 kilograms and jerked an additional 152 kilogram for a total of 276 kilogram, 4 kilogram behind winner Li Zheng of China. He also won a silver medal at the 2006 Asian Games, at 56 kilogram, lifting 128 kilogram in the snatch and 157 kilogram in the clean and jerk, for a total of 285 kilogram. At the 2008 Asian Weightlifting Championships, he won the gold medal in the men's 56 kilogram class, with a total of 279 kilogram. Hoàng Anh Tua'n was named 2008 Vietnam Sportsman of the Year. [Source: Wikipedia]

Ironmind reported from the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Kanazawa, Japan in April-May 2008, before the Beijing games: "Hoang Anh Tuan drew a collective gasp from the crowd when he went over backward with 155 kilogram on his third attempt clean and jerk, landing flat on his back with the bar over his throat. There was plenty of clearance, so Hoang Anh Tuan was fine — and he won the 56-kg title at the Asian Weightlifting Championships. Hoang Anh Tuan had a relatively easy time winning the gold medal in the snatch, opening with a good 123-kg lift, missing 126 kilogram, and then coming back to make it. Hamizan Ibrahim Amirul (Malaysia) swept through three good lifts - 112, 117, 121 - for the silver medal in the snatch, proving once again that it's not where you start, but where you finish that counts. The powerhouse Chinese team had two lifters entered in this category, Cen Biao and Wu Jinbao: Cen Biao got off to a rugged start as he missed 120 kilogram twice, just not pulling the bar high enough to get under it, before making it on his third attempt. Wu Jinbiao also missed 120 kilogram on his opener, but he came back to make it, before missing 125 kilogram on his third attempt - he got it overhead, but it was turned down. [Source: Ironmind ]

"In the clean and jerk, the two Chinese lifters made up for their shaky start in the snatch, as both athletes made three good attempts: Wu Jinbiao ended up with 154 kilogram for the gold medal in the clean and jerk, and Cen Biao finished the night with 153 kilogram for the silver medal in the clean and jerk, edging Hoan Anh Tuan on bodyweight. Hoang Anh Tuan had taken 155 on his third attempt, going for the gold medal in the jerk, but after getting under the bar, he rocked over backwards, landing flat on his back with the bar over his throat - it looked catastrophic, but Hoang Anh Tuan was uninjured and he was smiling when he picked himself up. Hoang Anh Tuan's winning total (279 kilogram) was 10 kilogram ahead of what Bour and Mutlu hit at the European Weightlifting Championships two weeks ago, also showing why Hoang Anh Tuan is considered a favorite for the podium at the Beijing Olympics, and after winning last night, Hoang Anh Tuan told IronMind that he hopes to do the same thing in Beijing.

Vietnam Offers $5,000 First Olympic Gold

In 2006, Martin Petty of Reuters wrote: "Vietnam will stump up $5,000 to any athlete who can bring home the country's first Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung recently approved the cash incentive, and a sweetener of $2,500 will also be on offer for an Olympic record, a senior Vietnamese sports official said. [Source: Martin Petty, Reuters, November 2, 2006 **]

"The government has offered $5,000 for gold, with the possibility of more money," Hoang Vinh Giang, deputy secretary-general of Vietnam's National Olympic Committee, told Reuters in a telephone interview on Thursday. "If athletes can win money, maybe this will help us to win medals." The communist country has won only one medal in the Games' 110-year history, despite being one of Southeast Asia's top sporting nations. **

Hieu Ngan Tran became a household name in Vietnam when she won a taekwondo silver at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but the team failed to follow up her success four years later and left Athens empty handed. Giang said he was confident things would be different in Beijing. "We have only ever won one Olympic medal, and we want to do better," he said. "We will try to get more medals in Beijing. "Vietnamese sport is much better than before, we have improved a lot." The offer of prize money is a first for Vietnam, although the $5,000 is dwarfed by the amount offered in Thailand, whose athletes netted around $500,000 for gold medals in Athens. Vietnam has also pledged to give $1,500 to its gold medal winners at the Southeast Asian Games in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, next year. **

Vietnam at the Southeast Asia Games

At the 1989, Southeast Asian Games, Vietnam won only 19 medals (compared to 251 for Indonesia) even though it is second most populous nation in Southeast Asia. In 1995, it won 52 medals including a second place soccer finish. In 2009, it finished second in the overall medals standing—behind Thailand—with 83 gold medals, 75 silver medals and 57 bronze medals for a total of 215 medals. Thailand won 86 gold medals, 83 silver medals and 97 bronze medals for a total of 266 medals. Indonesia was on third place with a total of 170 medals.

On Vietnam’s performance at the 2005 Southeast Asian Games, Dang Khoa wrote in Thanh Nien, "One of the more notable successes of Vietnam sports at SEA Games 23 which wrapped up today is the increase of medals it won in Olympic sports. At the latest SEA Games 23 in the Philippines, statistics show Vietnam won 50 gold medals from Olympic sports. The 50 gold medals Vietnam gained from Olympic sports include 8 from athletics, chess with 8, gymnastics 5, wrestling 7, taekwondo 4, judo 4, shooting 3, fencing 2, canoeing 3, billiards 2, cycling 2, swimming 1 and women’s football 1. [Source: By Dang Khoa, Thanh Nien, December 5, 2005]

In addition, three of the Vietnamese gold medalists, all women, broke SEA Games records. Bui Thi Nhung won the high jump with a record 1.89 meter leap; Truong Thi Thanh Hang smashed the 1500m record with a time of 4 minutes 18:50 seconds; and Do Thi Bong smashed a 10-year-old record in the 800m with a time of 2 minutes 03:65 seconds. In comparison to other regional teams, Vietnam, who ranked third at SEA Games 23 medal tally with 71 gold medals, is shortening gap with regional countries - Thailand winning 58 gold medals and Philippines wining 63 in Olympic sports. As a result, the head of Vietnam’s sports delegation to the Philippines, Nguyen Hong Minh predicted that with progress Vietnam can finish in second in Thailand in 2007 ahead of the Philippines, who topped SEA Games 23 with 114 gold medals as the hosts.

Bui Thi Nhung and Vu Thi Huong are the two of Vietnam’s best known track and field athletes. Bui Thi Nhung won the gold medal at the 2003 Asian Athletics Championships, and finished 4th at the 2006 Asian Games. Bui Thi Nhung also competed at the 2004 Summer Olympics without reaching the final. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Vu Thi Huong is a track and field sprint athlete who competes internationally for Vietnam. Huong won the silver medal in women's 100m event and the bronze medal in women's 200m event at the 2007 Asian Athletics Championship in Amman, Jordan. At recent Southeast Asian Games, she has been dominating the short distances. She won the double (both 100m and 200m) gold medal at the 2007 Southeast Asian Games in Thailand, and the 100m gold and 200m silver at the 2005 Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines. At the first SEA Games in her career (2003 in Vietnam), she won bronze medal in the 100m and silver medal in the 4x100 relay with the Vietnam team. Huong represented Vietnam at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. She competed at the 100m sprint and placed third in her first round heat, after Kim Gevaert and Yulia Nestsiarenka in a time of 11.65 seconds. She qualified for the second round in which she failed to qualify for the semi-finals as her time of 11.70 seconds was the 8th and slowest time of her race. +

Vietnam's Vice Sports Minister Charged with Child Rape

In 2004, Associated Press reported: "Vietnam has charged a former senior sports official with the alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl in what reportedly was his attempt to rid himself of bad luck, state-controlled media. Luong Quoc Dung, 52, former vice chairman of the sports ministry, was formally charged while at the B14 prison in Hanoi, following a six-month investigation, the official Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper said. The charge carries a maximum 15-year jail term. According to the police report, Dung assaulted the girl in a hotel room in December, 2003 after paying his former mistress, Nguyen Quynh Nga, $1,000 to procure the girl.[Source: Associated Press, August 19, 2004]

State-controlled media have widely reported that Dung requested the meeting because he was experiencing a spate of bad luck and believed that having sex with a virgin would end that streak. Nga also has been charged with child rape. The case has been extensively covered by state media and marked the first time that a high-ranking government official was publicly accused of raping a minor. Numerous articles have run saying the victims' family attempted to drop the case after Dung allegedly paid them US$68,000. Dung was arrested at his office on Feb. 19, and Prime Minister Phan Van Khai officially fired him March 1, citing "special seriousness of his lawbreaking act."

Vietnamese Martial Arts

Traditional Vietnamese martial arts can be loosely divided into those of the Sino-Vietnamese descended from the Han, and the Chams or indigenous Vietnamese. The former are closely related to Chinese martial arts, while the latter are more similar to Malay silat. There was an academy of martial arts in the capital, Thang Long, today's Hanoi, since the 11th century: Lý Dynasty (1009–1225), Tran Dynasty (1225–1400). The 16th to 18th centuries marked the country's division and the conflicts between the various lords. These antagonisms led to a diversion of the Vietnamese martial arts styles into different schools. [Source: Wikipedia +]

The võ Bình Dinh (martial arts of Bình Dinh Province) is a noted school of martial arts of Vietnam performed with a bamboo pole. Along with Vovinam it is one of the more popular forms of martial art in Vietnam. Nha't Nam is a martial art originating from Vietnam, formalised in Hanoi from 1983 onwards by Ngô Xuân Bính. +

The name Nhat Nam derives from Sino-Vietnamese characters from "One Vietnam." The "One" expresses the "unification" of features of Vietnamese martial arts. Ngô Xuân Bính formalised these features in his book on the basics of this unified approach in "Nha't Nam can ban" Volumes 1 and 2, ("Basic Nha't Nam," can ban means "basic.") According to the English Nha't-Nam Federation's website "Nha't-Nam was mentioned for the first time in sources dating from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries."However Vietnamese sources generally refer that the techniques were recorded centuries earlier, but the specific "One-Nam" name dates the art to 1983. Nhat Nam was established in Russia in the 1990s and is also practiced in Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Switzerland, and the UK. +

Viet Tai Chi

Viet Tai Chi developed from the more ancient Chinese Tai Chi Chuan. It is an ancient art because with roots that go back more than 1,000 years but at the same time it is relatively new because its details have only studied and worked out in the last 20 years or so. Viet Tai Chi allows its practitioners to act in harmony with the universe and themselves. The techniques are simple, elegant and easy movements performed in conjunction with proper breathing. In Viet Tai Chi, Viet means "elevate oneself"; Tai means "cultivating’ and chi means "energy." So Viet Tai Chi means "Cultivate Energy to Elevate Ourselves". [Source: Wikipedia +]

Viet Tai Chi fundamentally is the art of the proper breathing. Viet Tai Chi is the learning of breathing through a discipline of physic and psychic balance. But, even if it's practiced with discipline, it's not a martial art: mostly, it is not a fighting form, not even a defensive one. Born in Vietnam, and officially codified for the first time by Master Charles Phan Hoang, Viet Tai Chi is a 'sweet' art, which doesn't aim to defense or physical safety, rather to the achievement of the psycho-physical welfare. +

The techniques of Viet Tai Chi are numerous and quite rich. They have been elaborated in a scientific way, according to the ["Bat Nguyen"] code [(the eight principles of Art)] and may be applied during the ordinary life. Any movement is independent and owns a proper efficacy. Every Quyen (a whole of coordinated movements) owns a philosophical and scientific fundamentalism. The techniques of Viet Tai Chi gather in three Quyen families: 1) "Tinh Quyen" group (Slow movements); 2) "Nhu Quyen" group (flexible movements); and 3) "Hung Quyen" group (dynamic movements). +

Furthermore, there also are Chieu (sequences) and Dac-di (specific techniques). Oriental culture always gave a lot of importance to inner techniques, and all the traditional medicine were based upon development and regulation of inner energy, through the study and the stimulation of energetic Meridians of the body and as well of all the other channels which this energy moves and feed our body by. That's the reason why all the Viet Tai Chi movements physically support a mental and philosophical principle, connecting themselves to traditional medicine's concepts. +

Cuong Nhu

Cuong Nhu (pronounced "Kung new") is a martial art originally developed by Dr. Ngo Dong in 1965 in Hue, Vietnam. The Cuong Nhu Oriental Martial Arts Association (CNOMAA) is a federally recognized non-profit educational organization. Cuong Nhu is a martial art that blends elements of Shotokan, Wing Chun, Judo, Aikido, T'ai chi ch'uan, Vovinam and Boxing. It is this blending of hard and soft styles from which Cuong Nhu derives its name, which is Vietnamese for Hard (Cuong) Soft (Nhu). [Source: Wikipedia +]

The first Cuong Nhu dojo in the United States was opened in 1971 in Gainesville, Florida, at the University of Florida, where Ngo Dong achieved his Ph.D in Entomology. The headquarters of the style was originally relocated to Gainesville Florida in 1977, following a daring escape from Vietnam by Ngo Dong and his family. The Cuong Nhu World headquarters is now permanently located in Jacksonville Florida; locally known as the Mandarin Martial Arts Center. The current head of style for Cuong Nhu is Grandmaster Quynh Ngo.

Students at beginning levels of Cuong Nhu first concentrate on learning hard style Shotokan karate and Wing Chun techniques such as blocking and kicking, along with basic mat skills such as rolling, falling, takedowns and applications. Emphasis is given to the "loading" of techniques, and to turning the loads/transitions into 3-dimensional defense/attacks. As students' techniques evolve to more advanced levels, softer style techniques (Judo, Aikido and T'ai chi) and Boxing are introduced along with throws and take-downs. Personal safety and self-defense are important keynotes in Cuong Nhu training. An advanced student of Cuong Nhu will practice applications of self-defense that involve engaging, controlling, and finishing multiple attackers at all levels and at any age or ability. The nature of the attack will determine the level of response from a Cuong Nhu practitioner. +

Cuong Nhu's Kyu rank Kata consist of four basic forms along with Pinan Katas one through five, Tension Kata, Jutte, Enpi, and Chinte. Kyu rank weapon katas include original tambo (short staff) katas one through three and original bo (long staff) katas one through three. At blackbelt, Cuong Nhu includes higher levels of original hard style empty hand katas, original soft style empty hand katas Nhu 1, Nhu 2, and Lotus, as well as the study of more advanced weapons, including but not limited to bo, tambo, double tambo, tonfa, sai,and spear. +

All Cuong Nhu students start as a white belt learning hard-style shotokan and wing chun. As they move up, they begin to earn green stripes. Between belts, students earn two stripes in the color of the next rank. After white green belt, students are promoted to green belt. As a green belt they are introduced to more soft-style martial arts and weapons. At the brown belt level, they are expected to be active in assistant teaching. Advanced Kyu ranks earn two black stripes, then a black belt. In addition to the martial arts requirements, all Cuong Nhu black belts must have teaching experience and become certified in CPR and first aid. +

As white belts students start with hard-style shotokan. Students learn the first four beginning Katas, (Taikyoku) and a kata called 'machine gun' that emphasizes a rapid volley of hard strikes. As they get green stripes, they learn the first three Pinans. Once a green belt, students learn Pinan four. Once they have one brown stripe, they learn Pinan five. At two brown stripes, they learn Jutte for their brown belt test. For their black stripes they have to learn Enpi and Chinte. Dan ranks have the choices between Tiger, Monkey, Snake, Serpent, Crane, Close Combat, Nhu 1, Nhu 2, Nhu 3 (Lotus), Wing Chun Katas 1 (Siu Nim Tao), 2 (Chum Kiu), 3 (Biu Tze) as well as Cuong Nhu Bo Katas 5, 6 and Cuong Nhu Double Tambo Katas 1, 2, and 3. +

Cuong Nhu has an extensive philosophical base rooted in the Three O's Principle of Open Mind, Open Heart and Open Arms. Including but not limited to A Moral Code of Ethics, The Sheet of Fives,Pyramid Formulas for Happiness, Harmony and Health, The Ten Stages of Growth and much more. Sets of philosophies are required for each Kyu and Dan rank that help the student to develop a strong philosophical touch stone. Without philosophy and mental maturity, a martial artist is just merely a trained street fighter. These philosophies are listed online at the Cuong Nhu web site. +

Tam Qui Khi-Kong

Tam Qui Khi-Kong is a Vietnamese martial art practiced mostly in Russia. "Tam Qui" is translated to "Three treasures", "Three refuges". Tam Qui Khi-Kong is not relative to other styles of martial arts which arose in Vietnam. It is the original and integral system of battle and psychophysical training of fighters. Philosophical background goes back to Vietnamese Thien. There are no sporting and demonstration aspects in Tam Qui Khi-Kong. The rules of the school forbid using the technique in exhibition trials. Tam Qui is both applied approach of self-defense and system of psychophysical and spiritual training according to Thien and Buddhism of Pure Land. Tam Qui Khi-Kong is nearly unknown outside Vietnam. This style belongs to closed tradition, which is passed individually from guru-master (thai) to a student. Among all the European counties only Russia has masters of Tam Qui. [Source: Wikipedia +]

According to the legend fundamentals of the technique were given from Arhats to a simple guy who was defending his village from robbers. Later Tam Qui style developed according to a clan type and was not available outside the family, which is rather common for many Vietnamese schools. Tam Qui technique is contact and very hard, it is intended for neutralization of an enemy in first moment of an attack. Fighting techniques include punches, kicks, throws, holds and ankle trips. The key special features of the technique are: 1) "Taking root" (ground connection) is close contact with the ground in order to get energy from it. "Ground connection" gives opportunity to gain a victory over an adversary who excels a fighter in physical force. 2) Control of adversary actions means permanent and thorough tracking and forecasting of adversary actions, which sets up the basis for instantaneous powerful counterattack. And 2) Throws complete the counterattack, following which detaining or the final blow is dealt. Thus typical fighting according to Tam Qui style is a momentary sudden reply to attack by a series of powerful blows, completed with the throw and final blow. +

Studying Tam Qui is not only physical training and mastery of fighting technique. An important peculiarity of the Tam Qui tradition is aspiration for integral human progress and his complex health improvement: strengthening of inner organs, tendon-ligamentous organs, musculoskeletal apparatus, acquisition of steady state of mind which is not liable to stress. Exercises which allow to gain such an effect are combined into health-improving section called Khi-yoga. In whole, physical training of Tam Qui fighters is aimed at ability to concentrate and rule the energy called Khi which is the basis for vital strength of any living organism. Thus Tam Qui tradition considers organism structure and functioning as integral system. The initial complex in Khi-yoga is nine exercises for the Khi-belt development. Specified combination of forms and movements of palms, arms, legs, body and attention to definite centers of a body enable to combine upper and lower energy centers. The result of such a practice is preventing and therapy of many diseases of backbone and inner organs. +

Tao and Iron Palm of Tam Qui Khi-Kong

The basic fighting training in Tam Qui is based on study of Tao – complex of movements uniting lunges, punches, escapes, throws. Each Tao is aimed at mastering of one of the styles of body movements. Basic styles are named stone, tiger and ribbon. There are hundreds of Taos in Tam Qui Khi-kong. Studying starts with detailed mastering of basic movements. Practicing students discover new Taos in the process of studying further steps. [Source: Wikipedia +] Iron shirt include several complexes of exercises: 1) Breathing exercises aimed at ruling the Khi energy; 2) Static exercises to develop tendons, as fundamental channels for spreading of Khi in a human body; 3) Aligning bone structure and making good bearing. Building correct structure of a body is the key question both in health improvement and in using ground connection; 4) Punches of the body first with the fists and later with the help of different objects among which wood pegs or rarely metal pegs. +

As a result of beating oneself, working with fixed mannequin, beating a sandbag the technique of iron palm gives opportunity to harden striking surfaces of hands to use them as a main fighting tool. These complexes of exercises also set up muscle apparatus of palms, forearms and shoulders. Everyday practice of the exercises "Buddha’s Fist" in the course of 10, 20, 30 years turns hollow bones of palms into whole ones. Thus the punch gets hardness and force. +

In Tam Qui School we do not practice sparring fighting between students, because the spirit of the school and its ideology rule out competitiveness. To consolidate practical skills of fighting students practice twin exercises aimed at vision of an adversary, an ability to forecast his further actions and forestall them. Among the basic exercises are Twining clues and Rolling Stones. Beginners do exercises slowly seeking total control of accuracy and exactness of movements. On further steps strikes are made with full force, sometimes with closed eyes and other complications to reproduce real fighting situation. Much attention is paid to upbringing mental and ethical qualities of students. Only moral purity is security of successful personality development. Practice of Thien meditation and unceasing repetition of mantra Nam Mo A Di Da Phat (Nam Mô A Di Ðà Phât), translated like "I take refuge in Buddha Amitabha", let rise up spiritual forces and get independence of bondage of birth and death. Reaching "the ninth degree" is the criterion of spiritual and physical development of a practicing. "Nine degree" is Khi-belt, Tao, Ground connection, twin exercises and other exercises which are canonical form in the Tam Qui Khi-Kong School. +


Vovinam is perhaps the most widely practiced Vietnamese martial art. Performed both with and without weapons, it is based on the principle of between hard and soft. It includes training of the body as well as the mind. It uses force and reaction of the opponent. Vovinam also includes hand, elbow, kicks, escape- and levering techniques. Both attack and defense techniques are trained, as well as forms, combat and traditional wrestling. The wide range of techniques include punching, kicking etc. as well as forms, wrestling, sword, staff, axe, folding fan and others. Self-defense techniques cover defense against weaponless attacks like choking from behind and defense against attacks with knife or sword. Advanced students learn to combine the techniques and learn to defend themselves against armed opponents. Instructors train traditional weapons like the long stick, short stick, knife, sword and sabre. Thereby the weapons serve as training devices for reaching optimal control of body and mind.[Source: Wikipedia +]

Vovinam Viet Võao was founded as Vovinam by Nguyen Loc (1912 – 1960) in 1938, with the intent of providing practitioners with an efficient method of self-defense after a short period of study. Nguyen believed martial arts would contribute to freeing Vietnam, which had been ruled by France since 1859, from outside domination. Vovinam, which Nguyen synthesized from a bulk of Chinese styles of kung fu, his own knowledge of traditional Vietnamese martial arts and elements of Japanese and Korean systems, was thus created partially as a response to the French occupation, meant to promote a sense of national identity for the Vietnamese people. After being invited to demonstrate Vovinam publicly in Hanoi with his disciples in 1940, Nguyen was invited to teach the art at Hanoi's Ecole Normale, and Vovinam gained in popularity. +

During the following years, political unrest increased throughout Vietnam; due to the system's nationalist political orientation, the art came under suppression. By 1954, Nguyen had emigrated to South Vietnam, where he was able to continue to teach and establish Vovinam schools. After his death in 1960, Grandmaster Le Sang continued the development and international promotion of Vovinam until his own death on September 27, 2010. The first Vovinam school outside of Vietnam was established in Houston, Texas by Vietnamese emigrants in 1976, after the Fall of Saigon. By 1980's, Vovinam schools had been established in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Morocco, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. Vovinam now exists as Vovinam Viet Võao, without the political overtones it previously carried. +

A "Viet Võao Federation" was founded November 3, 1973 in order to re-unite some Vietnamese martial arts. Therefore "Viet Võao", in Europe, is also used as a generic term for certain Vietnamese martial arts and philosophies but in Vietnam is only used to refer to "Vovinam Viet Võao". In the summer 1990 the Vovinam Masters met. This meeting had the goal to create a structured organization for Vovinam Viet Võao outside Vietnam. One of the decisions was to adopt the blue uniform for worldwide use in Vovinam Viet Võao. +

Hard and Soft Theory and the Ten Principles of Vovinam

Yin & Yang-Theory (Vietnamese: "Âm-Duong") states that everything in the universe and on earth is initiated through the interrelation of Yin (negative) and Yang (positive). As to this theory there are martial arts that prefer the hard over the soft and others that prefer the soft over the hard. Vovinam Viet Võao does not prefer any over the other. Hard and Soft are used equally to adapt to every situation, to every problem. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Based on Võ-Thuat the student aims to develop the ability to combine hard and soft at the right relation, in combat and in daily life. This aiming to develop both physical abilities as well as the student's spirit. Not only the principle of the harmony of hard and soft but also many other things resulting from the training contribute to internalizing the martial art philosophy, e.g. fighting spirit, courage, tenacity, fairness, modesty and tolerance. Above all the training morality and the way of applying the techniques shape the students' character. +

The greatest difficulty is to see through one's own ego and then to overcome it. On success in doing so the Vovinam student will gain generosity and tolerance with other people. With the awareness that the most important thing in life of a human are other humans the final goal is to be able to not only help oneself but also to help others to live in peace and harmony with ones surrounding. With the salutation, "Iron Hand over benevolent heart" the student is reminded about the main principle and about the goal of Vovinam Viet Võao with every training. It is also about using the opponent's force and reaction, hence reach maximum effect with little force/effort. +

The term Viet Võao ("the way (Dao) of Viet Vo") was coined by the patriarch of 2nd generation of the Vovinam Viet Vo Dao, the Grand Master Le Sang with the objective to add a philosophical dimension to his martial art. This "Viet Vo Dao" consists of ten principles: 1) Vovinam's disciples vow to pursue high proficiency in their martial art in order to serve the people and humanity. 2) Promise to be faithful to the intentions and teaching of Vovinam and develop the young generation of Vovinam Viêt Võ Dao. 3) Be united in spirit and heart, respect one's elder, be kind to one's peers. 4) Respect discipline absolutely, maintain the high standard of personal conduct and honour of a martial art disciple. 5) Have respect for other martial art schools, only use martial art skills for self-defense and protect justice. 6) Be studious, strengthen the mind, enrich one's thought & behavior. 7) Live simply, with chastity, loyalty, high principles and ethics. 8) Build up a spirit of steely determination and vigor, overcome powers of violence. 9) Make intelligent judgments, carry out struggles with perseverance and act with alertness. 10) Be self-confident, self-controlled, modest and generous. +

Vovinam Belt System and Techniques

The student begins with a light blue belt - the same color as his/her suit. He then is a "Võ Sinh", a student aspirant. The old school Vovinam had two navy blue stripes before getting the Navy Blue Belt. But recently, some Vovinam schools have changed under the direction of Le Sang (Lê Sang) and do not have a Light Blue Belt 1 stripe, or two Following the light blue is the dark blue belt. Then he/she is a "Môn Sinh", a student.Blue stands for the factor of the sea, and the hope - the hope in being successful in learning Vovinam. With 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 the instructor's level. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Yellow symbolically stands for the skin color of Asian people. It symbolizes the "skin deep" internalization of the martial art and the philosophy. In other martial arts this belt is black. Therefore a Vovinam student who carries a yellow belt is allowed to carry a black belt. This makes a comparison to other martial arts easier, e.g. in public performances. A person who wears a yellow belt with one or more stripes is considered an instructor. Following in a longer period of time, respectively 3 red stripes are added to the yellow belt. This corresponds to the 1st, 2nd, respectively 3rd Dang (Dan). The 5th to 10th Dang are completed with a red belt with 1 to 6 white stripes. +

Vovinam has some specialised techniques:1) òn Chân: A group of leg grappling techniques that is designed to grab the opponent by the feet or legs and take them down using twisting motions usable as a surprise attack in a fight. There are 21 leg grappling techniques. 2) a'm Lao: A backfist swung reversely to the temple. 3) á Ca.nh: a diagonally applied kick. +

Techniques and weapons: 1) Hand techniques (òn tay); 2) Elbow techniques (cho); 3) Kicking techniques (á); 4) Knee techniques (go'i); 5) Forms (Quye'n, Song Luyen, a Luyen); 6) Attack techniques (chie'n luoc); 7) Self Defence (tu ve); 8) Self Defense against knife attack (phan òn dao); 9) Traditional wrestling (Vat co truye'n); 10 ) Leg attack take-downs (òn chân ta'n công); 11) Staff (côn); 12) Sword (kie'm); 13) Halberd (dao dài); 14) Cutlass (ao). +

Sepak Takraw

Sepak takraw is widely played in Vietnam. Sepak Takraw is an interesting sport that you see played all over Southeast Asia. Essentially it is volleyball played without using your hands and arms. It is very exciting to watch a good player leap high into the air, flip around and spike the ball with his foot at 60 miles per hour and then fall on his head and shoulders without hurting himself.

Sepak Takraw is played with a special rattan bag in a badminton court. It is known by different names in different countries: sipak in the Philippines, takraw in Thailand and sepak raga in Malaysia. Sepak Takraw was coined in 1965 at the Southeast Asia Games by combining the Malay word for kick (“speak”) and the Thai word for ball surprisingly “ takraw”). Malaysia has lobbied to get sepak takraw accepted as an Olympic sport

The origin of Sepak Takraw is not known. Malays claim it was invented in Malaysia while Thais claim it was invented in Thailand. Competition sepak takraw is played with three players on a team and has rules similar to volleyball and badminton. Play begins with a served (kicked) and each side is allowed three hits (the same as volleyball) before it is delivered over the net to the other team. The scoring is like badminton. The first team to 15 wins.

Tennis in Vietnam

Noel Huynh Mai Huynh was Vietnam’s top-ranked female tennis player in the early 2000s. But when she played before home crowds she was often booed and given bad write ups in the press because she was not considered a true Vietnamese—she born in the U.S. territory of Guam and holds dual citizenship in United States and Vietnam—even though she lived most of here life in Vietnam and for a long time had never been to the U.S. mainland.

The Vietnam Davis Cup team represents Vietnam in Davis Cup tennis competition and are governed by the Vietnam Tennis Federation. Vietnam currently compete in the Asia/Oceania Zone of Group III. They reached the final of Eastern Zone A in 1964, and of Eastern Zone B in 1965, 1969 and of Eastern Zone Preliminary Rounds in 1973. Vietnam competed in its first Davis Cup in 1964. The current team is made up of Do Minh Quân, Thien Nguyen and Lê Quo'c Khánh (doubles player). [Source: Wikipedia]

Jonas Bjorkman defeated third-seeded Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-6 (4) Sunday to win the inaugural Vietnam Open in Ho Chi Minh City in 2005. Associated Press reported: "This tournament marked the first time Vietnam has hosted international-level tennis. High ticket prices, lack of media interest and little publicity, however, resulted in mediocre attendance. The stadium was only three-quarters full for the final. Still, tournament director Amit Naor was "more than satisfied" and said ATP organizers have committed to a three-year deal in Vietnam. "For the first tournament, we got a great response," he said. "I think the future of tennis in Vietnam and the future of the ATP in Vietnam is very bright." [Source: Associated Press, October 2, 2005]

Tickets for the semi-finals were priced from 300,000 to 600,000 dong ($19-$38). Entry to the final cost 750,000 dong ($47). The annual per capita income in Vietnam is around $540. "Many wanted to see but when they came the ticket price turned them away," said Tao Nhu Thu, a seller at the Phu Tho complex where the indoor tournament was being held. Just a few hours before the semi-finals, ticket sellers said there were no fans queueing to buy tickets. One seller said fans had resigned themselves to watching the semi-finals and final on local television. [Source: Australian Associated Press, October 01, 2005]

"The number of spectators did not meet the requirement," admitted Nguyen Xuan Lap, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Tennis Federation. He said the tournament had been aimed at showing Vietnamese players how top international competitors performed. "Their skill is extremely high but if we do not start now, we can never start," Lap said. Rising incomes in Vietnam, one of Southeast Asia's fastest-growing economies, have drawn more people into the sport brought in by the French at the start of the 20th century and which rapidly became popular among the elite. However, officials said the level of skill was low and Vietnam, lacking proper training facilities and financial support, has not been able to compete even in regional events.

Four Vietnamese players signed up for the Open but failed to get beyond the second round of qualifying. "I did not care how the foreigners played but only wanted to see our guys playing, but they failed right from the qualifying matches," said a 34-year-old man who works for a foreign insurance firm in Hanoi and plays tennis at weekends. In a week when 51 people died in flash floods caused by Typhoon Damrey in northern Vietnam, national television broadcast no live coverage of the tennis and newspapers printed only the scores. The tournament was played at the same time as the Thailand Open in Bangkok, which attracted several of the world's top players including number one Roger Federer and number five Lleyton Hewitt.

Team Sports in Vietnam

Soccer (football) is the most popular sport in Vietnam. Association football (soccer) in Vietnam is run by the Vietnam Football Federation. The federation administers the Vietnam national football team, as well as the V-League, Vietnam First Division, and the Vietnam Second Division. The annual V-League competition has taken place since 1980 (except in 1988 and 1999). See Separate Article on Soccer.

Australian rules football has been played in Vietnam since 1998, when the Saigan Saints was formed by expatriate Australians. It was followed shortly after by new rivals the Hanoi Hawks, also established by Australian expatriates. The Saigan Saints stopped playing in 2001. In 2003, Australian rules football was reborn in Hanoi under the Hanoi Swans banner with a tri-nations tournament against Hong Kong and Thailand. In 2007, a movement started in Saigan to get footy up again with the goal of combining with Hanoi to form a national team, the Vietnam Swans. In July 2007, the Vietnam Swans played together for the first time in Bangkok for the 8th Annual Asian Championships. They returned to the Asian Championships in 2008 in Singapore and have been playing ever since. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Cricket in Vietnam was first played in the mid–20th Century, however it was formalised with the formation of the Hanoi Cricket Club in 1993. Cricket is largely played in Vietnam by English expatriates, who maintain cricket's social facets in a largely football (soccer) playing country, as the Vietnam Sports Industry has no official organisation for cricket. Nevertheless, it remains "excited by the idea of promoting cricket" and is advocating the formation of a cricket association, particularly in Ho Chi Minh city and Hanoi. In Vietnam, a three-team 30 over Trophy is played annually, and the cricket seasons runs from September to December. From March to May, 40 local cricket clubs also play a season of cricket. The use of rattan matting as a batting wicket meant that run ups in Vietnam are only a few yards long, and this policy was implemented two overs into the first international match between the Hanoi Cricket Club and an England/Australia touring party in 1993. In 2000, a Hanoi player hit the club's first ever century, the second in the entire nation's history, and the first overseas players began to play. Matches, however, remain oft affected by the weather. +

Dat Nguyen: Vietnamese-American NFL Player

The 5-foot-11-inch, 238-pound Dat Nguyen was the first Vietnamese-American to play pro football and the first to play for a major college team. He set a record at Texas A&M for tackles and was selected best defensive player in the country in 1998 and played seven years with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. Nguyen was born in 1975 in a refugee center at Fort Chaffee in Fort Smith, Arkansas and grew up in the Gulf Coast town of Rockport, Texas. He endured a lot of discrimination as a child. Once when his all Vietnamese-American youth soccer team won a tournament they were booed when the accepted their trophy. In May 2004, Nguyen was awarded a Golden Torch Award at the Vietnamese American National Gala in Washington, D.C. He was also featured in HBO's Hard Knocks.

At Rockport-Fulton High School, Nguyen played middle linebacker and handled punting duties. Nguyen earned All-State honors as a punter. Nguyen was recruited and received scholarship offers from Michigan, UCLA, Notre Dame, Texas and Florida. Nguyen eventually decided to play closer to home and chose Texas A&M University. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Nguyen played for the Texas A&M Aggies football team from 1995 to 1998. He battled the perception that he was too small to play linebacker for as long as he was involved in the game of football, despite his muscular frame. Proving critics wrong at an early stage, he finished his college career as the Aggies' career record holder with 51 consecutive starts, 517 career tackles and a 10.7 tackles-per-game average. His 517 career tackles is a Texas A&M record. He is the only Aggie to ever lead the school in tackles for four consecutive years. It is widely acknowledged that Nguyen was the undisputed on-field leader of the famous "Wrecking Crew" defense, as well as being its most famous and decorated player. +

Nguyen is generally acknowledged as the best defensive player in Texas A&M football history and one of the greatest defensive players of all-time in the history of the Big 12 Conference. In 1995, he was named Southwest Conference Defensive Newcomer of the Year. From 1996 to 1998, he earned first-team All-Big 12 honors three consecutive times. In 1997, he was named Aggies MVP. In 1998, he was named a consensus All-American by every awarding publication, won the Bednarik Award for College Defensive Player of the Year and the Lombardi Award for Outstanding College Lineman. Nguyen was also selected as a finalist for the Butkus Award eventually becoming first runner-up. Nguyen missed winning the Butkus Award by a single vote out of more than 45 votes cast. It remains to date the closest vote in Butkus Award history. He was named Defensive Player of the Game for the 1998 Cotton Bowl after recording a bowl record 12 tackles, including 3 tackles for a loss, and an interception, which he lateraled to a teammate for a touchdown. +

Nguyen was big fan favorite at both Texas A&M and the Dallas Cowboys because he was so tenacious and he played like someone who had been told all his life he was too small to play the sport. The Dallas Cowboys drafted Nguyen in the third round (85th overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft. Nguyen made an impact with the Cowboys from the very beginning, leading the team in special-teams stops as a rookie and becoming Dallas' starting middle linebacker in his second season. In 2001, he completed his first full season as a starting NFL middle linebacker and recorded 112 tackles. In 2003, with Nguyen leading the team in tackles, the Cowboys were the most effective defense in the NFL by a very wide margin; he was selected second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press. Nguyen officially retired from the NFL on March 3, 2006 after a neck injury, which hindered his 2005 performance, failed to improve. He led the team in tackles three times, in 2001, 2003, and 2004, and amassed 516 tackles in seven seasons, despite missing half of two separate seasons to injury. As of 2010, Dat Nguyen currently ranks 10th all-time in Cowboys recorded history for career total tackles. After retiring from the Cowboys, Nguyen did short coaching stints for the Cowboys and Texas A&M. +

Vietnamese-American Major League Baseball Player

Daniel Peter Graves—born in 1973 in Saigon to an American serviceman father and a Vietnamese mother—is the only Vietnam-born player in the history of the major leagues, and one of the few Vietnamese-American players. Graves pitched for most of his career for the Cincinnati Reds, where he was team's saves leader each year from 1999–2004, except for 2003 when he was a starting pitcher. He played college baseball at the University of Miami. Graves was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the fourth round of the 1994 Major League Baseball Draft. Two days after being drafted, he tore his ACL during the College World Series. After a year of rehabilitation, he was named Cleveland's top minor league pitcher of 1995, and was in the major leagues a year later. He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in July 1997. [Source: Wikipedia +]

In his first nine seasons with Cleveland and Cincinnati, Graves compiled a 40-42 record as a pitcher with 406 strikeouts, a 3.89 ERA, and 172 saves in 755.2 innings. He is the only player ever to have more than one season in which all his hits were home runs. This happened in 2000 and 2001, with one homer each. The 2005 season did not start well for Graves. He struggled, posting a 7.36 ERA through 20 games. Fans in Cincinnati took notice and consistently booed Graves, leading up to a May 23 incident when Graves made an obscene hand gesture to the crowd while being taken out of the game by the Reds' manager. He was later signed as a free agent by the New York Mets on June 11, 2005. Graves played for Mets and Indians and the minor league teams of the Rockies, Twins and Astros. His career ended in 2009 when he was released by the Astros. +

Nguyen Tran Phuoc is a Vietnamese pitcher who has had success playing in school level baseball in Japan. The son of a Boat People family that arrived in Japan in 1984, he was born and brought up in Japan.

Rugby in Vietnam

Rugby union was introduced when Vietnam was part of French Indochina, but was played mainly by French expatriates. After independence there was a long hiatus when the game was rarely, because of war and economic hard times. The Indochinese Cup was established in 1999, as a four sided tournament between Vietnamese teams from Saigon and Hanoi, Vientiane (Laos), and Phnom Penh (Cambodia). The historical connection with France is a mixed blessing. A number of people who could qualify for Vietnam's national rugby union team play in France. An example is the MHRC player François Trinh-Duc, who has a Vietnamese grandfather.

In 2007, Duc Viet wrote in VietnamNet Bridge, "Rugby has come to Hanoi with the establishment of the Hanoi Rugby School. Rugby is very popular in the world and is one of 43 sports events at the upcoming 24th SEA Games. However, it is still very new and strange in Vietnam. This gap is expected to be narrowed in the near future. The Vietnam Sports Promotion Company has cooperated with some agencies to open the first Rugby School in Hanoi and Vietnam and will open another in the Ciputra new residential area in early 2007. The first trainees of this school are students at the Hanoi-Amsterdam High School, the French School in Hanoi, the Hanoi International School and the United Nations High School. They are trained free of charge. At a press conference held at the French Embassy the representative of the Vietnam Sports Promotion Company expressed his hope that Vietnam could take part in the qualifier round of the World Cup for rugby in the next four years. The establishment of the Vietnam Rugby Federation is underway. On the occasion of the World Cup Rugby 2007, two students in Vietnam, one from the Hanoi-Amsterdam school and one from the French School in Hanoi will participate in the "Young Rugby World" programme. The two students will travel to France to watch the World Cup Rugby and take part in friendly matches with international youth. [Source: Duc Viet, VietnamNet Bridge, May 14, 2007]

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, Fox News and various websites, books and other publications identified in the text.

Last updated May 2014

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