Lao Martial artists strike out for the future

Posted by samakomlao Sunday, March 15, 2009

More than 100 martial artists gave a demonstration to a curious crowd at the Faculty of Economics and Business at the National University of Laos on Saturday.

The demonstrators, from the junior and senior categories of various martial arts, comprised 50 judo fighters, and 40 male and 21 female practitioners of aikido. They came from Vietnam , Cambodia , Singapore , Thailand and Laos and performed alongside karatedo teams. They received training for this event from Japanese experts.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Phongsavat Boupha, Deputy Minister of Information and Culture Bouangeun Xaphouvong, Japanese Ambassador to Laos Masaaki Miyashita, presidents of the judo aikido and karatedo federations and senior officials watched the performance along with students.

“It is my great pleasure that the Embassy of Japan is hosting this martial arts demonstration here today. I would like to welcome all guests and thank them for coming to this event,” Mr Miyashita said.

Judo is a traditional Japanese martial art dating back to ancient times along with sumo wrestling. It is renowned for its solid manual movements, without the use of any protective gear or equipment. After the Second World War, it gained an international reputation and was practised by millions of people all over the world. For some time it was included in the Olympic Games.

Karatedo is believed to have its origins in Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan . Again, it doesn't involve the use of any instruments, but there is more emphasis on striking and kicking.

The birth of aikido is relatively recent, dating back to around the 1920s. This martial art is primarily used for self-defence, rather than for attack. It also attaches great importance to harmony between the body and the mind. These martial arts are not simply physical sports, but also emphasise the importance of discipline and self-control.

Some of the players who demonstrated their skills and expertise on Saturday had won SEA Games' medals.

“I am confident that many more of them will obtain medals in the coming SEA Games in Vientiane later this year,” Mr Miyashita said.

He said the Japanese government was continuously contributing to the development of martial arts in Laos by organising annual events and building the Lao-Japan Budo Centre in Vientiane .

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Lao judo and karatedo federations and the Lao Aikido Club for their valuable collaboration with the Embassy of Japan in organising today's event,” he added.

“It's particularly important to mark this event as part of the Mekong-Japan Exchange Year 2009 programme. I hope you enjoy beautiful and powerful performances by Lao martial artists.”

The national judo team will compete at a judo competition to be held in Thailand on April 4. Teams will also take part in the first Asean Martial Arts competition to be held in Thailand at the end of April.

Judo events in the 25th SEA Games will include eight men's categories (55kg, 60kg, 66kg, 73kg, 81kg, 90kg, 100kg and over 100kg), while the eight women's categories are in the 45, 48, 52, 57, 63, 70, 78 and over 78kg weight divisions.

Karatedo events will consist of male combatants in seven categories (55kg, 60kg, 65kg, 65kg, 70kg, 75kg, 80kg) and women fighters in four (48, 53, 60 and over 60kg).

At the 24th SEA Games held in Thailand last year, the Lao judo team won two gold, one silver and three bronze medals, while the karatedo team won a bronze medal.

By Sangkhomsay Bubphanouvong

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