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25/01/2022 - 16:10

Story of Hue's first MMA referee

Mixed martial arts (MMA) in Hue remain quite new. It was therefore that when a provincial archery coach was the referee at Vietnam MMA Cup 2021 organized by Vietnam Mixed Martial Arts Federation (VMMAF), there arose many surprises and excitements.

As a fitness coach in archery, Ngo Viet Phu is also an athlete and coach in many other martial arts

1 - Vietnam MMA Cup 2021 took place on December 19 in Ho Chi Minh City. This was the first professional mixed martial arts (MMA) competition after VMMAF establishment in 2020, under the management of the General Department of Sports and Physical Training (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism).

For the first time, with 16 fighters (including 2 fighters from Russia and Poland), who are famous athletes of fighting sports across the country, Vietnam MMA Cup 2021 captured a lot of attention from the martial arts community at home and abroad. This event marked the first time the athletes entered the arena of MMA, an officially recognized sport in Vietnam, competed under the Law of MMA Vietnam issued by VMMAF.

At this event, the provincial archery fitness coach Ngo Viet Phu was the first Hue referee, along with 32 other referees across the country, to participate in refereeing competitions. To become a VMMAF referee, the martial artist born in 1988 said that he had to complete 2 courses with a total of 500 students, organized by VMMAF.

Unlike the referees of other martial arts, MMA referees must have been athletes or referees of many martial arts and have trained and competed for many years so that they can fully and exactly keep abreast of the situations that occur on the ring.

Aside from his current job in the provincial archery division, Ngo Viet Phu himself has quite a lot of experience in martial arts. He has been a Karate athlete for 15 years and a Karate referee for 5 years; he has Jujitsu purple belt (only after black belt and brown belt in the system of this martial art). He is also a coach-cum-referee in Jujitsu, BJJ, No Gi BJJ, MMA, Muay Thai, Kickboxing and Boxing. And according to Ngo Viet Phu, it is thanks to these accumulations that have helped him a lot in the test of hypothetical situations on the ring that the referee course offers.

Thanks to being an athlete, coach and referee of many martial arts, even though it was the first time he stepped on the professional MMA ring, Ngo Viet Phu was quite confident, made no mistakes in the process of refereeing the assigned matches, and intervened opportunely in dangerous situations.

“The difficulty of a MMA referee is to have a good grasp of the blows of many martial arts that a fighter synthesizes during training so that when he strikes, the referee can assess whether it  breaks the law or not," said Ngo Viet Phu.

2 - MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts. To be precise, MMA is not a martial art but a form of martial art competition.

There, instead of learning 2-3 martial arts and combining them to compete, the athletes and coaches synthesize the effective blows of martial arts such as Karate, Taekwondo, Boxing, Kickboxing, Wrestling, Wushu, Muay Thai, BJJ, Juhitsu, Vietnamese traditional martial arts... and create lesson plans used in MMA competition.

Ngo Viet Phu (outermost, left) refereed a match for Vietnam MMA Cup 2021

“MMA is not divided into techniques but forms 4 main fighting styles: standing fighting; wrestling; locking; tightening, pressing and hitting on the floor. Since its inception, MMA was seen as the most brutal sport because it allows fighters to use many different skills (except biting, gouging eyes...) and almost any part of the body to knock down the opponent. With diverse and fierce fighting skills, MMA is very attractive to viewers, but this also makes MMA assessed as too cruel,” said Ngo Viet Phu.

Also from the fact that MMA has too many brutal blows, when imported to Vietnam, MMA was studied by the General Department of Sports and Physical Training together with related units in order to eliminate dangerous attacks that can make a fighter fatal or disabled. That is also one of the preconditions for the birth of Vietnam General Martial Arts Federation (VMMAF) as it is today, along with the aforementioned Vietnam MMA 2021 Cup competition.

“Vietnamese MMA law is essentially based on the professional and semi-professional MMA law worldwide. However, in order to mitigate the brutality, the Vietnamese MMA law prohibits fighters from kicking the head and body when the opponent fell to the floor; prohibiting the use of techniques: Heelhook (heel twist, causing severe ligament damage); Neck Crank (cranking chin, neck); the spine twists and the elbows 12-6 (using the elbows to hit from the top to the 12 - 6 o'clock direction)," informed Ngo Viet Phu.

MMA has undergone quite sharp development in some provinces and cities across the country, and in 2022, MMA will be developed with the national championship like other professional sports. Currently in Hue, MMA remains new, but according to Ngo Viet Phu, it is feasible for this playing ground to spread because Hue is a place that the traditional martial arts have developed vigorously and has a sports intermediate school where many athletes of Karate, Taekwondo, wrestling, Judo... have been trained. During training, if feeling unsuitable, athletes who meet all 3 factors: physical strength, bodybuilding and stamina can shift to MMA training.

“Because this is a mixed martial art, there is no stereotype, so athletes can make the most of all the skills they have to apply on the ring. That's why it's easy for novices with a martial art background to easily access MMA," said Ngo Viet Phu.

Story: HAN DANG. Photos: Provided by the character