Yesterday I went to see a Jiu-Jitsu championship for the first time. It was also the 1st National Championship of JiuJitsu in Vietnam, so this kind of sport seemed quite new and I was curious to see it.

I read that Jiu-Jitsu meant “Gentle-Art” and knew that this championship was actually more of Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu, a version that was more gentle and including no weapon during fighting. I loved the idea of men practising a kind of martial art that utilising techniques over violence. How could one be ‘gentle’ to turn another one down? That was why I once photographed a Judo session with Nam Khuong in “Falling” to visually learn about the art. It turned out Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo came from the same origin. This explained why some competitors were from Judo clubs.

I took more than 300 shots during the morning, mostly fighting scenes and of Saigon Luta Livre, the team of my buddy who lead me to this sport. I came early and paid attention to several interesting guys. I had my own judgement about people who came early or late, quiet or noisy, and loved to see how they went along. One of the guys I’d like to photograph was Pham Dung, whose name was right on the back of his uniform, which made him look professional.

I thought these photos of him were basically enough to illustrate what a Jiu-Jitsu fighter often did at a competition. I heard that he was a ‘killer’ so I watched whenever he came into the tatami. It was a bit strange he didn’t look as he was struggling in my photos. The calmness on his face was very attractive. Probably I didn’t stay long enough to see him meeting his true rival.

Another thing I liked about Judo abd BJJ was the ‘well-behavior’ as a must out of the fight. Even the supporters might yell during the fight, but not as aggressive as usually seen in football. I heard no swear at all. Instead, I saw supporters providing waters and muscle-streching for fighters.

Next week, I would post some images of other fighters in and out of the mat. Their expressions were very different yet still beautifully masculine.

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