Photo: Peter Adams Photography/Shutterstock

These Vietnamese Rowers Show Off the Remarkable Way They Row Their Boats

Vietnam Culture
by Matador Creators Jan 11, 2023

Vietnam is a country with a rich and diverse boating culture. From the bustling cities along the coast to the tranquil rivers flowing through the country’s heart, boats have long been an essential part of daily life in Vietnam. One of the most notable aspects of this boating culture is the traditional technique of “leg rowing” used by many of the country’s boatmen.

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Leg rowing is a technique that involves using the rower’s legs as the primary source of power rather than their arms. The rower sits with their legs extended and pushes against a footrest with their feet to propel the boat forward. This method is unique to Southeast Asian cultures and is said to be less strenuous than traditional arm rowing, allowing for long hours of rowing on the river.

The use of leg rowing for boats in Vietnam is likely due to a combination of historical and practical factors. One reason is that the rivers and coastlines in Vietnam have strong currents and often choppy waters, which can make traditional arm rowing difficult. Using the legs as the primary power source allows for more stability and control in these conditions while also providing more power. Additionally, this method is more efficient for fishermen to navigate the river and sea for a more extended period to catch fish.

This traditional technique of leg rowing is not only practical but also deeply rooted in the culture and history of Vietnam. Many local fishermen have learned this rowing method from their ancestors and continue to pass it down to the next generation. The technique is also often showcased in traditional festivals and ceremonies, where boatmen demonstrate their skill and strength during leg rowing.

In recent years, many traditional boats in Vietnam have been replaced by motorized vessels, but the tradition of leg rowing has remained. Many local fishermen continue to use the traditional leg-rowing technique on their boats, keeping this unique aspect of Vietnam’s boating culture alive.

Overall, the Vietnamese leg-rowing technique is a unique and fascinating aspect of the country’s boating culture and a practical and efficient way of navigating the rivers and sea that have shaped Vietnam’s history and culture. It’s a tradition that deserves to be celebrated and preserved.

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