An increasing number of people in Ho Chi Minh City are willing to spend money attending classes that teach martial arts from other countries in order to become stronger and more able to protect themselves when in danger.
A center named No.1 Muay Club, in District 1, is offering a month-long course of Muay Thai at VND500,000 (US$22.35), teaching three lessons per week.
Learners who need personal instructors can pay an additional VND200,000 ($8.94) to VND300,000 ($13.41) per hour.
Many parents take their children to these classes and even hire personal trainers to equip them with the skills necessary for self-defense, despite the high cost.
Saigon Sports Club, in District 7, is also providing people with similar services on a larger scale, offering superior quality and therefore at a higher price.
The club, which is a gymnasium and sports center spread over 7,500 square meters, runs courses on a wide variety of martial arts, including boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), and mixed martial arts (MMA).
Besides Vietnamese instructors, who are national athletes, learners are given the opportunity to study with foreign coaches.
Members can also relax in a large swimming pool as well as an outdoor bar after hours of hard work.
Those who can afford a membership at Saigon Sports Club are given three packages to choose from; bronze, silver and diamond.
Vietnamese mainly prefer the lowest cost membership, the bronze package, priced at $1,000 per annum.
Saigon Sports Club currently has 250 members, of whom 120 are Vietnamese, with learners’ favorites being Muay Thai and boxing, said Trinh Van Tri, owner of the facility and himself a boxing coach.
Despite the relatively high fee, many members remain willing to pay an additional amount for personal lessons in order to master the martial arts, which require close attention to the instructors, according to Tri.
“We have different lesson plans to help different learners reach their objectives,” said the owner.
He added that many members are Vietnamese celebrities who are actors, models or entertainers.
“I used to train in normal gymnasiums in the city. However, I feel the need to improve my self-defense skills after encountering many complications in my life. As I was impressed with the equipment and quality of Saigon Sports Club, I don’t mind the high price,” Nguyen Hieu Thuan, a member of the center, explained.