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The Khmer Rouge came close to eradicating the emerging Cambodian martial art.

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Cambodia (AFP) – The Cambodian martial art of kun bokator roars onto the international arena just decades after being on the verge of extinction at a refurbished wedding venue in Phnom Penh.

San Kim Sean, also known as “The Grand Master,” says it is his ambition to introduce the old sport to the globe, and its participation in the Southeast Asian Games is the next step in that endeavor.

He told AFP at the SEA Games, “I hope my dream will come true, to me and to the world,” before describing how the Khmer Empire’s military system almost perished.

The homicidal Khmer Rouge dictatorship of the 1970s hunted it down after first discouraging it because it recognized a danger in organized and trained warriors with a stake in preserving national culture.

A documentary titled “Surviving Bokator” that will be released later this month has San Kim Sean saying, “I almost died three times” during the persecution. Huge people gathered at the wedding location in the capital of Cambodia to wave flags and support the local and international warriors.

One excited fan showed up dressed just in the typical golden shorts used by fighters, arm ties, and a headpiece. The beautiful yet violent form also uses knees and elbows, locks, and grappling in addition to punches and kicks. Live drums and roaring traditional pipes accompany the battle’s soundtrack.

While awaiting the opportunity to attack again, combatants frequently dance. There was also ostentatiously good sportsmanship on show. Before and after rounds, many competitors hugged one another.

And to the joy of the home crowd, when a Cambodian fighter won the 55 kg men’s final, his victorious Philippine opponent placed him on his shoulders.

Nget Dab, the victor, then returned the favour.

There have been performance rounds using staffs and big blades in addition to combat events. Over the course of both slates, Cambodia earned 18 medals, including eight gold ones.

“Shown for all.”

However, other nations have managed to compete, particularly in fighting, where the sport significantly resembles the more popular mixed martial arts.

Both Vietnam and Indonesia have received medals.


Tea Banh, the defence minister of Vietnam, and Brazilian kickboxer Thiago Teixeira were among the guests present during the finals.

Teixeira just received citizenship from Cambodia as a result of his stance in the “Muay Thai” or “Kun Khmer” kickboxing dispute with Thailand, as ordered by Prime Minister Hun Sen.


“I feel very great to see Cambodia is growing in the world and have their own style shown for everyone,” said Teixeira, who wants to learn kun bokator but has ruled out participating.

The martial art received a boost last year when UNESCO listed it as an example of Cambodia’s social, cultural, and religious qualities and added it to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

San Kim Sean said, “Everything in my dreams have come true,” as medal winners bowed before him. However, he later clarified, “Not 100%. There is more in the plan.


However, “in Cambodia everyone knows bokator” for the time being.

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