San Kim Sean continues his push to revive the ancient Khmer martial art with the introduction of a 30-hour course for travellers
Bokator practitioners show off their skills at the Boxkator Academy in Phnom Penh on Thursday.
THE revival of Cambodia's 2,000-year-old
martial art bokator looks set to continue with the introduction of a
special short course for foreigners in Phnom Penh.
Due to commence in the next month, the 30-hour courses will introduce
expatriates to what is considered the "complete" martial art - a
fighting sport that includes strikes, throws, drags, trapping, ground
fighting, weapons and pressure-point attacks.
Grandmaster San Kim Sean, doyen of bokator, said he was introducing the
US$120 short course to appeal to foreigners who may not be in the
capital for very long.
A sprightly 63, San Kim Sean said the sport was good for participants' health.
"The sport makes you feel younger as you age. You get to be 60 and you feel like your 40 years old," he said.
As well as training fighters in all the basic techniques, San Kim
Sean would also introduce them to the lotus stick, a 20cm-long wooden
weapon which can be seen in bokator fights detailed in bas reliefs at
The amount of pain bokator practitioners feel during training is
minimal, San Kim Sean said, adding that discomfort decreased as the
body grew stronger.
"It's not painful like a broken arm or black eye. It's a muscular pain," he said.
It's not just about fight but also
meditation and a degree of spirituality.
'A complete sport'
French fighter David Plouhinec, training Thursday at San Kim Sean's
"Boxkator Academy" on Street 161, described bokator as a complete sport.
"There are a lot of techniques, and it's not just about fighting but also meditation and a degree of spirituality."
Plouhinec said he immediately knew he wanted to learn bokator when he
saw an exhibition. He is now planning to spend another seven months in
Phnom Penh learning the art.
Dating back to the Khmer Mon period 2000 years ago, bokator was
originally a death sport in which "the loser died, the winner stayed
alive", San Kim Sean said.
The art entered a decline about 200 years and was dealt a severe blow
by the Khmer Rouge regime, under which bokator almost vanished.
San Kim Sean has been leading a revival, however, since his return to Cambodia from the United in the 1990s.
There are now more than 1,000 fighters across 10 provinces, and the
third National Bokator Championships is scheduled to start October 22.
Less competition-based than previous editions, this year's championship
- to be held at Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh - will focus on
exhibition bouts, San Kim Sean said.
Bokator 30-hour course for foreigners:
Where: Boxkator Academy
169E, Street 161, Phnom Penh
Ph. 012 651 845; 016 800 880