View Full Version : Brief History of Kun Khmer

18-06-2004, 01:43 PM
Kun Khmer
Archaeological findings in Cambodia have suggested that a sophisticated martial arts system – Kbach Kun Boran Khmer – was practiced as far back as 2000 years ago. The bas-relief of Angkor Temples illustrates the various combat methods, from armed to un-armed, that structure Kbach Kun Boran Khmer. These combat methods include Kun Sabbarp (Grappling and wrestling system), Kun Labong Wanye (Long stick system), Kun Labong Cleye (Short stick system), Kun Gabit Cleye (Short Knives System), Kun Dour (Swords system), Kun Tahnow (Arrows system), Kun Daye (Bare-hands system), Kun Bockatour (Doors system), Kun Ombaye (Spear system), Kun Krab (Low-fighting system) and Kun Bradarl Borran (Ancient Freestyle boxing system). Ancient manuscripts illustrate the thorough and intricate forms of each combat method, which Khmer Soldiers employed to protect themselves in battle, ensuring the survival of an entire Kingdom.
Although the richness of Kbach Kun Boran Khmer is evident, Kun Khmer Australia is primarily concerned with the preservation and promotion of the free-style boxing system (simply called ‘Kun Khmer’) as a sport. It is one of the most spectacular spectator sports of South East Asia, meshing sacred and ancient traditions with fierce kicks, punches, knees and elbows. Each bout is accompanied by the music of the ‘skor yaul’ (a type of drum), ‘the sralai’ (a flute-like instrument) and the stringed ‘chhing’. As the boxers stride out, they dance and bow in their traditional headgear, to the roar of the crowd that calls them to battle. While in the past Kun Khmer was regarded as a lethal gladiator sport, through which boxers would fight to the death; it has since been modernized and regulated with strict rules, to minimize injury and to promote safety within the ring. In a similar fashion to conventional western boxing, it is fought in a 6.1-meter square ring, with five three-minute rounds broken by one minute intervals. The referee or officials decide the bouts, and a knockout is called when a boxer is knocked down and cannot rise within 10 seconds.
As an organisation, Kun Khmer Australia hopes to celebrate and share with the community, a small part of Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage. People may wish to learn Kun Khmer for a myriad or reasons: health, self-defence, self-confidence, social reasons and so on. However, for the Khmers that choose to be members of the organisation, it’s about building links between their modern lives in Australia and their innate ties to ancient Khmer history; to help them build self-identity, pride and a sense of community. The President of the association has ambitious plans for the association, which oozes out of its bold mission statement: “to be a cohesive, global organisation that preserves and promotes the Kun Khmer tradition, contributing to the health, welfare and success of its members”. And with a slogan like “Fighting for a better future”, it seems the association is aiming for great things.

18-06-2004, 06:17 PM
anywhere we can see footage of this?

20-08-2006, 10:57 PM
Hey Imsta, you seem to know alot about Kun Boran Khmer. By the way good news if we stilled have Khmer peeps like you stilled interested and support that Kun Boran Khmer is effective and unique. It's true Kun Boran contains grappling, arm and unarm combatant forms, 12 mae in all that is.

We have organize an active club in America currently in Columbus, Ohio. We will soon open our main school in Stockton, California. These clubs will train Kun Boran Khmer to all ethnics so this way we can spread and preserve our art. I also try to track of Bradal Serey in Srok Khmer. I'm glad that Khmer are coming up fast, I myself also compete in full contact tournament. So far I fought in an MMA tournament and Muay Thai. So far so good I tell yah. Sooner or later my friend we will rise to popularity.

Oue main goal is to open Salakun in Battambang, Cambodia. It's a matter of time I tell you. This is a movement I tell you , I 'm glad that Im a part of it, and I hope you guys can be a part of this too. We need all the support we can, please help spread the words that Kun Boran Khmer is very much alive and well. Take care my friend.

Edited by - boroshsonny on 20 Aug 2006 22:06:54

21-08-2006, 12:16 PM
hey imsta, long time no post :)

have you seen this clip yet?


>>>Kun Khmer>>>
Reclaim the Name!

21-10-2006, 04:06 AM
Imsta - so what do u think of the clip???

>>>Kun Khmer>>>
Reclaim the Name!

23-10-2006, 01:38 PM
Hi Soldier,

I have seen the clips a while ago. I have spoken to Kim Sean on the phone a couple of times. We were planning to bring him over and some of his students over, but couldn't find the funding from the Khmer community. Kim Sean, is doing a good job to preserve the khmer heritage.

Kun Khmer Renaissance

23-10-2006, 02:10 PM
so the master in the clip is Kim Sean??

>>>Kun Khmer>>>
Reclaim the Name!

23-10-2006, 06:08 PM
Yes that is him. Two of my masters here in Melboure Jang Sak and Mr. Tans used to trained together with Kim Sean before the war. It was funny how they thoughts the other had died during the war, but they're all alive and kicking.

Kun Khmer Renaissance

18-09-2007, 04:18 PM
Bradal Serey, Putting a Modern Spin on an Ancient Art
Learning Khmer Kick Boxing with Paddy Carson
By Antonio Graceffo

(also called Pradal Serey)

“We have to remember why we are in that ring we are there to hurt the other guy we aren’t in there to make love to him. So, the quicker we can hurt him, the better. You want him to think I don’t want to get hit like that again.” Paddy Carson.

The pads POP! As a Khmer fighter nails them with a series of perfect round house kicks. When the Khmers kick, the leg comes around like a baseball bat, and the shin smashes into the target, decimating it. This is not Ta kwan Do or Karate, this is Bradal Serey, Khmer kickboxing.

“It’s all technique. You have to get the technique right first, then you will get the explosion on your punches and kicks in the fight.” Says Paddy Carson, the owner and principal trainer of Paddy’s Gym, in Phnom Penh.

Khmer pop music blares as Paddy’s stable of about twenty Khmer boxers go through their paces. The assistant coach Socheat blows the whistle signaling the beginning of the round. The fighters always train three minutes on, one minute off, just as in a real boxing fight (in western boxing). Many trainers live by the adage “you will fight the way you practice.” Timing your workouts will prepare your body a professional fight.

Sports research has proved that western boxers have the most powerful punches of any combat sport athletes. Paddy’s fighters use western boxing as a base for their Khmer boxing.

“You should learn to punch like a boxier but kick and elbow like a Khmer boxer. Then you will have the whole package.” Says Paddy, who has trained over 14 world title holders.

Before coming to Cambodia, Paddy worked as a trainer in Thailand for 13 years. The first foreigner who was ever granted a professional boxing license, he came to Cambodia to help support Khmer boxing and has a dream of building a Khmer fighter into a world title holder.

“I think elbows are better in Khmer boxing than in Muay Thai. Unfortunately, Cambodia has had all civil wars, and the Bradal Serey instructors were killed by Pol Pot. So, throughout the Twentieth Century, Cambodian boxing went up, and then down, and then up and down. Thailand has gone continually up and up. Thailand have marketed the sport all over the world. Thailand has joined the international bodies and have produced world title holders. If Thailand and the Philippines can produce world title holders, I believe that Cambodia can too. The Khmers are tough boys. They come from the provinces with nothing. Some of them don’t even have money for food, but they train hard. They are respectful to me and the assistant coach. They always bow when they see us. And now they know that if they listen to what I teach them, they can win.”

In addition to his professional Khmer boxers, Paddy has a number of westerners training with him. It has almost become a cliché for westerners to go live in a camp in Thailand and study Muay Thai. But in Cambodia, there aren’t a lot of gyms which are really equipped for westerners. The average westerner who is starting to learn Khmer boxing is already past the age that Khmers will retire from the ring. Plus, the training and fighting style need to be modified to match our larger bodies and lesser flexibility.

Some coaches stress high kicks and head kicks. They make you stand at a bang and smash it as high as you can with your shins. Paddy disagrees with this type of training.

“We are all built differently in this world. Some people can do double flying spin kicks or whatever, but some people can’t. If you aren’t a high kicker then what do you want to do high kicks for? You do what you were built to do. If you can’t do high kicks, then do low kicks. In Thailand, I told my foreign fighters, don’t train and fight like the Thais.”

“It is stupid to try and kick your opponent in the head in the early rounds when you are fresh and he is fresh. You are never going to get it. How often in fights do you see the guy get knocked out with a high kick? Almost never. Wait till he is tired. Wear him down. Work the body. Work the legs. In the later rounds, when he gets tired, and you are still fresh, then you go for the head kick.”

Working the legs means repeatedly kicking your opponent’s thigh with your shin. A normal man can only withstand two or three kicks to the thighs, before his leg will buckle and he will go down, involuntarily. Even a seasoned fighter can be chopped down, like a tree, if you repeatedly land the same kick on the same portion of his leg, again and again.

“My fighter, my world champion, was very short and he used to fight people who were a foot taller than him. He wasn’t a high kicker, so I told him go in there, work the legs, work the legs, and throw combinations. He knocked his opponent out.”

Paddy wasn’t suggesting that high kicking is a bad thing, only that it must be appropriate for your ability.

“If you were a high kicker then I would train you that way. Not that I couldn’t teach you that, but why do that all the time. Go for the body, go fro the arms.”

Very few fighters go for the arms. This means kicking your opponent in the biceps with your shins. Very few people can stand up this type of punishment. The arms will quickly become useless. Eh Phou Thoung, Cambodia’s greatest kick boxing champion, is known for kicking his opponent’s in the biceps. In his career, he has broken the arms of several of them.

“Ninety percent of head kicks don’t reach their target. The opponent sees it coming and he blocks with his leg or his shin, and possibly, you hurt your leg. Don’t do that! Wait till he throws a high kick, then attack.”

“I like a high kicker, the higher the better. During a high kick, he is wide open and it takes longer for the leg to come down. He is defenseless and off balance the whole time. When the opponent does the high kick, kick his base leg.”

Another opportunity that many fighters miss is kicking the inside of the leg or kicking the base leg. When an opponent throws the high right kick, his left leg, the base leg is a wide open, inviting target. You can lea your head or duck your head slightly, to avoid the high kick. At the same time, shoot a kick in and hit the inside of his left thigh or calf muscle. With all the weight on that one leg, there is a good chance the man will go down. At the very least, he will be in a lot of pain.

“When I was fighting I was a take down artist. I would catch the kick, trap the leg, and kick the base leg out from under him. This is something we don’t see enough of here. You also don’t see a lot of inside low kicks. I tell my guys smash the inside kick just above the inside of the knee.”

Brining modern innovations to a centuries old sport, which is so steeped in tradition and national pride can be difficult. Reasonably, the Khmer fighters are resistant to adopt new techniques, brought to them by a westerner.

“I teach Richard, my foreign fighter, all the new techniques first. Then, the Khmers see him improve, and they pick it up and improve too.”

Having an extensive background in both western boxing and professional kick boxing in the west, Paddy stresses movement and position.

“When you kick, the foot has to come back to perfect position again so you can throw another technique. Some of the Thais and Khmers throw a kick and it is thirty seconds till they do something else. You need to be moving and doing something all the time. If you watch the big kick boxing matches on cable, and listen to the foreign commentators from Australia they are saying if the Thais don’t start doing combinations they will not be able to keep up with the western fighters. I have been doing that for twenty years, teaching my guys combinations.”

Kicking is almost the only thing that many coaches teach. Once a guy has a decent kick, they put him in the ring and expect him to win.

“Richard is still a novice, but he is kicking like a guy who has had thirty fights. But now he needs to get the ring craft. When you get in the ring on fight night, with all the lights and TV cameras, you get nervous and lose thirty percent of your energy from nervousness. It is only when you have been in the ring a lot getting in the ring again and again that you will calm down. And you will fight in the ring the same way you practice.”

“This is an advantage of Khmers and Thais. Many of them have had seventy five fights, and they don’t get nervous at all. But they have other problems. Now, we have Thais going to England with 70 fights and losing to a guy with thirty fights.”

“The Thais and Khmers are quite static when they fight. They get knocked out sometimes by punches that wouldn’t knock out another fighter. In the west, the sport is being dominated by people with boxing and kicking background. But here, they aren’t learning the boxing. I have seen fighters here knocked out with a jab.”

Having trained and fought on both sides of the border and both sides of the globe, Paddy sees the strengths and weaknesses of the Thai fighters and believes that with his help, the Khmers can exploit those weaknesses and become world champions.

“If a western boxer can learn Muay Thai and go to Thailand and win a title, then I believe that Khmer boxers could do it.”

Once the Khmers start winning international competitions, then they will be able to reclaim the name, Bradal Serey, and tell the world the true origin of kick boxing.

If you are going to Phnom Penh and you want to train with Paddy, contact him: [email protected]

Antonio Graceffo is an adventure and martial arts author living in Asia. He is a professional fighter and the author of four books available on amazon.com Antonio was the first foreign student of Bokator, in Cambodia. Contact him [email protected] see his website www.speakingadventure.com

Antonio Graceffo, The Monk from Brooklyn

18-09-2007, 04:18 PM
Cambodian Martial Art, Khmer Bokator on Web TV
By Dante Scott

Before there was Muay Thai, there was Bokator. Now, you can see Bokator
On the web for free. http://youtube.com/watch?v=617qPJPBSPM

Bokator, the complete fighting art, developed by the Khmers during the Angkorian Empire. Bokator is the predecessor of modern Bradal Serey, Khmer kickboxing, also called Pradal Serey. Where kickboxing is limited to kicking, punching, elbows, knees, and head grapples, Bokator includes ground fighting, joint locks, manipulations, throws, weapons, and animal styles.

“Bokator, the Great Angkorian Martial Art” A new film, starring Grand Master San Kim Saen and Antonio Graceffo, will be debuting later this year, to show Bokator to the world. The film was directed by Tim Pek, an Australian Khmer film maker, most famous for his film of Khmer Rouge retribution and forgiveness, “The Red Sense.” Tim, a Khmer Rouge genocide survivor met Antonio while working on the film “Krabei Liak Goan,” (Buffalo Protecting Child). This Khmer Kung Fu movie pitted the hero, national Bradal Serey champion, Eh Phou thoung against Antonio Graceffo, who played the bodyguard of the villain.

“In addition to helping to make Bokator accessible to people all over the world, I enjoyed making this film because I didn’t have to die.” Said Graceffo, who originally came to Cambodia to find and write about Khmer martial arts.

A lifelong martial arts practitioner, Graceffo recently became the first foreigner to earn the Black Krama (black belt) in Khmer Bokator fighting. (Another American, Derek Morris, was the first foreigner to earn a Black Krama be certified as an instructor of Bokator.)

In addition to the independent film, San Kim Saen and his two American students have worked together on two shows for the History Channel, “Human Weapon,” and “Digging for the Truth.” Bokator will also be featured on the brand new web TV show, Martial Arts Odyssey, hosted by Antonio Graceffo. The show follows Graceffo around the world, as he explores new and often obscure martial arts. The pilot is currently running on yuotube.com

Click here to see the trailer for the movie, about Bokator Khmer martial art: http://youtube.com/watch?v=617qPJPBSPM

To see the pilot episode of “Martial Arts Odyssey,” click here. http://youtube.com/watch?v=3haZwrsY_oM

Antonio Graceffo, The Monk from Brooklyn

18-09-2007, 04:21 PM
Welcome Antonio! Good to see you in this forum.

Kun Khmer Renaissance

18-09-2007, 05:33 PM
Welcome aboard Antonio! :)


~Kun Khmer~

09-07-2008, 04:35 PM
Are there any kun khmer places in the dandenong area? Thanks

09-07-2008, 06:34 PM
Yes 60 Hammond Road Dandy South

10-07-2008, 10:45 AM
Hi Airwalk,

There is a Kun Khmer show on Friday the 11th of July in Springvale Town Hall 7.00pm. If you can make it come and say hi.

10-07-2008, 02:50 PM
Sorry wont be able to make it, but i'll try next time.
So how does Kun Khmer differ from Muay Thai?

10-07-2008, 06:12 PM
quote:Originally posted by airwalk23_vm

Sorry wont be able to make it, but i'll try next time.
So how does Kun Khmer differ from Muay Thai?
You'll wish you never asked...[}:)]:D

10-07-2008, 07:37 PM
... oh god

10-07-2008, 07:53 PM

10-07-2008, 08:23 PM
(thanks to Russ for the popcorn ;))