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Bokator Federation formed for SEA Games

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Bokator fighters spar for an audience in a demonstration of the martial art. POST STAFF

Bokator Federation formed for SEA Games

Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC), confirmed the news that Cambodia will establish a Southeast Asian Bokator Federation in order to create a clear regional structure for competition internationally.

The newly formed federation will be responsible for managing the sport when Cambodia hosts the SEA Games for the first time in 2023. Bokator as practised today is a modern version of a martial art that was long used by Khmer soldiers on the ancient battlefields of the Khmer Empire.

As secretary-general of the Cambodia Kun Bokator Federation (CKBF), Chamroeun said the establishment of the Southeast Asian Bokator Federation is not only focused on the competitions that will take place at the 2023 SEA Games, but also on having the right management structure to help expand the scope of the bokator martial art to the international stage so that the Cambodian traditional martial art can be expanded to every continent.

“What we want is to build accessibility, friendship and solidarity between our ASEAN countries to strengthen our bokator in the region in a responsible way with the right structure for each country before we can extend it again from regional to continental and from continental to global,” he said.

Bokator is already present in many countries across Asia such as India and Iran as well as in countries with a large Cambodian diaspora like Australia, France and the US, Chamroeun said.

“We plan to conserve bokator to develop it and to conserve it as a traditional Cambodian sport, both of these principles must help each other. With these principles in mind, CKBF president Chan Sarun encourages the federation to work hard and expand the sport abroad,” he said.

With bokator already set to make its first appearance at the upcoming SEA Games, Cambodia has been establishing cooperation agreements with other countries in the region by sending expert trainers to help train martial artists in bokator, with the hopes that some of those countries will be able to send their athletes to compete in Cambodia in 2023.

During a meeting with Chamroeun at the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) on October 15, Tanayut Jongsukkaijai, president of the Pencak Silat Association in Thailand’s Surin province, expressed his intentions to organise a bokator team to send to the games next year.

“Our federation and Tanayut have understood and agreed that we will send a coach to train his team soon or he will send his trainer to learn bokator techniques here in Cambodia, but we will have an exchange between bokator practitioners to assist each other and we are very happy that he opened his heart to join Cambodia and help promote bokator,” Chamroeun said.

On October 11, CKBF sent a total of 33 trainers and athletes to Indonesia to exchange knowledge and techniques from the two countries’ traditional martial arts.

Two of Cambodia’s trainers will be training Indonesian athletes in bokator, while another pair of trainers and 28 athletes from the Kingdom will be trained in Pencak Silat by Indonesian experts in order to improve their technique in it and prepare for the 2023 SEA Games.

Meanwhile, East Timor has also expressed its intentions to train martial artists in bokator and now the Kingdom is considering ways to send trainers there as well, bringing the number of countries expected to compete in bokator at the upcoming SEA Games up to seven.

“At our SEA Games, there should be seven to eight countries participating in bokator because now we have seven – Kampuchea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Burma – and we will contact other countries like East Timor, who also wants to join. If we can get East Timor into the competition, we will then have eight countries and this will be a big success for us in our efforts at promoting bokator regionally,” Chamroeun said.


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