Khmer Martial Arts

Three major indigenous forms of martial arts are still studied and practiced in present-day Cambodia:
Pradal Serey, Bokator, and Japbab Boran Khmer.

  1. Pradal Serey ("free boxing") is kickboxing with nearly exactly the same rules and style as Muay Thai. It is the national sport and professional fights are featured weekly on Cambodian television.

  2. Bokator (roughly translated "smashing the lion") is an all-encompassing ancient fighting art that utilizes punches, kicks, knees, elbows, grappling, ground fighting, and weapons. Practitioners fight without gloves and instead wrap their hands with ropes or traditional krama scarves.

  3. Japbab Boran Khmer ("ancient Khmer wrestling") is a Khmer style of wrestling and the least practiced of the Cambodian martial arts. In Japbab, the goal is to force the opponent’s back onto the ground. A handful of wrestling clubs exist countrywide and they meet annually for the national wrestling competition, which is a big spectator event.
Angkorian temple bas relief depicting
a warrior performing what is popularly
known today as a kimura lock.
Learn more about Khmer martial arts in the articles below written by martial artist Antonio Graceffo

  1. The Current Situation of Cambodia's Ancient Fighting Arts

  2. Khmer Wrestling: Fighting in the Dirt / Preserving Khmer Heritage

  3. Bokator: The Great Angkorian Martial Arts

  4. Pradal Serey: Putting a Modern Spin on an Ancient Art

Adventurer and martial artist Antonio Graceffo also hosts a web video show Martial Arts Odyssey on youtube and his books, such as "Rediscovering the Khmers" published in 2008 and "Warrior Odyssey: The Travels of a Martial Artist in Asia" set for publication in summer 2010, are available at

More about the author and his travels can be found on his website
or he may be contacted directly at

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