Learn about Bokator - Cambodian Martial Arts Style

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Learn about Bokator - Cambodian Martial Arts Style

Bokator is an ancient Cambodian martial arts that includes grappling, kicks, elbow strikes and weapons training.

Description and History of Bokator

According to Bokator Cambodia, "Bokator/Boxkator, or more formally, Labokator (to fight (like a) lion) is a Khmer martial art that may be a predecessor of southeast Asian kickboxing styles. History indicates that Bokator or an early form thereof was the close quarter combat system used by the ancient armies of Angkor.

Angkorian warriors were a key factor in enabling a succession of Angkorian kings to dominate southeast Asia for more than 600 years beginning in 800 AD. Popular belief is that Jayavarman VII, the ruler of the Khmer Empire, was a practitioner of Bokator.

Unlike kick boxing, which is a sport fighting art, Bokator was a soldier's art, designed to be used on the battlefield. It uses a diverse array of elbow and knee strikes, shin kicks, submissions and ground fighting. Bokator practitioners are trained to strike with knees, hands, elbows, feet, shins, and head. Even the shoulders, hip, jaw, and fingers can be used to fight an opponent to submission or death.

When fighting, Bokator practitioners still wear the uniforms of ancient Khmer armies. A kroma (scarf) is folded around their waist and blue and red silk cords called sangvar day, are tied around the combatants head and biceps. In the past it is said that the cords were enchanted to increase strength, although now they are just ceremonial.

The kroma (a cotton scarf worn around the waist) shows the fighter's level of expertise. The first grade is white, followed by green, blue, red, brown, and finally black, which has 10 degrees. After completing their initial training, fighters wear a black kroma (scarf) for at least another ten years. To attain the gold kroma one must be a true master and must have done something great for Bokator. Becoming a "true master" is most certainly a time-consuming and possibly life-long endeavor: in the unarmed portion of the art alone there are between 8,000 and 10,000 different techniques, only 1,000 of which must be learned to attain the black kroma."


  1. Bokator Cambodia, Home Page, http://www.bokatorcambodia.com/, Added - 10/4/13

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