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In Pictures: The Khmer warrior-artists
Traditional Cambodian martial arts are fighting back, with kickboxers raising their sport's profile internationally.
Last updated: 14 Feb 2014 08:44
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Phnom Penh, Cambodia - In the past few years, Cambodia has been trying to make a comeback in the martial arts world. Its ancestral stories, engraved in the stones of the famous Angkor temples, speak of brave warriors that once dominated the region. Fighting has long been a constant part of Southeast Asian cultural tradition. In the Angkor era, the Khmers practiced both armed martial arts such as Bokator, and unarmed varieties such as Pradal Serey and Kun Khmer.

Banned during the Pol Pot regime, many Khmer fighters were exterminated in the Cambodian genocide, in which approximately two million people perished. Some fighters who were able to flee the country, such as San Kim San, have since brought Bokator back to Cambodia - and are now trying their best to raise the sport's profile throughout the world.  

Today, nearly 100 gyms train the new generation of Khmer martial artists across the country. National television channels show almost daily fights in the arenas of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. 

Despite the growing popularity of Kun Khmer, most Cambodian boxers compete simply to earn money to help their families.

As they earn a very small amount from the fights, most fighters still need other jobs to make a decent living; only those fighters who are sponsored or who have the opportunity to participate in international tournaments can make a living from the martial art.

With purses for most fights ranging from $15 to $100, most martial artists work in jobs that allow them to have free hours for the hard training needed. Many are also rewarded by spectators who may give them part of their gambling earnings after their fierce battles in the arena. 


/Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

Traditional fighters perform Kun Krou rituals prior to combat at a private night fight in the Angkor temple of Thomeanon near Siem Reap. Bokator and Kun Khmer fighters are hired for private functions during the dinners that many hotels and travel agencies organise for their clients in the Angkor.



/Omar Havana/Al Jazeera
Fighters in Siem Reap train several days a week in an army compound on the outskirts of the city.


/Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

Evidence shows that a style resembling Pradal Serey existed in the ninth century, leading the Khmer to believe all Southeast Asian forms of kickboxing started with the early Mon Khmer people.



/Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

A Kun Khmer fighter practices knee strikes. Kun Khmer consists of four types of strike: punches, kicks, elbows and knee.



/Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

Compared with other forms of Southeast Asian kickboxing, Kun Khmer emphasises stances with fast movement to allow the fighter to more easily avoid the blows of their opponent.



/Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

Most Cambodian boxers are aged between 14 and 25.



/Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

A Kun Khmer fighter prepares for a fight at the new Siem Reap arena in Cambodia. During the Cambodian genocide, traditional martial arts were banned and many boxers were executed or worked to death, which nearly caused the disappearance of the Pradal Serey fighting style.



/Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

Fighters wrap their hands moments before a fight. Nowadays, Kun Khmer is making a strong comeback in Cambodia, with fighters attempting to market their style of boxing to the audiences which enjoy the much more popular Muay Thai.



/Omar Havana/Al Jazeera
A new Cambodian boxer can earn 25 USD per fight. More experienced fighters with more than a dozen fights can earn up to 75 USD.


/Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

While most well known for its kicking technique, which generates power from hip rotation rather than snapping the leg, Kun Khmer also utilises punches, elbows and knee strikes.



/Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

Vorn Viva, International Sport Karate Association Middleweight world champion, is declared winner over the Colombian Eddie Vendetta, during a fight in the Siem Reap arena in Cambodia.



/Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

A defeated fighter unwraps the bandages from his hands in the back yard of the new Siem Reap arena after losing his bout.



/Omar Havana/Al Jazeera
Most Cambodian boxers come from a poor background.


/Omar Havana/Al Jazeera
They compete to earn enough money to feed their families.


/Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

Most of the fighters survive by working jobs, such as tuk tuk driving, that leaves time and flexibility to attend their daily trainings.




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images:
/mritems/images/2014/2/10/2014210103544936194_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/2/10/201421010354592801_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/2/10/2014210103545264118_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/2/10/2014210103545546398_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/2/10/2014210103545764193_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/2/10/2014210103545999777_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/2/10/2014210103546202317_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/2/10/2014210103546405131_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/2/10/2014210103546577536_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/2/10/2014210103546749247_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/2/10/2014210103547296220_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/2/10/2014210103547952144_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/2/10/2014210103548280652_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/2/10/2014210103548608525_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/2/10/2014210103548858532_8.jpg
captions:

Traditional fighters perform Kun Krou rituals prior to combat at a private night fight in the Angkor temple of Thomeanon near Siem Reap. Bokator and Kun Khmer fighters are hired for private functions during the dinners that many hotels and travel agencies organise for their clients in the Angkor.

;*;Fighters in Siem Reap train several days a week in an army compound on the outskirts of the city.;*;

Evidence shows that a style resembling Pradal Serey existed in the ninth century, leading the Khmer to believe all Southeast Asian forms of kickboxing started with the early Mon Khmer people.

;*;

A Kun Khmer fighter practices knee strikes. Kun Khmer consists of four types of strike: punches, kicks, elbows and knee.

;*;

Compared with other forms of Southeast Asian kickboxing, Kun Khmer emphasises stances with fast movement to allow the fighter to more easily avoid the blows of their opponent.

;*;

Most Cambodian boxers are aged between 14 and 25.

;*;

A Kun Khmer fighter prepares for a fight at the new Siem Reap arena in Cambodia. During the Cambodian genocide, traditional martial arts were banned and many boxers were executed or worked to death, which nearly caused the disappearance of the Pradal Serey fighting style.

;*;

Fighters wrap their hands moments before a fight. Nowadays, Kun Khmer is making a strong comeback in Cambodia, with fighters attempting to market their style of boxing to the audiences which enjoy the much more popular Muay Thai.

;*;A new Cambodian boxer can earn 25 USD per fight. More experienced fighters with more than a dozen fights can earn up to 75 USD. ;*;

While most well known for its kicking technique, which generates power from hip rotation rather than snapping the leg, Kun Khmer also utilises punches, elbows and knee strikes.

;*;

Vorn Viva, International Sport Karate Association Middleweight world champion, is declared winner over the Colombian Eddie Vendetta, during a fight in the Siem Reap arena in Cambodia.

;*;

A defeated fighter unwraps the bandages from his hands in the back yard of the new Siem Reap arena after losing his bout.

;*;Most Cambodian boxers come from a poor background.;*;They compete to earn enough money to feed their families.;*;

Most of the fighters survive by working jobs, such as tuk tuk driving, that leaves time and flexibility to attend their daily trainings.

Daylife ID:
78fcc40bfab71dc7ad9508ec2919b14d
Photographer:
;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;
Image Source:
Omar Havana/Al Jazeera;*;Omar Havana/Al Jazeera;*;Omar Havana/Al Jazeera;*;Omar Havana/Al Jazeera;*;Omar Havana/Al Jazeera;*;Omar Havana/Al Jazeera;*;Omar Havana/Al Jazeera;*;Omar Havana/Al Jazeera;*;Omar Havana/Al Jazeera;*;Omar Havana/Al Jazeera;*;Omar Havana/Al Jazeera;*;Omar Havana/Al Jazeera;*;Omar Havana/Al Jazeera;*;Omar Havana/Al Jazeera;*;Omar Havana/Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
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Daylife Raw Data:
Khmer fightershttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fightersen-ussupport@newscred.comUntitled Site10Mon, 10 Feb 2014 10:31:12 GMT http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/a7eae383e2f4a42cd7f20d20fe820cea

Traditional fighters perform Kun Krou rituals prior to the combat during a private fight at night in the Angkor temple of Thomeanon near Siem Reap, Cambodia. Bokator and Kun Khmer fighters are hired for private functions during the dinners that many hotels and travel agencies organise for their clients in the Angkor.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/a7eae383e2f4a42cd7f20d20fe820ceaOmar Havana/Al Jazeera

Traditional fighters perform Kun Krou rituals prior to the combat during a private fight at night in the Angkor temple of Thomeanon near Siem Reap, Cambodia. Bokator and Kun Khmer fighters are hired for private functions during the dinners that many hotels and travel agencies organise for their clients in the Angkor.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/95b58f19cb7631fcfc7f7f75e4ce7298

Fighters in Siem Reap train several days a week in an army compound on the outskirts of the city.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/95b58f19cb7631fcfc7f7f75e4ce7298Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

Fighters in Siem Reap train several days a week in an army compound on the outskirts of the city.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/50a45c48545c59e7cefd610825cd50b5

Evidence shows that a style resembling pradal serey existed in the 9th century, leading the Khmer to believe all Southeast Asian forms of kickboxing started with the early Mon Khmer people.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/50a45c48545c59e7cefd610825cd50b5Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

Evidence shows that a style resembling pradal serey existed in the 9th century, leading the Khmer to believe all Southeast Asian forms of kickboxing started with the early Mon Khmer people.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/bdb0bcbf0e9575567cc85c8602fb445f

A Kun Khmer fighter trains knee strikes. Kun Khmer consists of four types of strikes: punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes. Fighters in Siem Reap train several days a week in an army compound on the outskirts of the city.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/bdb0bcbf0e9575567cc85c8602fb445fOmar Havana/Al Jazeera

A Kun Khmer fighter trains knee strikes. Kun Khmer consists of four types of strikes: punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes. Fighters in Siem Reap train several days a week in an army compound on the outskirts of the city.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/aa6bce98f41fffda703e6269878888a1

Compared to other forms of Southeast Asian kickboxing, Kun Khmer emphasises more elusive and shifty fighting stances.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/aa6bce98f41fffda703e6269878888a1Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

Compared to other forms of Southeast Asian kickboxing, Kun Khmer emphasises more elusive and shifty fighting stances.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/4bc411d207aef674e0a0c54483c28b65

The average age of most Cambodian boxers is between ages 14 and 25.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/4bc411d207aef674e0a0c54483c28b65Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

The average age of most Cambodian boxers is between ages 14 and 25.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/1ae9c623618e72047d86b8064d918ae2

A Kun Khmer fighter preparing for a fight at the new Siem Reap arena in Cambodia.During the Khmer Rouge genocide, traditional martial arts were banned and many boxers were executed or worked to death, which nearly caused the disappearance of pradal serey fighting style.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/1ae9c623618e72047d86b8064d918ae2Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

A Kun Khmer fighter preparing for a fight at the new Siem Reap arena in Cambodia.During the Khmer Rouge genocide, traditional martial arts were banned and many boxers were executed or worked to death, which nearly caused the disappearance of pradal serey fighting style.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/b4c926e94bb1923f1d6ecb25770d01f4

Fighters wrap their hands moments before a fight. Nowadays, Kun Khmer is making a strong comeback in Cambodia, with fighters attempting to market their style of boxing at the same caliber of Muay Thai.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/b4c926e94bb1923f1d6ecb25770d01f4Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

Fighters wrap their hands moments before a fight. Nowadays, Kun Khmer is making a strong comeback in Cambodia, with fighters attempting to market their style of boxing at the same caliber of Muay Thai.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/0695408ecbf4a4a5f14f21a659f82df7

A new Cambodian boxer can earn 25 USD per fight. More experienced fighters with more than a dozen fights can earn up to 75 USD.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/0695408ecbf4a4a5f14f21a659f82df7Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

A new Cambodian boxer can earn 25 USD per fight. More experienced fighters with more than a dozen fights can earn up to 75 USD.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/ae0feb1a2fb886f7d799d030daf1b247

While most well known for its kicking technique, which generates power from hip rotation rather than snapping the leg, Kun Khmer consists of four types of strikes punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/ae0feb1a2fb886f7d799d030daf1b247Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

While most well known for its kicking technique, which generates power from hip rotation rather than snapping the leg, Kun Khmer consists of four types of strikes punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/824f0bcec3ef3bd0102319cb88ff62e5

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA. Vorn Viva, ISKA (International Sport Karate Association) Middleweight world champion, is declared winner over the Colombian Eddie Vendetta, during a fight in the Siem Reap arena in Cambodia.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/824f0bcec3ef3bd0102319cb88ff62e5Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA. Vorn Viva, ISKA (International Sport Karate Association) Middleweight world champion, is declared winner over the Colombian Eddie Vendetta, during a fight in the Siem Reap arena in Cambodia.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/20163020ed35e50f19aa199a4232e835

Fighter unwraps the bandages of his hands in the backyard of the new Siem Reap arena after losing his fight.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/20163020ed35e50f19aa199a4232e835Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

Fighter unwraps the bandages of his hands in the backyard of the new Siem Reap arena after losing his fight.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/48a12f065c05b27ba6ef98735e8d09ab

Most Cambodian boxers come from a poor background.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/48a12f065c05b27ba6ef98735e8d09abOmar Havana/Al Jazeera

Most Cambodian boxers come from a poor background.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/4078ba936d82a645c5d88be5895efc6c

They compete to earn enough money to feed their families.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/4078ba936d82a645c5d88be5895efc6cOmar Havana/Al Jazeera

They compete to earn enough money to feed their families.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/366d95dfd90ba9ed652c33c44655c6e6

Most of the fighters survive by doing different jobs, with the majority of them working as tuk tuk drivers, as it one of the few jobs which leaves them time and flexibility to attend their daily trainings.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Khmer_fighters/slideshow/no-caption/366d95dfd90ba9ed652c33c44655c6e6Omar Havana/Al Jazeera

Most of the fighters survive by doing different jobs, with the majority of them working as tuk tuk drivers, as it one of the few jobs which leaves them time and flexibility to attend their daily trainings.



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