‘Surviving Bokator’ is a classic documentary on San Kim Sean, Grandmaster of Khmer martial arts and his small group of students who strived to restore Bokator – a traditional martial art since the times of the Khmer Empire. But a part of it was first premiered as ‘Kun Bokator’ on an international stage in South Korea, and won the second prize.
On Monday, ‘Surviving Bokator’ was first premiered at Legend Premium Olympia in Phnom Penh to a packed eclectic audience. It was attended by Canadian filmmaker Mark Bochsler who directed the documentary, protagonist San Kim Sean himself, Chea Chan Boribo, Secretary of State, Ministry of Information and President of the E-Sports Federation of Cambodia and W Patrick Murphy, Ambassador of the United States to Cambodia, along with Thiago Teixeira, a renowned Brazilian boxer who has been a passionate supporter of Cambodian kickboxing.
Speaking to Khmer Times, San Kim Sean, also known as the ‘Golden Kroma’ (the Grandmaster of Bokator), said: “It has been 30 years since I have been propagating this Khmer traditional martial art. Bokator had never been acclaimed on an international platform as everyone forgot the greatness of the Khmer Empire until now. This moment is a dream come true as we promote Bokator on a global stage.
“Bokator was part of life during the Khmer Empire and now it has become a treasure to all people of Cambodia. It originated in Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, which was the headquarters of the Khmer Empire. I learnt many fighting methods under Bokator by closely observing sculptors on the walls of Angkor Wat.”
San Kim Sean said he knows 3,000 traditional fighting techniques under Bokator and is willing to teach all of them to every student who approaches him with the ambition to master them.
Filmmaker Mark said the documentary turned out to be sublime and that UNESCO will be using it as part of its research project on Bokator. “The UN organisation plans to grant World Heritage Status to Bokator soon. It is an honour for all Cambodians and for myself as a filmmaker. The documentary also promotes Cambodia as a great tourism destination – a land of Bokator.”
“All the negative perceptions on Cambodia connecting the nation to the Khmer Rouge genocide are going to change now. Cambodia, at present, is a land of youth, energy and amazing culture. Khmer traditions are on centre stage as the young generation from across the world would now want to learn more on Bokator.”
Chea Chan Boribo said the documentary highlights the struggles of San Kim Sean to popularise Bokator and also conveys his message to the youth of the world.
The documentary narrates the transformation of Khun Khmer (San Kim Sean’s Bokator training school) from a small-area unit near Orussey Market to a well-established martial arts training school of global repute at present in Siem Reap.
(The film will be released across all cinemas in Cambodia on May 25, 2023.)
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.