The second Cambodian National Bokator Championship kicked off Tuesday with a series of morning displays of technique and 15 bouts in the afternoon—two of which ended in knockouts.
One of those rendered motionless before an audience of 200 was Chan Pisith Ratana, 17, who took a solid punch to the face during the third round of his match that sent him to the mat, where he rolled around for a few moments before lying flat.
Chan Pisith Ratana, who was visibly weakening by the second round, said after the match that he hadn’t been feeling well for the last couple of days and blamed his loss on illness.
But Chan Bunthoeun, Chan Pisith Ratana’s trainer, said the fight was unbalanced to begin with.
“My student is just 48 kg, and his competitor was 52 kg,” he said.
In general, he said the competition seems better organized than last year, though he said the timing of each match should be better announced to allow fighters adequate preparation time.
Event organizer Hok Chheang Kim said Tuesday morning’s demonstrations showcased the younger generation exhibiting the bokator techniques they have been hard at work learning all year round.
He said that the level of fighting in general Tuesday was more sophisticated than last year’s first-ever national championship. Overall winners will be announced Friday, he added.
Bokator trainer Kim Hok, 63, from Bos Bambek Club in Kampot province, said the level of judging has also improved, though all fighters still need to be schooled in basic preparation like cutting their nails.
Mang Yun, 72, from Kampot, who won a first place prize at last year’s competition, said he was thrilled to see younger people picking up bokator, but he was less enthused to see them mixing bokator with foreign martial arts forms.
“It looks like a modern technique of fighting. During my time, we fought the real bokator,” he said.