The Differences Between Bokator and Mouy Thai
By Santel Phin
Originally posted at: Khmer Bird
People know Bruce Lee, a master of Kung Fu that brought Martial Arts into cinema. then Jacky Chan and Jet Li continues to bring new styles, new ways of fighting in these modern days.
They are famous and popular around the world, people recognized China and Hong Kong as a home of Kung Fu.
Lately Tony Jaa in his Ong Bak brought, what they called Muay Thai, into screen and people can’t deny the movement is deathly efficient and dangerous.
Cambodia also got our own martial art which is born since Angkor period that, as evident, we can see everywhere on the wall of Angkor Wat. We call our martial arts as “Bokator” or alias “Boxkator
Bokator is a deathly martial arts on the planet. Bokator is an art to kill not to fight. it’s created for human to fight with wild animals such as lion or tiger. you can imagine how this arts need to be fast and efficient.
Antonio Graceffo, a martial arts and adventure writer, has came to Cambodia and spent 18 months to look for master of Bokator. He was very lucky to find the last survivor of Bokator Grandmaster Sam Kim Sean.
I have chance to exchange some emails on facebook with Antonio and asked him some questions. You will see what is the different between Bokator and Muay Thai. You can find just below the full interview with Antonio Graceffo.
Meet with Antonio Graceffo
Khmerbird: Hi Antonio. You have learned many martial arts from China, Thailand and others countries, what can you say about Khmer Bokator?
Antonio Graceffo: For my show and my books I have learned a lot of arts in different countries. But the bulk of my fighting or the basis of my personal fighting and training is western boxing, Muay Thai, and Bokator. I like the stand up striking of Muay Thai and Bradal Serey which is included in Bokator. But what I like about Bokator is the grappling. There are no gloves, so you can grab an opponent and take him to the ground and choke or submit him. This is a huge advantage when a Bokator fighter is fighting a Bradal Serey fighter or Muay Thai fighter
Khmerbird: is it not to ask about which one is the best or which one is the original but what are the different points between Muay Thai and Bokator?
Antonio Graceffo: The biggest difference in the fighting is that Bokator doesn’t use gloves, so you can grapple, lock, throw, and submit and choke. But also Bokator has animals and weapons. Another point is that Bokator is a codified system. There are steps, an order in which you should learn and practice the moves. In Muay Thai, it is very haphazard. Every teacher teaches differently and not everyone learns everything.
Khmerbird: I heard you have a lot difficulty in learning Khmer language, have you improved a lot now? i mean can you speak Khmer?
Antonio Graceffo: Yeah, I learned it fluently and I translate in all of the interviews I do in the videos and movies,. In fact I cold speak it fluently when I wrote that article about having difficulty learning it. I really just meant that article as a joke but people got angry and even threatened to kill me for it. Since then I have done a lot of research and writing about Mon Khmer languages and it was good that I learned Khmer first.
Khmerbird: How did you find Grandmaster Sam Kim Sean? What is the experience you got fro the grandmaster of Khmer martial art?
Antonio Graceffo: I spent about 18 months in Cambodia the first time looking for him and I found him toward the end of my stay. It was dumb luck. I was driving my moto and I saw a small advertising pamphlet taped to a light post. So I called, and went to see him. I started training with him and wrote about him for some magazines. Then, my times was up and I had to leave the country for a while. I came back about a year and a half later and we shot the Bokator movie. Then I left again. And I came back a few months later to do a series of threes shows for History channel, which kept me in the country for several months, I trained with him every day. I also went out to the village and did Khmer wrestling and I always train in Bradal Serey in Cambodia with Paddy Carson, my boxing trainer.
Khmerbird: If there’s screening in Cambodia as planed somewhere end of this year, will you come and join the opening day? Any film project recently with Cambodian production ? How do you feel about Cambodia cinema today?
Antonio Graceffo: I would love to attend the premiere in Phnom Penh if we can. I bet Tim Pek will be able to get a Phnom Penh screening because he managed to get one for his other movie, the red sense, in spite of government opposition. So, if Tim gets a screening date, I will go there. I am working in Vietnam right now, so its not so difficult.
I did a series of Bokator videos this year, in Cambodia, for my show, martial arts odyssey. We are planning more videos as soon as I go back again. even when I am away from Cambodia I work as a consultant for film crews. I have probably helped about ten or more film companies film Bokator. It was featured on the Kill Arman Show and now I am working on that show. We did an episode together in Taiwan and will do one in Thailand next month.
I still want to do a full-length feature film with Bokator but it costs a lot of money and I don’t have a financial sponsor.
Khmerbird: I think we all saw Jet Lee, Jacky chan … Tony Jaa maybe a good Khmer martial art Bokator will introduce Cambodia into cinema. What do feel about this?
Antonio Graceffo: Yeah I would like to make a full length feature using Bokator. It could be the new, new thing in the cinema.
Tim Pek, a filmmaker from Australia, have made a long film under the same title Bokator. I got chance to ask him some questions regarding his film:
Khmerbird: Ong Bak did a lot of success in international market by using what they call Muay Thai. Tony Jaa is a Khmer surin. when i watch the fight scene of Tony when he uses his knee to fight, it look similar to Bokator. I believe your film will be an essential movie to tell the world that Cambodia also got our own martial art which i would say more original than Muay Thai. What can you say about that?
Tim Pek: I seen Ong Bak part 1 & 2, yes i can see that he used a lot of Bokator styles. Its pretty obvious as he’s a Khmer person himself, of cos there were some exageration moves as well. Well we have strong proofs, as you can see heaps of base relief at Angkor wat temples.
Khmerbird: How did you find Grandmaster Sam Kim Sean and Antonio Graceffo? what are the experiences by working with the real Khmer martial arts people?
Tim Pek: I think they both are great, very talented men and very friendly to work with. It was a great privilege to learn some lessons and know them both.
Khmerbird: I heard you plan to release the movie somewhere end of this year, any screening schedule for Cambodia
Tim Pek: Well, we are trying to get it by end of the year, hopefully things went smoothly. There’s still a lot of researches need to be done.
A Hope for Cambodian Cinema
I heard Jacky Chan complained one time that he wanted to make a romantic and love story film but he can’t make any of them. there’s no market for love story film, even it has, it cannot compare to Martial Arts films. The Kung Fu films has a big market, a lot of people could like, enjoy and could understand quickly the film.
To open a new market to Cambodian cinema, Bokator would be the best option for Cambodian filmmaker to start doing good films and find a new market for Cambodia cinema.
I planed to write this post since a week, apology to those who wait and thank you to Antonio Graceffo and Tim Pek for their time to reply my questions.
I wait to see Bokator.