Westerners Awarded Black Belt in Khmer Bokator, Cambodian Martial Art

August 23, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Travel News
“This is a historic moment.” Said Grand Master San Kim Saen, who promoted his two leading foreign students. “It is the first time, in a thousand years, that we have begun giving the test again. And Derek and Antonio are the first foreigners ever to test.”

Derek, a former US soldier, first read about Bokator in an article written by Antonio, in Black Belt magazine, while he was on deployment in the Iraq War. “Derek wrote to me and asked where he should train after coming out of the military.” Said Antonio, who is both the first foreign student and the first foreign journalist to write about Bokator, in 2004. “I suggested Cambodia.” After being honorably discharged from the Army, Derek flew to Cambodia and lived in the Bokator school, training eight or more hours per day.

Derek was awarded both a Black Belt and an instructor’s certificate. “He will help me spread Bokator to the world.” Said the Grand Master.

Antonio was awarded a Black Belt in Bokator fighting. “I really love to fight, and I like learning practical martial arts. So, this was the perfect course of study for me. The Grand Master helped me improve my knee strikes, elbows, punches, and kicks. I also trained every day with the Cambodian wrestling team, because grappling is part of Bokator.”

In his Black Belt test, Derek had to demonstrate mastery of more than 500 Bokator techniques. “In a way, what Derek did is a lot harder than what I did.” Said Graceffo. “He had to learn the forms, the animals, and the demonstration techniques. I just had to improve on my ability to thump people.”

To view a new youtube.com short featuring Grand Master San Kim Saen and Antonio Graceffo click the link below.