Kun Khmer Boran


Nice to meet.

So a funny thing happened to me a couple weeks ago. I was helping to sell some shirts at the USF fights, when this Cambodian kid slinks up to the table. I’m assuming they were Cambodian because they were wearing Khun Khmer Boran shirts. With “Powered by Khmer” on the backs of their shirts. I was kicking back eating (surprised?) when I hear the kid say “I don’t like Muay Thai” okay… nice to meet you too.

Photo’s by Bedur

Seriously what the f are you supposed to say? I was sort of curious, and debated for a second if I wanted to engage him in a conversation. I could feel that I was feeling slightly irritated and saw that my intentions were more about getting a rise out of him, then having a honest conversation. So I just left it alone.

I was thinking about it yesterday, why would you walk around a Muay Thai event and then have one of the first words out of your mouth be “I don’t like Muay Thai” while wearing a Khmer fighting shirt? I thought about it and tried to view it from his perspective. What lack of social skills would make you blurt that out when first meeting someone.

What started off as annoyance has turned slightly into sympathy…


For those of you who don’t know the Khmer civilization is a very old and advanced culture. Their empire stretched across what is modern day Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The Khmer empire was at war with several of it neighbors. Over the centuries their empire fell in decline and was eventually attacked by the Siamese in 1431.

There’s a large debate over the historical origins of Muay Boran. The Khmer people claim that their style of fighting Predal Serey predates other forms of South East Asian fighting styles.

I’m not a historian, nor do I know much about the subject, but is that so hard to believe? I don’t have any problem believing that at all. It doesn’t make me appreciate Muay Thai any less. People will always be nationalistic and will always argue this point. I guess I’m just not that interested in it. Fine Predal Serey is the oldest one on the block, the original seed. Ok, so know can we get along?


So I guess we can’t get along just yet… I found this on Wikipedia, so take it with a grain of salt. I’ll go on the record and say that I believe that this did happen. I guess at an ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) meeting, Thailand wanted to rename South East Asian Kickboxing to Muay Thai or Thai boxing. The Cambodian’s wanted it changed to SEA boxing. I guess Thailand won out and the Cambodian’s ended up boycotting.

I know it was a requirement of the IOC that no sport be named after a country. So it looks as if the name will be changed if it wants to be considered for the Olympics.

Khmer Rouge

The Khmer people were completely ravaged by the Khmer Rouge in the late 70’s. The Khmer rouge wanted to take the Khmer people back to an agrarian society. They basically set Cambodian’s back 150 years in 4 short years. They accomplished this through a widespread campaign of genocide. They rounded up the educated, Doctors, teachers, artists et al… “the brains and history” of their country and killed them. It’s estimated that 2 million died during the Khmer Rouges 4 year reign (1974-1979) If you haven’t seen the “Killing Fields” you should check it out. Pretty F’d up. Their art their culture nearly exterminated.

Photo By Adam Carr


The Khmer boxers have slowly been rebuilding. They have been trying to Market Pradel Serey similarly too Muay Thai. Basically Muay Thai was allowed to flourish and develop uninterrupted, while the Cambodian’s had more pressing concerns of civil war. It would be great if they could get back on their feet.

Note to the Kid wearing the Khun Khmer Boran shirt at USF

I’m not going to pretend that I “feel your pain”… or pretend I understand where you’re coming from… and I definitely can not identify with that huge chip on your shoulder.

However, I do however hope your art receives the recognition in deserves. I hope that I can someday walk into a Pradal Serey event and tell you I don’t like Predal Serey (just kidding)

In the meantime, you should educate people on Khun Khmer Boran, the similarities or differences to Muay Boran etc. You need to engage people, not insult them. People tend to tune out when you blurt out things like “I don’t like Muay Thai” when they’re sitting there clearly selling Muay Thai shirts.


About Author

I started My Muay Thai back in 2006... I was tired of reading about MMA, and wanted somewhere I could watch real muay thai fights, be inspired and connect with others who love muay thai as much as I do... I currently live in London... when I'm not geeking out over muay thai you can find me bombing around London on my scrambler, ferreting out the latest street food gems.

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