Finding a common interest, like a shared hobby or musical taste, maybe a great conversation starter. In a short time, sports may become a common bonding topic for many people. So today, we’d like to introduce you to some basic Khmer sports vocabulary.
Do you participate in any athletics? If so, beginning up a conversation with a local might be a great way to improve your Khmer skills. Khmer culture also includes various fascinating traditional sports that are worth learning about. This introduction to traditional Khmer sport will inspire you to continue learning about the Khmer language and culture beyond the scope of this lesson on sports words. All right, let’s get moving!
Traditional Sports In Cambodia
In 802 A.D., the Khmer Empire was created when many current countries in Southeast Asia did not yet exist. As a result, the Khmer Empire’s armed forces extensively used martial arts, eventually becoming popular Khmer modern-day sports. In addition, wall sculptures created by ancient artisans certify the longevity of several Khmer sports, proving their existence. This is why some traditional Khmer sports are some of the world’s oldest practiced martial arts or sports.
Here’s a look at some of these sports!
បោកចំបាប់ (Baok Cham Bab)
This is a form of traditional wrestling in Cambodia. Historically, this game was used to determine who would lead the villages. Once the harvest was complete, the village elders would gather under the full moon to pass on their knowledge to the younger generation. It would happen at night in a rice paddy just outside of town. In addition, traditional matches are organized to celebrate the Khmer New Year and other Cambodian festivals.
There are three rounds in a typical Khmer wrestling match. Pushing an opponent to their back is a potential strategy for winning a competition. Two-round wins are required to declare victory in a wrestling match. If the loser of a round wants to keep competing, he is given the option to do so.
The ritual dance is just as significant as the wrestling itself. Before a match, wrestlers often engage in ritual dancing accompanied by the rhythm of two drums. This tradition is similar to Muay Thai (Thai boxing).
It’s believed that Bokator, a combat style with its roots in Cambodia, is one of the world’s oldest continuously practiced martial arts. It’s a form of Khmer martial art that dates back to when the ancient Khmer armies fought on the battlefield.
Bokator features both hand-to-hand and heavy weaponry combat. This sport uses various striking and grappling techniques, including elbows, knees, shin kicks, and ground fighting. Wooden stuff like Bamboo sticks, swords, and lotus sticks are all involved in this sport. Bokator is sometimes incorrectly categorized as a kind of modern kickboxing due to its striking similarity to the sport.
ប្រដាល់សេរី (Pradal Serey)
One of the most popular sports in Cambodia is Pradal Serey or traditional Khmer kickboxing. It’s also referred to by គុនខ្មែរ (Kun Khmer). This is another form of Cambodian martial arts. Power in Pradal Serey kicks comes from hip rotation instead of a leg snap, making it distinctive from other styles. Pradal Serey fighters use many forms of strikes: punches, kicks, elbows, and knees.
Boxers, like the practitioners of the Baok Cham Bab, perform a series of rituals called the Kun Kru before each match.
Khmer Sports Vocabulary
Here is sports vocabulary, including words related to sports events in Khmer, to learn to speak with the locals whenever you can.
|Khmer Word||Pronunciation||English Definition|
|ម្ចាស់មេដាយ||mcheasa medeay||Medal winner|
|ស៊ីហ្គេម||sai hkem||SEA Games|
|ប្រដាល់សេរី||pradal serey||Traditional Khmer kickboxing|
|បោកចំបាប់||baok cham bab||Traditional wrestling|
|តេក្វាន់ដូ||te kvan dau||Taekwondo|
|សីប៉ាក់តាក្វាន់||sei bak ta kvan||Sepak takraw|
|ការប្រណាំងទូកប្រពៃណី||kar braneangtouk brapeinei||Traditional boat racing|
|វ៉ូវីណាម||vau vi nam||Vovinam martial arts|
|អ៊ូស៊ូ||aou saou||Wushu martial arts|
Has studying the Khmer sports vocabulary inspired you to get out and be active? Khmer traditional sports are fascinating because of their deep historical roots in the country’s culture. Some Southeast Asian countries share similarities with Cambodia regarding martial arts. For instance, the Baok Cham Bab shares many of Muay Thai’s core values and traditions. In addition, traditional tribal elections have often included competitions based on such sports.
That said, sports appear to have a much more significant role in Khmer culture than we ever imagined.
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