sports

Khmer Kickboxing

Khmer Kickboxing is an unarmed martial art and combat sport from Cambodia.

Khmer Kickboxing

Khmer Boxing, is a traditional Cambodian combat sport. Similar to Muay Thai, Khmer Boxing is steeped in centuries tradition and originated as a form of hand to hand combat used by foot soldiers of Khmer kingdoms. Today the sport is held in a boxing ring and is recognized for its fast paced action and is very popular throughout the region.


Khmer Kickboxing is an unarmed martial art and combat sport from Cambodia. The official Khmer name of the sport is Kbach Kun Pradal Khmer. In Khmer, pradal means fighting or boxing and serey means free. Thus, pradal serey may be translated as “free fighting” or “free boxing”. The sport consists of stand up striking and clinch fighting where the objective is to knock an opponent out, force a technical knockout, or win a match by points.

Khmer Kickboxing is most well known for its kicking technique, which generates power from hip rotation rather than snapping the leg. Khmer Kickboxing consists of four types of strikes: punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes. The clinch is used to wear down the opponent. In the clinch, opponents battle for a dominant position for short-range strikes by way of elbows and knees. Cambodian fighters tend to utilize more elbow strikes than that of other martial arts in the region. In Khmer Kickboxing, more victories come by way of an elbow technique than any other strikes.

History of Khmer Kickboxing

The story of Khmer Kickboxing starts with the Khmer Empire. The Khmer Empire was founded in 802 A.D. at a time when many modern Southeast Asian countries didn’t exist yet. Martial arts were used by the military of the Khmer Empire. Khmer Kickboxing has its root from the hand-to-hand combat use by the military of the Khmer Empire. In the Angkor era, both armed and unarmed martial arts were practiced by the Khmers. Evidence shows that a style resembling Khmer Kickboxing existed in the 9th century, which may be one of the reasons why the Khmer Empire was such a military powerhouse in Southeast Asia. The Khmer Empire used an early form of Khmer Kickboxing along with various weapons and war elephants to wage war against their main enemy, the principalities of Champa.

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