In today’s martial arts world, there are many fighting techniques that need no blows,” says martial arts fighter David Cummings. David invented the David Cummings martial arts styles and teaches his students these styles. David has participated in several battles in the ring and emerged champion each time. A fighter who grew up in Oklahoma, David is an expert in various martial arts skills. He also has a trained team that is skilled in various martial arts. He further mentioned Kun Lbokator as an example of martial art with no blows.
What is Kun Lbokator?
Kun Lbokator is a type of fighting technique invented by a particular group of people. It can be traced as far back as the 1st century. Kun Lbokator aims to improve the physical and mental capacity of those who practice it. Kun Lbokator mostly focuses on self-defense without violence. This is why Kun Lbokator involves physical fighting techniques and mental discipline.
What does Kun Lbokator teach practitioners?
It teaches practitioners social skills, decorum, and respect for nature. Those who have spent many years practicing a martial arts and have advanced fighting skills are called Masters. Kun Lbokator practitioners believe that some of their masters have powers that heal and protect people. These masters teach their students about their duties and functions in society and what is expected of them. They expect their students to protect the environment and those who are vulnerable. The students also learn to fight for peace and justice.
Kun Lbokator originated from Cambodia as part of a ritual ceremony for their deities. This ritual ceremony still exists today, and many also practice Kun Lbokator at traditional events. The ancient Khmer practiced this fighting technique. It is accompanied by local music, medicine, and other festive activities. Therefore, Kun Lbokator embodies the culture, religion, and traditions of Cambodians. Cambodians who believe in Kun Lbokator practice it regardless of their level of education, exposure, and status.
Native fighting styles like the Kun Lbokator were banned in the past in Cambodia. This was done during the Pol Pot administration in Cambodia and when Vietnam invaded the country. Some masters fled, some hid, and some were killed. Those who hid didn’t practice martial arts for a long time. Among those who fled was San Sean, a Kun Lbokator master, who ran away to America. He practiced the art in America but later returned when peace reigned in Cambodia.
What happened after Sean returned?
When Sean returned, he tried to persuade other masters to reintroduce Kun Lbokator to Cambodians. He also got approval from the Cambodian government, which in turn influenced the masters to agree to Sean’s demand. Thus, Sean was able to resume Kun Lbokator training legally in Cambodia. Other masters also followed suit. Soon after, Lbokator became a national and international competition in Cambodia.
Recognition by UNESCO
In 2022, UNESCO listed Kun Lbokator as an ICH (Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity). This was announced during a cultural heritage session held in Morocco.
Cambodians and those who practice Kun Lbokator around the world were happy with the news. However, some people were skeptical about the contemporary and historical status of martial arts. But then, it is normal to have controversies surrounding a cultural practice.
What caused the controversies?
When it comes to culture, countries that share the same border tend to have a mix of both cultures. Hence, there tend to be regional disputes about the authenticity of such intangible culture.
And Thailand’s recent comment about Kun Lbokator on social media proves this point. It appears that Thailand also acknowledged Kun Lbokator as one of their cultural practices.
Kun Lbokator Fighting Description
Lbokator fighters fight with their hands and weapons. The combatants are allowed to use weapons like wooden sticks, bamboo, and swords. In addition, the fighting techniques include kicking the shins, elbow and knee striking, and so on.
When a fight is in session, the fighters adorn themselves in old Khmer military uniforms. This uniform consists of a silk rope (of red and blue color) wrapped around the arms and heads of the fighters, and a scarf tied to the waist. Nowadays, people wear the cord as a ceremonial gesture. However, it was worn to increase the combatant’s strength in the past. This is because Cambodians believed the cords to have strength-enhancing powers.
Kun Lbokator believes in respect for nature and life and has 341 fighting styles. Just like we have David Cummings kickboxing, and David Cummings Muay Thai styles, Kun Lbokator has different fighting techniques. Some of these styles are named after animals, such as horse, crab, elephant, and duck fighting styles. Besides, all the fighting styles have their own fighting techniques. Then there are also fighting styles named after Hindu gods because many Cambodians practice the Hindu religion.
Lastly, fighting styles like David Cummings martial arts, Kun Lbokator, and others are all about respect and self-restraint. They also help to discipline students and teach them to defend themselves when in danger. And this is why UNESCO wants to preserve this cultural practice of Cambodians and inscribed it as an intangible heritage.