Practicing Kickboxing with Me and the Local Kid


Cambodian kickboxing is the authentic martial art that hold values to its sport and tradition. A Khmer word for kickboxing is “Pradel Serey” meaning “free fight” based on the context. This sport is absolutely brutal, because you are allow to use elbows, knees, and sheens. Unlike boxing, using your elbow to deliver a blow is like a blunt knife and using your knee and sheen is like sledge hammer. I’ve been practicing Cambodian Kickboxing for almost four years in Lowell. So far, I still haven’t been to one kickboxing gym yet in Cambodia. I thought it’s going to be very popular here since it’s their original sport. I heard very few gyms are open yet I still have a hard time finding it. One time in Kulen mountain, we went to explore the waterfall and check out the enormous Buddha temple in the village. For some reason, I have a crazy imagination in looking for the sensei of Pradel Serey in the village just like a Chinese movie. Usually, a wise sensei or fighter live up in the mountain, or near the waterfall. Also, this place is a perfect place for fighter to maintain their faith at the Buddha temple. Usually, Cambodian martial artists are faithful to the Buddha religion. I guess is just my imagination or I just watch too many kung fu movies. Unfortunately, I found no sensei in this village. This place is your everyday village in the countryside of Siem Reap. While everyone is enjoying swimming at the waterfall, I was exploring to other side of the waterfall in the unoccupied area. With my plain t-shirt, Levi jean, and my chuck sneakers, I was walking through bushes, branches, and rock just to get to the other side of the waterfall. Then I hop off from the ground and land on the boulder laying on the stream. I was standing on top of the boulder and test out the platform. It was a suitable place for me to practice my martial art. It’s not an everyday thing for martial artist to train their body outdoor near the waterfall and the stream. I was training my body like a kung fu man training their body in a Chinese film. I was doing Cambodian kickboxing, yoga, and tai chi. I was concentrating my energy by listening the flow of the waterfall. I’d been there for a good 15 minutes until a local child saw me and decide to join me with my training. I was aware of his present, but I ignore his present since I was really into my training. Next thing I know, he was duplicating my moves. We were punching together and kicking together. We were making read sound and noises while we were training. He was giggling thought out training. In the end, he was exhausted then sat down on his butt and I was giggling. Since there was language barrier between us and my khmer is still elementary, I was using sign language to communicate him better while I was speaking English. I was giving him some final lesson before I let him go. Surprisingly, he know some English. This is how it’s go:
Me: if you want to become good, (pointing my head) always learn a lot
Him: Learn a lot!
Me: when you learn a lot, (flex my biceps) you become stronger.
Him: Stronger!
Me: but always remember that you always need (pounding my left chest) a good heart.
Him: Heart!
After that day, it got me questioning: what do kids do to keep themselves busy while living in Kulen mountain? When I was up to the mountain, I feel like there is barely any activities for kid. There was no soccer field, they barely have toys, no technology whatsoever, and I think I don’t even play tag or something. There’s not even a school or a club that can teach them art or music; not even a Pradel Serey gym. I feel like there is barely any activities to encourage them in learn new thing. To me, I think having activity help them to become more discipline; just like learning Pradel Serey in how my master taught me. In reality, I think the only things that kids do here are doing chores at home and help their family with farming. I can see a huge difference in being a kid in Cambodia and used to be a kid in America.