Cambodia wrestling has two distinct styles. The most famous is the traditional style called Khmer traditional wrestling, also known as Bok Cham Bab. “Khmer” is taken from the name of the Khmer kingdom in Cambodia. Wrestling exists in every country, including Cambodia, which is located in Southeast Asia.
Khmer Traditional Wrestling is held every year during Khmer New Year in August. Both men and women participate. Khmer traditional wrestling matches are usually held in conjunction with the Summer Olympics. Khmer Traditional Wrestling is unique because the match is accompanied by drumming and dances. Before the match begins the participants must use Gonsain, a piece of cloth worn around the hips to resemble shorts. Then the wrestlers perform dances that resemble various animals, such as monkeys, crocodiles and lions, accompanied by drumming. The aim of this dance is to warm up as well as to honor to the coaches.
The jury will give the signal to start the match and each wrestler will drop his/her opponent. There are three rounds. If part of a wrestler’s shoulder bone or chest touches the ground, he is declared the loser. The wrestler who wins 3 rounds in a row wins the match, as well as if the other wrestler surrenders. The winner receives a trophy, then does another dance to celebrate his/her victory.
In the days of the Khmer Empire, wrestling was used to select strong soldiers. Every year the Khmer kings would summon all the people from every province for a wrestling competition. Anyone was allowed to participate in the match. The winner s of the matches would serve as soldiers.
Wrestling has some negative health impacts if the person is not under the close supervision of a trainer. These can include:
- Organ Damage — Many young wrestlers reduce their water intake to control their weight. This can cause kidney and liver damage.
- Bodily injury to especially the neck, wrist, and ankles
But because Khmer is traditional wrestling these negative impacts are rare. This sport is only widely practiced in villages, such as the village in Kandal province when ‘Pchum Ben festival’ (festival of death) is being held.
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