Kingdom, Indonesia ink martial arts MoU

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodia’s bokator practitioners show off their skills at a traditional martial arts event in 2017. Hong Menea

Prime Minister Hun Sen offered support for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) and its Indonesian counterpart to provide mutual training in the two countries’ traditional martial arts, Bokator and Pencak Silat.

The MoU was signed on June 22 by Indonesian Minister of Defense Prabowo Subianto, in his capacity as president of the International Pencak Silat Federation, and Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of both the NOCC and Cambodian Bokator Federation.

Prior to the signing ceremony on the same day, Subianto met with Hun Sen to ask for his support at the Peace Palace, where he also congratulated the premier for leading the Kingdom’d rapid development.

“[Hun Sen] thanked Prabowo for providing scholarships to Cambodian military cadets to study in Indonesia and to train in the martial art pencak silat. Hun Sen also supported training Indonesian athletes in bokator. This is symbolic of the culture of cooperation between the militaries of both nations,” said the premier’s social media post after the meeting.

The MoU means that the NOCC will provide Bokator training to Indonesian athletes as they prepare for next year’s 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), which Cambodia will host for the first time. Their Indonesian counterparts will teach pencak silat to the Kingdom’s athletes.

Chamroeun, who is also secretary-general of the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC), said: “The prime minister has paid close attention to ensuring that the cultural treasure of bokator remains relevant and continues to grow. Indonesia has agreed to promote the sport and will participate in competitions here. They will also train in bokator in Indonesia, while we will study pencak silat.”

“With this MoU, Indonesia will help Cambodia establish a team in Indonesia who will promote the development of bokator there. They will also assist us with our training for the SEA Games, with Cambodian athletes travelling to Indonesia to train for10 months before returning for the games. The Indonesians will also help us to organise the games by providing the equipment and systems needed to run pencak silat competitions,” he added.

Bokator, Cambodia’s traditional martial art, is one of 40 sports that the committee will include in the 2023 games after receiving support from ASEAN members at the SEA Games Federation Council meeting in Siem Reap province last April.

“This was a fruitful result. Minister of Tourism and NOCC president Thong Khon advised me to sign an MoU to exchange bokator and pencak silat training, as well as ensure the pencak silat and bokator events at the Cambodian SEA Games are successful,” said Chamroeun.

The signing of the MoU would contribute to increasing the popularity of bokator in the region and is another step towards promoting it on the international stage, he said.

“This is a grand development of one of our national treasures. It has penetrated firmly into Southeast Asian countries on its way to the SEA Games and beyond,” he added.