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  • Kun Khmer Book Review

    I finally got a copy to read and here is my thoughts after reading it once then going through specific chapters:

    Kun Khmer: Cambodian Martial Arts Diary
    Antonio Graceffo
    $30 plus shipping


    The book is a bunch of articles loosely strung together by a theme and that is supposedly Kun Khmer or khmer martial arts. It doesn't hold much interest as a straight read through. Those looking to understand the cambodian martial arts will be severely disappointed since this is mostly a one sided look from antonio's point of view and agenda as stated obviously in the title. The only chapters of interest were chapter 3 Bokator pags 36-43, chapter chapter 8 rural masters and the lost book pages 82-94 and the best chapter chapter 6 bong him the magic man 62-72. Even so, the chapters barely held my interest outside of chapter 6 possibly the most unique that offered some unique insights. It seems the book is more a promotional book for antonio and bokator and nowhere in any of his writings does he allow that the new bokator is a recreation brought together in modern times complete with black belts now called kramas. It's also strange to me through all this supposed research and training that you can't gain anything more than you can get on a great great website like Kun Khmer Warrior and i recommend people donating the $30 to that website than waste your money on this book.

    I have been to cambodia previously and I feel this book doesnt scratch the surface. I imagine this book was a sort of rush off made of articles antonio might have either published previously on his webpages online or crafted quickly to get the book out. The whole book is too disjointed and lacks flow and cohesion from chapter to chapter. A lengthy prologue might have helped where antonio explained the reason for the book and why he structured it in this way.

    The book states on the back, " In search of the lost martial art called Bokator antonio discovers the hidden history of the soul of cambodia.". I didnt get this from the book at all and if that was the theme then the execution failed horribly. One big mistake this books makes is to call everything Bokator, so this master and his bokator thus enhancing the word and reputation. If its rare and unknown and lost as we know it probably is then what remains must be recreations made of fragments and various modern versions, why isn't this acknowledged at all as many cambodians have come forward to state to me directly through emails when i was preparing for my trip over to cambodia. If the grandmaster who previously taught hapkido most of his life then switched to bokator where was the research and training and lineage lines to prove his veracity as grandmaster? Many cambodians have been asking the same questions? Simple answers like that would go a long way in creating some sort of strong credibility for the art in the modern world. Chapters on pradalserey are included as well but i found them mildy interesting with nothing much new to add in terms of insights, training or history.


    I think this book should have been a digital download for $5.99 to make it worth it to the people who are fans of antonio's work or who want a superficial look at the cambodian martial arts. This might be the first book, first article and antonio might be the first black belt for what its worth but it doesn't really say much about the situation and it doesn't really shine in any way on cambodian martial arts greatly. What does it matter to be first when it isn't the best--then it's just a book that won't stand the test of time like fast food. Heres hoping someone will come along soon and really address these wonderful cambodian people and fighting systems without having to prop themselves and their teachers up like a small child looking for affection from their father and take a hard, well researched look at the situation.

    I would be interested in hearing what the people on the kunkhmerwarrior site or any of the serious cambodian researchers would have to say about the book in their reviews. I was sorely disappointed on many levels. Cambodian people are struggling to survive and they deserve much better than this.

    Rating: (on a scale of 1-10, 10 being superior) I give this book a 3 for the three chapters and for the effort of writing it and getting it published. Additional chapters on cambodian pradalserey might be of interest to some. The book needs some serious editing and a better reading layout.

    Cost: No way is it worth the $30 plus postage. Save your money. Way overpriced. Dont know the publishing company. Printing is cheap especially the layout of the interior. Exterior cover is colorful.
    81/2 x 11 softbound.
    17 chapters 197 pages

    If you guys read and do reviews or see anymore reviews please post them up here. I would love to hear what others think especially if we can get a few of the cambodians viewpoints.

  • #2
    Thanks for the review kyuss. It was as expected. The guy knows nothing about khmer martial arts despite spending a vast amount of time there training. Its also interesting that he is calling all khmer arts bokator, only pradal serey and kbach kun boran khmer have been named and they are recent terms used to separate themselves from the so called bokator to the best of my knowledge. As i was told the khmer arts, all of them, are simply called kun khmer or not called anything at all. And for those who dont know kun khmer only means fighting the khmer way. So it would be called fighting. Not some fancy name. And thats the way it should be, fighting is fighting no matter what label is attached. Thanks again for the review kyuss.

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    • #3
      Great review,kyuss.
      the naming thing is very confusing. People today like to grab at names to distinguish themselves so who knows what is what that webite though is really good thanks for the link

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      • #4
        Great Review kyuss!

        Gumagalang
        Guro Steve
        www.Bujinkandojo.net

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        • #5
          outstanding work and review, kyuss. I feel bokator was used to seperate it from the ring stuff. But it should be still be verified where it came from and who elected one person grandmaster or is it just graceffo just building up the teacher to build himself? I read his stuff with regularity but I dont think he is much of researcher and he jumps from style to style, he is more of a travel writer and he does things in brief spurts to write about as an experience. Those websites are much better in terms of information and information value and of course we have the vanishing flame works which are sort of best of both worlds indepth investigations and very deep understandings.

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          • #6
            Thank you Kyuss for taking the time to read and analyze the book on Bokator and sharing your thoughts on it.
            I agree with what has been said, names and labels are misleading and your review shows why. And once again, if the style is genuine then where is the lineage?
            I mean just look at how much importance they give to it in every traditional style in Thailand and elsewhere, sometimes even too much like if that alone was enough to guarantee the quality and effectiveness of a style or system.

            I hope this review will help avoid believeing that another patchwork like muay boran is the inheritor of this and that true martial art.

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            • #7
              Kyuss kindly lent me his copy to read. Like I said i was a partial fan of graceffos work but this book is literally not worth the paper it is printed on. Its just jumbled stories thrown together and you can get better on his webpages and sites. The title should have been just "notes from cambodia" not kun khmer. Very disappointed in this plus the price of $30 is staggering considering whats inside the book.

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              • #8
                glad the book got there ok and thanks for the insights!

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                • #9
                  just gotta say barely getting through chapter one. i scanned through the rest and read a few chapters. I mean its boring as hell. Its all me and me and me, ego driven stuff....the dude is frankly not very interesting if you traveled around a ton trained and fought in different countries you'll see what i mean. You meet guys like this all over asia drop outs from society who are lost trying to exploit anything they can in a desperate sort of bid to be famous---Its a poorly written journal at best not a coherent book by any means.

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                  • #10
                    Hi guys
                    Came back on to revisit the thread. I just went back and read most of graceffos work and checked his facebook a couple of times to see what he is up to---jesus his sense of humor is pure southern hick over new york sharp but thats because he grew up more in tenn than new york. It seems he has changed once again and now is a mma fighter(I am shaolin, I am chaiya, I am bokator, I am Silat, I am a Boxer! I am a Wrestler! I am this and now I am that!) Oddly he picks malaysia to fight where there is hardly any mma and probably few heavyweights which i found out that he was. I guess he just looked like a short fat dude but i guess he is a heavyweight. I mean even in thailand they have had mma for awhile like the DARE shows but he goes to malaysia? Why not brazil or even stay in the states where the training and fighting is pretty good and the fights steady. One thing that is really troublesome is that he said he is representing bokator in MMA so why isnt he training bokator for the fight? If you are representing bokator you should fight and train bokator and show how it works in MMA. Its baffling. It seems its all for publicity maybe he should have read the sam sheridan book where the guy went to a real mma school and had himself a hard fight that taught him alot instead of dancing away and trying for the easy wins to inflate your press. If you read Sams book which is well written and had a major publisher you can see the difference between a guy really going out there to test himself and write about it vs a guy trying to build himself into a hollow myth. The more i read on this guy the more it turns into a massive propaganda mill. I mean did the guy ever master any martial art outside of a phony black karma in bokator and some silat title all of which are recent or he is just a journalist going on a ride to entertain people. I guess he keeps his nerd colony entertained. Who else buys into this nonsense he is putting out? Who else bought his other 7 books which from the looks of it are as bad as his new one? Anybody else dare to read any of the other books?

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                    • #11
                      The guy is a joke,he was before, he is now and he probably will be later

                      Same as that Donny B, they do my head in,they wouldnt know a Left Hook from a fishing hook

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                      • #12
                        Dont get me started on donny B. Jesus, he needs his own thread and a half. Talk about fabricating shit out of the air. Its mindboggling.

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                        • #13
                          The forum has certainly brought out a lot of inconsistencies in the guy but i found this hilarious from antonios wall:

                          ''I was so desperate for sponsorship for my training. I stood on the street today, holding a sign that read “I’ll submit you for food. “""

                          I cant believe that anyone would want to sponsor his training I mean what has he done fighting wise??and 2 that he could actually submit someone with any high level skill.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by george stando View Post
                            Dont get me started on donny B. Jesus, he needs his own thread and a half. Talk about fabricating shit out of the air. Its mindboggling.
                            Cant belive that so many people like what he does George(judging by the comments under his uploads) its crazy!.

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                            • #15
                              this is the only place for donnie b and antonio, antonio can be the opening act:

                              Donnie B's Comedy Club :: Springfield, IL: Home
                              Last edited by george stando; 02-14-2012, 06:51 PM.

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