When Khmer rapper Sang Sok Serey steps onto the stage to entertain the crowd, she can now draw confidence not only from years of experience as a performer, but also from her martial arts training at Cambodian Top Team (CTT).
Having dealt with bullying and lack of confidence as a child, Sok Serey believes that martial arts has had a hugely positive effect on her mind and body.
“Martial arts training has changed me so much,” she states.
“I used to be weak I was a kid, so other kids bullied me. But now, not anymore.”
The talented rapper played an important role when CTT opened up their doors for Tiny Toones, a non-government organization which works closely with at-risk youths in Phnom Penh.
Tiny Toones uses music and dance to inspire and educate the children enrolled in their programs. With the help of CTT, the organization can now add self-defense to its palette.
“It’s great that we can show them different techniques and teach them how to protect themselves,” she says. “Now, if they meet a bully, they know how to handle it.”
For Sok Serey, Tiny Toones continues to hold a special place in her heart, and she helps them out in any way possible.
“I used to be a student there. When I finished, I helped them to raise more money,” she shares.
“Before, I used to volunteer, and I helped to find poor kids from surrounding areas to bring them to Tiny Toones to study and learn.”
The 26-year-old rapper and singer has now launched a successful music career that sees her performing on stages all around “The Kingdom Of Wonder.”
Although she has her mind set for stardom, she does not forget where it all started.
“I learned about rapping and hip-hop from Tiny Toones,” Sok Serey explains. “Actually, I learned breakdancing first, and then rapping. Now, I make my own music.”
As Sok Serey continues to aim for the stars, she draws a lot of confidence from her martial arts training and recommends her fellow Khmer women to do the same.
“I feel a lot stronger now, and I know some self-defense techniques. It makes me feel very confident,” she says.
“We usually don’t need so much power, but we need to know techniques so that we can defend ourselves when we’re scared.”
Being a bold woman in the music industry has set Sok Serey on the right path, and with the help of martial arts, she feels both her and Cambodia’s women can continue to flourish.
The last couple of months has seen a rise in women’s martial arts in Cambodia as Sovannahry Em made an impressive debut in ONE Championship and Sreypov was awarded “Female Fighter of the Year” by the Lethwei World Championship.
Sok Serey believes martial arts can continue to play a crucial role for women moving forward.
“I think martial arts is good because some women feel afraid, and martial arts can make them feel more confident and less scared,” she adds.