Thursday, March 5, 2009

Khmer Karate Referee Chan Sovan Talks about his Experience


There are over a hundred Karate coaches and referees in Cambodia, according to Mel Kado, Deputy Director General of the Youth and Sports Department in the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports. He said Lach Chan Sovan, 55, is one of the best referees, having completed a training course in Japan in 2004 and being a holder of a World Karate Referee Title from the Asian Karate Federation based in the United States of America.

The Deputy Director General said that Chan Sovan is the only qualified Cambodian Karate referee in Cambodia. On top of this, he is also a master trainer. Chan Sovan has taught for over 30 years in Cambodia.

“I am proud of him as he is a very active and capable referee. I believe that he will share his skills and working experience with all the young Karate fighters in Cambodia,” he said during an interview with the Cambodia Weekly on February 24.

The sixth level black-belt was born in 1953 in Saang district, Kandal province and has four sisters and three brothers in his family. He has two sons and two daughters and all of them have at least a second level black belt each.

Chan Sovan became a coach in 1974. He is now the President and Master Trainer with the Wado-Ryu Karate Academy in Phnom Penh.

“I have trained since 1970 when I was 17 years old and a student at Takhmao High School in Kandal province. It’s always been my dream to be a top-Karate fighter or referee in Cambodia,” he continued.

Sovan said that he started training with the Yutheakkun Training Center in 1970 and later on, he moved to train with the Cambodian Judo and Martial Arts Federation in Phnom Penh in 1973.

He decided to train in Karate because it suits his temperament and offered him the opportunity to become famous. He pointed out that he earned his first level black belt from the Cambodian Judo and Martial Arts Federation in 1974.

Chan Sovan earned the second level black-belt Karate in 1995, the third in 1996, the fourth in 1997 and finally, he gained the sixth level black-belt Karate in 2004. He also received recognition as a referee from the Asian Karate Federation in 2007.

“I am now happy because my dream has become true and I am able to work for the Wado-Ryu Karate Academy to promote the sport in Cambodia. I am going to work hard and do my best in coaching Cambodian students and other Karate coaches. I am also happy to share my knowledge and technical fighting and training skills with other Karate coaches, especially young trainees,” he added.

The World Karate referee said that after the liberation of the country from the Khmer Rouge in 1979, he resumed his Karate teaching in Koh Thom district, Kandal Province. He said during those years, besides Karate teaching, he served with the military in his own district and taught soldiers martial arts skills.

He moved to Takhmao town in Kandal province in 1983 and later established his own Karate Club, the “Sovan Karate Club”. He said he later formed the Wado-Ryu Karate Academy in 1994 in Phnom Penh to promote the art in Cambodia.

Concerning his training, Chan Sovan told the Cambodia Weekly that he planed to attend Karate competitions in Japan in 2010 to compete with foreign fighters and gain the seventh level black belt.

“To prepare for this, besides my teaching, I now training myself very hard every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,” he added.

Relating to his study, Chan Sovan said that he obtained a Baccalaureate in 1974 and earned an Associate Degree in Economic Management from the National Institute of Management and Economy in Phnom Penh in 1980.

Hok Chheang Kim, Technical Director of the Cambodian Wrestling Federation, said that Lach Chan Sovan had excellent Karate skills and training experience.

“I have known Chan Sovann since 1970 when he started training in Karate with the Cambodian Judo and Martial Arts Federation in Phnom Penh. He was a very strong man and a hard working person,” he told the Cambodia Weekly.

He continued, “He is the only Cambodian Karate coach and referee recognized by the World Karate Federation. I am sure he will make an outstanding referee in the world.”

Sao Vannak, a first- level black belt and former Karate trainee said that Lok Kru Lach Chan Sovann was a qualified and capable coach.

“I have known Lok Kru Sovan since 1994 when I started training with him in Phnom Penh. He is a strong and capable coach but is very friendly and gentle. I am very proud to know him and to have been one of his students,” he said. “I hope he will continue his hard work in teaching Cambodian youths and I wish him all success in future,” he added.

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