MMA’s Em aim­ing to get back to her roots

The Phnom Penh Post - - SPORT - Post Staff

UP-AND-COM­ING Cam­bo­dian-Amer­i­can mixed mar­tial artist Sa­van­nah Em has re­vealed her de­sire to re­turn to her roots af­ter join­ing Asian MMA or­gan­i­sa­tion ONE Cham­pi­onship.

“I very much hope to have a chance to com­pete in the coun­try of my par­ents and all my rel­a­tives,” Em said from her na­tive Long Beach, Cal­i­for­nia. “I’m sure it would also please my kun Kh­mer teacher, who was a cham­pion be­fore Cam­bo­dia en­tered a dark pe­riod of po­lit­i­cal tur­moil.”

Hav­ing grown up en­tirely in the United States, Em says she is ea­ger to visit the birth­place of her par­ents in any up­com­ing events.

“I’ve had con­ver­sat ions wit h my fam­ily, friends, coaches, learn­ing how t hey had endu red t hose d i f f ic u lt t imes, a nd t hese peo­ple, even a f ter go­ing through such trau­matic events, still re­main to be some of the sweet­est hu­mans I know.

“But they have told me sto­ries, not just of hard­ship, but also the beauty of what the cul­ture was and re­mains to be. It’s an hon­our to rep­re­sent that kind of strength and courage. I am ex­cited to dis­cover my roots.”

Kun Kh­mer in arse­nal

Par­tic­u­larly strong in stand-up fight­ing and noted for fluid grap­pling tech­niques and an ag­gres­sive strik­ing style, the 25-year-old is con­sid­ered a promis­ing ad­di­tion to the pro­mo­tion, with her pre­vi­ous wins in Cal­i­for­nia’s Gla­di­a­tor Chal­lenge com­ing by way of knock­out within the first round.

“I view mar­tial arts as a tool for self­per­fec­tion, so I don’t care for the trash- talk­ing, and other be­hav­iour that is en­cour­aged in many other pro­mo­tions,” she says. “I love how ONE strives to pro­mote a pos­i­tive im­age of mar­tial arts, rather than as a vi­o­lent sport.

“The first thing that at­tracted me to ONE Cham­pi­onship has been the fact that its phi­los­o­phy re­volves around true mar­tial arts val­ues like re­spect, courage, and hon­our.”

In 2012, Em’s boyfriend in­tro­duced her to com­bat sports, and she started out train­ing in box­ing and jiu-jitsu. She has since added to her skill-set wrestling, judo and kun Kh­mer, an an­cient Cam­bo­dian mar­tial art that can trace its roots back to the Kh­mer em­pire.

Em i s joi ni ng a st rong g roup of women cur­rently com­pet­ing in ONE, in­clud­ing their Sin­ga­porean women’s atom­weight cham­pion “Un­stop­pable” An­gela Lee.

“The lady war­riors in ONE are ex­cel­lent. An­gela [Lee] is sim­ply phe­nom­e­nal, but there are plenty oth­ers who are quite impressive. I look for­ward to join­ing their ranks,” she said.

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