Cambodian Top Team Empowers At‐Risk Youth Through Martial Arts

Cambodian Top Team (CTT) is one of the country’s most prominent martial arts gyms, and the squad has a large number of athletes competing at the highest level of mixed martial arts and Kun Khmer.

Leading the way with ONE Championship stars like Rin Saroth and ONE Super Series competitor Sok Thy, the gym and its leader Hun Chan Reach are determined to achieve glory in the world’s largest martial arts organization.

However, on their way to global superstardom, they want to help out the local community and the younger generation.

On Monday, 10 December, CTT opened up its doors for Tiny Toones, a non-governmental organization that works with at-risk youths in Phnom Penh.

Tiny Toones uses hip-hop and dance to empower their kids, and now, they have added martial arts to the mix.

CTT and Tiny Toones arranged a Self-Defense Workshop for young children, all of whom received the opportunity to train, sing, and dance with some of Cambodia’s leading athletes.

“We believe sport can bring unity and friendship,” Chan Reach explains.

“Now, we want to jump to the younger kids — the younger generation — and try to get them to know a little bit more about Cambodian martial arts and how they can play a part in helping to preserve it, as well as having the knowledge to be able to protect themselves.”

CTT believes martial arts can change lives

Chan Reach believes wholeheartedly in the healing power of art, something which has been at Tiny Toones’ core since its inception in 2005.

With a broad palette of hip-hop, breakdance, and martial arts, the collaboration between CTT and Tiny Toones aims to inspire children from some of Cambodia’s most impoverished neighborhoods.

A lot of CTT’s own athletes have had to conquer poverty and adversity to achieve their martial arts dreams, and Chan Reach sees a connection between what his athletes have learned as martial artists and their later successes in life.

“About half of them were street kids themselves, but they found martial arts,” he says.

“Martial arts changed their lives in terms of discipline and self-confidence, and [it gave them] a way out.

“They use martial arts as a way to create a better future for them and their family, and now I think it’s time for them to share their experiences with the kids — the younger generation.”

The Self-Defense Workshop is the first of many more to come, and CTT is also looking to put together self-defense workshops for women. The common theme is empowering those who need it the most by creating a safe and fun environment to learn in.

With the rise of Khmer martial arts and many high-level athletes competing internationally, Chan Reach feels it is the perfect time to get organizations like Tiny Toones involved with the sport and the culture.

“Now is the time,” the CTT leader states.

“Tiny Toones is growing in the number of kids, and they’re getting into the school programs and stuff like that. We want to play a small part in that, in helping the development of the kids.

“Especially in Cambodia, we have a lot of street kids that don’t care about anything anymore. They don’t care about their future and they don’t care about what tomorrow brings. So we want to help and be a part of changing all of that.”

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