SanShou or Sanda is a modern Chinese hand to hand combat, self-defense system, and combat sport. As an unarmed self-defense, close combat system, Sanshou includes da (punches), ti (kicks), shuai (grappling), and na (throws, locks, chokes).
San Shou or Sanda is a modern Chinese hand to hand combat, self-defense system, and combat sport. Not seen as an independent style, it is rather considered just one of the components of Chinese martial arts and is normally taught alongside other wushu. The term Sanda has a longer history and is more commonly used. Sanshou was the official name given to the martial art when it was formalized and standardized by the Chinese government. Later the official name reverted back to Sanda.
It is composed of some aspects of traditional martial arts fighting styles in China, but mainly based on scientific one-on-one combat efficiency. Sanshou is composed of Chinese martial arts applications including most aspects of combat including striking and grappling. Sanda tournaments are one of the two sport wushu disciplines recognized by the International Wushu Federation.
Sanshou’s history involved barehanded or lei tai fights in which no rules existed. However, as a competitive event sanshou developed in the military as these bouts were commonly held between the soldiers to test and practise barehanded martial skills, ability and techniques. Rules were developed and the use of protective gloves etc. was adopted. It was originally used by the Kuomintang at the first modern military academy in Whampoa in the 1920s. Later it was also adopted as a method by the People’s Liberation Army of China.
One can see Sanshou as a synthesis of traditional Chinese kung fu fighting techniques into a more amorphous system and is commonly taught alongside traditional Chinese styles which Sanshou techniques, theory and training methods are derived from. The emphasis of Sanshou is on realistic fighting ability.
As an unarmed self-defense, close combat system, Sanshou includes da (punches), ti (kicks), shuai (grappling), and na (throws, locks, chokes).
As a sport, Sanda is practiced in tournaments and is normally held alongside taolu events in wushu competition. For safety reasons, some techniques from the self-defense form of Sanshou such as elbow strikes, chokes, and joint locks, are not allowed during Sanda tournaments. Furthermore, it is possible to defeat the opponent by moving (whether by throwing, striking, or otherwise pushing) him outside the ring. Fighters are only allowed to clinch for a few seconds. If the clinch is not broken by the fighters, and if neither succeeds in throwing his opponent within the time limit, the referee will break the clinch.
Most Sanshou competitions held in the US are on raised lei tai platforms with the fighters wearing protective gear, where punches, kicks and throws are allowed. This can sometimes be called "Amateur Sanshou". A competition held in China, called the "King of Sanda", is held in a ring similar to a boxing ring in design but larger in dimension. They wear no protective gear except for gloves and are allowed to use knee strikes as well as kicking, punching and throwing. Some Sanshou fighters have participated in fighting tournaments such as K-1 and Shoot boxing. They usually have not participated in the "King of Sanda" tournaments but have had some degree of success, especially in Shoot boxing competitions, which is more similar to Sanshou. Due to the rules of kickboxing competition, Sanshou fighters are subjected to more limitations than usual.
Sanshou has been featured in many style-versus-style competitions. Muay Thai is frequently pitted against Sanshou as is Karate, Kickboxing and Taekwondo.