Its root laid in traditional kung fu which someone claim is thousands of years old.

Some historians see a link between modern Sanshou and tournaments traditionally held throughout china for thousands of years by kung fu and martial arts masters called “Sanda” or “free fighting” to decide who the greatest fighter was.

Traditionally, matches were between two contestants fighting on a platform called “Lei tai” typically, fight ended at the death of looser. Today, Sanshou fights are generally fought with in boxing rings or mats.

Re – Emergence:

In 1949, when communism took over Chinese culture functions. The only allowed was wushu, a more acrobatic or non combative type of kung fu. Some credit the emergence of more combative martial arts to Chinese military who realized it needed an effective hand to hand combat system and utilize various martial arts masters to create a combat system.

In time, soldiers wanted to test martial skills and developed a competitive event rules, such as the use of gloves and limited extreme strikes to the eyes, spine and back of the head were developed. The Chinese wushu federation is also credited with helping create Sanshou competitions since it refine the more brutal techniques from the military and created a civilian amateur competition.

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Today, Sanshou is practised in tournaments normally with wushu competitions clinching or when the fighters hold each other is allowed only for a few seconds so the action of the fight is constant. Sanshou become more popular in the world in 1990s. Sanshou is still taught in the Chinese army, in china and in martial art schools throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Sports History

Sanda/Sanshou is a Chinese hand to hand self defense system and combat sport. Not seem as a style itself, rather it is a considered as just one of two components of Chinese martial arts training and is often taught along side with Talou (forms) training. However, as part of the development of sport wushu by Chinese government, a standard curriculum for Sanshou was developed. It is this standard curriculum that the term “Sanshou” is usually applied.

The curriculum was developed with the Chinese military experiences in close range and hand to hand combat with reference to traditional Chinese martial arts. This general Sanshou curriculum varies in its different forms, as the Chinese government developed a version for civilians for self defense and as a sport.

The generalized modern curriculum practised in modern wushu school is composed of deferent traditional martial arts fighting styles from china, but mainly based on scientific efficiency. Sanshou is composed of Chinese martial arts applications including striking and grappling, however when Sanshou was developed as a sport, restrictions were made for safety reasons as well as to promote as a non violent sport.

Examples of such restrictions included no blows delivered to back of the head, spine or groin and the discontinuation of the combat when any of the fighters fall to the ground. However many schools, whether traditional or modern, practice it as an all round martial arts systems with no restrictions, only adapting their training in relation to competition rules prior to the event. Sanshou tournaments are one of two disciplines recognized by the international wushu federation.

For safety reasons some techniques from the self defense such as elbow strikes, chokes, joint locks are not allowed during tournaments. Competitors can win by knockout or points which are earn by landing strikes to the body or head, throwing an opponent, or when competition is held on a raised “Lei tai” platform, pushing them off the platform. 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 in the time limit, the referee will break the clinch.

In the U.S. competitions are held either in boxing rings or on raised “Lei tai” platform. Amateur fighters were protective gear. “Amateur Sanshou” allows kicks, punches and throws. If the rule set in refer to as “Sanda”, knees to the body also permitted. 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. As professionals, they wear no protective gear expect for gloves, cup and mouth piece, and are allow to use knee strikes (including to the head) as well as kicking, punching and throwing.