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Martial Arts – San Shou


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With so many martial arts out there we often find ourselves wondering which of these arts truly is superior. The fact of the matter is no single art can really be regarded as superior but some of the newer hybrid arts can definitely make a valid claim at that title. San Shou unlike any other martial art combines two distinctively different arts to create a fighting system that is quite extensive and capable of dealing with a myriad of different circumstances.

Kickboxing is known as the most well rounded striking martial art due to the fact that you have more weapons at your disposal in the form of your hands and your feet. The one aspect of kickboxing that was sorely lacking is its ability to both takedown an opponent and defend against takedowns. Enter Shuai-jiao also known as Chinese wrestling. Wushu is the most popular form of kung-fu and Shuai-jiao is the most popular form of grappling in China. The way in which these two arts compliment each other makes you wonder why it took so long for them to be combined to form what we now call San Shou. The word San Shou also spelled Sanda means unbound hand and is a martial art that was created to closely resemble an actual confrontation. The fact of the matter is you may know how to kick and punch but what happens if an assailant decides to grab you?

San Shou is the official self defense of the Chinese army which is a testament to its effectiveness in unarmed combat. In 1991 San Shou became an integral part of the Wushu world championships and started to popularize as a sport. The matches take part on a Lei Tai which is a raised platform much like a sumo wrestling ring. The techniques of San Shou consist of kicking, punching and takedowns. Chokeholds and arm locks were omitted from competition in order to keep the fights as lively as possible. The fact that San shou addresses all the ranges of fighting (kicking, punching and grappling) makes the matches quite real. The matches consist of two, two minute rounds and points are awarded for effective strikes and takedowns. It is unfair to compare San Shou to any traditional martial art, as it is much more then striking and also a lot more then just grappling.

The search for a complete martial art should stop right here. San Shou covers everything you would need to know in order to survive an attack. The only thing that puzzles me about San Shou is its lack of popularity through out the rest of the world. Here we have a martial art that allows you to kick punch and grapple yet the majority of our society hasn’t heard of it. The fact is that there aren’t many San Shou clubs in North America but if you happened to be one of the lucky ones who does have this martial art in your city, do yourself a favor and give it a try. You won’t be sorry!

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Martial Arts

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  • Posted On December 30, 2006
  • Published articles 283513

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