San Da means free fighting and was developed by the Chinese military, based on traditional marital arts, to be used in practical urban and military conflict situations. It combined all four basic martial art techniques i.e
- Da – Upper-Body Striking – using fists, open hands, fingers, elbows, shoulders, forearms and the head
- Ti – Lower-Body Striking – including kicks, knees and stomping
- Shuai – Throws – using Wrestling , takedowns and sweeps, and
- Chin-Na – Seizing – which includes jointlocks, strangulation and other submissions
It is important to know that there are many different types of sporting codes that are played using Sanda. So Sanda, in modern terms, refers to modern combat or modern sport fighting.
Kuoshu style is one of the oldest forms of combat sports in which the Central Guoshu Institute used the traditional Lei Tai as the fighting arena upon which competitions would be held. In the old days, competitions, disputes and duels were settled on the Lei Tai, often result in fatalities. The sport of Kuoshu Lei Tai was created with safety in mind, were combatants would test their skills based a set of rules. Combining and mixing all the various styles and systems of traditional Chinese Martial Arts, Kuoshu created one of the very first forms of Mixed Martial Arts. This type of competition and in particular, the Lei Tai was the inspiration for many movies like Bloodsport, and video games like Virtua Fighter, Dead or Alive, and Soulcalibur.
Today there are various forms of sport combat based on Sanda. Sanshou is the most popular. Is is widely accepted as the new sporting code for Chinese Martial Arts to test their combat skills. While there are many different sporting codes including Shuai Jiao (a sporting code for just wrestling, throwing and takedowns), Sanshou remains the most popular due to its combination of the 4 basics (above). Due to Chinese Martial Arts having so many locks, small joint manipulations, breaks and dislocations etc, the Sanshou sporting code employed full boxing style gloves which limited the use the hands, making it more difficult to execute some of the more dangerous techniques. This made the sporting code safer and resulted in a better competition.
However, most Kung Fu schools practice Sanda in many ways including; just hand boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, grappling, trapping, and combinations of all of the above. Protective gear is paramount when training in class to ensure that students get the best, but safest simulation of this combat.