This article is from the Martial Arts FAQ, by Matthew Weigel firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
(Contributor: Edmund Tsoi - email@example.com)
In Chinese, Sanshou (loose hands) refers to the free application of
all the realistic hand-to-hand combat skills of Gongfu. It is
divided into three categories: Sport Sanshou (Chinese Kickboxing),
Civilian Sanshou, and Military Sanshou (AKA Qinna Gedou).
After fighting directly with the superior American forces during the
Korean War, the Chinese government realized that new scientific R& D is
important for its military forces. Army chief Peng Dehuai directed a
great military training campaign (Da Be Wu) after the war. Martial
arts masters from each of China's 92 provinces were brought together
with medical experts to compare and evaluate their techniques. A new
hand-to-hand combat system was developed based on three criteria:
simplicity, directness, and effectiveness against a larger, stronger
opponent. This system of fighting was thoroughly tested in training
camps throughout China, and in border conflicts with Soviet troops.
The Chinese military published manuals on Sanshou in 1963 and 1972.
Besides military Sanshou, civilian Sanshou continued to be developed
by underground martial arts schools and individual martial artists in
communist China. Civilian Sanshou warriors sharpened their skills by
street championships where they challenged each other. These kinds of
challenges were very popular during the cultural revolution (1966-76)
and usually ended by being broken up by the police.
In recent years, sport Sanshou has been developed and promoted by the
Chinese government. In the early years (1980s), there were no formal
championships for Sanshou. Only demonstrations were available on
national T.V. Most of the Sanshou participants were military and
police men. Therefore, sport Sanshou kept its flavour of military
kickboxing and wrestling. Lately, the Chinese government have
promoted Sanshou into a nation-wide sport and held formal national
and international championships every year.
The Sanshou as practiced by the Chinese military is based on the
Chinese Art of War, physics, anatomy, bio-mechanics, and human
physiology. It is a complete system of realistic unarmed combat
covering the skills of striking, grappling, wrestling, groundfighting,
and weapon defenses taken from various Chinese and foreign martial
arts and hand-to-hand combat styles. It focuses on applying the
principles of combat rather than on techniques. The various
divisions of the military and police force have slight differences in
technique, but they all employ the same principles.
Because of the increase of violent crimes in China, civilian Sanshou
was created by the Chinese government so that Chinese civilians can
learn self defense skills. It is also a complete system of striking
and grappling, but without the lethal techniques that are required in
the military. Many "underground" martial artists also developed
Sanshou fighting skills.
The sport of Sanshou is rising in popularity all over the world. It
is a kickboxing style that is fought on a platform called a "Lei Tai".
Fighters wear boxing gloves, headgear, and body protectors. It is
full contact kicking and punching with throws and sweeps allowed.
Knees, elbows, headbutts, joint manipulation and chokes are not
allowed, but fighters can be thrown off the platform.
Military and civilian Sanshou training involves many punching,
kicking, grappling, wrestling, groundfighting, and weapon defense
drills with a partner. Contact sparring with protective gear is also
emphasized. This is where the different skills are blended together
into one fluid art. There are no forms or formal stances, and no
Sport Sanshou training is similar to kickboxing training, except that
throws and sweeps are also drilled extensively. Physical conditioning
is also important in sport full-contact fighting.
In Toronto Canada, Sanshou instruction is available through Chinese
Self-Defense Studies, the first and only organization outside of China
that teaches Military Sanshou. Information on Chinese Self-Defense
Studies can be found at the following
Military Sanshou (AKA Qinna Gedou)
Sport Sanshou (Chinese Kickboxing)