3600 Chamberlain Ln #136   Louisville, KY  40241  •  502.426.0333  

Louisville Martial Arts Academy

San Shou Kickboxing


San Shou, meaning "free hand" is the explosive art of Chinese Kickboxing. The practitioner of this art has at their disposal not only the vast array of striking skills with punching, elbows, edge of the forearm, kicking and knee strikes but also the mastery of the skills of taking down an opponent through tripping, sweeping and throwing.San Shou

Classes here at LMAA are a combination of pad drills, partner training and contact sparring. Participants of San Shou classes here at the LMAA will be fully trained for San Shou, Muay Thai or MMA (stand up skills) competition if they desire but none is required for promotion and the level of intensity of sparring will be adjusted according to the student's goals making the class safe for all desired participants.

Although competition preparations are available for those interested, the mission of the classes is to teach "Sanda," the combat version of San Shou for the reality based environment and will also include training such as applications against multiple opponents, against assailants armed with weapons and the use of Chin Na (joint manipulations) applied along with the take downs. Offering added advantages to both stand up or ground styles, San Shou will blend seamlessly with all other arts offered at the LMAA.


Clothing, Men:
Fight shorts that are Muay Thai/San Shou style or MMA board short style. T-Shirt or rash guard that is LMA, plain or Kickboxing/MMA related (such as Fairtex, Everlast, Title, Tap Out, Under Armor, ect.). Sleeveless shirts are fine but no tank tops.

Clothing, Women:
Fight shorts that are Muay Thai/San Shou style or MMA board short style or any loose Box leg nylon athletic shorts that are plain, or have athletic logos (Under Armor, Nike, ect.). No University or Team logos. No super short running or cotton "gym" shorts. Tight spandex shorts or leggings can be worn under the fight shorts as a second layer but they must not interfere with the use of knee pads and shin guards which must go over them. Shirts are same as above with the inclusion of a sports bra for support. No half /belly shirts or sports bra/top combo's worn alone without another shirt/rash guard.

Equipment:San Shou Equipment
MMA gloves, thick elbow pads (for Men it is recommend that Women's knee pads be used), Muay Thai/MMA quality shin guards which cover the entire instep (no shin/ankle only), mouth guard and Gender appropriate protection.

Sparring level:
Men: All above plus: Boxing quality head gear with cheek protection (chin protection optional), thick men's knee pads and 16 oz boxing gloves.

All above plus: Boxing quality head gear with cheek protection (full face bar recommended), thick women's knee pads and 12oz boxing gloves.


For thousands of years Chinese Masters met at Sanda, meaning "free fighting," tournaments to determine who the supreme combatant was, fighting upon a Lei Tai platform with no rules and often a fall to death. Like Pankration and the arena in Rome this was a predecessor to modern MMA.

San Shou ThrowAs time passed China's Martial heritage was becoming lost due to the control of the Communist Party only allowing the National support of Wushu Taolu (acrobatic forms). Realizing that many of its soldiers were no longer from families with combative martial traditions and were devoid of prior training, the military set out to develop a Chinese Combat System.

With Government support they gathered many great masters throughout the vast Nation and developed San Shou. This curriculum was developed by experimenting with the Chinese military experiences in close range and hand to hand combat with reference to traditional Chinese martial arts. Later the official name reverted back to Sanda with the art mainly based on scientific efficiency.

Sanda is composed of Chinese martial arts applications encompassing most aspects of combat including striking and grappling. One can see Sanda as a synthesis of traditional Chinese Gung Fu fighting techniques into a more realistic theory and training methods focusing on realistic fighting ability. As an unarmed close combat system, Sanda includes Ti (Kicks), Da (Striking--with any part of the hand/arm), Shuai (Throwing) and Na (Locking/Choking).

A competitive event developed in the military as these bouts were commonly held between the soldiers to test and practice barehanded martial skills, ability and technique. Rules were developed and the use of protective gloves was adopted. As time passed, with an eye on becoming an Olympic event, the Chinese Wushu Federation desired to develop a sport version suitable for general civilian amateur competition and the term of San Shou was decided to differentiate from the Military Sanda competitions.

San Shou is practiced in tournaments and is normally held alongside Taolu (acrobatic forms) events at Wushu competitions. San Shou as a sport has a very great emphasis on throws. For safety reasons, some techniques from the self-defense form such as elbow strikes, chokes, and joint locks, are not allowed during tournaments. Furthermore, when competition is held on a raised Lei Tai platform it is possible to defeat the opponent by moving (whether by throwing, striking, or otherwise pushing) him out of the competition area (only today it is onto mats, not on to spikes!). 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.

In the US, with the exception of a few Chinese martial arts tournaments, it did not make its real appearance until the 1990's. Competitions are now held either on the raised Lei Tai platform or in boxing rings. Amateur fighters wear protective gear and allow kicks, punches and throws. If the rule set is referred to as "Sanda", knees to the body are 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. Professionals wear no protective gear except for gloves, cup, and mouthpiece, and are allowed to use knee strikes (including to the head) as well as kicking, punching and throwing.

For amateur competition the major sanctioning organization is the International Wushu Kung Fu Federation, which has a sanctioning body in each country. In the U.S. it is the USA Wushu Kung Fu Federation (USAWKF) who just sent the team to the U.S. Olympic Games. However, the U. S. Kuo Shu Federation and various independent Chinese martial arts tournaments also promote numerous events.

Professionally the largest sanctioning bodies are the International Sport Kickboxing Association (I.S.K.A.), the U.S. Sanda Federation (USSKF) and the International Kickboxing Federation (I.K.F.). Many professional fighters such as Cung Le and his student Anthony "Rumble" Johnson have made the winning transition to MMA competition. As more people discover this explosive art, it will become a larger foundation "style" for MMA fighters world-wide.

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