Sanshou (Wushu Sanshou), also known as Sanda (Wushu Sanda), Chinese boxing or Chinese kickboxing, is a Chinese self-defense system and combat sport. Wushu Sanshou is a martial art which was originally developed by the Chinese military based upon the study and practices of traditional Kung fu and modern combat fighting techniques; it combines full-contact kickboxing, which includes close range and rapid successive punches and kicks, with wrestling, takedowns, throws, sweeps, kick catches, and in some competitions, even elbow and knee strikes
The generalized modern curriculum practiced in modern wushu schools is composed of different traditional martial arts fighting styles from China, but mainly based on scientific efficiency. Wushu Sanshou is composed of Chinese martial arts applications including most aspects of combat including striking and grappling, however when Wushu Sanshou was developed as a sport, restrictions were made for safety reasons as well as to promote it as a non-violent sport. Examples of such restrictions included no blows delivered to the back of the head, throat, 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 system with no restrictions, only adapting their training in relation to competition rules prior to the event. Sanshou tournaments are one of the two disciplines recognized by the International Wushu Federation.
Sanda appears much like Kickboxing but includes many more grappling techniques. Sanda fighting competitions are often held alongside taolu or form competitions. Sanda represents the modern development of Lei Tai contests, but with rules in place to reduce the chance of serious injury. Many Chinese martial art schools teach or work within the rule sets of Sanda, working to incorporate the movements, characteristics, and theory of their style.
Chinese martial artists also compete in non-Chinese or mixed combat sports, including boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts. Sanda is practiced in tournaments and is normally held alongside taolu events in wushu competition. For safety reasons, some techniques from the self-defense form such as elbow strikes, chokes, and joint locks, are not allowed during tournaments. Competitors can win by knockout or points which are earned 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 within the time limit, the referee will break the clinch. In the U.S., competitions are held either in boxing rings or on the raised lei tai platform. Amateur fighters wear protective gear.
“Amateur Sanda” allows kicks, punches, knees (not to the head), and throws. 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 except for gloves, cup, and mouthpiece, and “Professional Sanda” allows knee strikes (including to the head) as well as kicking, punching and throwing.