From my understanding of Chinese culture, (I have numerous chinese american friends and family members, and as such am exposed to a great deal of Hong Kong TV shows,) Kung Fu schools have traditionally competed against each other on a Lei Tai. (This was also what I was taught when I was training in Choy Lay Fut, in a school that trained it's pro-level fighters in "chinese rules kickboxing," aka "san shou.") San Shou is considered the modern standardized rules for Lei Tai fighting. (As far as giving the shoulin monks special credit for it, hey, that's hollywood for you.)
My favorite online quote about this is actually from "San Shou: History and Development" by Brent Hamby, an article hosted on the above link, www.sanshou.com:
"The word "San Shou" also spelled "Sanda" translates as "unbound hand" and refers to free fighting where the rules are designed to most accurately simulate actual combat. San Shou matches are fought on a raised platform called the "Lei Tai". Historically, the Lei Tai dates back centuries in China where challenge matches were fought both bare handed and also with weapons with no rules—often resulting in death or serious injury. At the National Chinese tournament in Nanking in 1928, the fights on the Lei Tai were so brutal that the final 12 contestants were not permitted to fight for fear of killing off some of the great masters of the time. So changes were needed.
Modern San Shou developed into a sport about the same time as modern Wushu during the 1960’s by the Chinese Government. In order to define a standard kung fu fighting style, the great masters from all over China were given the task of organizing the huge heritage of Chinese martial arts in to a system of rules in which different styles could complete. Protective equipment was also added to further reduce the risk of serious injury. "
Anything from Hun Gar to Tai Chi has been known to fight in San Shou tournaments and matches, so yeah, one trains in a Chinese Martial Art, and competes against fighters studying other CMA by way of San Shou rules.
I am curious, did the American-Style prize-fighting "Boxing Ring" originate from the Lei Tai? It seems like the west had a lot of exposure to the east before we had a formal elevated boxing ring...
IF I recall correctly san shou was discourage in China for a considerable period of time till more recently.
Was San Shou developed to try and better the Muay Thai fighters?
I doubt that Muay Thai had anything to do with the development of San Shou. Most of the Muay Thai moves I've seen I have also seen in traditional Kung Fu forms. The similarity, I assume, is because Thailand was once a part of China... and due to the age of the custom of Lei Tai fighting, I assume this is where Muay Thai originated, or where what led to Muay Thai originated.
The Chinese government has historically had two problems with martial artists: A) alot of them were gangster types, involved with the triad, and B) China has had two "boxer rebellions" in reletively recent history, creating political instability for powerholders.
I think the REAL purpose of developing San Shou rules was to help Kung Fu systems "keep it real" without killing each other. ("No weapons" for example, even thought it's a Kung Fu competition. Also, they certainly would not want something like stop-and-go point-fighting do to Kung Fu what point-fighting has done to many Karate schools.)
According to this website (made by a Kung-Fu practioner) Muay Thai had influence in the evolution of San Shou techniques.
Originally posted by BFGalbraith
I doubt that Muay Thai had anything to do with the development of San Shou.
(Click on Main Page for more)
I am very impressed with that site. He's right about most of his criticisms : a chinese-rules kickboxer in a K1 match was KOed with a high round kick. Mainland China's martial arts have been in serious trouble for a long time, no doubting that either... Modern San Shou rules definitely have their limitations.
I wouldn't be suprised if the average MT athlete was a great deal more commited to ring fighting than the average Kung Fu practitioner. But the low-commitment level of San Shou is one of the important things about it: you don't have to be a professional to compete full-contact with a wide variety of techniques. San Shou is to prevent point-fighting garbage. The are already MMA and WKA circuts available for trying to prove you are the "best fighter in the world," if that's what you are about.
"The Thais have been practicing & perfecting the use of their shins & knees for hundreds of years." (From the same site http://crane.50megs.com/index6d.htm .)
Perhaps the kung fu school's he's seen don't do the same wooden dummy, two-man drills, full-contact sparing and chinese medicine (applying "dit da jow" to bumps and bruises afterwords,) that some of the other kung fu schools do... of course, apparently, he's never seen a leg kick in a kung fu system before either... In my home town, if you wanted to do MT, you had to train at the kung fu school, because that's where the WKA kickboxing was. I personally see MT as a variety of kung fu, since I know of kung fu systems that have contained all the MT techniques since long before 1900... There actually aren't that many different MT moves by Kung Fu standards.
I think this guy needs to re-think of how much San Shou is a "wannabe" of MT. His comments on how "traditional kung fu schools don't do full contact sparring," realy makes me question how traditional of kung fu school's he's been exposed to. From my experience, Kung Fu schools quit sparring full contact to try to get more customers, essentiallly an effect of "americanization" of their martial art*.
It basically all comes down to the Bruce Lee thing. I don't see Bruce Lee as having contributed anything significantly to the Martial Arts, beyond publicity. The kung fu guys like me who say this come from schools where we have been doing full contact sparring traditionally since the dawn of time.
Depending on how a person views at Bruce Lee, angel or deamon, it shapes how you see the history of martial arts. (He sees Bruce Lee as a savoir of Kung Fu. I see Lee as someone who promoted TKD and point-fighting with his lousy strategies, not only misleading many a kung fu school to mediocrity, but also many a karate school as well.) When I look at martial arts history, I look at WHY they did things the way they did at the time, as opposed to trying to invent reasons for why what they did is "outdated."
*Of course, those old black and white photos have some guys posing in there that look like they haven't been sparring full contact, juding from their fighting stances. However, I have seen old black and white photos that tell a very different story. Back in the day, Muay Thai was not the only sport confronting chinese boxing to try to make a name for it's self:
Last edited by BFGalbraith; 9/23/2004 5:43pm at .
That site has been shown on Bullshido at least 10 times. Most of us have seen it btw.