Sanda (also called San Shou or Chinese Kickboxing) is the sport fighting component Kung Fu. It involves two competitors, with techniques including punches, kicks and takedowns.
Sanda has a long history throughout which there have been many different applications: whether for sport, practice or actual combat. Ancient Sanda included many techniques not used today such as joint locks (Qin-Na), pressure points and other such methods. Nowadays, Sanda is mostly for sport and enjoyment, but that’s not all there is to it. By sparring with an opponent, you can learn quite a bit, especially if you hold no grudges and compete with a good attitude.
As Sanda developed, rules were introduced to prohibit some of the more dangerous techniques, such as elbow, knee and joint locks. We still, however, learn these in the Qin-Na class, as our training must be well rounded.
Sanda is extremely popular in China, and has been for decades. It was developed specifically to coincide with the centuries of martial arts history that have preceded it. After much growth it has now become an integral part of China’s martial heritage.
Today Sanda is practiced according to a strict set of rules that both protect the competitors and encourage good technique for both offence and defence. In a relatively peaceful society, fighting sports are a good way to channel and control aggression, which is a fundamental goal of martial arts. In China, styles of Kung Fu are classified as either for performance or self-defence. Sanda is an excellent example of the self defence.
Sanda has many benefits: not only will your fitness improve, so will your mind and ability to defend yourself.
The intensity of Sanda competition requires power, good technique, bravery and mental strength, which explains why it is so popular amongst younger people. Physically it helps people develop their speed, strength, endurance and flexibility. Also, it promotes healthy organs and a quicker mind.
In Sanda it is important to be adaptable. When training or fighting, it’s good to experiment, learning new tricks through experience. Most of all, guard against becoming predictable.
When training, make sure to practice as if it were a real fight. This will enhance your confidence, making it easier to deal with a tough match or an actual street fight.
Sanda is a constant test and improvement of will, whether it be the pain of training or fear while sparring. Gradually, you will become more comfortable with your opponents attacks, becoming braver and more decisive.
To really develop your skills, fight with a more skilled or experienced opponent. It’s important in that situation to stay positive and focused, not letting their potential advantage stress you out before the match has even begun.
Stamina is important in Sanda, not only just physical. During the last round of a match you may find yourself extremely tired—a good fighter will doggedly press on, pushing him or herself further than they thought possible.
To be a successful fighter a persistent, firm and positive mentality is required. Work towards these and you’ll be surprised how much you can achieve.