What Is Sanda Kung Fu

What is Sanda Kung Fu

What is Sanda Kung Fu, Sanda Kung Fu was invented by the Chinese armed forces and is used as a way to test out the more traditional styles of the Chinese martial arts, as with most modern martial the emphasis is not on fighting but more on self development, this trend can be seen in the martial arts of Japan, namely Karate which has had the word Do added to indicate that the martial art is less of a martial art and more of a way to keep traditional Karate moves and principles alive. The aim of Sanda is give practitioners of Chinese Kung Fu a way that is more realistic in expressing the forms and intentions of the Kung Fu artist. The video below shows a typical Sanda tournament

Sanda Kung Fu Tournament

In the video you can see that the fighters are wearing protective gear there is a head guard which is used in other full contact sports such as amateur boxing and Kickboxing, it is the rules in Sanda that separate it from Kickboxing, in Kickboxing the rules which can be found in detail here, the rules can vary according to the body that represents the fighters. Sanda has it’s own set of rules for the fighters which can be found here, The reason that the Chinese military wanted to have Sanda competitions was because they needed a way to keep the soldiers fit strong alert and they wanted the soldiers to be able to use the Kung Fu moves that they were taught under the pressure of a real fight, could you imagine what it would be like to do all tha Kung Fu forms and then freeze when it came to putting those moves into practice.

Military Style Sanda


This is the description of the military style of Sanda:

Jūnshì Sǎndǎ (Mandarin Chinese, Military Free Fighting): A system of unarmed combat that was designed by Chinese Elite Forces based upon their intense study of traditional martial arts such as traditional Kung Fu, Shuai Jiao, Chin Na and modern hand-to-hand fighting and combat philosophy to develop a realistic system of unarmed fighting for the Chinese military. Jùnshì Sǎndǎ employs all parts of the body as anatomical weapons to attack and counter with, by using what the Chinese consider to be the four basic martial arts techniques:

  • Da – Upper-Body Striking – using fists, open hands, fingers, elbows, shoulders, forearms and the head
  • Ti – Lower-Body Striking – including kicks, knees and stomping
  • Shuai – Throws – using Wrestling and Judo-like takedowns and sweeps, and
  • Chin-Na – Seizing – which includes jointlocks, strangulation and other submissions

Chinese Government Sport Style

This is normally for the amateurs of Sanda and the rules for this vary, but in general kicks, punches and throws are allowed but elbows to th ehead are normally not permitted, the kicks and punches in Sanda are very fluid and the punches are very similar to the way a western boxer would throw them, there are uppercuts, hooks, jabs, long hooks, short hooks, sometimes it is hard to see the difference between Kickboxing, Muay Thai and Sanda as they all look very similar to an untrained eye, the differences are mainly cased by the rules that are in place, for example in Muay Thai you are allowed to kick your opponent whilst in a clinch and this rule is similar to Sanda with the exception of Sanda adding time limits whilst in a clinch, by just adding this one rule you can see how a fight may end in a different way. This video below shows two Muay Thai fighters in a clinch

Muay Thai Clinch

The video shows two Muay Thai fighters in a clinch and from the clinch the fighters are able to kick and use elbows as a way to attack their opponent, this position also gives the attacker great control of what their opponent can do in defense because whilst they have control of the other fighters neck to limit and immobilize the defenders options.

There are so many styles of Kung Fu that it is hard to know when a martial art is a fighting art or just an art for health and the preservation of tradition, which is fine but it good to know the difference. It is hard to know if what you learn in form practice has any real value so entering competitions can at least give you some idea as to the effectiveness of the moves that you perform. The competition rules help to make the sport a little bit safer by removing groin, throat, eye and spine and strikes to the back of the head, the rules also make the fighters stop fighting when on of them falls to the ground this makes it safer but it also means that the fighters have to keep moving which helps to keep the spectators happy. The protective gear is a head guard, shin pads, body armour, hand protectors, gum shields, and groin protector

Sanda protective gear

sanda protective gear

sanda protective gear 2

Bruce Lee was probably one of the first Chinese popular martial artist that used most of this gear in an attempt to bring out the true effectiveness of the martial arts, he called his system of free fighting martial arts as Jeet Kun Do, so you can see that there have been more than one attempt at making Chinese martial arts free flowing and not restricted by forms or culture or robotic rigidity. Bruce Lee was a famous martial artist and actor who’s philosophy on the martial arts has transformed the way that the old school traditional martial artists viewed  the martial arts, but in particular Chinese martial arts which he believed would have little chance of success against the larger westerners that he met in the United States of America. The video below shows Bruce Lee fighting way back in 1967. What is Sanda Kung Fu, Sanda Kung Fu is all styles mixed together to form no style

Bruce Lee Free Sparring

What is Sanda Kung Fu, it is the realization of Bruce Lee’s theory and practice which can be given to him as a posthumous gift.


Bruce Lee

bruce lee sbruclee 1