Muay Thai vs San Shou

.. in the clinch

Muay Thai and San Shou are like cousin arts, and share some common features. They are both arts that have developed clinch fighting to a high degree. However, the current formats have changed what it is that they do in that clinch.

Muay Thai and San Shou do almost the exact opposite thing in the clinch. For Muay Thai, the defender wants to stand upright, with your hips close to reduce the room for knees. The attacker wants to shift their hips back a bit to create room for those strikes.

For San Shou, the defender wants to pull their hips back and base out so they are not thrown. The attacker wants to drive forward and get close. If the defender were to stand straight up, hips close, they would get thrown.

making any sense yet? :)

A Muay Thai defensive postion gets you thorwn. A San Shou defensive position open s you up for knees.

Currently, a lot of san shou fighters have sloppy shoots. They go in with the head down. With knees, this would get them KTFO. Then again, we discourage it in san shou as well! If you look at the world tapes, with the higher level fighters, you will see guys get KTFO from kicks when they bend their heads down. It is not a proper technique

My guys, because they cross train not only in knees but also in submission, know to keep their heads up (not to eat the knee, not to get guillotined).

Of course, there is also the fact that when you try to knee, you are only on one leg. Muay Thai already has within it many ways of grabbing the knee and exploiting this weakness, but of course in San Shou you are not limited in how you can throw the guy once you've grabbed the knee. Particularly grape vining the leg and hooking between the leg works and both are illegal in current Muay Thai.

In a san da format, a fighter has to alternate between the knee game and the throwing game. The knee would prevent sloppy shoots, but as MMA has shown, would not eliminate them totally.

Elbows would not change the game much, they are close range strikes, meaning that using them also puts you close enough to throw.

blocking the knee strike
There are several methods of blocking a straight knee strike. The first and foremost line of defense is to maintain the superior position in the clinch and launch your own attack. Neck wrestling to obtain the inside position must be practiced diligently. Of course, there are times when one loses the superior position. In these cases, you must use one of the other defensive methods.

a) push hips to defend

b) cross arm block (catch and throw)/elbow point block
Use the forearms to shield you against the blows. You can either cross them and attempt to catch or use the drop elbow cover and rolling forearm to deflect.

c) front body lock -- heel strikes/throw
If seized around the neck, you can defend by seizing your attacker around the waist and pulling them into you (called a front body lock). The front body lock will not give your opponent the room to execute the knee strike. With the front body lock you can also throw your opponent. Lift them off the ground and once the feet leave the ground, you can turn your waist to throw them to the ground.

3. other defenses vs. double neck hold ("plum")
a) place arm across body to set up elbow strikes
b) "crowbar" to break hold
c) "open windows" defense, push

cool post! TTT


Sweet post! This is why I'd love to get into San Shou, there are more "toys" to play with :).

I prefer mma most of all because of the greater freedom to "play" and I like muay thai second because it's so damn violent :). I'm talking competition here. I love grappling too, but I would rather not enter grappling or judo comps because of the potential injury factor (plus I like to hit people :0). San Shou is like the next best thing between mmm and muay thai for me. Guess I'll have to wait till I visit China :(.


I would kill to train San Shou but I prefer MMA.

LKFMDC you are the pimp.

What in the hell does your username mean?

Good informative Post !


lkf = lama kung fu i believe. he was big into kung fu i think. i read that last year on here.

lama kung fu modern defense concepts