SS vs. MT, throw vs. knee

Last night I promised to post how knees and elbows change throws (ie in regards to a full san da format). As it happens, the issue was discussed today at our team practice as half the team is getting ready for a san shou event, and the other half is going to fight Muay Thai soon.

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.

Lkfmdc, thanks for the great information.

no problem, let me think and I will add some stuff on this topic as well

Most of this I have posted before, but it may be of interest if you have not read it beforeAll fighters must also learn how to respond when seized in the clinch. Whether you initiate the clinch or not, you must first establish CONTROL. The first few seconds are the most important and the most dangerous. Once you have established control, you have several options.The many different combat sports address fighting in the clinch differently. In Western boxing, the choices are limited to either punching out of the clinch with short punches such as the uppercut or holding the arms to prevent punching and waiting for the referee to break the hold. In Muay Thai (Thailand boxing), the cultural aesthetic has led to the development of knee and elbow strikes, with some basic wrestling to throw the opponent to the canvas. In the sport of San Shou as practiced today, the fighters usually see the clinch as an opportunity to throw the opponent. However, an intelligent fighter should familiarize himself with ALL of the options in the clinch and understand their relative advantages and disadvantages. Once this is achieved, they can modify their strategy depending upon the rules. First, you can strike. You can either remain in the clinch (using uppercuts, hooks or knee strikes) or you can strike your way out. From the double hand neck hold, also called plum wrestling, you can either deliver knee strikes or spin your opponent. You can spin them to disorient them and set up more knee strikes, to throw them to the ground, or to create the distance for a low kick. Second, you can use a throw or takedown. A good throw can inflict as much damage, if not more, than a furious combination. You are hitting your opponent with the ground. The front body lock can be used to throw your attacker down as well as defend against the knee strike. You can duck under the arms and go around to the back. From the rear position the opponent is relatively defenseless. However, which option you choose may have to do with your relative strengths. 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 defendb) 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



...just curious, do San Shou fighters wear a "gi" of some sort? Is it used for the throws/takedowns?


When san shou existed as an inter military competition, they often wore fatigures. The international sport adopted an amateur boxing like tank top with shorts approach. But never anything resembling a gi...

They wear boxing-style gloves when they fight in the ring (not ufc-style gloves), so you can't grab a gi (even if they were wearing one, which they don't).

maybe stickgrappler will save it?

"open the windows" is from teh Chinese term, let me see if I can describe it. As they attempt to reach out and grab you, or in between the knee strikes, get your hand up and into your chest. Palms are together, forearm and elbows are together. Now, rotate your palms outward and push forward into their chest. So your arms go inside the their arms and you push them off.

Another variation, is that as they attempt to clinch you use the same movement to push their shoulders and unbalance them.


AWESOME! Though I've never personally experienced San Shou, I've boxed and I've done some Judo. And I would like to underscore everything you have said! This is exactly what I have experienced.

I remember when I first "tasted" Judo, I clinched with the Judo player Muay Thai style. I got neck control and was able to keep him off balance for, like 5 seconds. Then my feet were up in the air as I came crashing down to earth. Talk about getting some air! That was when I began to learn the difference between the clinching styles.

In San Shou/San Da does the clinching control technique resemble Muay Thai (neck control) or Judo (body control/hooking under arms)? (Well, San Da, from what you've said, employs a combination of both.)

I have a question about your post:

"c) "open windows" defense, push"

Please describe. Muay Thai has a push defense/escape from the clinch, but what do you mean by "open windows"?

Khun Kao


It's not "quite" the same in MT, 'cause as you know, Thai boxers normally keep their hips in tight to each other as they don't have to defend against Judo-style throws.

That technique works when someone is "trying" to reach in and grab, or when someone has exerted the control position and you're able to snake your hands in.

We also teach the same technique, but instead of pushing on the chest, we push on the hips. This prevents your opponents hips from having any forward motion and totally nullifies their knee strikes. You push HARD on the hips to break away, while keeping your head safely tucked between your arms to prevent eating one on the way out. It's risky though. I only teach that technique as the last resort.

I like your "open windows" method for preventing the clinch in the first place.

Khun Kao

ps- make sure to post about the event you're attending!

Khun Kao

Ah, similar to the MT techniques. Got it, thanks!

wow, you understood my jibberish, I'm astounded :)

have a good one, soon I'm off to Tom Battone's event. Should be good

I archived this the other day.

saved, but not put up yet. i'm sure KK will archive it here.

good stuff lkfmdc.

it's like yin/yang or a chess game. you clinch and want to knee so they hug you and you throw. it's all about flow.

it's also up at my site: