Thoughts on MuayThai v. SanDa

The most significant difference between Muay Thai & Chinese Sanda is that the former has strong roots whereas the latter has almost none! The Analects ?? say it well: "The Gentleman constantly seeks the root (of all things); (because) When the root is established the Way will develop (from there)." In the 80 years that Sport Muaythai that has been formed, it has never once separated from its roots in the 500 year old Traditional Muaythai, the very art that has been used on the battlefield when weapons break & arrows are depleted. In the centuries of constant fighting with the Burmese & Khmer invaders, Muaythai as well as its parent art Krabi Krabong have already reached high levels of maturity.

On the other hand, although Chinese Kungfu has a 4000 year old history, in the last century it has suffered greatly. Since the fall of the Manchurian Qing Dynasty, there was civil war, first between the Nationalists & the militant warlords & later between the Nationalists & the Communists. Then the Japanese invaded, & when they were chased out there was more civil war, followed by the Liberation, where the Nationalists fled to Taiwan, then the Great Leap Forward & the most disasterous period - the Cultural Revolution. All these historical turmoil in China had severely corroded all Chinese culture & traditions. Kungfu was affected in the same way. After the dust settled, when the Central Govt finally decided to carry out reforms, things were already quite different.

Thus in the 80s they came out with Modern Sport Wushu, consisting of newly made Taolu (forms) and half baked Sanda. The truth is, neither Taolu nor Sanda is rooted in Traditional Kungfu, even up till today. Why? Because most of the important tenets of Traditional Kungfu is already lost on the Mainland. Modern Wushu could not use what is left as its root even if it wanted to. But we shall not discuss Taolu, but Sanda. If we open our eyes wide, we could see that those fighters who are proven champions in Sanda today have all not practiced Traditional Kungfu before. For example, anyone can see that the superb, at times fancy kicking skills of former King of Sanda Liu Hailong are actually from Korean Taekwondo. The current King, Yuan Yubao is no different. Then there is Nashun Gerile, whose fast throws are obviously developed from his Mongolian Wrestling background. All these skills may be useful in the Sanda circuit, but at the end of the day, they are still not Chinese! Sanda in reality is just a mixture of Boxing, Taekwondo & Shuai Jiao, the only component that is partially Chinese. In all the previous Sanda VS Muaythai Challenges, though Sanda claims to represent Kungfu, they are actually deceiving themselves. So how can Chinese Sanda, without any roots in Chinese Kungfu, ever surpass Muay Thai, which is so firmly rooted & has such a long combat history?

However, on another side of the Earth, another Chinese martial artist had already shown the way. The famous Master Su, founder of the Pachi Tanglang MA Institute provides a good counter example of how Traditional Kungfu can be combined effectively with modern kickboxing sports. The Venezuelan Fighter that he trained up to fight in Thailand a few years ago achieved 5 World Muaythai Championship titles in 3 weight categories! It was a world record no less. He was able to do it because he had a solid base in Baji & Tanglang (Mantis) training. With these 2 traditional arts as his roots, he went on to train in Muaythai, in order to get use to their style of fighting. Adopting both the tradtional & the modern for fighting in the Ring, just look at the fantastic results of such a combination.

If the Chinese Wushu Association in Beijing really want Sanda to be equal, if not better than Muaythai someday, they only have 2 options. One option is to officially invite able traditional masters like Mr Su back to China to train a new batch of Sanda fighters, or choose to retrain the current Sanda fighters in the Traditional Kungfu styles of the Association's choice. But due to political reasons or perhaps just egoistic pride, I don't think they will choose the former. If fresh fighters are to train in exceptional kungfu styles as a base, they should do well when they progress to train in Sanda fighting. But since everybody claims their styles are the best, so what styles should one ordain as the compulsary basic?

During the initial years of the Han Dynasty, founding Emperor Liu Bang faced a problem of which school of thought should he adopt as his ruling system. There were a hundered different schools left over from the Warring States. Eventually, under the advise of his wise advisor, he chose to "Forsake the hundered schools, Venerate only the (Confucian) Scholars". Why? Because the Confucian system was adopted from the ruling system of the 800 year old Zhou Dynasty, based on Virtue, tempered with Rites & Music. It was the longest dynasty in Chinese history. In other words, no other school had such a long & illustrious history to back it. From then on, for more than 2000 years, right until the last days of the Qing Dynasty, no Emperor had dared to forsake the Confucian system of rule. Those who dared cause the downfall of their entire Dynasty without fail. So in the same manner should we choose the styles to adopt - based on historical merit.

It is necessary to divide the traditional styles into Northern & Southern, then among them choose the styles which are historically proven the most number of times. In the North, among so many styles, the Qing Dynasty Emperors had chosen to train themselves & their personal bodyguards in Bajiquan, for good reason. Later when Bagua Founder Dong Haichuan & his disciple Yin Fu entered the Forbidden City, the Emperor also chose to let the Palace Guards train in Baguazhang. From this we know that the value of these 2 styles is beyond doubt. If Baji is linear & explosive, then Bagua completely compliments it by being circular & ever-flowing. After the revolution, Bagua fell back into the populace whereas Baji continued to be used by the Nationalist Govt to train special forces as well as bodyguards for the important ministers. This practice carried on even after they fled to Taiwan after the Liberation. It is rumoured that even the Communists adopted this practice, even though many of them disdained Kungfu. Today, the world has changed a lot; the Nationalists in Taiwan are no longer Nationalists, just as the Communists in China are no longer Communists. But the view that Baji is a important Kungfu style for protecting the rulers on both side of the straits remains unchanged. Thus for Northern Kungfu, Baji & Bagua cannot ever be forsaken as the base of martial science.

In the case of the South, there are only 3 styles that the whole world recognises - Hung Gar, Choy Lay Fut & Wing Chun. So these are also the most important 3 that must be adopted. Hung Gar has been the chosen style of Anti-Manchurian revolutionaries since the time the Southern Shaolin Temple in Fujian province was burned down by the Qing soldiers. From the 5 Ancestors right up to Master Wong Fei Hung, Hung Gar is truly the most influential style in the South. Choy Lay Fut may be less known, but in the last century it produced quite a number of fighting champions that won pugilistic tournaments all the way from South China to the whole of South East Asia. Most notable of them is Master Lei Hung, who in 1961 fought bravely against Cambodian Muaythai fighters in Phnom Phenh. Then there is Wing Chun, the Kungfu base of Bruce Lee, upon which he developed Jeet Kune Do. Through him, his Sifu Yip Man & the Wing Chun he taught gained world-wide fame, almost over-shadowing even that of Hung Gar. The wide stances & long techniques of Hung Gar & Choy Lay Fut makes up for the narrow stances & short techniques of Wing Chun. Together they must also be the essential styles of Southern Kungfu.

Having understood the need for seeking Traditional Kungfu roots in Sanda using the above mentioned styles, all others should take on a secondary role. All fresh Sanda fighters should be made to train in them for at least 2-3 years before learning Sanda for fighting in the ring. Sanda can only develop further if it has strong roots like Muaythai. Unless the decision makers in the Chinese Wushu Association take on either of the 2 suggested options, I dare say that Sanda on its current path will never surpass Muaythai. That's the whole truth about Sanda VS Muaythai.


-takes cover while awaiting for lkfmdc to appear-

Posts like this are really pointless to debate for a simple reason, they are based upon complete ignorance.

The kind of person who spouts a post like this when in reality isn't even educated on the facts, isn't the sort of person that is going to listen to reason anyway

A few obvious questions, if you want to talk about San Da's relation to traditional Chinese martial art (TCMA) then let us know what you know about TCMA. I spent 16 years of my life with a man the Chinese people called a living national treasure. Before meeting him I had done TCMA for close to 10 years and was already an instructor in Hung Ga a TCMA

Similarly, do you want us to take you seriously when you talk about San Da starting in the 80's? There is a widely available San Da book from 1957 and the program in fact dates back to 1927.

all that aside, FRAT....

Interesting reading for sure. I've read this guy's stuff before. He's got a lot of fight VCDs.

Some of the vids recently posted (YT and Google)happened on this event:



So who is the Wayne guy who maintains the crane page with all of the event summaries and histories? Are you saying that his perspective deviates from the truth?

"deviates from the truth"?

in a word, YES... not just me but others have caught him "manipulating" facts on that page... not to mention there have been a few events, where if you sit and watch it and then compare it to his "review" it's like talking about different fights.. but that's more subjective really

In other aspects, the guy clearly is not grounded in reality. "Master Su"? He claims Master Su's student won "5 World Muaythai Championship titles in 3 weight categories" ... uh, for such a great accomplishment it's funny no one has ever heard about this?

Personally, I'd like to see some of Master Su's students fighting in any event (not just san da) before I proclaim him the saviour of TCMA fighting

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, "Wayne" apparently thinks that if you aren't in cute silk PJ's and doing animal moves then it isn't TCMA

San Da is based upon theory and principles such as continuousness, the 6 gates, bridges, opening and sealing leaks, "sim" (hard to translate in one word) and "gwaan" (impossible to translate into one word!)

It shouldn't be a "better" thing but it certainly is a "different" thing

San Da is not Muay Thai. Muay Thai is not San Da. They share some similarities, they also have some fundamental differences.

Actually, it's sort of sad, San Da has not grown because some people want to just call it MT with throws, and others want to make it into some precious CHinese secret... it is NEITHER

jaipetch, on some points I can agree wholeheartedly with you and on some I believe you are jumping to a strong conclusion prematurely. one thing I believe is completely incorrect is to say you are completely ignorant, though there are some who cannot tolerate dissention or challenge to their knowledge that would certainly disagree(and have). there is no reason to assume that simply because of history one style will surpass or outlive another. personally, I believe your points are just as likely to be influenced by circumstance as past. you can draw many parallels. but I don't believe roots make much difference at all either. what is most important is a common bond and cooperation in promoting a sport. those who choose to do nothing for a sport other than putting everyone else down for disagreeing or challenging them do nothing for a sport or society for that matter. what is important is that whatever constitutes San Da, whether it's traditional Kung Fu or a mixture of Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, Chinese Wrestling, & Western Boxing, it is really only important what people want to call it and what they want to do with it. after all, MMA has no clear definition. yet everybody calls it MMA. in spite of the fact that it is much different from State to State and from one competition to the next. personally, I don't believe it has much to do at all with Kung Fu. especially since there doesn't seem to be an abundance of Kung Fu schools even interested in full contact fighting OR San Da. it is more an afterthought than anything else. San Da, for all intents and purposes, is a new creation that can be whatever it wants to be. whoever says it shares much with Muay Thai is simply getting carried away. they don't deserve comparison. and one is NOT better than the other. I believe it is stretching the truth to even say that anything created by the Chinese government is actually rooted in anything. all arguments for Roots or against them aside, your writing is enlightening and interesting.

Like I said, it's sad to see ignorance being passed off as fact...

Here's a question for the so called "experts"... if San Da was created by the "Chinese government" then please explain which government

The first San Da program was set up in 1927 under the Guomindang (nationalist) government

The first major book was published in 1957 under the leadership of the CCP (that's Chinese Communist Party) under Mao Zedong.

"Civilians" weren't allowed to do San Da until the 1980's when Deng Xiaoping was in power

San Da has it's roots (sort of hate using that word after the above posts use it) in the Chinese military. It also has a sport aspect, and the sport aspect has its own politics.

Again, it would be nice to see INFORMED posts on the subject instead of some of the above banter

again jaipetch, most forum members will welcome your words. there are those of little faculty(or manhood) who will put you down for your opinions. though I disagree with you on some points, I appreciate your taking all that time to bring up an interesting subject. everybody on this forum knows the kind of stupidity your comments are going to bring from people who have read lots of books but can't even fight and consider themselves an expert on the subject. but not only are there actually people who CAN fight San Da and have, there are also people who have a strong REAL knowledge base like yourself and don't make a point of it at other's expense. I welcome this. I think you are someone who actually CONTRIBUTES to the San Da community.

  • "from people who have read lots of books but can't even fight and consider themselves an expert on the subject" -

Wow! Mark Negron just described himself! Wait, he probably hasn't read a lot of books, I'm not even sure he can read?

Mr Negron, if you want to debate me on the history of San Da, let's start with your exact background and qualifications.

Have you ever had a fight? The answer NO. We note you've cleaned up your "act" and no longer claim to have been a fighter, but come on now. How long have you trained in San Da and with WHO? Oh, wait, now you're a Muay Thai person correct?

again jaipetch, there are those who claim to be experts who are simply little, insignificant people, who are terrified of their own realities. these people cannot accept that someone may know something about this particular subject. or that some people really ARE somewhat athletic and capable and don't need to shout everyone down about it. but this is just the comically pathetic downside of having an opinion and shows the stark contrast between the intended and useful purpose of this forum versus the whorish abuse and parasitic misuse that I believe nearly everyone agrees is unfortunate.

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Dude, you forgot to sign the above post

"Mark Negron, wannabe"

Let me conclude this thread with a simple statement

The internet is in many ways an ode to the concept that "everyone is entitled to an opinion"

This is certainly true, everyone is entitled to hold an opinion

The obvious problem is, the internet has created the false impression that all opinions are equal..

i didnt personally write what i posted, i simply posted an article that i thought was interesting and wanted to see what others thought.

I saw a highlight of the San Shou world championships. I thought it was pretty entertaining. High altitude slams are cool!

i simply posted an article that i thought was interesting and wanted to see what others thought.

Well, you found out! LOL :)

jaipetch, I also forgot to mention that your opinions are equally important to anyone else's here. not only do you demonstrate a very deep and broad knowledge of the subject you discuss, but this fact will sometimes cause people to feel threatened by the realization that they are not the "Expert" on the subject. though they will never acknowledge this reality, they will spew hatred and insults and even threats in order to deflect inquiry. but when it comes down to actually backing up this hatred and these threats and insults, the subject will abruptly change or they will simply disappear. they may even call YOU childish for having an opinion or questioning very questionable claims or deeds. never fear, your back is covered.

With 15 years of history, it's easy to forget or not know some of the major developments in the sport. SO here is an early history of San Shou/San Da. Be sure to look for Mark Negron's name in these important events!


1st World Wushu Championship

In an attempt to foster a uniquely Chinese international sport, the Beijing based International Wushu Federation (IWUF) offers the first world wushu championship in Beijing. San Shou is offered for the first time as an open competition with no military ties. Jason Yee of the United States wins a Bronze medal, being the first American to medal. China, of course, has a strong showing, 4 of its 5 team members win. Only one Chinese team member does not place (do you want to know WHO?)


Newly exposed to the sport, the North American Chinese matial Arts Federation (NACMAF) under Tai Yim and Anthony Goh invite a Russian team to fight an American team in Baltimore MD. Russia sends it's "C Team". It's A team is in Beijing (where they KO all five of their Chinese opponents) and their B Team is in LA fighting Benny The Jet's Team of kickboxers. Despite warnings from Daniel Weng and David Ross that the US team is inadequately prepared to counter the Russian team's strong wrestling, the organizers move forward. In an embarassing display, all the US team loses.


NYCMAC All Chinese tournament

NY based promoters David A Ross and Steve Ventura introduce San Shou to the Northeast by offering San Shou as part of their yearly tournament. Future San Shou champion and san Da coach Mike Altman appears for the first time in San Shou at this event.


NYCMAC Full Contact Kung Fu Championships

In an attempt to promote San Shou before the 3 World Wushu Championships are to be held in Baltimore MD, New York promoters David A Ross and Steve Ventura offer 15 pre set matches like a boxing card. This event was the first pre-set card of San Shou fights ever in any country and at the time. The Chinese leadership of the new USA WKF felt it was a "silly idea" but now "super fights" are the most important driving force in the sport.

3rd World Wushu Championships

The first world San Shou championship to be held outside of Asia has great fights, particularly between Brazil and Russia, but the event is so grossly mismanaged by the Chinese leadership of the new USA WKF that they have to file bankrupcy and the Beijing based International Wushu Federation (IWUF) claims they will never again allow a non-Asian country to host a world championship!


Jason Yee vs Cung Le PPV

The Chinese led USA WKF offers San Shou's first and only PPV. They borrow the idea of a card (what an original idea!) and do in fact field some great San Shou fighters. The main event is of epic proportions. But once again poor organization kills the event. The Lei Tai platform proves unsuitable for a PPV. The fighters are also asked to fight with no equipment but not paid. Worst of all, the idea of painting a pretty dragon on the canvas turns out to kill the whole event because it makes the mat so slippery that people are literally falling over just trying to punch and kick.

4th World Wushu Championships

Italy is successful in convincing China to give a Western country a chance to host a world championship. Event is very well run and Cung Le win's his second Bronze Medal


NY promoters David Ross and Steve Ventura move forward with their vision for the sport. On this card are Al Lourieux (the first American to ever win a silver medal at the world championships) and Rudi Ott (current IKF world San Da champion).

FULL CONTACT ACTION 2 Sunday, March 15, 1998

Another first for NY promoters David Ross and Steve Ventura. For the first time anywhere, San Shou is done in a boxing ring. Again, people said it couldn't be done, now it is standard practice. On this card are Max Chen, Elan Schwarz, and Sid Berman

Battle for the Belts Sunday, June 14, 1998

NY promoters David Ross and Steve Ventura oofer the first ever official professional San Shou match (ie both sanctioned and both fighters are paid). Billy Maysonet (Ortiz Chinese Boxing) DEF. Keith Youngs (AFC Kickboxing) by judges' decision. SIMPLY AN AWESOME FIGHT!!!!!!

While non-Chinese promoters are moving the sport forward (and the Russian are about to make a huge step forward) teh Chinese led USA WKF if floundering. It's "national championships" have less than 25 San Shou athletes.

Draka PPV Septemer 25, 1998

San Shou by any other name? Former members of Russia's San Shou governing body introduce their version of professional San Shou fighting and get enough sponsors to puton a pay per veiw. The event highlights US fighter Cung Le and gets organizations like the ISKA interested in the sport

Chinese business man begins "San Da Wang" or "King of San Da" in China as a professional circuit. It is carded matches in a ring, and they allow knee strikes. This is a change, actually reverting to the old pre 1991 military San Shou rules


June 1999: David Ross and Steve Ventura introduce the "New York Showdown" series of events which feature both amateur and professional San Shou.


Chinese owned "world sport" promotion attempts show in NYC and gives the sport a serious black eye (click link to read more)

These events, while now pretty old, are some of the foundations of the sport. If you want to understand how we got to San Da today, this is how!

BTW jaipetch, be sure to watch for the "History of San Da" on this thread just to prove that people can type whatever they want and say it's true. comical...