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Chinese Martial Art of San Shou

The nation of China is one of the world's oldest civilizations and its history is as diverse as it is long. There are hundreds of dialects, traditions, and beliefs that a population in an excess of over a billion share. Needless to say China doesn't just have one martial art despite attempts by the Chinese government to nationalize martial art arts.

Because of China's rich martial arts heritage the government and China's military did not need to create a style of hand to hand combat from scratch, but rather formalize one of China's many native fighting methods. While many forms of Kung Fu have been turned into performance art San Shou or Sanshou still keeps the combat in combat martial arts, and can easily turn deadly.

In competition San Shou a variety of techniques can be used by fighters, but while early matches were barehanded with few safety precautions in today's matches athletes use a host of protective equipment though there are some exceptions. A fighter may punch or kick an opponent's legs, head, and body to score points, and sometimes knee strikes are allowed if the rule set referred to as "San Da" is in use. Throws and takedowns are another way to score points, and Judo and wrestling throws can be used in matches. Competitions can be held in either in boxing ring or on the traditional lei tai a raised platform where it is actually possible to knock your opponent off the platform with a strike or a throw to achieve a win.

One thing martial arts have done over time has been to promote cultural understanding, and provide friendly competition. The more you learn about someone else's culture the less chance there is for fear which can breed hate which in turn can lead to real violence. Though not as popular as other forms San Shou it isn't just practiced in China and some techniques have been adopted by Muay Thai and mixed martial artists for competition, because San Shou includes several different strikes and throws. Also from a practical standpoint the more you know about someone else's style the more prepared you will be for combat. While China's civilians are only taught the sport version of San Shou some practitioners who train in secret teach a more lethal form, but the military would learn the hard way just how important close combat training is on the battlefield.

After losing the Korean war to the United States and other allied nations the Chinese military took a hard look at what they were teaching their troops and among issues dealt with was hand to hand combat. Army chief Peng Dehuai consulted martial artists from every providence in China and had veterans and medical experts evaluate their style's effectiveness. The new system had to be simplistic, direct, and effective again larger stronger opponents. After thoroughly testing the system in training camps the first Sanshou manual would be published by the military in 1963, and the new training would be employed against Soviet troops using Sambo during border skirmishes.

Now if you have ever been in a real fight where you don't know your attacker's intentions you have to assume the worst, so you use the most brutal self defense techniques you know and the same goes for San Shou. Biting, join attacks, head butts, and strikes to areas like the groin, knees, and spine are all band in competition, but they're encouraged in self defense and military training. So if you find yourself dealing with hostile Chinese soldiers don't think for a moment that they don't know how to fight. Wushu might be more popular, San Shou is much more brutal.

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