About Sanda


Sanda– Free Fighting

Sanda-free fighting or hand to hand combat, self defence and combat system, not a style itself but the use of martial applications



Sanda matches are fought on a raised platform called the “Lei Tai”. Historically, the Lei Tai dates back centuries in China where challenge matches were fought both bare handed and also with weapons with no rules often resulting in death or serious injury. At the National Chinese tournament in Nanking in 1928, the fights on the Lei Tai were so brutal that the final 12 contestants were not permitted to fight for fear of killing off some of the great masters of the time. So changes were needed.

Prior to the abolishment of traditional martial arts during the Cultural Revolution the Chinese government gathered the Chinese martial arts masters (120 different styles) that where still in China to contribute to a standard curriculum for Sanda which was sent to the military so They could experiment with it to find out what works in a real life and as a hand to hand combat situation in war ( similar to what the Russians did after there war with the Japanese in 1904-1905 wear they suffered great losses .Which resulted in what is now known as Sambo) the Chinese government developed a watered down version for the civilians for self defence and as a sport.




Modern Sanda developed into a sport during the 1960s by the Chinese Government. In order to define a standard kung fu fighting style, the great masters from all over China were given the task of organizing the huge heritage of Chinese martial arts in to a system of rules in which different styles could complete. Protective equipment was also added to further reduce the risk of serious injury.

The rules of Sanda allow for a wide array of full contact punching, kicking, takedowns and throws derived from the traditional application. Finishing hold (chokes, arm locks etc.) have been excluded from the rules which forces the fight to continue at a fast pace. Sanda addresses the three ranges of fighting:- kicking, punching and grappling which adds great realism to the sport. A fighter can win by a knockout or by points; points are also awarded for the techniques according to effectiveness. In a tournament, there are 2 rounds of 2 minutes each, plus a third round in case of even score. Forcing the opponent off the platform is also a major technique of Sanda. It is a mistake to think of Sanda as just Kick Boxing because the strategies of Sanda are very different. Sanda is part of Wushu and is practiced in over 120 Countries around the world.

Wushu as an Olympic event

Wushu Tournament Beijing 2008

The IWUF placed a bid to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to have Wushu included in future Olympic Games, but it did not meet with success. However, the IOC allowed China to organise an international Wushu event during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The event was not one of the 28 official Olympic sports, nor was it a demonstration event. Instead, it was called the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Wushu Tournament.



Famous competitors

Some well-known Chinese Sanda fighters include Yuan YubaoBao Li Gao, and Liu Hailong who is known as “The Conqueror of Muay Thai” as he has beaten many of the top Muay Thai fighters. Some Sanda fighters who are well-known in the United States include the IKF and Strikeforce middleweight champion, Cung Le, as well as Jason Yee, Rudi Ott, and Marvin Perry.

Salihov Muslim from Russia was a European Champion in 2004, a world champion in 2005 (both in 80kg category), and in 2006 Muslim beat 4 top Chinese fighters from different weight cateogries, including the Chinese champion from the 90kg category, to claim the Sanda “Wangzhongwang” (King of Kings) title.

Cung Le, probably the highest profile Sanda competitor in the USA, competed against Frank Shamrock in a mixed martial arts competition and used part of his Sanda experience to deliver a devastating kick which ended up fracturing Shamrock’s right ulna.