San Shou practiced today is done so in a 'sport style' format. In ancient times it was considered a form of battle where villages, regions, schools or groups of people in Asia would pit their fighter against another. The outcome would be brutal and often would end in a paralyzed fighter or even death. San Shou literally means "free hand" or Sanda meaning "free fighting". San Shou taught and practiced as a traditional art is a very lethal Chinese martial art focusing on self defense. San Shou taught and practiced as a modern martial sport is a very exciting spectator sport where different leagues are formed to display this sport to the world.
San Shou is derived from several different traditional martial arts fighting styles / arts from China, but is mainly based on scientific efficiency. Found in the curriculum of San Shou are many combat techniques including striking with hands, forearms, elbows, feet, legs and knees. Takedowns and grappling are also utilized to establish victory over ones opponent. As an unarmed self-defense, close combat system, San Shou includes Shaoilin’s kicking & punching, Shuai Jiao's throws and grappling, Chin Na's joint locks and pressure points. Pai Lum Tao's San Shou as an art / sport puts great emphasis on throws. It’s most popular technique is the "kick catch". This is when a practitioner kicks and the opponent performing the throw catches the kick thrown at them, then trips the person kicking when he's on one leg. This would cause the attacker to fall and be slammed to the ground. This would serve to injure the attacker or score points on them.
Pai Lum Tao's San Shou's brutal & competitive history included barehanded or Lei Tai fights in which no rules existed. San Shou would develop in the various military units as these bouts were commonly held between the soldiers to test and practice barehanded martial skills, ability and techniques.
Rules were developed and the use of protective gloves etc. was adopted. Then San Shou was developed into a modern sport, restrictions were made for safety reasons as well as to present and promote it to the martial arts community and spectators as a non-violent sport. Examples of such restrictions included no blows delivered to the back of the head, spine or groin and the discontinuation of the combat when any of the fighters fall to the ground. However many schools, whether traditional or modern, practice it as an all round martial arts systems with no restrictions, only adapting their training in relation to competition rules prior to the event.
There are very few systems of martial arts that have promoted San Shou / Lei Tai in modern times as much as Pai Lum Tao. In the 1960s Great Grandmaster Dr. Daniel Kalimaahaaee Kane Pai would be the pioneer of San Shou and Lei Tai in the western hemisphere. He brought the combative sport to the public and promoted the top world championship events for decades. The Pai Lum Tao system of martial arts has produced many world champions in San Shou, Lei Tai and Kickboxing. Even today, Pai Lum Tao fighters are a powerful force to be reckoned with on the mat or stage, in the ring or cage! Within the ‘Way of the White Dragon’ we keep it real !!!