SanShou (K-1 Rules)

ABOC SanShou/Sanda K-1 Rules Page


  1. Sanda/Sanshou is an am
  2. Head gear and/or foot/shin gear- required for all divisions
  3. Standing 8-count - in effect (two 8-counts results in loss of round/three total 8-counts results in loss of bout/match)
  4. A knock down, other than a slip, will be an automatic 8-count and may not require a count. In the absence of any other penalty(ies), a fighter receiving an 8-count will lose that round, as in a 10 point must system.
  5. Forearm or elbow strikes - not allowed, defensive blocking only
  6. Choke techniques - not allowed
  7. Defensive pinching – not allowed
  8. Knee strikes to the head – not allowed, allowed to the legs and trunk
  9. Center Referee may declare Ultimate Victory in a mismatch of talent or in liu of a 10-count
  10. Disqualification of an athlete will occur if his cornerman enters the ring/lei tai to dispute a call
  11. In the event of serious knockdown, the Chief Referee may start the 10/8 count while the Center Referee attends to the injured or controls the neutral corner command

Officials: Chief Referee, Center Referee and Side Judges

Volunteers: Medical personnel, Timekeeper and Recorder


  • Novice division is for beginners and are best of three 2 minute rounds w/30 seconds rest periods.
  • Advanced division is for athletes who have dominated their matches thus far.

Scoring: Side Judges will score the winner of each round using the “better athlete”/10-POINT MUST System. The Center Referee will normally declare winner of the match, based on the JUDGE’s call, however, the Chief Referee has overriding authority over Judges decisions. Judges will consider the following in determining winner of the rounds:

  1. With the exception of a KO or TKO by any single attacking technique, combinations of legal kicks, punches, and take down techniques should score over any single boxing or kicking attack.
  2. An athlete/fighter shall not drop his full-body weight on a fallen opponent during a throw. Knee strikes to the trunk or thigh are considered legal. Executing a knee to the opponents head will draw an immediate SERIOUS FOUL warning and possible disqualification; an attempt to execute a knee strike to the opponent’s head will draw an early WARNING.
  3. When both athletes go to the floor, the Center Referee will indicate first athlete down or athlete on top.
  4. Two 8-counts in a round results in an immediate loss of the round – Center Referee or Chief Referee identifies an 8-count and a 10-count.
  5. Three 8-counts in a match results in loss of the match.
  6. Three times off a lei tai in a round results in loss of the round.
  7. Where an athlete is over-matched by his opponent in power or skill, the Center Referee, or Chief Referee may declare Absolute Victory.
  8. Disregard for good sportsmanship or flagrant violation of the rules will result in disqualification from the event. A match cannot be won or lost as a result of a technical foul. If a foul committed results in an athlete having to withdraw from the match and the foul is determined to have been unintentional, the match will be declared no-contest. The athlete committing the foul may continue in the eliminations. If the foul was intentional, the athlete committing the foul will be disqualified from the event.

Legal Techniques: All hand and foot techniques, not directed at the spine, the groin, the knee joint and the throat are legal techniques, as are sweeps, throws and take downs. A throw technique that could result in a neck or spine injury is illegal (you cannot lift an opponent above your shoulders and you cannot throw an opponent down onto his/her head). Take-downs by sweeps or throws, where in the eyes of the Center Referee or Chief Referee could result in serious injury, may be stopped and awarded as though technique was completed – 3 fingers raised by the Referee indicate to Judges and spectators that the technique was indeed CLEVER and EFFECTIVE. Knee strikes may be directed to the thigh and the trunk only. As part of a shoot-in technique or gaining a reversal, knees or gloves are likely to make contact with the mat. This is considered a reasonable part of the technique and legal.

Illegal Techniques:

  1. Continuing to attack when the referee calls STOP/TING
  2. Kicks or knees to the groin
  3. Knees strikes to the head
  4. Where gloves exposing the fingers are allowed, there will be no finger strikes to eyes, throat or opened wounds and no single digit small joint locks.
  5. Elbow or forearm strikes of any kind to the opponents head are NOT ALLOWED; if attempted, will result in a WARNING or if flagrant, loss of round. Defensive elbow blocks against licks or punches are allowed.

Time Limit during a clench: 3-seconds for non-activity and 5-seconds if legal techniques, including legal knee strikes, are being attempted.

Etiquette/proper tradition: Sanda is defined as Chinese free-style. Athletes/fighters and corner men are expected to be from Chinese martial arts schools and are therefore, expected to be respectful and quick to obey commands from the Center Referee and Chief Referee. Cornermen will coach his/her athlete only between rounds. Prior to the start of round -1, athletes will be called to the center of the ring or lei tai side –by-side, for safety checks and introduction by the Center Referee. Athletes will enter from the Red and Blue/Black corners for subsequent rounds. An Athlete not properly equipped for the match may receive a CAUTION.

Hand Signals and calls by Center Referee:

  3. Competition is stopped for gear malfunction, fouls or mismatch - Ting
  4. Athlete down – Opponent standing
  5. First Athlete down
  6. Standing 8-Count, an 8-count from a knock down will be automatically recorded
  7. 10-Count
  8. Passive behavior showing fear of opponent
  9. Clever technique (3 fingers raised)
  10. Rest between rounds
Important information for Athletes and Coaches:
  1. Athletes must be in good health to compete; inform the Medical personnel if you have been recently (30 days) TKOed or (60 days) KOed.
  2. Athletes must make weigh-in times and may not de-hydrate to make weight.
  3. Hand wraps. In all weight classes, the athlete’s shall be restricted to soft gauze type cloth, evenly distributed and not more than thirteen feet in length and two inches in width. The wrap may be held in place by not more than ten feet of surgeon’s tape, one inch in width. The surgeon’s tape is protection for the wrist. The tape may cross the back of the hand twice and extend, but not to cover the knuckles when a fist is made.
  4. Athletes must arrive at the ring or lei tai when called; gloves, head gear, groin protector (male) and shin guards are required; a tournament director may required chest protectors. Failure to appear after 3-calls results in forfeiture and loss of the match and possibly exclusion from the event.
  5. Athletes shall enter the lei tai area when motioned in by the Center referee; Red athlete to his left Blue/Black athlete to his right. After the 1st round athletes leave and re-entering from their respective corners.
  6. When asked, show mouth piece prior to each round.
  7. STOP attacks, protect yourself and BREAK when told.
  8. Athletes should be active; passive athletes will be CAUTIONED / WARNED to engage.
  9. Athletes being counted will hold gloves up and answer the Center Referee if they wish to continue.
  10. An Athlete will go to a neutral corner when directed.
  11. Athletes will not ask for advice from their Coach/equipment person except during rest periods.
  12. Athletes will use only legal techniques and refrain from causing serious injury to an unprotected opponent.
  13. Clean techniques and techniques that are considered clever are your best scoring choices.
  14. All athletes, winner and loser, will report to the ringside medical personnel immediately after their match

Athlete weight classes: Every effort will be made to offer the following, traditional weight classes. With the exception of the SUPER HEAVYWEIGHT and UNLIMITED weight classes, there shall be no more than 10 pounds competing athletes. Depending on the number of athletes, they may be matched in Lightweight, Middleweight, Heavyweight, Super Heavyweight and Unlimited classes vice actual weight classes. In the case where a weight class has only one fighter, that fighter may go up to the next higher class and in that case, he will be matched according to the draw as in all other weight classes. Normally the following weight classes will be used:

Weight ClassWeight Class
1. 120- 1292. 130-139
3. 140-149 4. 150-159
5. 160-169 6. 170-179
7. 180-189 8. 190-200
9. 201-225 10. 226-UP

Age Divisions:

We will have youth divisions for Sanda ages 13-14, 15-17, broken down by weight classes

Modified rules for youth divisions:
  1. No kicks to face
  2. Strikes to face, non-consecutive (first shot to face, then body or leg, then back to face again)

Age divisions for adults: ages 18-32, 33-39

Mandatory equipment: For sanitary reasons, Athletes should enter competition with their own approved equipment as listed below:

  1. Mouth piece
  2. Head gear (light-contact equipment not allowed)
  3. Gloves (12 or 14 oz BOXING (Both competitors should be equally outfitted)
  4. Shin guards
  5. Groin cup
  6. Chest protectors (when required)
  7. Kung Fu boxing shorts (If long pants are allowed, the shin guards must be worn on the outside of pant legs).

For all questions regarding discipline and rules please email to the following email address:

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