San Bu Kai Martial Arts


Kickboxing as we know it today was first created and systemised by the Khmer people in what is known today as Cambodia. Angor Wat is the oldest (carbon dated) settlement in South East Asia and was the origin of the traditional fighting system called Bokator (to fight the tiger). From this weapons based system came Pradel Serey and from this we have today what is known as Kun Khmer (Khmer Boxing). This system is the oldest known form of KickBoxing in the world today.

Muay Thai or Thai Boxing, as it is commonly called, is also one of the oldest practiced KickBoxing form known to man. The Muay Thai (Boxing of the Thai), as a fighting form, was derived from a traditional Siamese Martial Art called Karabi Krabong (the sword and the stick), which in turn is believed to have originated from the migration of the Ao Lai tribe from Northern China.  

The Ao Lai tribe migrated from the Northern Chinese valleys to what was called Angor Wat and some migrated further east into what was called Siam. The Siamese fighting system of Karabi Karabong was later separated into two parts, the first a training form, Muay Boran, the second a traditional Weapons Art, Karabi Karabong. This separation was implemented by the famous Martial Artist Prince Naresuan. Under Naresuan the training form Muay Boran went on to become an integral part of the overall Siamese Combat systems and later started to be contested as a form of entertainment (sport) at festivals and religious ceremonies.  

The Thais have continually developed and modified their Combat forms until the Martial Art of Muay Thai was developed into what we recognise today as one of the toughest ring sports in the world. Muay Thai or Thai Boxing is known around the world today as the science of fighting with eight limbs. The feet, knees, elbows and fists all come into play in this highly dynamic form of ring combat.

The Cambodians and the Thais have shown that their boxing forms are simply the best stand up ring fighting discipline anywhere in the world.   The most famous Thai fighter was Nai Khanom Thom, who it is believed around 1774, defeated 10 Burmese Warriors in consecutive bouts (all no holds-barred, bare-knuckle fights) in a single day. All these bouts were fought to the death (there were no decisions) and in doing this Nai Khanom Thom went onto become a national hero of Thailand, and was recognised as a Muay Thai patriarch following his great victories.  

During the 1960s and 70s the Thais fought many Martial Arts disciplines in mixed matches, winning all but a handful of these encounters, a great number of them by K.O. and in the process showed the world their total superiority in ring combat. With the spread of Thai Boxing around the world a number of prominent Martial Artists in the U.S.A. adapted the Thai style to various Chinese (Wu Shu / Kung Fu), Japanese (Karate) and Korean (Tae Kwon Do) disciplines and established KickBoxing as we know it today.  

Bruce Lee, the most famous of these modern masters to adapt, had a strong KickBoxing influence in his now famous Jeet Kune Do method of Chinese Boxing.  

The first World Heavyweight KickBoxing Championship title was held by one of Lee's students, Joe Lewis, a Karate man come Kickboxer. The rules used here were modified from the traditional Thai form and were a mixture of Boxing and Karate. The U.S.A. quickly adapted to this new Fighting Form and the birth of KickBoxing as we know it, was under way. Initially known as Full Contact Karate in the USA, this was the term used to describe the new fighting art. 

KickBoxing as a term, which is widely used today, was to arrive later, after the Thai/Japanese influence became stronger. European countries were also becoming involved at this point, but their influence was more along the traditional lines of Thai and Japanese KickBoxing. It is also interesting to note that it was Bruce Lee who coined the term KickBoxing. The Thais called it Muay Thai and the Americans called it Full Contact Karate. Bruce often referred to his art of Jeet Kune Do as Chinese KickBoxing. The term KickBoxing was later (after Bruce Lees death in 1973) universally accepted to describe the sport.  

Because of the diversity of styles many variations and different sets of rules (pertaining to different organisations) were established.

P.K.A. Professional Karate Association in the USA, established a set of rules which allowed for no kicking below the belt. This form became very popular back in the 1970's, in some parts of the world, particularly the U.S.A.     

W.K.A. World Karate Association, a rival organisation sprung up almost immediately in America, which had a large following in both Asia and Europe. They allowed the use of leg kicks but no knees or elbows. This organisation was the most widely recognised throughout the world and built a large International following. The W.K.A. still exists today (the P.K.A. has since folded) but has had a name change.

W.K.A. now stands for World KickBoxing Association. This body has also (in 1994) split into two different organisations:

W.K.A. now U.K. based and the;

W.K.C. (World KickBoxing Council) being European based.  

The Japanese had always been big supporters of the W.K.A. but they also had a modified version of Thai Boxing. Japanese KickBoxing, allowed the use of all techniques (most notably the knees) except the elbow. The Cambodians and the Thais are the only peoples to still use the elbow, and they dominate their version of the sport. The Thai Champions have fought and defeated all comers from various Martial Arts (including other KickBoxing Organisations from around the world) and the Fighters of Thailand are commonly referred to as the "Kings of the Square Ring".  

I.S.K.A. International Sport KickBoxing Association formerly the International Sport Karate Association based in the U.S.A. is the largest single governing KickBoxing organisation in the world. This organisation has a variety of divisions including Full Contact, American, International, Oriental and Muay Thai. The divisions are contested at regional, national, international and world levels.  Many other International organisations have sprung up around the world and all have their separate rules and structure.

San Bu Kai Gym here in Hamilton has been established since 1982. Originally part of the Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate Club, it became a separate entity in 1984 (then known as the Fighting Fit Gym). San Bu Kai has gone on to produce many regional, national, International and World Fighting Champions. The Fighters from this stable fight under any rules but predominately fight MMA (amateur and professional), Muay Thai (amateur and professional), I.K.B.F (International Kickboxing Federation) and International (Western) Boxing style contests.  

The Father of Full Contact Martial Arts in New Zealand is Sifu Phillip Lam (Lee Gar Kung Fu & Thai Boxing). He was New Zealand's first Trainer and Promoter of Muay Thai/Kickboxing and is regarded as the foremost fight promoter in this country today. Sifu Lam was the first to bring the Thais to New Zealand in 1987 to fight the local champions, and is renowned as having trained a large number of New Zealand's premier Fighters.  

Terry Hill, the inaugural President of the Thai Boxing Association of New Zealand, is also the founder of the San Bu Kai Gym in Hamilton. Terry Hill was undefeated as an Amateur Kickboxer, winning the New Zealand W.K.A. Middleweight title in 1985 and turning professional the following year (1986). As a professional Terry captured two New Zealand KickBoxing titles at Middleweight and Super Middleweight, He than went on to fight and beat the Thais in 1989 and 1990 which brought international honours. Terry also held a large number of Regional and National Karate titles and won the last New Zealand Open Full Contact Martial Arts Championships title (in 1985). In 1991 Terry won his most prestigious title, the I.O.G.K.F. World Heavyweight Full Contact Karate Title in Okinawa, Japan. Terry is also an accomplished Wrestler and Boxer winning a Gold medal in the Taranaki Amateur Boxing Championships (1978) and a Silver medal in the 1989 National Wrestling Championships.  

So to all you would-be fighters and Champions out there remember these words

"To engage in the art Sir, you must first take off your shirt"