The Full Contact Sport of Lei Tai
In its present form, the lei tai first appeared in China during the Song Dynasty. However, ancient variations of it can be traced back to at least the Qin Dynasty. Today it is used in Sanshou and Kuoshu competitions throughout the world.
color version of an original drawing appeared in the Ming Dynasty
The drawing shown above is the color version of an original drawing appeared in the Ming Dynasty (ca. WanLi 明萬歷 1573-1620) edition of the famous Chinese novel Outlaws of the Water Margin (水滸傳). This scene depicts a major character Yan Qing (燕青) in the novel defeating his rival Ren Yuan, nicknamed QingTianZhu (擎天柱任原), in a lei tai challenge.
According to Kung Fu Magazine, the Chinese character for Lèi (擂) combines the word for "thunder" (léi 雷) with the radical for "hand" (shǒu 手). It can mean, "to give an open challenge." But taken literally, it means to “beat (a drum)". Tái means "stage" or "platform." It is also commonly referred to as a Dǎ lèi tái (Traditional: 打擂臺 Simplified: 打擂台 - "Fight Beat (a drum) Platform"). The character for Dǎ combines the word for “robust or vigorous” (dīng 丁) with the radical for "hand" (shǒu 手). This can mean, "to strike, hit, beat, or fight". In Cantonese, using the Wade-Giles superscript number system, Lei tai is pronounced Leui4 Toi4. A common English rendering of this is "Lui Toi or Loey Toy". Da lei tai is pronounced Da1 leui4 toi4 or Da2 leui4 toi4.