- Sanchin translates as "three conflicts" : mind, body, and spirit.
- Double overhead blocks
- Open-hand Shuto blocks
- Ibuki Breathing
- Circular blocks
- Gaki Blocks
- Elbow breaks (Arm)
- Rapid fire techniques (punch, punch, kick, punch)
- Seiuchin stance
- Crane Stance
- Foot break
- Presentation (Bow in)
- Double down Shuto blocks
- Step slide to the side
Sanchin (汪楫) Kata Tree
Sanchin emphasizes slow, powerful techniques combined with ubuki and deep concentration. Even though there are only twenty nine movements in Sanchin - including the three steps forward and two steps back - Sanchin takes longer to complete, at 117 seconds, than any other Isshinryu Kata. Sanchin kata when demonstrated correctly can be very impressive and rewarding. It is said that throughout the karate-ka life that if the karate-ka can perform this Kata perfectly one time it is a great defeat.
|A Chinese monk named Hui Meng, who lived in the later part of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD), wrote that "the lungs are reservoirs of air, and air is the lord of strength. Whoever speaks strength must know air." He was right to the point. This was one hundred percent correct. These methods of obtaining correct breathing techniques were to spread from China to Okinawa and become the heart of all karate styles.|
Sanchin is the only empty hand Isshinryu kata that does not contain any of the vertical punches that became Isshinryu's trademark. Every punching and blocking technique is done in the traditional corkscrew and bone blocking method. Though Sanchin does not contain any kicks or kiais, and appears to be a very simple kata, Sanchin, is actually very complex. Sanchin kata teaches the karate-ka the principles of sabaki and ibuki, the fundamentals of movement and breath, and a way to control the three conflicts. The basic stance for each movement in Sanchin starts with toes gripping the floor, and tightening every muscle in the body. The purpose of the Sanchin stance is for the Karate-ka to become rooted to the floor starting from his toes and working up. This stance is known as "iwao no mi," a body like a rock. After the karate-ka learns the movements of Sanchin and the correct way of moving, stepping, "sabaki", ibuki is focused on. Ibuki is an isometric exercise which builds the physique, stamina and vital energy necessary to karate. While going throughout our normal day we tend to breath through our chest, known as the upper part of our lungs. In Sanshin the karate-ka learns ibuki or to use their diaphragm and inhale completely using the abdomen. When exhaling, the karate-ka learns to use their abdominal muscles to controllably squeeze the air out of their body.
About Sanchin (汪楫):
By: Joe Swift
At any rate, the Okinawan versions of Sanchin have their origins in the Quanfa originating from Fujian Province, where many, if not most, Quanfa styles have a form of this name. In fact, the term Sanchin (written as "three battles" in kanji) seems to be found only in Fujian-based Quanfa systems, as forms of this name are not found in the martial arts of other areas (Kinjo, 1999).
Many researchers, especially from the Gojuryu tradition, credit Higashionna Kanryo with bringing back Sanchin from his studies in China (Higaonna, 1981; Kai, 1987). However, there is evidence that Sanchin had existed in Okinawa since before Higashionna's voyage to Fujian and was passed on by Aragaki Seisho, who was Higashionna's first teacher (Iwai, 1992; Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education, 1995).
Higashionna's teacher in Fujian is believed by many to be Xie Zhong Xiang, founder of Whooping Crane boxing (McCarthy, 1995; Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education, 1995; Otsuka, 1998; Tokashiki, 1995), although there is opposition to this theory (Kinjo, 1999). Higashionna is believed to have learned the Happoren form from Xie, which is said to be the basis for the modern Gojuryu version of Sanchin (Otsuka, 1998). Higashionna probably integrated concepts from Happoren to the Sanchin he learned under Aragaki. When practicing Happoren alone, however, the breathing is silent (Otsuka, 1998).
In either case, Higashionna had his students spend several years on Sanchin alone before allowing them to move on to the other kata he taught. Higashionna apparently taught Sanchin as an open hand kata at first, with fast breathing, but later changed it to a slower, closed fist version (Higaonna, 1981; Murakami, 1991). Others give Miyagi Chojun credit for closing the fists and slowing down the breathing (Kinjo, 1999).
One provocative account survives about the importance of Sanchin in Higashionna Kanryo's teachings:
"When I was still a child, I wanted to see the karate of the famous Higashionna Sensei, even if only once. So I went to the place he was teaching. However, no matter when I went, I never saw Higashionna Sensei perform karate. His students were practicing only Sanchin with all their might, and Higashionna Sensei was instructing them." (sic, Murakami, 1991, pp. 133)
The three of Sanchin is often described in English as the battles between mind, body and breath. Other descriptions refer to attack and defense on the three levels, i.e. the upper, middle and lower levels (Kinjo, 1999; Otsuka, 1998; Tokashiki, 1995). The three important points of Sanchin have been described as the stance, the breathing method and the spirit, and if any one of these three are lacking, one will not be able to master Sanchin (Higaonna, 1981).
Higashionna Kanryo's Sanchin features two turns, and only one step back. In order to remedy the lack of backward stepping, Miyagi Chojun created a shorter version of the kata, featuring no turns, and two steps backwards (Higaonna, 1981). It is this version that Shimabuku Tatsuo utilized in his Isshinryu system.