Three Ways Sanchin Karate Was Destroyed As A Useful Form

[I:]Perhaps you have heard the old saying…’If you don’t know Sanchin, you don’t know Karate.’ It happens that this statement is absolutely true. It is true because when done correctly Sanchin kata results in a liberation of fighting energy beyond any form known.

The form came to Okinawan from China, where it was part of a system called Pan Gai Noon. While PGN is no longer in existence, that first kata is taught in such arts as Goju Ryu and Uechi ryu. It has also been altered and presented in arts such as Shotokan under the name Hangetsu.

The original Chinese pattern, as simple as it is, was taught over the course of years. Students would spend hours a night just stancing, learning how to sink their weight, before they were shown even the most basic of hand motions. This fact, of being taught to sink the weight and stabilize the stance, should give even a slow karate student a significant clue as to the correct way to execute the pattern and create the energy.

In Uechi Ryu Sanchin, which is the first manifestation of this form beyond Pan Gai Noon, the emphasis is on muscular tension. Thus, the intent of the sanchin stance is translated from the creation (and sinking) of energy to the creation of muscle. Muscle is temporary compared to energy, and thus the form is diluted and made less.

In Goju ryu Sanchin the purpose of the form is to learn proper breathing. Thus, the purpose of the form is to create the sensation of energy in the body through martial exercise, but without the emphasis on sinking the weight the reality of usable energy is forsaken. At this point one can see that the Sanchin form has been changed so much that it is but a shadow of what it should be…the story gets worse, however.

In Shotokan, and like systems of traditional karate, the actual structure of the form has been rendered into common self defense moves. Mind, there is nothing wrong with this type of structure, except that it has nothing to so with the generation of serious internal chi energy of the usable variety. The form in this type of school is called Hangetsu.

To be done correctly. this incredible form must be returned to simple concepts, and and taught simply. One must toss out concepts of breathing and muscularity and self defense except as they are drawn along by the sheer fact of energy generation. Thus, the simple instruction, “sink the weight, and ‘swirl’ the motion so that it creates a wave of energy which swirls inside the body and shoots out the arm,” is the only concept one should be working on.

Done with this easy bit of teaching, for months and years, the generation of internal energy becomes actual and perceivable, and the internal energy becomes usable. Though this writer would not propose combat as a solution to problems, it must be remembered that Kanbun Uechi, the originator of Uechi ryu and a man who had studied the actual Sanchin in the ancient manner recommended in this bit of writing, killed a man with one punch. No, don’t kill people, but do realize the true power of the ancient combative arts by practicing sanchin kata by sinking the weight and swirling the energy inside the body.

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