Kihon Kata Sanchin

PART 1 - Introduction Goju Ryu Okinawa Karate Doh Jundokan South Africa

             Copyright 1997 by Buddy Govender.  Permission to use, copy and/or download any material from this site MUST be sought from the copyright holder.


The Martial Arts, in particular Japanese have always enjoyed a deep relationship with Zen Buddhism. Buddy Mawashi uke 2000 The aim of every Martial Artist is to "reach a stage of enlightenment" as is the message that flows from the practice of Buddhism. The two main ways to actually attempt to attain this "enlightenment" are the practice of "sitting Zen" and "standing Zen." 

"Sitting Zen" is based on stillness and serenity,  however, "standing Zen" is grounded in action and movement.  Whilst the practice of each has it's own perspectives they both share a common internal reality.  Goju Ryu's Sanchin kata is "standing Zen".  Japanese Swordsman and Zen monks in the Temple's of China both used "standing Zen" to help discipline , control and strengthen their physical and mental energies. Thus was born the martial arts training known as 'Sanchin keiko' (training/practice).  Sanchin training is not found in any other Japanese martial arts systems and is unique to Karate-Doh.  Many other Okinawan Ryu of Karate-Doh practice Sanchin Kata, however, Sanchin training is an integral part of Okinawa Goju Ryu. No-one can claim to be truly studying Okinawa Goju Ryu Karate-Doh without the consistent practice and study of Sanchin kata. It is also commonly referred as being the oldest kata in Karate-Doh

"Uchi Ni Sei Araba, Onozuto Sotoni Arawaru" - (take care of the inner spirit, and it will naturally reflect on the outside)

Sanchin kata is classed as a Heishugata, meaning that is literally a 'closed-hand kata'. This does not mean that the kata is performed with the hands closed at all times!  It implies that the body is in a constant state of tension throughout the kata. Therefore the muscles are 'closed' or better still contracted. Only on completion of the kata does the body return to it's normal state. During the entire execution of the kata the body is in a constant state of tension and the tanden is the focus of concentration. This is not an easy task, however, with correct teaching and training, the benefits of Sanchin training are enormous. Your stamina, physical strength and breath control are enhanced. TBuddy Waterfall Sanchin - circa 1985ensho kata is also classed as a Heishugata. 

Buddy Govender Sensei performing Sanchin Kata under the Paradise Valley Gorge Waterfall Durban  - February 1985                                                                             

Okinawa Karate-Doh Goju Ryu requires the consistent practice of kihon kata Sanchin as true proficiency of Okinawa Goju Ryu depends on the understanding of Sanchin training methods and practice. At the early stages of Sanchin training focus must be placed on the co-ordination of the breath with the correct execution of the technique. There are two version/types of Sanchin kata, the Higaonna Kanryo Sensei Sanchin and the Miyagi Chojun Sensei Sanchin. The original version was Higaonna Kanryo Sensei Sanchin kata, which was executed with three steps forward, a 180 turn, four steps in that direction, another 180 turn, one step forward and then one step backwards.   This version of Sanchin Kata was practiced and taught by another of Higaonna Kanryo Sensei's  senior student Juhatsu Kyoda (1887 - ).  Kyoda Sensei was the founder of To'on Ryu Karate-Doh. 

Miyagi Sensei developed his version of Sanchin kata with no turns, but with three steps forwards and two steps backwards. Miyagi Sensei intention was to also be aware of, as well as able to execute uncomfortable, un-natural backward movements. Because moving backwards is not a movement one is accustomed to, one has to focus on what one is doing. Miyagi Sensei, being the genius he was, decided that if Sanchin Kata was the manifestation of the understanding of the body, movement and breath, then ALL aspect must be covered and therefore, even the un-natural backwards movements!

PART 2 : The Benefits of Sanchin Kata Training

PART3 : Body Alignment and Foot Movements

PART 4 : The Breathing Methods

PART 5 : Shime Testing

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