Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sanchin - the three conflicts

The Okinawan karate kata, Sanchin, is an interesting study. In most systems/schools it is considered a very advanced form, and is not studied until black belt or later. Fortunately for me, the Isshinryu instructor that taught in my hometown for about 30 years as I was growing up - that particular instructor used Sanchin as the very first kata. So Sanchin is one of the kata that I have the greatest exposure to.
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The name Sanchin means "Three Conflicts," referring to the purpose of the kata being to reduce the conflict between, or coordinate the mind, body, and breath (or spirit).
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When we would practice Sanchin (or any other kata) together as a class, the instructor would have us do three repetitions. One very slow and relaxed with no snap or isometric tension but great attention to detail and precision. The second repetition we would speed up toward normal kata speed and add moderate snap, tension, and breath control. The third repetition would be full blast. I like that practice of repeating the kata three times with different focus on each succeeding repetition.
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Alternately, instead of doing three reps with light, medium, and hard tension, you can do three reps, focussing each rep on one of the three conflicts:
  • Mind - Cognitive learning - concentrate on the pattern, technique names, slow careful precision
  • Body - Psychomotor learning - add in the isometric tension, the breathing, the snap
  • Spirit - (or intent) - Affective learning - repeat the kata a third time paying close attention to one particular bunkai within the kata. Visualize your opponent and run through that one bunkai visualizing in great detail the technique's effective outcome.

Sanchin - three conflicts - mind, body, spirit - light, medium, hard.  If you want a TON of great info on Sanchin kata from a guy whose knowledge of the kata FAR exceeds mine, check out Kris Wilder's book, The Way of Sanchin Kata.

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