Sanchin is the fundamentals of Goju Ryu Karate. The aim of the kata is to train the three essential elements of karate “Ki” (energy), “Breath” and the “Body”. Ki is the mysterious power that cannot be seen with the eyes and emanates from the entire body to suppress and overwhelm an opponent. The breath consists of the breathing method, breathing for live, and breathing to strike an enemy. Body represents the muscles and bones of which we are composed. It is said that in Zen there is sitting meditation, standing meditation, lying meditation, and moving meditation. Sanchin is moving and standing meditation. In Sanchin the most important things are correct posture and correct breathing. The human being is a living creature. We cannot temporarily stop breathing. Correct breathing depends on correct posture. In proper Sanchin stance, you must focus the strength in your tanden and straighten your backbone correctly. The tanden is often said to be just below the navel, but in actual fact it is not an area whose location should be determined by external references. It is the place that tightens when you laugh or when you breathe deeply. The martial arts use short words such as 1. Eyes, 2. Legs, 3. Heart, 4. Strength, to express itself. However, the most important part of all these four is posture. Correct posture consists of closing your mouth, drawing your chin down, straightening your neck bones, straightening the neck muscles, which will pull the back muscles straight. Zazen instructs, [to bring the ear and shoulders in one-plane, nose and navel in another plane (straight)]. As is said, “Choshin” (body control), “Chosho”(controlled breathing) the correct posture requires rigorous training. By assuming this posture, the muscles running down both sides of the neck to the chest tenses, resulting in the correct extension of the backbone. When the backbone is correctly extended, strength is concentrated in the tanden. Repetition of this movement will develop the abdominal and oblique. This has a significant effect on the body. When the muscles in the chest area tighten, it affects those muscles below it, lifting the stomach and intestines, which in turn stimulates them. As the abdominal muscles develop, the abdominal region as a whole will naturally develop. Thoracic breathing becomes habitual and shallow breathing, which causes shoulder movement, will cease. Breathing with the shoulders is not a normal way to breathe. When thoracic breathing is continually practiced, nature (what is natural) will come together with the spirit. If your posture is not correct it prevents the circulation of the blood. Unity of the spirit is lost. This turbulence causes you to lose the strength of you legs and hips. There are Yin and Yang principles in the way in which you breathe. The Yin is breathing with the mouth partially open, exhaling in short sharp breaths. The Yang is opening the mouth wide and exhaling in long breaths that originate from the base of the abdomen. The Yin of breathing may be felt as cool air when you hold your hand in front of your mouth and exhale. With Yang principles of breathing, the exhaled breath feels hot. The way in which you breathe may be divided into 5 categories.
- Deep inhalation Long exhalation
- Deep inhalation
- ShalIow inhalation Short exhalation
- ShalIow inhalation Long exhalation
- A combination of 1.2.3. & 4.
Sanchin begins calmly and finishes calmly. There is calmness in the movements and all the movements take place in a state of calm. Calmness and movement are dichotomies, in other words, clam and movement are Yin and Yang. Goju Ryu Karate is said to begin and end with Sanchin. The depth of the Sanchin is immeasurable, the training of the ki, the breathing, and the body. It is sufficient to developing an immovable spirit. Techniques for attack and defence with the correct power are al possible with the correct method of
breathing and the correct posture. The training of Sanchin is conducted within the limits of the practitioner’ s body. There are no limits to the number of times you strike or the number of times you advance or retreat.
Sanchin Dai 1
Three steps forward then return to the original starting position
Sanchin Dai 2
Three steps forward then turn and move three steps to the rear. Turn again and make
three more steps to the front. Return to the original starting point.
(Miyazato Eiichi – Okinawa Den Goju Ryu Karate-do, 1978)