Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let's Talk Sanchin

This is a recycled post from 2007.  I hope you enjoy...then I will be back with more chakra-bushido info.

Today I want to cover some nuts and bolts about Sanchin Kata...or 'Three Battles' Kata. As most of you are aware there are many interpretations of what these three battles are. The one I am going to discuss today are the Three Battles of:
1. Keeping Calm
2. Disrupting Your Opponent's Purpose.
3. Restoring Harmony.

In any confrontation, whether you are facing an armed or unarmed assailant, keeping your mind, body and spirit calm and collect is the first major battle you face. Your adrenalin begins to rush, thoughts become invasive, especially the fearful ones and your knees might even begin to shake a bit. These are normal sensations you experience under stress as your body prepares to either fight or run.

Your second battle is disrupting your opponent's purpose. Usually his purpose is to hurt you to get something, whether it is money, valuables or revenge. Sanchin Kata prepares your body to respond intelligently to whatever your opponents does. He might grab you, punch at you, try to stab you...your job is to respond and make his mind go "oops". When his mind goes "oops" he is off balance. The Japanese term for unbalancing your opponent is 'kuzushi'.

After kuzushi you are now facing your third battle and that is to restore harmony. Restoring harmony can mean you run away, control him or slam his stupid head into the pavement. Whatever you need to do. Running away is always the preferred third tends to keep you out of court for disorderly conduct or battery charges. Yes, even if you are defending yourself you can be charged. We'll talk about this subject soon as well.

A Gyoji, or Daily Exercise, for you today is related to the First Battle of Sanchin, keeping calm. Practice standing in Sanchin Stance with hands up for five minutes minimum and 'root'. Rooting is simply using your imagination (your mind-sword's katana) and imagine growing roots out of the bottom of your feet, like a tree, and allowing these roots to dig deep and and wide. Send those roots down into the earth and practice feeling the calmness of just 'being here' standing with hands up and rooting. This is to get your subconscious mind to associate calmness and groundeness with yourself in Sanchin position.

After this, get yourself a circular rug or a hula hoop or a rope and make a circle on the floor. This is your 'circle of power'. What you do next is step into your circle and assume Sanchin Dachi (stance) and root. Then with your eyes, focus over your fingertips. Stand in the circle for about 30 seconds and really feel the root and calm. Then step out of the circle and shake off the stance and feeling. Maybe do three jumping jacks or squats. Then step back into the circle and repeat the Sanchin Dachi and root. Stand for 30 seconds and then step out and shake off the experience. Do this on and off for about 5 -7 minutes. Then periodically throughout the day, assume a Sanchin Stance and if you are doing this well, calmness and focus happen automatically.

What you are doing is training your mind, body and spirit to get centered, calm and ready for action instantaneously as soon as you get into Sanchin Dachi. Sanchin Dachi is your trigger for an automatic relaxed, yet focused and centered state of being. Practice as often as you can. The results are worth the effort. It is important to have this First Battle on auto-pilot so you don't have to think about it...because in a real-life altercation, rational thinking is too slow and by the time you tell yourself to calm down his fist has connected to your temple.

So, take the time to practice this very important part of your art. You will be glad you did.


  1. Very "intriguing take on Sanchin Kata. In fact, very interesting, undogmatic thoughts on the martial arts throughout. The inner circle of calm you mention with respect to Sanchin is very true, although difficult to achieve, but I'll give your Sanchin exercise a try.
    Jorge Morales
    Goju Ryu
    Black Belt nidan

  2. I love the fact you mentioned kuzushi as a mental attack. Many times, we say kuzushi and think of maybe twisting our opponents shoulders, or pushing on a knee or hip joint. We talk about sending our attackers into a downward performance spiral as they are receiving pain for an action they believe is going to grant them some sense of superiority. Good stuff!