Friday, February 5, 2010

Sanchin Speaks

Sanchin Kata used to keep me awake at night 'talking' to me. Yes, Sanchin speaks, if you listen. As I mentioned in my last post, Kata can teach us how to be mindful inside and outside of the dojo. It also has a lot of other lessons we can learn. Here are few in a nutshell:

1. Start with a bow and some meditation. This is how most katas begin. Bow in appreciation to all beings, sentient and insentient. Bow often...and start your day with some meditation.

2. Get grounded. In the opening moves of Sanchin the palms of the hands are pressed down to the sides. (see video at end of post). This is a time we use to 'root' ourselves and connect to the earth. During this rooting, the shoulders are also down and relaxed....when the shoulders are high, anxiety is present. In the martial arts, if we notice your shoulders are high we know you are nervous and most likely inhaling...a good time to attack you. If, however, shoulders are down and relaxed, it is best to say hi and be nice. As you go through your day, be aware of your shoulders and breathing. Are you breathing into your hara or your neck? Are your shoulders low or high? Keep them relaxed and low...your breathing will follow...and this helps keep your mind calm, centered and grounded.

3. Don't rush. When I was a young colored belt I had a tendency to rush through my Kata. Sensei Dean was always reminding me to go slower and pay attention to what I was doing. Good advice throughout the day as well...slow down, pay attention and move at a relaxed mindful pace. You would be surprised at how you can still get everything done.

4. Be aware of your feet, move deliberately and be aware. Sanchin is moving Zen. When outside the dojo, do the same. Walk with intent and deliberation...and awareness of your surroundings.

I have included a short video of two versions of Sanchin. I've posted this before, but it is a good review, and for those who don't know the kata, you can watch. Enjoy.

Hands palm to palm,


  1. Another highly-valuable technique. I should start making notes and apply it everytime I remember. Thanks for sharing this, Shinzen :)

    BTW, a very fast thrust you showed there :D

  2. Hi Rizal: Thanks. FYI: I added another point number 4 after your comment.

  3. Thanks for another interesting look at things. Following your lead, I began my day today with meditation...

    Also wanted to let you know that I saw "Black Belt Healing" at a Japanese bookstore at the Palisades Mall in Rockland County, NY yesterday! I didn't buy it (had just blown my last bit of cash getting my son a bite to eat) but plan on returning next week to purchase three: one for my library, one for my sensei and one for my training partner :-)

  4. Thank you Felicia for the feedback and interest in my book...interesting though, my book isn't to be released till June...unless the book is on the international market now. Maybe they are doing test lots!!! I will check with my editor. Your the first I have heard out there to buy it! Awesome...thanks!

    Do you have the name of the I can do a search?

  5. Felicia: I found the book at Kinokuniya Japanese Bookstore...I take it this is the one. Thanks...I will post this. Tuttle's international headquarters is out of Singapore and I believe this must be a test market run. Thanks a bunch for the've made my day.