Monday, February 7, 2011

Tai Chi & Sanchin

Many years ago I picked up a tattered and torn copy of "The Essence of Tai Chi Ch'uan" by Lo, Inn, Amacker and Foe. As I was reading through this classic, it appeared to me that the advice they are giving to the Tai Chi practitioner also applies to those of us who practice Sanchin Kata.

Looking at Tai Chi and Sanchin from the outside they definitely look different. Most styles of Tai Chi are soft flowing movements, with perhaps a few sharp ones thrown in, whereas Sanchin is done with intensity and at times a seemingly maniacal manner. They are different in outer form, until you can see how they are the same internally. Once you can capture their inner essence, then you can see how their outer forms aren't all that different.

In this post and those that follow I will provide excerpts from the above-mentioned book. For my Sanchin friends, as you read, see how this Tai Chi advice is similar to what you have learned in Sanchin. Now, not all Sanchin practitioners will get this advice from their teachers, but find it later through practice.

So here is Yang's ten important points in practicing Tai Chi. I will provide Chen Wei-ming's commentary in later posts.

1. The head should be upright so the shen (spirit) can reach the headtop.
2. Sink the chest and pluck up the back.
3. Relax the waist.
4. Differentiate substantial and insubstantial.
5. Sink the shoulders and the elbows.
6. Use mind and not force.
7. Upper and lower mutually follow.
8. Inside and outside coordinate
9.  It (qi) is mutually joined and unbroken.
10. Seek stillness in movement.

Ten very important points in the practice of Tai Chi and Sanchin.
Hands palm to palm,


  1. Very interesting Shinzen . . OK, maybe this is slightly different but here goes...

    There are also slow and quick forms of Yoga! Some are focused of deep slow movements and the breath, others are dynamic and aerobic in nature. I find that 'Dance' is much the same, one can use the same, or similar forms, movements, at different tempos and speeds ;-)

  2. Your instincts are right Doug. Some Sanchin is slow and tense...others loose and relaxed. Tai Chi can be slow and flowing and also sharp and crisp. It's the interplay of yin/yang. The human body arts have a lot more in common than different I believe.

  3. Ditto on the post. Although, some highbrows tell me that it's not a very good translation, I still get an 'AH HA' moment every time I read it. :)

  4. Hi Narda...those aha's are what counts...those highbrows tend to not see the forest for the trees.