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Joshua Shrum
Joshua Shrum's picture
Sanchin Kata?

Hey guys need some help here...

I've been working on an article for a little while now about the kata Sanchin. Not a ton of styles use this kata still and if they do, I find that everyone uses it differently. I have my own uses and beliefs but was wanting to look outside the box. Are there any other practicioners of Sanchin out there? And if so, how do you guys practice it; heavy breathing/normal breathing, body strikes/no strikes, etc...

All the help given would be greatly appreciated! Just trying to gather as much info as possible before writing something about it. 



Tau's picture

If you haven't already, look up Kris Wilder's work. Books, YouTube channel, web site. And... train with him.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Tau wrote:
If you haven't already, look up Kris Wilder's work. Books, YouTube channel, web site. And... train with him.

I’ll second that. I love the way Kris teaches Sanchin.

All the best,


Joshua Shrum
Joshua Shrum's picture

I will have to agree with you guys! I have Kris Wilders book over Sanchin. He does a really indepth discussion over the kata. What we teach where I live, reflects and is on the same page as Kris. 

senshido's picture

I practice sanchin, with ibuki breathing and strikes. The strikes being used to check the "tightness" of the body.

The kyokushin version however differs from the original.

Wastelander's picture

Paul Enfield Sensei is an excellent resource for Goju-Ryu material. He is a member here, although he doesn't post often.

Chikara Andrew
Chikara Andrew's picture

Whilst I do practice Sanchin with a focus and breath and muscle contraction I do not and have not experienced strikes or Shime. I do however use resistance against the hands to focus stundents on contraction and also rotation of the limbs. For reference we also practice the long version of Sanchin which includes the turns.

Jeremy_Rhynes's picture

At the risk of sound repetitive, I do practice sanchin, sometimes with strikes (if I've someone to train with), always with focus on tension.  At the advice of a senior instructor I know (who's taking a break from teaching after 30 years of doing so) I've started adding it to my morning "wake up routine" to get the blood flowing and get my brain ready to focus on the day.  Forcing myself to focus on sanchin is a great wake up call before my morning coffee.  I guess, when it comes down to it, I work sanchin into most aspects of my training, and train it in multiple different ways.  Even, occasionally, when sleeping, apparently, as I woke up from a dream the other day in which I was doing sanchin; with my back, legs, shoulders, and abs tense and sore as if I had been practicing sanchin while sleeping. (Not recommended use)

Kevin73's picture

For a nice counterbalance, I would suggest looking into Uechi Ryu and their use of Sanchin.  It utilizes the older style of breathing and open hands that Goju used to do before changing it to closed hands and the "health breathing" that it uses now.

As far as how it is done, even in the same style I see it's uses being done differently.  Here are some of the more common uses I have seen.

1) Slow w/ full dynamic tension

2) Fast w/ no tension

3) Combination of slow/fast with differing levels of tension

4) Slow w/ no tension (viewed as a chi gung form)

5) Has specific bunkai

6) Has no specific bunkai, just principles that are applied to all movements and applications are created from these ideas (much like Wing Chun's Sil Lum Tao form, also from Southern China)

As to Shime, I have seen two main approaches to this.

1) Hard punches to learn how to "take a punch", used as conditioning

2) Strikes are used to check the structure of the body.  Harder strikes may be used, but they are strategic to check that structure not just to see how much pain the person can take.

Jeremy_Rhynes's picture

I have a bit of a problem with ANY kata being taught in such a way that it has no bunkai, even if its bunkai is conditioning.  I will say that there is probably nothing in sanchin, bunkai wise, that isn't in dozens of other places in dozens of other kata, but sanchin does a good job of KISS, and provides a lot of tools philosophically, combatively, and for conditioning.  Especially if you do cover your bases with multiple forms of sanchin exploration, there's definitely value in training it regularly, and thoughtfully.  For us, the strikes are usually used purely for checking tension, and ensuring that the correct muscles are tensed the correct way to strengthen the body and avoid injuring yourself.  Stepping aside from all the discussions that can spring up about whether it damages internal organs or not, moving your body incorrectly while it's under constant dynamic tension can pull tendons, tear muscles, and a number of other things; so just like you don't want to move incorrectly or without control while weight lifting, sanchin bears the same attention to form and consistency.  The other reason we use the strikes is to test your focus, not allowing yourself to be distracted from what can potentially be a bit hazardous.  I'm a smaller guy, about 5'6" (1.67m), so my Sensei will occasionally use a strike that actually lifts me off the ground, with the expectation being that I will stick the landing and keep my footing!  I definitely agree, though, that exploring sanchin in many ways is valuable.  Of course, that's like any kata that exists across multiple styles.  I'd also suggest, if you have a means to, exploring sanzhan, the Souther Chinese form it is supposed to have been developed out of.  From what I can recall, the Uechi-Ryu version is the closest of the Okinawan styles to this.