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Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture
White Crane Boxing and Sanchin (video)

Here is an interesting TV program on white crane kung-fu (Baihequan Fujian White Crane Boxing) from Chinese TV. You’ll be pleased to know that it has English subtitles! :-)

Of particular interest to those who practice Goju-Ryu, Shito-Ryu, Uechi-ryu, etc will be the discussion on White Crane’s Sanchin starting at 18:25. There is also an interesting section at 28:30 on the various theories of origin of White Crane Boxing. I hope you enjoy it and thank to Stuart Squire for sharing.

All the best,


Baihequan Fujian White Crane Boxing

From Wikipedia:

“White Crane Style (Chinese: 白鶴拳) is a Southern Chinese martial art which originated in Fujian (福建) province and is now practiced throughout the world. According to oral traditions, the creation of this style is attributed to Fāng Qīniáng, a female martial artist. The characteristics of this style are deep rooted stances, intricate hand techniques and fighting mostly at close range as if to imitate a pecking bird. The flying crane style however has a greater amount of long range techniques although it too does prefer close quarters hand oriented combat, which simulates the flapping of the wings.

Five Ancestors as well as various styles of Karate, notably Goju-ryu, Chitō-ryū and Uechi-ryu, obtained the routine San Chian / San Zhan (Mandarin) from Fujian White Crane. San Chian is best known by the Japanese pronunciation of its name: Sanchin.

Other examples of Sanchin

Five Ancestors Sanchin

Goju-ryu Sanchin

Shito-Ryu Sanchin

Uechi-ryu Sanchin

Isshin-Ryu Sanchin

A Side by Side Comparison of Differing Versions of Sanchin

rshively's picture

White crane is one of those things in martial arts that is difficult to express. For some it's 1-2 katas within their style. For others, it's a long series of katas like bai he quan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQ-Grg2qiOA&list=PL5A72C6AA27A6610B

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qse3YHG6w_I https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYMAniAhxlI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZKc3Sf69Ak

In China, there are several styles of White Crane that are Fukien based. As far as which are authentic,who can say, or who cares. The point is that the influence of White Crane is obvious. Coastal birds are similar to humans in that they walk on two legs instead of all fours or do not use their hands as part of their locomotion as apes do. Also, the use of wings/arms as well as feathers/fingers-hands are unique as well.


rshively's picture

Now to compare...Tibetan white crane is different from Fukien White Crane https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoKzHqACrts

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnqrypKX4l4&list=PL904AD3C842890626&index=5 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5Z8Gpq-RUY

If you looke closely, you'll see that while there are bird-like movements, there are mainly simian or ape-like movements as well. The heavy use of long swinging arms and hammer fists are not typical of the in-close fukien versions. But, they are both white crane; just different ways of looking at things. So, is Tibetan white Crane mislabelled?

karate10's picture

We practice and study at my Kyokushin Dojo the Shito Ryu Sanchin kata version and seeing various versions of Sanchin is remarkable and the kata itself holds a strong foundation in MA beyond just learning the movements....Thanks for sharing Iain.