Sanchin tension

Discussion in 'Karate' started by Telsun, Jun 8, 2004.

  1. Telsun

    Telsun Valued Member

    Can anyone give good reason as to why Sanchin is done with tension?
  2. SoKKlab

    SoKKlab The Cwtch of Death!

    Not all Sanchin is done with tension, just mainly the Sanchin as done in most of the Okinawan and Japanese karate systems.

    Some of the Sam Chien/ Saan Chen etc as done in systems such as Five Ancestors, Emperor Fist, Go Ro kun etc is done either alternating Hard/ soft or Both.

    The main reason often cited for the Tension, is to use 'Dynamic tension'-muscle working against muscle, to build a certain amount of power, a form of 'Body/ strengthbuilding' for want of a better description.

    Also it is designed to co-ordinate the breathing and to 'harden' the body against blows.

    A very basic description and in no way ment to be comprehensive...
  3. Mind Aflame

    Mind Aflame New Member

    I agree, it is more of a physical training kata, done a few times every morning and evening properly you will soon have abs of steel. Also tensed muscles provide a reasonable barrier to strikes.
  4. Lao

    Lao New Member

    Internal Arts

    There is an internal side to it, too. In the same way that some forms of meditation suggest that you focus on relaxing each muscle, sanchin has you tense each muscle. It raises body awareness. Perhaps more importantly, it's a step towards mushin. Focusing on all those muscles helps to clear your head.
  5. Telsun

    Telsun Valued Member

    Oh? I have studied a little (I mean very little) tai-chi and am of the understanding that tension clouds the head.....could be wrong.

    Do you think that the dynamic tension method that is commonly practiced is of value?
    There are better ways of developing an iron body, is the tension method of sanchin similar to iron shirt kung fu in anyway?

    Would it not be better on focusing on the relaxation of each muscle? Who wants to learn to tense in their techniques? The way you train is the way you become.

    I believe that sanchin was originaaly derived from Pai Puh Lian, which means "Soft (ju) suppresses hard (go)”. This implies to me that the original form was performed soft rather than hard, perhaps to over come the tension found within all of us when we perform techniques....
  6. WotEvaYuKanDo

    WotEvaYuKanDo Valued Member

    I'm of the view that the way some people practice sanchin is quite dangerous/bad for you as the the breathing/muscular tension can produce a Valsalva maneuver
  7. JohnnyX

    JohnnyX Map Addict

  8. Tommy_P

    Tommy_P New Member

    Sanchin kata is also beneficial in teaching you how to be strong on the inhale which is when you are usually vulnerable.
    Usually excursion is coupled with exhaling, Sanchin practices being strong breathing in as well as out and being able to withstand blows while inhaling.

  9. Lao

    Lao New Member

    Taoist hermeneutics

    The tai chi approach is certainly different from the karate approach. I'd like to hear what a tai chi practitioner has to say about tension.

    From my practice, I find it as difficult to clear my head in sanchin as in zazen.

    Yes. If only from the aspect that it adds to your training repertoire. Dynamic tension is different from isometrics or weightlifting.

    Well, certainly, you can do both. Other katas are different, and if you like, you can take sanchin home and tinker with it. Try doing it like tai chi, see what happens.

    I won't argue there. Goju is hard and soft. Training relaxed only would be no better than training with tension only.

    Very Taoist. Again, I agree, but I don't think that necessarily means no dynamic tension. Rather than thinking the kata-practicer is soft, and the enemy is hard, perhaps it means that the kata is practiced with dynamic tension, and the practicer observes soft overcoming hard internally.

    Here's a quote from the feng/english translation of the Tao Te Ching, chapter 22:

    Yield and overcome;
    Bend and be straight;
    Empty and be full;
    Wear out and be new;
    Have little and gain;

    Looking at the Go aspect of sanchin is only scratching the surface. Can you "wear out" and find the strength of softness within it?

    Sorry about the philosophical questioning, but I really think experimentation is needed to discover these things.
  10. David

    David Mostly AFK, these days

    Just a brief commwent mainly for the tai chi guy (telson?):

    Sanchin is supposed to be hard and it is a valid method. It does come straight from southern kung fu though I'd rather do the kung fu method than the hand-me-down Jap job ;).

    On one level, sanchin and the forms it comes from are like heavy massage. In the Chinese method, they go a long way to clearing out the channels to get chi flowing to the extremities. I expect this applies to Karate, too.

    I hadn't thought about the idea of resisting blows whilst inhaling but it is obvious now! Cool :cool:. Amazing what you take for granted.

    I'm going outside to practice my "sam bo gin" tension set right now.

  11. David

    David Mostly AFK, these days

    Just come back. In mantis we often do our form soft first, then full tension and then softly again.

    Is sanchin done like that?

  12. Lao

    Lao New Member

    Thanks for the perspective, David. In answer to your question of alternating hard and soft; I do that, though I can't recall seeing it done in an organized class.

    As far as hand-me-downs, we're all practicing arts mediated by oral tradition, regardless of which seas they jump. From what I have seen, forms change with every generation, unless someone has unearthed an ancient shaolin dvd.
  13. Telsun

    Telsun Valued Member

    Thanks for the input guys. I now mainly practice a soft form of Sanchin but occassionally practice a hard form, which is now quite different probably from all the soft training ;)

    I am curious as to whether anyone experienced or witnessed Steve Morris's Sanchin kata?
  14. SoKKlab

    SoKKlab The Cwtch of Death!

    There's a very good article in a back issue of Fighting Arts International (deceased), from the late 1980s, detailing Steve Morris's Sanchin, which I believe is a re-examination of Sanchin as it was and is in Hokkien Chinese Systems and how it was pased on and small details of it lost via Okinawa.

    These days, he doesn't like any mention of his in time in Karate, as he feels that it was totally worthless.
  15. Telsun

    Telsun Valued Member

    Thanks SoKKlab :)

    Shame about Steve Morris. I do have quite alot of contact with Gavin Mulholland (via internet) and he said that he was taught Sanchin by Mr Morris. I hope that soon I will get to experience this for myself.
  16. Mike O'Leary

    Mike O'Leary Valued Member


    Here is a link to a study done on Sanchin and the effects of it upon the body. Isshin Ryu Sanchin is done with tension.

    Mike O'Leary
  17. Black Dog

    Black Dog Expressionist

    I remember my sensei would go around whacking us with a stick while doing sanchin...
    That annoyed the hell out of me.
  18. animefreak88

    animefreak88 Valued Member

    Overall, sanchin has the ability to increase muscle size and strength if done properly with tension, however, i don't think practicing it for that is a good idea due to its negative effects on your blood pressure. I'll post an article about this and makiwara training in February. I have it saved at a computer at my school, but won't be able to get on this computer until mid february.
  19. Mike O'Leary

    Mike O'Leary Valued Member

    If you read the link I posted earlier you will see that there are no effects on your blood pressure.

    Mike O'leary
  20. animefreak88

    animefreak88 Valued Member

    Its an interesting study. One question about it: were all of you doing maximum tension during the kata? I have never seen someone do the kata at maximum tension without their face turning somewhat red. Yours turned red in the one picture, but that was only in the one picture. I realize that its unreasonable to ask that you and your partners take so many pictures that redness in the face can be seen on each of you, which is why i'm asking. If the tension is sub-maximal when performing Sanchin, the risks are greatly minimized, yet sadly, so are the benefits.

    I realize that not everyone is subject to the blood pressure increase, which is why i use the word, risks. One other thing to consider though, muscles only gain strength within 20 degrees of their range of motion an exercise. The punches in sanchin create a full upper body range of motion, but the legs have a very limited range of motion in the kata, making it not as ideal for kicking strength (although it will increase one's leg strength in maintaining a strong sanchin stance).

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