Monday, July 4, 2011

Sanchin Kata Will Make You Strong!

Sanchin, or "Three Battles"
I've already shown how training Katas can be very useful to martial artists.

Recently, I've been using Karate's Sanchin Kata as a part of my overall training program and I've seen some pretty impressive results:
  • I'm stronger AND faster. 
  • I'm much more stable. 
  • My balance has improved. 
  • My focus has become laser-like
I've seen these improvements because Sanchin Kata is a very unique type of kata. 

Let's take a deeper look. 

The Power Behind Karate -

It has been said that Karate begins with Sanchin and Karate ends with Sanchin.

Sanchin Kata is an extremely simple Kata to learn. But the underlying essence and training concepts can take years to master. Which is why Kris Wilder, author and 5th Dan in Goju Ryu Karate, writes that, " has been understood historically that you master karate only if you master this kata."

Wilder goes on to state that, "
Regular practice of Sanchin Kata conditions the body, trains correct alignment, and teaches the essential body structure needed for generating power within all of your karate movements."

After practicing this kata myself, I have come to believe that Sanchin kata can be helpful to ALL martial artists - not just the karateka.

Power for All Fighters

Sanchin kata can be used to:

  • Build a Strong Root - Which is essential to developing powerful strikes and solid grappling ability.
  • Build Neuromuscular Efficiency - Through the use of "dynamic tension" and internal "Qi" training you learn to produce large amounts of muscular force - which means more strength. This neuromuscular efficiency also translates to building greater speed.
  • Train the Mushin or "no mind" Mindset - Sanchin kata is just as much a mental drill as it is a physical exercise. Through the practice of this kata you learn to develop focus and the ability to simply "stop" thinking while fighting and just let you body do what its been trained to do. 
Those all sound like things every martial artist should be interested in. 

Fitting It Into Your Program.

Considering that you have to fit in time to work on the heavybag, shadowbox, lift, spar, and do some pad work, it may be hard to find the time to fit Sanchin kata into your routine.

With a little bit of thought it isn't so difficult.

If we look at the Fighter's Training Continuum we see that prearranged forms and kata tend to fall towards the "General" end of the continuum. So, that means Sanchin kata is most beneficial when we use it as a general strengthening exercise.

A great way to utilize Sanchin kata is on your active rest days. Because you control the amount of tension and speed in which you move during the kata you control how difficult it is to perform. This makes it ideal for those day when you need a rest but you still want to get in a little training.

Another way to fit the kata into your training is to either it as a warm-up or a finisher.

In the beginning you'll want to focus on developing solid technique, so practicing the kata before you are fatigued will be best. However, as you gain skill you'll be able to perform the kata correctly even in a fatigued state so using the kata as a finisher won't be such a problem.

Also, using Sanchin kata as a finisher from time to time can give your body that extra push it may need to overcome a plateau due to the increased demands to maintain correct posture and sufficient tension.

I, personally, like to use Sanchin Kata on days I'm training alone.

I'll start off with some Zhan Zhuang and a few rounds of Sanchin Kata. Then, I'll move on to some heavybag work and shadow boxing. Finally, I'l finish up with some kettlebell work and maybe another round of Sanchin kata.

Use your imagination and I'm sure you'll come up with the perfect way to fit this kata into your training.

For more information on Sanchin Kata you can check out Sensei Kris Wilder's excellent book and/or DVD:

Train Hard,
Josh Skinner

1 comment:

  1. I agree on the general spirit of your article. I have done katas/kuens for half my life, and besides doing push-ups, planks, and light weights, kuen is all I do for general fitness (spirit, mind, body all benefit).

    I wasn't lucky enough to find a good Nippon stylist who knew how to train katas; instead, that came with my fut gah training.

    We trained kuen in three ways: 1. Slow and graceful to develop muscle/bone connectivity, memory play. 2. Tense and slow with breath control to develop bridge (Sanchin style)and last, 3. Faster-than with 1 and 2 burnt into muscle memory in order to effectively deliver
    the required technique with grace, precision, and power.

    This method of course caused us to lose many lazy students, but those who remained eventually learned the ideas and burnt them into the marrow (martial metaphor).