Stevie B wrote:
Yes Bill .. Tandan.. Sounds the same, I never actually tried to spell it in Romanji.. But yes, exactly! I have seen the Goju Masters throwing their hips with it.. But never a Uechi Master.. I guess my question is who has introduced all of the hip throwing in Uechi through out the States and why? If the core is strong and your shoulders are pulled down correctly, with a good Sanchin stance, it isn't making any sense to me why they are throwing the hips.. It seems as though they would actually be losing the intended power of the classical Uechi Sanchin.. I thought with your background you would shed some insight to the pros and cons of both? Bio mechanically speaking..
Thanks for your question, Stevie, and I appreciate your vote of confidence.
It's difficult for me to understand exactly what you mean, as I've seen a lot of ways to do a Sanchin. I've seen things that I like, things that I don't like, and things that I like but are executed very badly by people who can't quite pull it off. We could film and post some people and critique them, but I've already cautioned how that's a bit unfair and disrespectful when we aren't simultaneously sharing our own way of doing things. On the public critique thing, fair is fair!
Along the lines of your concern, there is a way of doing Sanchin that I've seen north of the border (practiced by some...) that I'm not fond of. My opinion... I'm not sure where it came from, but it involves throwing the shoulder forward when thrusting. When I see it, it's difficult for me to understand if it's an ill-conceived concept or if someone who for instance is fond of Jimmy Malone can't quite pull off what he does.
There is a "method" taught by Nakamatsu which I like, employ, and "try" to teach. I've found it takes years for average students, and some really never get it. It involves departing from a rigid Sanchin structure to exaggerating
a "feeling" through big movement. But once one feels this "sequential summation of motion", then one is to make it smaller and smaller until the body movement is infinitesimal. I liken it to getting a hula hoop to spin on your arm. It takes big movement to get it going. But once you get the speed up to maximum rpm (velocity), the movement of your arm becomes barely perceptible. Keeping the hoop going is more a matter of feeling/adjusting to the force, and less one of movement. If you've ever had your Sanchin "checked" by having a teacher push from various angles, you get the concept. You can't stand rigid like a piece of granite to look like a piece of granite. You have to adjust to the force on your body with a counter-force. If that makes sense...
Do I have validation of Nakamatsu's approach? Actually yes - through two sources.
The first is Uechi Kanei himself. (I hear he knows what he's talking about...) Frank Gorman once asked Uechi Kanei whom he thought was doing some of the more enlightening things with Uechi karate. By Mr. Gorman's account, Uechi Kanei's response was Nakamatsu Sensei.
The second is my own. For years I've regretted taking perfectly good athletes and fuking up their natural movement by teaching a karate-by-numbers Sanchin. I've discovered that the old Uechi Kanbun approach (before classes were taught in large numbers) is better. You just let a student do the form, and make small adjustments. "Natural" athletes - particularly those who've done free-weight training and/or have done others sports - "get" how to do things. Sanchin then becomes a process whereby you peel off what you don't want the person to do, and leave the "natural" in their movement. When I took this approach with really good athletes AND gave myself permission to re-discover dozens of perfectly good years playing sports (particularly baseball), then the "Aha!" struck.
People who come into Uechi Ryu without an understanding of their bodies need to start from scratch. Getting them from nothing to advanced concepts can take decades. This is where "karate by numbers" works best. This is where locking everything down with the core for about a decade makes sense.
People who are "natural" at human movement only need to be reigned in. Sanchin is a process where less is more. But less doesn't mean nothing. Sanchin by my account does not mean no (zero) core movement. It means small core movement with big effect at the extremities.
It's worth mentioning that there isn't one way to give and receive power with the Sanchin stance. Particularly when I use Sanchin in grappling, my core is solid and immovable. I'm transferring leg energy to the arms through a solid hydraulic mass. Any core or shoulder movement is a "loss point" in the transfer of energy from legs to arms. But when generating energy de novo for a thrust, this is when imperceptible movements of the pelvis and trunk leading to a strong abdominal and lat contraction at point of thrust delivery is a special kind of "whip" energy that few can do. But those who figure it out end up with a thrust that comes out with high velocity almost effortlessly, and finishes with a bone-crushing kime (決め) on contact.
I guess the best way to answer your question is to say the following:
- "Simple" Sanchin involves a very simplistic structure and set of movements.
- Once the simplistic core is mastered, any number of layers can be added to it.
- There are more wrong ways to do Sanchin than there are right ways, making any discussion of this or that core movement a difficult discussion topic at best. At the end of the day, it's all about execution.
Hope that helps.