Very good comments. Yes, Sanchin is a gathering of energy. As much as I really like the half hard half soft analog of the iceberg, the tree still fits best for me as a beginning because the tree roots itself to draw sustenance from the earth. The drawing of energy is the missing part of what many do in rooting.
The third component of the whole is the Spirit. This is what joins the others and makes them complete. This is what enables everything to achieve a higher level.
My martial arts have become a part of my spiritual journey. I have also taken part a number of Native traditions. We have had two children come to us through adoption and they are Cree. To ensure they are proud of their heritage and understand their customs a number of ceremonies have become part of our lives.
We take part in sweat lodge ceremonies. In the sweat lodge in what is called a round the tarps close, there are prayer songs, steam and heat. In a typical sweat there are four rounds and four songs sung in each round. There can be significant experiences and other times there is just a particular feeling that I experience. I have, a few times, felt this same experience when doing a Kata if the circumstances are right.
This is where my martial arts are heading.
The other major ceremony I have been privileged to take part in is fasting. In this ceremony you go through a number of ritual preparations in the late afternoon or early evening and from that moment on you may not eat or drink anything. You may not speak to anyone but the assigned helpers. You sleep the first night in a Tipi (or whereever.) The following morning you take part in a special Sweat lodge where there is only one round and all sixteen songs are sung. You then go in a procession out into the bush to where you have prepared a small fasting lodge of willow covered in tarps. There you remain for three more nights and then you come out of the bush into another special sweat lodge where there are two rounds. In between the two rounds you get your first drink of water in about 84 hours.
The complete fasting ceremony consists of four fasts and is done over a minimum of four years. Last year I completed my fourth fast and my first cycle of fasting. I hope to begin my second cycle next year.
This is a significant experience and one I won’t go into too great of detail on a public forum.
I will explain a small part of it that may help exemplify the experiences that can be available in Sanchin.
The belief is that when the fast begins the people fasting have entered into the spirit world. That is why no one who is not part of the fasting ceremony will acknowledge them and they will not acknowledge anyone. It is very hard to describe the experience of entering into the fast. The feeling of being separate from the normal world is there and as the fast progresses it increases.
The experiences found within a sweat lodge ceremony are exceeded and expanded in the fast. There is a tapping into or becoming part of something beyond the normal world we live in.
I am sure many would have explanations for this and I care not. I only care for the personal experience.
Kata can progress on a similar path.
My teacher David Mott Sensei says the bow that begins and ends the Kata is offered as a thank you to all those who have followed this path before us. Without them we would not have the art we do. This acknowledgement goes back well beyond the known history of our particular art. It connects us to those who have gone before and have passed on. It can be in a sense a connection to the spirit world. Or at least this is the same experience that I can feel.
When you perform Sanchin you are separate from the normal world we live in. You may experience entering into a different state of being.
When the spirit joins with the awareness of the mind to attune to the body experience, then the entire being becomes whole. There is a filling of the body and a connection to the Earth. The spirit is used to connect upwards to what in some circles would be called the Heavenly Qi. This connection completes the circle, and gives an entirely different feeling to rooting.
My martial brother David Elkins helped clarify where this may be heading for me and Max touch on this very subject with the comment: “We vibrate in tune with things there is no interference.” There is a vibration to the universe that has been discovered by science. Native Americans have known of this vibration for thousands of years. The drum not only represents the heart beat of every person and mother Earth it also is the heart beat of all existence. It is that vibration. I believe this is why every culture has a drum.
The Dan Tein can not be left uncommented on. The Dan Tein is the centre of our being and is the generator and governor of all the energies passing through. (Our inner energy drum.)
I am very far from the end of this journey and some of the things I have comment on I have only just begun to glimpse.
For me this path began with a simple rooting exercise and the Kata Sanchin.
In the native belief there are four elements not three: Mind, Body, Spirit and Emotion. I’ll leave this Uechi discussion at the three.
Okay, more personal sharing on a public forum than I am used to but, as I said, I have Max as an inspiration.
Like Max has stated this is a personal journey and not something I expect my students to have to believe in or partake of. However, I expect proper Martial Practice should lead to the same path for everyone and that experience will be guided and tempered by whatever personal spiritual beliefs they hold.