A Summary of Sanchin
The idea of learning martial arts from the teachings of the Teacher/Founder SHUSHIWA and
the late Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do Karate-Ka Sensei Uechi Kanbun is in the practicing of the
mainstays or basics of Uechi-Ryu. The origin or meaning of the word Sanchin is important in the
martial arts, as it is related to Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do. You have to ask yourself where the good is.
Is it possible to understand the meaning of Sanchin? We have to ask how valuable is the
existence of the form or kata in Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do?
Let us talk about the characters in the word Sanchin. Three hundred and fifty years ago in
China during the spring and autumn years "SASHIDEN" was writing after the scholar Confucius.
As the history states he was asking the same question "What does Sanchin mean?
Ninety-seven years ago in a different era as the history chronicles state the yellow emperor or
the military ruler of China was writing of the history of the "3 Bodies". In former days calligraphy in
the eastern ways was an extremely old art form. In order to record this information the house of
the emperor again using the term "Sanchin or 3 struggles or 3 conflicts" the 5th emperor stated,
even if consent was given to explain Sanchin in literature, the definition of Sanchin would require
deep understanding. This would have to come from the heart or there would be no significance to
They would also have to go to a Buddhist and confront him with this struggle and question the
significance of the term Sanchin which could be termed as 3 rulers or 3 pillars. In asking Daikoku
about the meaning of the 3 pillars supporting the heavenly gate they "stated" they would need
more understanding. No real answer was given.
The meaning we often times seek as in reference to the kata Sanchin is eluding. In religious
Buddhist terms is there really a need for an association between Sanchin and kata? There is no
way of knowing. There is also an opportunity to change, or investigate this term.
In connection with Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do, Sanchin's origin is written about in the ancient
histories. To ask about the truth is not impossibility. Today we Japanese involved in Uechi-Ryu
Karate-Do in order to look at the value of Sanchin's rising base in the present day look back to
the origins. We Japanese look carefully at Sanchin not in an average way, and not just in outward
appearances, but we must look deep inside ourselves as well.
In reference to understanding Sanchin in history we look into the nature of Sanchin in present
day by utilizing the scheme of "Seishin" or Spirit, "Shintai" The Body, and Kokoro the Mind. The
value is in the deep understanding of these three principles mind, body and spirit. We must never
stray from these understandings.
The value of the existence of the spirit of Sanchin is to have an example e.g., a mentor or
sensei. The second aim is learning and understanding Uechi-Ryu’s Sanchin kata as a whole and
learns the rules of techniques.
To know the foundation basics you must have a guide or teacher to point out and correct your
mistakes. This way you learn. Uechi-Ryu has many basic techniques. On the whole the most
important one is posture. In order to understand Sanchin as a whole, posture must be
understood. In order to understand Sanchin you must sometimes see Sanchin in action in order
to comprehend this many faceted meanings. The pupil of Uechi-Ryu in Understanding Sanchin
Kata in its entirety must maintain a strict and thorough training regime in the techniques area.
The premise of understanding Uechi-Ryu's Kata Sanchin is in the nature of the technique.
In Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do the vital need of Sanchin is the basic foundation kata. To have and
understand these rules or guidelines is necessity right? As for Sanchin it has 3 parts or 3
dimensions. Mind, Body. And Spirit. To separate these 3 factors the kata would be lifeless. To
combine these three into one entity this would be the goal.
Combining these three entities is an important and often difficult process, and doing so is no
easy trick in my opinion. The number one aim then in Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do Shugyo-Shas
learning Sanchin is the development of the Mind, Body, and Spirit mentality, and in order to
understand this point a teacher will be needed to guide you.
Uechi-Ryu's strict guide is to polish your martial arts skills. To cease is to loose. So you must
continue daily your diligence to your art skill! The statement "To study Sanchin is to your own
advantage" is quite correct.
Another important point is "Nintai-Shin" (Mind Endurance), to be able to understand this point
is very important. The importance of the relation to the spirit should also be understood.
In the study of Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do the necessity for a strict method of study must be
adhered to. To endure this strict method you have to ask yourself is Sanchin important?
In order to learn from Uechi-Ryu's basic kata you must look at the Chinese Schools original
view. These were possibly transmitted from Shorin-Ryu to Pangainoon-Ryu.
We Japanese who think from the military point of view believe Martial Artsshadows this idea.
To know this aforehand from a military view is akin to clairvoyance.
On the point of kihon kata the main idea is to correct and check ones own strength. Japanese
believe that practicing Sanchin should become a habit of life.
You must have an agreement with yourself to absorb the culture within the distensions of your
life, and to look at the pure transmission of the kihon kata.
In the past 50 years there is a pureness in the kihon Kata e.g., no major changes made and
there must be none in order for Sanchin to succeed.
We involved in Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do and in other Ryu's must change to understand this
concept. In our existence we must understand the guidelines of Uechi-Ryu's Sanchin Kata.
Uechl-Ryu's Karate and Shorin-Ryu's Karate's origin or centers was developed in the
southern schools. From Pangainoon came Uechi-Ryu. During this period in China and Okinawa
strict silence was maintained in order to preserve these styles, including the Goju schools. There
is some written record to support this fact.
The laws or written records of Pangainoon from the Chinese schools and Shorin schools have
written provisions, which were made open to Uechi Kanbun Uechi-Ryu's founder in his early
China sanctioned the opening of his school and its laws and as a result of this many things
were learned. Uechi Kanbun in the 7th year of Showa in Wakayama Prefecture, Wakayama-Shi
near Shurei-Cho he worked at a Shotaku or a company house. From there his Dojo's source
A sign outside the school proudly displayed the words “Pangainoon Karate-Jutsu” A place or
beginning of Study
Another important fact in Uechl Ryu is in the kihon or foundation of the weapons. In the early
days of Pangainoon/Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do the founder Uechi Kanbun started practicing and
developing his art in the open to certain Japanese. Uechi Kanbun was a noted practioner who
learned his art in China’s southern schools in great depth.
We of Uechi-Ryu learned from Pangainoon-Ryu to praise our founder. We learned the
external and internal teachings from Uechi Kanbun whose teacher was Shushiwa. We learned to
follow through the gate. We learned to follow his shinning example. From this path one must not
deviate. The idea of all of the kata of Uechi-ryu is to have the overall look of being static. On the
other hand it should have the look of esoteric fineness. The kata should have another extremely
important characteristic i.e., movements which should have speed and determination which
should appear to be natural.
The technical skills acquired through the Sanchin kata are very important factors when
looking at the kata as a whole for example (Kata Impersonation) or just copying the kata, or
performing the kata as they were meant to be done applying ail the basics and techniques to
make the kata alive.
A comparison of Goju-Ryu and Uechi-Ryu's Sanchin kata is that the characteristics are
opposite of each other however to be able to break each one down is somewhat difficult task. For
example in understanding what should be hard or what should be soft. Technique-wise, the
emphasis is more on one than on the other where there should be an equal blend of both. This
ideology is desired in Uechi-Ryu I believe.
Another important factor in the makeup of Uechi-Ryu's Sanchin kata is the development of
the technical skills to the level where there is naturalness in movement. This is extremely difficult
without years of practice.
Another important principle in Uechi-Ryu is repetition especially when practicing the Sanchin
Kata 3 times in place with other students in the dojo. By lining up and practicing with other people
the kata will be learned and understood easier. No spoken words should be needed during the
In the process of the last 50 years Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do has established in its historical
writings that habitual practice of its Kata's are of utmost importance. But then the previous
ideology of the practice of the Sanchin kata was to do all three kata at the beginning of class
rather than interspersing then between the other kata.
The intention in Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do in the beginning of practice of Sanchin is to be able to
gather the truth for example spiritual truth. You must be able to have natural absoluteness when
practicing in order to proceed up the ladder. These ideas are a must in order to be accurate.
Uechi-Ryu's Sanchin teaches a person to force certain ideas together in order to deal with an
art skill. It takes hard practice and intention to polish the skills needed to perfect Sanchin. The
training at times is severe but the Shugyo-Sha who is learning to polish his skills must practice in
degree's in order to understand and acquire the needed aspects of Sanchin. There must also be
strictness about the Shugyo-Sha during training. As your practice continues and you pass certain
points you become stronger and you art skills will increasingly grow.
This strict regime that the Shugyo-Sha endures hardens the spirit like good pottery. Each time
the pot is fired it creates another coat making the pot harder. The completion of the basics is a
must for the Shugyo-Sha to be able to build from.
To practice and Polish your Sanchin skills regularly will harden your spirit. The development
of Kokyu-Ho or breathing techniques during Sanchin will also help polish your skills internally and
externally. What else must a Shugyo-Sha of Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do endure?
We often return to the practice of the Sanchin kata and look at it as a whole. We not only
polish our art skills or body skills but we forge strong spirit. This comes from practicing the kihon
This is extremely important. As for the other kata as a whole the Sanchin basics also apply.
There are many limitations to the actions of the Kata, so understanding the katas meanings in
e.g., self-defense applications must be studied and understood thoroughly.
Uechi-Ryu founder Uechi Kanei said that the Shugyo-Sha should accumulate and experience
as much knowledge about the Kata as possible. Our goal in practicing the Sanchin kata should
enable one to be able to understand between thought and deciding and automatic action.
The Kata of Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do maintains that you must perceive Sanchin as a whole in
order to understand better the interrelationship between action and technique. The melding of the
two is the desired outcome. Therefore because of the passing on of Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do
information to the Shugyo-Sha Sanchin has had a through going over.
The pupil’s workout during the Wakayama-Jidai was such that before you could attain the
knowledge you had to ask for it. It wasn’t given freely right away. The pupil had to earn it.
Therefore, in the Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do School the first step was in understanding Sanchin's
existence. The kihon kata was given a thorough going over to decide between Zehi or (Right &
Wrong) and Seikaku (Correctness). This along with a strict learning schedule had been adhered
This school of Karate therefore believes today that the previous kata will teach you to
understand about the next kata. In Uechi-Ryu we have eight kata, Sanchin, Kanshiwa, Seichin,
Seisan, Serui, Kanchin, and Sanserui.
A first attempt must be made to learn Sanchin. When you have an occasion to learn Sanchin
for the first time it is like training, for. Game sports. The difference is akin to using the whole body
to encourage you. In the beginning you start slow then increase your skills accordingly.
The start pf Sanchin is important. The placement of the feet and the placement of the line of
vision are also important. The idea of eye placement is to pick a point and concentrate on it, but
do not loose sight of everything else around you.
The proper width of the feet in the stance is also important, as is the placement of the hands
support or stableness for example tension of the muscles under and around the shoulder areas
and the chest and abdominal areas. Proper direction comes from correct hip placement.
All these ideas must be applied in order to get some value out of the Sanchin kata. It takes
about 5 months after admission for an individual to learn about the differences of "Body Strength
& Muscular Strength" and how to use them effectively. This source of muscular power is a test of
tension that you get on the outside of the body. The proper tension will help you absorb a blow.
This tension should also be felt around the body’s joints. Tension can be felt in all the muscles in
the chest and back and in the legs, especially the tops of the calves. To perform Sanchin properly
you must forge your Sanchin stance.
In learning Sanchin another point is learning the idea of "Unconscious Automatic
In Sanchin after practicing for many months you are
strengthening your bones and sinew.
You must learn while studying Sanchin to apply the proper breathing method or "Kokyu-Ho". It
takes a long time to master this aspect of the kata's. Proper breathing helps you cleanse your
body. Proper tension and breathing will be according to the laws of nature. The outside of the
body will increase in strength, while inwardly you remain soft and pliable. This is needed for
proper support management.
In reality strength and quickness of the body are not easy things to learn quickly. In order for
regular people to be good or excel they must be involved in movement or action of some sort, for
example regular exercises.
From the proper forging of these ideas and attitudes Sanchin’s muscular power and strength
will manifest itself. This effect is for the outward body. This enables a person then to absorb the
impact of most blows to the body with minimal damage. The Sanchin kata of Uechi-Ryu
Karate-Do teaches a person to train and discipline the body and the mind. In forging ones body
with Sanchin a person physique will also develop. A question of body weight of a person studying
Sanchin should be of relative importance. All sizes great and small can learn.
In Sanchin to maintain a good physique you must forge a good Mind/Body/Spirit attitude in
order to endure these hardships. There are 2 sides to this point of Body & Spirit. There is
evidence to this fact of outward growth in these areas, which comes from learning Sanchin
properly. Oneness with strength is the idea of Uechi-Ryu. To develop strength in Sanchin you
must be firm and perform stretching of the skin and muscles around the bones and sinew to make
for a good solid base. These sometimes-slow movements of Sanchin are a necessity in order to
forge a more strong and healthy body.
A lack of strength and quickness in Karate will lead to a non-completion of the elements of
Sanchin. To excel in Karate you must understand the ideas or tenets of power versus strength.
To excel in developing power and strength in the body you certainly by all means must follow
the proper way. In order for the body to become powerful and firm you must organize an exercise
program. This must be done to begin the proper forging process.
To think of the above idea is not opinion but common sense or truth. To understand this
actual state of mind is another matter entirely.
In learning Uechi-Ryu Sanchin kata you are learning through koans to forge technique
through the physical body and through Seishin. The results of Taijutsu are oneness with strength.
Next we will talk about a method of forging a more concrete Sanchin.
Los que saben no hablan y los que hablan no saben