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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:43 pm 
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I've written about chinkuchi in the past but I'm really interested to know if anyone else has run into/discussed this hogan term with their teachers, in their training, etc. I think the idea gets roundly confused with kime. Kime and chinkunchi aren't the same thing at all. There are endless definitions on the web but generally they come back to the idea that "sinews, breath, and bone" make the power.

So what does that mean? :D
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Chinkuchi (Hogen): "Chin" (muscle); "ku" (bone); "chi" (power and control). Chinkuchi ("Chinkuchi-nai [he doesn't have chinkuchi]!) is a composite of bone, sinew, and chi for an energy that is manifested through body mechanics.

"The mind (heaven), body (earth), through breath (spirit) is harmonized so it all works together to bring out chinkuchi. Sanchin is nothing but prolong chinkuchi.

Source

Hmmm....no better there....

How 'bout this one from Bing:

Quote:
Chinkuchi (focus, instantaneous and relaxed outpower)


.....why can't anyone agree?

This tidbit is interesting:
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I have a t-shirt . . . yes, that's right! Been there, done that, got the t-shirt Very Happy . . . with the kanji for chinkuchi on it. It was written by Tokumura Kensho, an Okinawan Goju stylist. Most people think the t-shirt actually says "chin-ku-chi" or "bone, sinew, control" but it doesn't. It translates to "Destructive Power" or "Power to Destroy."


How 'bout this:
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During this trip, I was determined to come off the island with martial arts related calligraphy that could hang in the dojo. I especially wanted calligraphy of hte katakana or kanji for hte Okinawan Hogen martial arts term, "Chinkuchi." When I asked some of our knowledgeable Okinawan friends, they sort of laughed. They found it very odd that someone would want this physical martial arts philosophy printed on paper. We then asked Sensei Tokomura. He was shown katakana for the term that we had and promptly said he had someone who worked for him on base that could probably do it for us. He said he would also have the person print the kanji for the martial virtues that he has hanging in his dojo: COURTESY, FIGHTING SPIRIT, and PATIENCE. The next visit with Sensei Tokomura, he did have these gifts for us. The calligraphy for "Chinkuchi" was very interesting. Chinkuchi was written in katakana (from my understanding the older writings of Okinawa), next to it were the writings for "impact" and then a large display of kanji which reads "destruction power" (Chinkuchi). Many times during this trip, as we would be socializing with Sensei Tokomura and others, he would call my attention and demonstrate and shuto moving slowly to his other open palm. When his shuto reached approximately a 5-6 inch distance from his other hand, it accelerated at great speed, obviously hitting with much impact. He would say that, "Chinkuchi destruction power," then show a measurement of about 5-6 inches with his hands."

source: http://www.isshinkai.net/history09-tomonokai.html

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:50 pm 
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Dana Sheets wrote:

So what does that mean? :D

From my experience, these fuzzy word problems come either from a word or concept not translating well, or from a problem in the culture of origin.

Words can be funny things. I was once involved in the use of a survey instrument designed to get patient-reported information on physical and mental health. The SF-36 is a 36 question survey asking about your ability to do various things in the last year from walking to climbing stairs to socializing with your friends. The full questionnaire is here.

SF-36 Survey

Question 9a. is the following:

did you feel full of pep?

Well... apparently in some African American circles, the word "pep" is interchangeable with the British slang "mojo." You know... kind of like how it's good to be bad - if that makes sense. Or when blacks say you have an attitude, it doesn't mean you have a GOOD attitude.

So... Don't get too worked up over words that come from local dialects. Sometimes they just don't translate very well out of their social context.

I find it easier to understand these Eastern concepts by arriving at them independently. Then when you try to communicate something YOU get, the words start coming out fuzzy. THEN you know you just might be on to something that previously you didn't get by other language and words. A really good example of that for me is the concept of yin and yang. More and more, I find it easy to use those concepts when approaching martial arts as a parsimonious set of principles rather than a massive bag of nifty techniques.

Ever tried to explain the difference between mushin and zanshin to beginners? I totally get it now. But in the past, it was a bit of mumbo jumbo to me. Now when I quiz my students about it (as I'm teaching), I see that many don't get it in spite of my best efforts to communicate it.

This is a very real thing in math. When I first saw the definition of a derivative (expressed as limits), I just didn't get it. Honest to God, it took about 4 years for it to sink in so that I "knew" it at an intuitive level.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:00 pm 
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Yep, semantic diversity abounds. So I'll share my current understanding and folks can take aim and fire away with other perspectives. Remember - what follows is my understanding and mine alone. I reserve the right to revise my understanding at any time. :mrgreen:

Chinkunchi is a core principle of Okinawan martial arts that, if left without being explicitly taught, risks being "lost in translation" and absent from the understanding of future generations. For now, let's think of chinkunchi as "continuously available destructive power." In my way of thinking, you can't have continuously available destructive power if you're about to lose your balance or do lose your balance whenever your strike/grab/whatever fails to connect or whenever you take a step/move.

What I'm talking about is a fundamental. A certain fundamental that was/is/supposed to be common to all southern Chinese martial arts and therefore founds its way to Okinawa where it took on its own flavor.

Chinkunchi is actually the thing that I think is trying to be communicated when so many people are told to "relax" or are told that they are "too stiff" by their Okinawan teachers. Relax and do Uechi? Really? Really. But what is being relaxed (or not) and why are things (muscles, mind, ???) being relaxed?

Concretely I can give the following two examples of physical "checks" to see an element of what I'm writing about.

Example 1
Put someone in their "best" sanchin. Have them chamber a punch and put your hand over theirs and give them some (not tons) of resistance to the punch. Where is that punch coming from? Did you feel the upper body engage before anything else? (Too stiff.) What if you completely and unexpectedly disappear from resisting their punch at any point during their punch. Do they lose their balance/root? They shouldn't. (Relax.)

Example 2
We see the same thing in the check commonly performed on the "double thrusts" near the end of Sanchin kata. When the hands are at full extension, the "checker" places their hands lightly on the wrists of the person doing the kata. A few things are supposed to happen here:
    *the person doing the kata should be able to ground the pull without totally stiffening up their upper body and without leaning back

    *the person doing the kata should be able to retract their thrusts to hirate kamae (flat-hand fighting position) and shouldn't fall over if the checker suddenly lets go of their wrists

    *the person doing the kata should still be able to ground a push from any direction just as at the start of sanchin

If the person doing the kata can't keep their balance/root during the above exercises, then it is time to revisit the fundamental of chinkunchi throughout their karate.

What I see time and time again is that folks start off their sanchin with a chance at building chinkunchi, and then it is either pushed/beaten out of them during the check or they are left unchecked throughout any other part of their training so that chinkunchi isn't carried forward to anything other than the opening movements of the sanchin form.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 2:57 pm 
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Dana,
So would it be a fairly simplistic interpretation to say that Chinkunchi relates to total body involvement and connectivity? I'm understanding this as interconnected parts that feed together and also balance eachother out to allow full strength, core power, as well as reaction to sudden changes in balance, etc. Hmmm...I'm not sure if I'm being clear or if I'm even understanding the concept, but I'm intrigued.

I'm thinking of a series of interconnected and slightly stretched springs..so there is a readily available power and energy waiting to be released. At the same time, there is a flexibility and give so that if one area is suddently released the other areas can offset and absorb some of that sudden movement....provided there is a stable base

random thinking here....how far off am I?

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:46 pm 
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Hi Shana,

I don't think you're far off base at all. I think the challenge is that it is very easy to think that any kind of training is going to develop the ability you're describing.

Based on what you're just written, what kind(s) of training do you think would best develop that ability?

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:41 pm 
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Transitional muscles play an important role (pilates ball a nice tool to train usage).
In my guess "Chinkuchi" is NOT any actual strike but the instant when the body utilizes all the resources at its disposal to strike, bite, push, pull or seize in any manner its target .
When a tiger (any predator) uses "Chinkuchi" it has engaged every muscle and aligned its entire skeleton to optimize the weapon(s) at its disposal. Not just a bite or a swipe with claws/talons.
Punch with elbow out...no "chinkuchi" is evident. Add proper alignment, breathing with force, mind fully focused on intent, coiling/straightening of spine at the just the right instant)...triggering transitional muscles, etc...Then all the little "ripples" merge into that instant.
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it doesn't. It translates to "Destructive Power" or "Power to Destroy."
I believe I witnessed "chinkuchi" when I had the good fortune to observe a master potter at work. He told me he shaped his work with his entire body, after I demonstrated sanchin he simply said "yep".

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:40 pm 
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Dana Sheets wrote:
Chinkuchi was written in katakana (from my understanding the older writings of Okinawa), next to it were the writings for "impact" and then a large display of kanji which reads "destruction power" (Chinkuchi).


I do want to note, as I was recently reminded, that hogan was not a written language until post-WWII. So in this sense the kanji for "chinkunchi" would be largely open to personal selection/interpretation and should not be taken as prescriptive.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:31 pm 
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Dana Sheets wrote:
I don't think you're far off base at all. I think the challenge is that it is very easy to think that any kind of training is going to develop the ability you're describing.

Based on what you're just written, what kind(s) of training do you think would best develop that ability?


It's nice to know that I am still learning, albeit at a slower pace, when I can not train as often as I want right now. So, thanks...good to know I'm not too far off base. To answer your question, let me start with an observation, and I apologize for the length of this post....kinda stream of conscious thinking kinda day.

I've noticed a lot of people are thoroughly unaware of their surroundings and how thier body interacts with both the environment and itself. This translates into a stiffness and awkwardness of movement, as all parts are operating separately in a way that I don't think the human body is meant to do.

It's like seeing a runner run and seeing "someone who runs" running. The runner is smooth and fluid, with an economy of movement that reacts to the terrain but also finds a rhythm that allows the runner's body to work at her/his most efficient. Whereas, some folks I know "who run", seem stiff and choppy and are more likely to stumble in uneven terrain.

So, I think that training for Chinkuchi needs to emphasize body awareness, as well as how the parts move together and/or seperately to help to create that cohesion and efficiency of movement that would be necessary for this explosive, dynamic force to manifest.

I don't know if it was this forum or another where I had read about a cool techinique for teaching someone to move from their core. If I remember correctly, it involved using a short staff or piece of bamboo placed on the trainer's abdomen, wtih someone on the other end offering enough tension for contact. The person would move forward, trying to do so as a unit. It "feels" different when you move your body initiating from the core, versus the legs or shoulders. I don't think I'm doing this technique justice and will have to see if I can find it and post it. But the idea is to teach awareness and integration of movement. I simply think that is not part of normal body training for most folks.

In watching my daughter, I think that body integration is something most of us have at birth, but we lose it somewhere along the way.....the awkwardness of puberty, perhaps? All I know is that my tiny little 19 month old can physically move an adult (not far, but still....) if she wants you to turn a certain direction or "pay attention!". She can do this because she instinctively plants her feet and torques her body from her hips outward....I watched her do this to her daddy once, and saw her plant her feet, saw her hip twitch and the ripple effect from there out to her arms..it was....fascinating.

I know that yoga,hula, belly dancing, and tai chi teach a body awareness that might be helpful. I think, as I've seen Bill mention, that some sports like soccer and baseball also teach that body awareness and core movement.

I think some dancing, like the bellydancing, that teach body isolation movements that then travel out and back along the body and teach independent simultaneous movements are also helpful.

How to translate all of that into karate training...I leave that to more experienced karateka than I...but I think awarenes, isolation, and then combination would be helpful.

Your thoughts?

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 2:14 pm 
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I like the potter example because it really highlights what I think is the problem. The potter says "whole body" you say "sanchin" he says "Yes." But what does he mean? What do you mean?

Shana,
I think that while your observations are important for the idea the feeling of the idea or principle. What I'm trying to focus this discussion on is the concrete. How did the potter learn to shape the pot with his whole body? It that the same "whole body" power used by a calligrapher? How do we get down from the 30,000 foot view of "whole body" and down to the 1 inch view?

This is the "transmission" issue I'm trying to figure out.
-------------------
I've been in person to see and watched a good deal of footage of Okinawan teachers hitting students in sanchin. Interestingly, when it isn't a testing situation (and often when it is) if the student is up-rooted by the hit then the Okinawan teacher keeps hitting the same place at the same level of power until the student figures out how to ground the hit. That's one (rather austere) way up the mountain but it is going to come at a price. How many people ground that hit by tensing things up that they then un-tense to hit or step? If sanchin should be "natural" then the quality of grounding is important - not just grounding something in any ole way. What I think unfortunate is when student has obviously been knocked off their root and the checker just starts pounding another limb as if that's going to fix the issue or teach the student something.)

Conversely, the quality of the power you generate is important, not just making power any ole way. (Yes, at the end of the day enough quantity of power will overwhelm a lesser amount of high-quality power -- but aren't we looking for the best/seeking what out teacher's sought?)

Another simple check: have someone stand in a crane stance (seian jump, posting after kick, etc.) and push forward on their knee and then pull forward at the knee. If they can't keep their balance and ground the push then they're bracing on their leg and not rooting as they would in Sanchin. Sure it might be a hard kick but without the grounding element how likely are they to fall over if they miss? How "dead" is their kicking stance vs the likely and dymanic and powerful stance we work so hard to develop in sanchin?

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 10:19 pm 
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I don't know the answers to those questions...but they are raising some interesting things for me to ponder and try...thanks for this discussion and I hope to see other more experienced folks come up with some answers...thank you!

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:11 am 
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Since I have never been to Okinawa and don’t speak the language. I am not really qualified to give an answer but I will anyway ;D

From Morio Higaonna;
Special Okinawan terminology;

Muchimi;
This is a movement preformed with a very thick and sticky, but flowing action.

Chiru ni chan chan
This is a type of muscular condition where the muscles are steel hard yet flexible and resilant

Shimeijurasan
This expression is used for a perfect performance of kata. (The ideal everyone strives for)

Chinkuchi kakin
This expression is used to describe the tension or stabilization of the joints of the body for a firm stance, a powerfull punch or strong block. For example, when punching or blocking, the joints of the body are momentarily locked for an instant and concentration is focused on the point of contact.
Thus, a rapid free-flowing movement is suddenly “checked” for an instant then tention is released immediately in order to prepare for the next movment.

Nujisashi
These are the slow moving relaxed movement of the kata.

I know I have a definition of Kime around somewhere but it would take me forever to find it. I have always thought kime only meant focus, and more of a mental thing than the physical act. But the mental focus will change the way the action is preformed.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:57 pm 
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Hi Dana,

You may find this article interesting.

http://www.hgweb.nl/isshinryu/articles/chinkuchi.htm

Charles was one of my original insructors and he was trained in Chinkuchi when he trained in Agena in the early 70's, while he was serving there in his USAF tour of dudy. Shimabuku Shinso (Isshinryu's founder's son) shared this training with him.

He wrote this article immediately after returning from Okinawa in the early 70's for himself.

Charles was the one who trained me for my sho-dan examination but returned to the USAF for a career shortly after my examination. He discussed Chinkuchi in deatail, but my training did not get to that level. Over the years he's demonstrated it to me but my own studies have not moved exactly in that direction.

With his permission I provided his article to the Original Isshinryu list serve in the late 80's and am amused how far it has traveled.

I hope it helps with your question.

Pleasantly,

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:25 pm 
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Thanks, Victor

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 3:18 am 
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I was asked to look at this before I left for vacation. I will make a point to read it all and try to take it in.

More later,
Vicki

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 3:49 am 
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Victor

Thanks for the article.

Alas it really didn't tell me anything new. There's obvious information (variable tension, proper breathing, mind), peppered with flowery language. In the end, it appears to be a celebration of the mystical.

I don't do mystical.

So sorry to be so.... Western. (Not really... ;))

The one thing these articles do is help me gain some perspective on what I'm doing. Sometimes when I see where I am and then look back at such language while squinting my eyes, it appears that we're more or less on the same path. And that's useful.

One advantage we have today is good competition (e.g. MMA) combined with good photography. The camera doesn't lie. Uncooperative opponents don't either.

One thing I find myself doing a LOT lately is teaching things I discovered by myself via a mix of MA cross-training, RBSD literature, and my systems physiology training. I constantly find myself reminding students that I wasn't taught what I'm showing them. But then again... I think that's useful. It shows them that they too can discover things that others didn't fathom.

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