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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 11:16 pm 
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This topic came up once again at camp. I received some very candid comments from Uechi teachers who tell me they are concerned, seriously concerned about how and when they can touch women and girls in their schools.

The culture of litigation and rampant fear of pedophiles and any possible perception of sexual harassment has thrown a strange spotlight on how you touch someone who is just standing there.

We've had threads on this in the past - but that was a few years ago. I would like to hear from anyone who is willing to share on how they do this today, if it is different than what they used to do - say 5 or 10 years ago, and how much of a concern this is in the dojo.

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Last edited by Dana Sheets on Fri Dec 22, 2006 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Sanchin Test
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2006 3:09 pm 
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Hello Dana.

I have seen this issue pop up now and again. It seems to me the mind set of women have changed over time. When I started to teach classes at the old Mattson Academy - Boston in the late 1960’s and into the 70’s. There were not a lot of women in the dojo at that time. However, the ones that were there. Wanted to be treated the same as the men. They said, test me the same way you would test a man of my size and weight. So that is what we all (Instructors), did. No one was ever hurt or complained that I know of.

Then we hit the 1980’s. I opened my first dojo around 1984. I noticed a difference in the attitudes of the women in my class. Most said they wanted to be treated as equally as men. However, when it came to the Sanchin test. Many of the new women said I was hitting to hard. So I eased up and tested very softly. I was testing the new women the exact same way I tested the other women back at the old dojo. But this new group of women said it was too hard. Many told me that, we are women and are built differently then men, so we should be tested differently then men. Maybe it was the times, or maybe it was the area I had my dojo in. My dojo was based in the suburbs of Boston, not in the city. After a number of years passed. The building I was in was sold and I had to find a new location.

After a while searching, around 1991. I was offered to teach the karate program at the University of Massachusetts – Boston Campus. I taught at U/Mass Boston for the next 10 years. I stopped teaching the program in 2001. I turned the program over to one of my advanced students, who ran it until 2004. For the 10 years I taught at U/Mass, I must have had over 500 female students come and go. Some stayed and earned there black belts, others did not. However, for the entire time I taught at U/Mass never once did I have any female student come to me or complain about the Sanchin test. I tested all the women at U/Mass the exact same way as I tested the men.

The severity and hardness of the test for both men and women were based on a number of factors, not just height, weight, rank and personal ability. However I noticed a trend. When I taught women from the city (Boston), the women wanted to be treated as equals in every way, even in Sanchin testing and sparring. But, when I had my dojo in the suburbs of Boston. The women seemed to pick and choose what level of equality they wanted to exercise at that time.

Do you think there is a pattern here, between city and suburbs?

Take care – Jay

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 10:24 pm 
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Hi Jay,
I think there's a wide range of difference anywhere. What can happen is that one group can decide that something is too risky and not want to embrace that part of the training. I've found that sometimes a student who is wary of a particular aspect of training will warm to it over time.

City vs Suburbs...I have no idea. But I do think the mindset of a student who just wants a karate-themed exercise class vs the mindset of a student who does the training to help their self-defense will be different.

I had a conversation with a woman last night and described our training and that it did include body condition and contact. Her response was to say "Good, I mean, I want a work out but I also want to be able to kick a$$." I'd say she has the mindset of about 10% of the people who check out our dojo.

Most come for personal improvement at a physical level and a desire to improve their concentration and focus. And then there's a small group that comes just to fight, another small group that comes to build physical coordination and doesn't care one bit if they ever fight or not. We've got quite a mix.

.....

However what has recently come to my attention are instructors that no longer touch women in Sanchin. They fear liability issues. I don't believe you can teach a person sanchin without touching them. I do think there are things that don't need to be done - the double butt cheek slap leaps to mind- but I simply can't imagine teachign someone sanchin without ever touching them.

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 Post subject: touchy subject (no pun)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 12:24 am 
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Younger students I see no need to test sanchin by touch as little in way to gain as they are at a stage where visual is fine. If so Mom and or Dad should be present.

Adult females the testing by touch same as males and any gentle touch followed by a harder touch such as kick to thighs. Therefore, no misinterpretation of my intent.
Explain the reason for touch testing be it soft or harder.
It is a potential position of "power" when testing and it`s best left for instructors with good intention (unfortunately every organization has bad apples that abuse position of authority).
Hopefully and fortunately most women can sense the difference and feel comfortable in being tested.

Quote:
the double butt cheek slap leaps to mind

Yep...side of upper legs likely better target. I personally would not want my rear slapped in class and certainly would not get away with it at home 8O

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2006 8:43 pm 
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There's been discussion in the past as to the various purposes of Sanchin shime or kitae:
hitting/kicking to bring student's awareness to certain parts of their body
hitting/kicking to foster spirit and concentration
hitting/kicking for demonstration for audience members

and the many other methods besides hitting:
touching cavities to feel for focus in tendons
touching the muscles to feel for focus
pressing on the student to feel how the force is re-directed through the stance
positioning student's arms, legs, and torso to create an efficient stance and posture

As one very senior Uechi teacher asked at a recent training:
What are you doing when you're hitting the man in the stomach?

There was a quite a long pause before answers were given...
.
.
.
There has also been discussion that striking certain points on the body will release unnecessary tension to help create fluid and explosive movements.

I would add, as I have before, that for many women -- sanchin kitae may be a way to introduce them to being hit without the hitting being a form of punishment. As long as it is introduced and performed based on the student's individual needs and progress.
.
.
.
From my early days of training I can remember how fast my heart would beat as my teacher pounded on the upper ranks -both men and women - and how nervous I was that the pounding would also be my own fate - but it wasn't...until I was ready for that aspect of the training at that level.

I've met many, many Uechi-ka of every stripe that have been hit too hard too early. Their stances deformed by their attempts to withstand blows beyond what they are ready to absorb. Their faces strained and pained as they await what can only be called a strange form of punishment.

And I've also met many Uechi-ka that have had their minds and bodies improved through the same training.

Because sanchin is so essential to our training I sort of wonder if for teachers and teaching ranks we could see a teacher examine 3 student's sanchin of various abilities and explain what they are doing while they are doing it. We seem to be more focused on an individual's skill in real-time performance but not in real-time pedagogy.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 10:24 pm 
Thing to remember is that a lot of this stuff is second hand information :roll: .I mean Kanei was supposed to have learned herbs and such in China, how much of that knowledge was preserved. Most Chinese styles use "Jow" to harden their hands, yet surprisingly Uechi doesn't :roll:
so some knowledge must have been lost.

I was talking to my sifu and he told me that when his teacher was learning Qi-Kong from an old lady in China ( she lived to be 104).she said to him "you think you are tough young man?" and asked him to hit her, he refused but she insisted, when he raised his arm she struck it lightly and paralysed it 8) ...aparently chinese believe that there are lines of Qi flowing through the body when these become blocked then illness occurs.so they use needles to unblock them, but in Qi-Kong they massage the areas to make you healthy.
sifu has shown me some of this, and I have no reason to doubt him :)
He once punched me when in Sanchin stance ( WC version, pretty much the same :wink: ) the blow couldn't get passed my elbow because of correct postioning.he then asked where the Qi had gone.and I understood what he meant.point that I'm making is don't get a Qi-kung master to test your Sanchin :lol: .and whose to say that some idiot whacking away may really hit something that they shouldn't :roll:


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:01 pm 
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Dana Sheets wrote:
This topic came up once again at camp. I received some very candid comments from Uechi teachers who tell me they are concerned, seriously concerned about how and when they can touch women and girls in their schools.



Sanchin is our first kata what the new student usually starts to learn. We consider Sanchin the root of our style and all of our other kata are derived from it.
Also blackbelt tests are based on Sanchin.
If Sanchin is requirement of blackbelt test why students have to study as the first kata?
Sanchin is focus on breathing, muscular tension, self-control.
Is the practice and test of Sanchin not harmful to a beginner?
I suppose before I learned the right technique of breathing, muscular tension, testing was very painful. I agree that practice of Sanchin is necessary to the karateka in reaching there full potential but testing should start from advanced students.

Touching my body:

Because touching has negative associations, we easily misunderstand
even an innocent handshake.
It's very important to both, Instructor and student
to make differences between task-related and nontask-related touching.

To avoid misunderstandings better you explain to your students that there are
certain tests needs to be done and why.

/Ps: I'm a student./

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 12:45 pm 
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Hi Eva,

Welcome to the forum and thanks for writing and sharing your thoughts.

I'm curious to know if there are other women training in your dojo? We have about 1/3 women in our dojo when everyone remembers to show up

You mentioned that the sanchin testing was painful for you but now, it is better - what do you think changed?

Happy training,
Dana

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:57 pm 
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Dana Sheets wrote:
I'm curious to know if there are other women training in your dojo?
You mentioned that the sanchin testing was painful for you but now, it is better - what do you think changed?


Hi Dana,

Yes, there are 2 other women training in our dojo. One of my instructor is a woman.

Why Sanchin test was painful at the beginning?

I suppose there must be two reasons for. First of all I just didn't have that so called "iron body". :) Still not... :)
Second is mental development to stand pain.
Mostly when people start doing karate they have weak muscles, poor posture and wrong breathing habits.
So there is much to do to shape up your body.

And what changed?
I had to work hard to improve my body condition, develop good muscles.
And also needed time for mental development to stand pain.
The biggest challenge was to overcome fear of being hurted.

I believe to learn breathing properly it helped me also to reduce pain.
My teachers are warning us many times: "don’t forget to breath"
and it is really a big key to bringing together all elements of Sanchin.
What I found the most difficult was to learn how to coordinate my movements with the breath. Breathing properly also will help you to find the natural rhythm to do the exercises.


So I’m growing slowly but steadily ... :)

Have a nice time!

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2006 12:12 am 
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Over my time in training I think I've redefined the concept of "pain" a few times.

At first, anything that was new and different was painful.

Now there are time when I am hit quite hard but it does not register as pain...just as contact.

And there are still times (e.g. when I clash shins with a much heavier partner) that pain is indeed what I feel.

However one thing I've also noticed is that some students, when hit hard too early - will warp their sanchin and their body in ways that allow them to receive the hits that are being dished out - but actually don't represent the principles of body coordination and movement present during the rest of the kata.

So I've seen students that actually have three sanchins.
One sanchin for the start and end of the test when they get hit the most.
One sanchin for the hits that come during the kata
One sanchin for when they know they will not be hit.

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