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 Post subject: Tiger Training
PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 9:06 pm 
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So in Uechi I've noticed that there is a kind of arc to the sanchin training and I'm curious about what other people believe.

Initial training - no muscle tension - just form with the teacher pushing on the student to develop their balance and coordination
Tiger training - very hard sanchin with lots of internal and external muscle development - supplemented by jar training

Some would say that these are the only two levels of sanchin - that sanchin training must always be hard...in the sense that the entire body is worked and tensed while at the same time the teacher continues to push on the student to build their balance and coordination as well as checking for places where the student could enhance this development. Narahiro Shinjo embodies this kind of sanchin in my mind.

And then there seems to be a third sanchin - one that is encouraged after many years of hard tiger training where the student is asked to maintain the same quantitative values of the stance (lots of power, great balance) but with much less visible external muscle tension.

thoughts?

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 3:05 pm 
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I am not at the level to address this but I may have seen this third type.

In Gushi Sensei's videos he has two students, one who I believe is his son and another, I believe his name is Makoto Fukumoto. He shows no prepping or tensing in any of his demonstrations of sanchin, sanchin testing (breaking boards on his abdomen, etc.) etc.

It's like a walk in the park for him.

http://www.dragon-tsunami.org/Tsunami/Pages/section5.htm

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 7:00 pm 
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As I'm getting older and wiser (??), I'm coming to my own comfort level with what all this is. Among other things, I'm getting more and more comfortable with the fact that my Sanchin no longer looks like what a lot of people are doing (in subtle ways), and I'm finding my own ways to achieve on a path.

Among other things, I have come to a broader definition of what pangainoon means. I see it as a metaphor for opposites in a style, and the ability to produce that contrast. It's sort of like looking for the ultimate HDTV monitor by comparing the contrast ratios (among other stats). The higher the contrast ratio, the better.

To me, pangainoon means a little of this and a little of that. I'm spending time getting one set of muscles firm, while making the others relaxed. I try to avoid the cross-talk. Yin merges into yang in the symbol, but there is no gray. There is only black and white.

Hard means nothing without soft. Tense means nothing without relaxation. Without some selective relaxation, we can't move very fast. Without some selective tension, we don't have the structure needed to transfer energy through the body.

Early, baby Sanchins (to me) are about tensing everything. It makes us feel strong. But it also makes us stiff and immobile. We can't do jack if we can't move. And early, baby Sanchins are about wasting a lot of energy. We're supposed to use what energy we can generate judiciously. We get better at that over time even and especially after we've peaked physically and our energy production begins to wane.

We also learn judicious use of that energy and tension. Rather than stand in the path of oncoming energy, we use as little as possible to get off the line of energy, or learn how to tap into it and use it against the opponent. We learn how to concentrate it in our extremities as well as learn where and how to apply it to achieve a "force multiplier" effect.

The cats I see fight do so with the smoothest of movement. They are efficient beasts in many ways.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 1:45 am 
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I don't feel there are different Sanchins. There should be different qualities in each of the main three Kata. I haven't seen Narahiro do his Kata, but his brother looks like a jungle cat during his Sanseiryu. Mochi Tenguua.

F.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 11:59 am 
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Tiger Training - as I understand it - is basically a body/mind building exercise - from the outside in and the inside out.

It helps the student find and find the limits of control of all aspects of their anatomy and mind. I don't believe it is wasteful. I believe it can be counterproductive if the student is led to believe that this kind of training is applied in the same way when fighting. That's going to set up a whole host of problems.

Facial expressions and teeth grinding aside - the body hardening of Uechi-ryu is something that is taken very seriously by every senior Okinawan teacher I have met. And a big part of that body hardening is contained in sanchin practice.

Something that my cats do is extend their limbs out to their very limit and then tense them and pull them back through their range of motion. They are very brief moments of something that is very similar to hard sanchin training. A major difference between the cats and Uechi sanchin is the sustained duration of sanchin over a period of minutes instead of seconds.

So three hard sanchins a day plus at least one pass at jar training with jars that get a little heavier each day. And that, as I understand it, was considered a baseline for development. I'm not talking about what you're asking a 20 year practitioner to do - I'm talking about Uechi-ryu's approach to developing a person from the beginning.

That third sanchin I talk about above is what I believe happens with a great deal of good, consistent practice. At a certain point the student starts to learn what is needed to maintain their balance and strength throughout the form and discards what is not needed.

At this point, I don't believe a student can start in the middle. I think the progression is important.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 4:01 am 
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Sometimes I need to sit and listen to you for a while, Dana, before I find out we are in agreement. We just have different languages.

My dog does the same kind of stretch thing that your cat does. I've had cats before I got the cat allergies, so I understand what you're talking about. As you know, he's a Ridgeback and still very young. Right now he's too wild to be let run around the house. So he mostly stays in his pen, and then gets lots of long walks and some play with me.

When I first let him out of the pen, he doesn't want to go on the leash and go out - yet. First there is the ritual flying kisses from the excitement of getting out. Never seen another breed do that... Then he goes through that dynamic tension and range of motion stuff. I have to wait for him to finish before he'll cooperate and sit long enough for me to get the leash on. Then he's good to go.

And boy can he go!

Resistance training is resistance training. Uechika have a different spin on it because they need to have brutally strong tiger hands while doing basic things like stepping, sliding, shifting, and turning. Truth be told, I think they developed this kind of training because the rice jars were there. Had they seen folks doing classic Olympic lifts like power cleans or clean-and-jerk exercises, they might have instead latched on to those (pun intended). The jars however do have that wonderful ability to get your hand in that powerful, functional boshiken shape. There isn't anything quite like it.

Anyhow, carry on, Dana! 8)

- Bill


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 11:20 am 
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So a short duration is for warm-up. First your dog does plyometrics and then he does full range of motion dynamic stretches.

Longer duration plus sustained intensity of the same kind of movements is for development. I think the grip improvement is just one of many things that develop out of the tiger sanchin training with or without jars.

Adding a stone to my own jars I feel (over time) the additional weight pulling on feet, my legs, my core, and right up to the top of my head. Keeping them in the proper position slightly in front of my body I feel it up my abs and down my back. But I try very hard to not stiffen against the weight - but just keep my muscles and everything else feeling like they do when they're at the end of their range in motion - they're just not moving very much and they're not actually at the end of their range of motion. But that's the best way I can think to describe the feeling. And daily practice feels like it pushes that horizon of that edge further and further out. And above all I don't want to lose my connection to the ground in that process.

The jars really sort of simplify sanchin and exaggerate the training. Take the jars away and you're left to create those dynamic connections on your own without the benefit of the load. However, I think many people (including myself) try to recreate the feeling of the jars by stiffening their muscles overmuch -- in part because it feels good to "feel strong." What I think we're supposed to be doing instead is to use the principles of the jar training and the memory of that feeling we get from using the jars to help connect the whole body to itself and to the ground.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:02 pm 
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You're absolutely right, Dana.

I have a bunch of custom-made jars (kami) which I had made for me and for the dojo. But they were so expensive and so breakable that I find it difficult to bring them into a gym where the idiots kick the bags with cleats and slip training mats out the side door. Thus the Olympic lifts seem to do the job for me. All the other standards like bench, squat, walking lunges, etc. are variations on the theme of learning efficient body mechanics.

You're right that we try to reproduce those realistic feelings when we move and thrust at air molecules. For example in Seisan where you do the thrust, shoken grab, and turn, I have my people do internal resistance (dynamic tension) to simulate the external resistance of grabbing a body and trying to move it. Creative dragon breathing is the icing on that simulation cake. Meanwhile I want to slap people who do that movement quickly. It defies the laws of physics and physiology when they try to do it as if performing a no-load movement.

I've always advocated traditional freeweight training for my students. When it comes test time, you can see the people whose bodies "get it" and those that don't. I guess it's a bit like a woman trying to describe what it's like having a baby when she's a virgin and she's never seen a live birth. There's no reference frame for the simulation. A performance onstage wouldn't be very convincing.

This is another reason why many of the old-school Chinese stylists would have people do weapon forms along with the empty-hand forms. In addition to opening the mind with respect to the myriad applications of simple human movements, it also provides a load against which to work the body. Again... you can usually spot the people who've done it and those who haven't.

I think a real key here is connecting the periphery to the core. So much of Robot Ryu Uechi comes I believe from people who work their body in silos, and not as whole units with parts that work synergistically. All the hand squeeze thingies in the world aren't going to teach you how to hit with a hard shoken while relaxing the arm enough to throw that thing out like a bullet. They don't teach you how to grab someone's flesh with your boshiken and manipulate them with the large muscle groups in your core. All the parts have to learn how to communicate with each other. The body needs to behave like a well-rehearsed orchestra rather than as a bunch of independent soloists.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 12:46 pm 
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Quote:
Meanwhile I want to slap people who do that movement quickly. It defies the laws of physics and physiology when they try to do it as if performing a no-load movement


Hmmm...don't slap me yet but...:)

Sometimes you move the mountain, and sometimes you move around it. Actually the stepping in the Seichin version shows this better for me - but at times they're just too big...so I'm the one makes the larger circle and they make the smaller circle in place (they pivot). But the end result is still them between me and whatever was coming

So, by using the push pull principal and putting my body weight into the movement I do snap this movement quickly because I don't have any time to lose before their weight is going to settle back down after the initial hit that disrupts their balance. The pivot must happen in an instant if I've going to pull it off because I can't actually bear that much weight for that long without my structure collapsing.

Back to the main theme of the thread - the jars can be used to add load to every stance transition. I was shown a simple but wonderful exercise where you hold the jars as usual - but you flow through all the turns and stances and steps in your repertoire as seamlessly as you can in no particular order. So go from a low stance to a turn to a cat to a slide to a whatever and keep it up for a few minutes. The load shows you when you disconnect your core from your legs pretty well in part because the load is out in front a little. You can do the same thing with a weight vest but it isn't as demanding on your whole body coordination.

And I always want to throw in the reminder that when you train with a load....go slow! No hajiki with da jars.

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