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 Post subject: Severe Sanchin Testing
PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2011 10:01 pm 
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I started this on another thread about breaking "real wood." After putting some time and thought into it, I realized that a fairly decent and potentially controversial discussion was buried in some silliness about karate boys being boys. So with that in mind, I extracted the text and am posting it below.

Back in the early days of Kanbun's and Kanei's style, teachers didn't beat the snot out of their students while they performed Sanchin. Examining and testing Sanchin was and remains an important part of Kanbun's style. Beating on students is a new thing. George Mattson has a theory about the origins of this. By his observations over time, the severe testing started in demonstrations which were designed to show the toughness of the Uechika who had gone through years of iron shirt training. Now with things like board breaking, most students know that this isn't a part of karate training. But with the Sanchin beatings, "testing" has evolved to something that it never was in the old days.

There are also stories about a certain karate instructor who liked to beat on Americans because (by his account) Americans like that and expect it. You know... it's the Hollywood American thing. Or maybe not.

Severe Sanchin testing has gone from demo to classroom activity (for some) in a way that isn't useful. It isn't necessary to be beating on people doing their kata to help build their bodies and their confidence. In fact... in my opinion such activity is potentially dangerously counterproductive

  • It trains the student not to give back that which is given. Unless we're talking about a girlfriend going loco, that's not a good thing.
    .
  • It trains the student to think that taking a hit - particularly without responding - is a good thing. It is never good to take a hit if you don't have to. The best fight is the one never fought; the best hit is the one never received.
    .
  • If we go outside the domain of empty-hand fighting, then it's dangerously counterproductive. When facing a weapon, taking a hit is asking to meet your maker.

The teacher's job is to work on Sanchin structure and function, and not to be engaged in a one-way conditioning drill. Some Sanchin "testing" is appropriate. And it's perfectly fine to work on a student's ability to perform kata in the presence of a little bit of manufactured chaos.

In my opinion, the back-and-forth of Uechi partner exercises (e.g. kotekitae, ashikitae) is a much better venue for conditioning. It creates a better psychological framework for the student, and can be done in a way that makes sense (e.g. to immunize ourselves against injury when doing partner exercises). Later on when something like Filipino knife work is layered on to the Uechi structure, the partner appropriately presents a very different paradigm.

Comments and alternate opinions welcome.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2011 2:27 am 
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Hello Bill. I'm not near qualified to talk about teaching methods as such but I will offer my personal feeling. One of the first things that drew me to Uechi Ryu was the students ability "take a punch" so to speak. And my instructors and sempei's almost always brought me along at a pace where I didn't experience any adverse effects. I have "never" been struck and injured during a sanching check. I grew to believe that "all was in Sanchin" and took that to heart. So, with that in mind, for me I needed to see my sanchin "strength" improve. Had my instructors not elevated the force with which they struck certain areas then I don't believe my confidence in sanchin would have increased. Say for instance my instructors always hit me with no more than a firm strike (different for each I realize) then when I got into a real conflict and full force blows were being thrown (and landed) then I might not have had the confidence in my training and what I felt I could take. I'm not advocating full force strikes. And I realize that demonstrations are a different animal with a different response desired from a crowd. I can tell you that in real life situations (I worked in a jail setting for 27 years), where I was prevented many times from striking offensively, my Uechi allowed me to absorb strikes while giving me time to perform restraining techniques that I wouldn't normally have been able to do. It wasn't like I was taught not to dish it out, in my case I couldn't legally so Uechi conditioning allowed me to get the upper hand using those restraining techniques. I think the real challenge is for the good teacher to know their student so well that they can strike with enough force to challenge the students physical and mental resolve but not injure them. I've been blessed with instructors who knew my limits and, while they challenged me to get stronger, never overdid it.

Not sure if that was a proper response but that's my story and I'm stickin' too it. LOL

Steve


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2011 3:19 am 
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I think it was said perfectly Steve.. And I think your training is just where it should be.. I am not opposed to the occasional breaking of wood either.. My point was either lost in the last post or Bill explained it very well with his response about being focused on the hand rather than seeing the moon..My original post was more about what sort of ego it takes to have to post for the public that the person I was speaking of has to think that he needs to explain to the World that he can break "Real Wood" as if the rest of the World only breaks "Fake Wood".
That being said, I think that Bill brings up a very good point about instructors that just want to beat people up to impress.. I know that Sensei Potrekus, George, and the rest od the guys that you trai9n with are way beyond that type of mindset.. Unfortunatly there are some "Instructors" out there that believe that beating a person in a set position does the same thing as throwing propoganda out and around that they actually break real wood.. Smoke and miroors!! And I mean their words not the break itself.. It really isn't hard to break wood.. It takes concentration, focus, conditioning, and just really knowing that you can.. But should by no means be held up as the "test of a real Karate Ka".. I think the real test of a Karate Ka is keeping a open mind and Ego in check..I speak to Rick Sensei at least once a week usually and always learn something new..Just from conversation.. During my lifetime I have seen Uechi Ryu nearly torn into oblivion by nothing more than different view points and Egos than I care to elaborate on.. But the honest truth is that at the end of the day, I think it's been torn apart by what I think Bill is trying to get to here.. They have a larger value in impressing themselves, other people and even a little padding of ttheir wallets by Over severely testing their students than training them..To me it just shows a lack of understanding!! No one gains from it.. It is short sided.. A lose/lose..
Correct me if I didn't get where you were coming from correctly Bill Sama..

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2011 5:44 am 
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Stevie B wrote:
Correct me if I didn't get where you were coming from correctly Bill Sama..

I wouldn't presume to "correct" you when you're expressing a heartfelt opinion.

I *did* want to separate this from the discussion about breaking "real wood." You know and I know that the proclamation was patently silly. How one performs Sanchin "testing" however is another matter altogether.

In your own way, Stevie, you always manage to express yourself in a way that we all understand. It's a pleasure to hear from you.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2011 5:50 am 
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Steve Hatfield wrote:
Not sure if that was a proper response but that's my story and I'm stickin' too it. LOL

Steve

Sounds good to me, Steve. And coming from someone who's a professional, it means a lot.

Yep... you added to my point above.

Bill Glasheen wrote:
  • It trains the student not to give back that which is given. Unless we're talking about a girlfriend going loco, that's not a good thing.

Add law enforcement situations to the list of "can't hit back" scenarios. In fact you're in a lot safer territory if you just pull your piece and shoot the bastard. Go figure... That's how much we've defanged our law enforcement communities. In many places a LEO can't even do a lateral vascular neck restraint (a.k.a. blood choke).

One question, Steve. What is it that you gain from your teacher striking you in Sanchin that you can't get from working with a partner in arm, leg, and body conditioning? I realize I could probably answer that for you, but I'd like to get your take on the advantages and disadvantages of each training scenario.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2011 3:24 pm 
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Good conversation and so many ways to look at this, all very well presented here.

I also believe that some 'solid checking/probing' is useful in sanchin by the teacher but no more than that.

Nakahodo sensei, as an example, is all he does very effectively, yet producing excellent all around students. Tommy san always did the same when training with him in Boston. Wonder why that is??

I am with Bill in teaching 'proper conditioning' as a two way exchange 'laced' with 'surprise hits' to parts of the body a student cannot always anticipate.

And, personally, in lots of free style activity that must include tournament experience against other styles, and incoming blows from varied trajectories.

In many public demos, we did over the years, I recall spectators questioning the value of the 'conditioning' …mental and physical…as we usually explained it, to justify the 'body beatings' they were witnessing.

They would ask: why don't you then condition to take punches to the face?

Well…the pretty much 'stock answer' from the sensei was that in the Uechi system we rely on our wauke to handle any incoming hits to the face, kicks or punches, something that is/should be 100% effective…thus no reason to take hits to the face.

And the dream moves on… :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:14 pm 
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Van

Happy holidays, my good friend!

Van Canna wrote:
They would ask: why don't you then condition to take punches to the face?

Don't you just hate those annoying questions which probe the truth? I mean really... :lol:

Therein lies a thought which puts the Uechi version of Iron Shirt training in perspective.

  • It helps, but it isn't the be-all, end-all of surviving an encounter.
    .
  • IMO it's less about taking a shot and more about tempering the weapons which will be in the thick of the chaos of kinetic energy.
    .
  • Most importantly, it provides us with more injury-free days of training in the dojo. More good training means a better fighter.

I will however admit to indulging in the "magic shows" in my day. Halftimes of college basketball games were my favorite. There's nothing like the groaning of over 10,000 which you get when someone lifts a kick up between your legs while in Sanchin. Heck... even Ali ran around with a Voodoo Witch Doctor before facing Foreman. In such a demo, there's a fine line between "it's functional" and "I'm deceiving." And I'm not always obligated to tell the whole truth you know... ;)

- Bill


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:50 pm 
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Bill Glasheen wrote:
Van
Therein lies a thought which puts the Uechi version of Iron Shirt training in perspective.

  • It helps, but it isn't the be-all, end-all of surviving an encounter.
    .
  • IMO it's less about taking a shot and more about tempering the weapons which will be in the thick of the chaos of kinetic energy.
    .
  • Most importantly, it provides us with more injury-free days of training in the dojo. More good training means a better fighter.


Most of it is pretty inexpensive to do, as well, both in terms of time and materials, being more a matter of discipline to do it regularly. I'm just saying that it's not like we have to justify buying a B2 bomber here. It helps at least a little, and it's cheap.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:43 am 
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I think that Sanchin has a more functionallity than just taking the hit.. It is more important to think about perfect composier and focus after a hard(or what ever level strike) Then balance..Spirit, Zen, Control... Just the ability emotionally to take a licking and keep on ticking!!! But, that is a slow build up.. Not to just beat the crap out of someone, but to slowly test them. I allow my Shidoin only to push and touch.. Never to strike except in the drills of Kotekatai and Ashikatai as Bill described as it's my responsibility to keep them safe.
As for Demos I still think they still have a place..They are a good place to test our skills that we work on in a non violent and positive manner if done correctly.. Also a good place to get past the "stage fright" that I'm sure Van will attest is the first complication in a self defense situation...( To a degree anyways) and that is 1 reason that we practiced Tamashiwari.. To get a WOW out of the crowd?YES! But also for the student to learn that he/she can bring their attention span and focus to that level in stessful situations..Very good thread Bill!! Good conversation! :D

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:20 am 
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All very excellent points.

Happy New year back to you, Bill :D

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:17 am 
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Bill,
Here's something of interest from the TFT group.

http://www.targetfocustraining.com/conditioning-hit

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2011 4:13 pm 
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Van Canna wrote:
Bill,
Here's something of interest from the TFT group.

Thanks, Van. That's an interesting and well-written article.

It all comes down to this.

Chris Ranck-Buhr wrote:
Pain in the absence of debilitating injury is really just asking the other person to capitulate.

There's a certain amount of pain associated just with mixing it up. Understanding that which can and should be ignored vs. that which can't is key. Being able to work through non-debilitating pain is vital.

Choosing to ignore debilitating pain - or the potential of it - is just as dangerous.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:40 pm 
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I think conditioning is mostly useful for surviving training, not gang banging. Having had the crap kicked out of me on a few occasions outside of class, including some boots while I was on the ground, I can say -- without meaning to sound tough -- that it didn't hurt a single bit. Evolution already took care of that for us, what with adrenaline and such. I've heard people say that getting shot or stabbed doesn't hurt.

On the other hand, if you're sparring hard, you get banged up pretty quickly if you aren't used to getting hit a bit. And so much of that is not standing there getting wailed on while hissing. It's having strong muscles, it's compacting your intestines without using muscle to "fight" the blow, it's breakfalling, it's "riding" kicks through the air, it's rolling with the punches, yada yada yada. Then you get to spar or even just train vigorously more often.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 1:18 am 
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Thanks for your thoughts on the matter, TSDguy. It's amazing how much we agree on the matter.

As for surviving "gangbanging"... Rory Miller talks a bit about this in his writings. He of course is the real deal, having actually applied his martial arts many times in prisons while working with very bad people. We can all talk theory and pump our chests in the safe confines of a dojo. But learning to function when it counts is another story altogether. I believe some people like Rory brought a great gift to his job. However he also put in many years of physical and academic work.

Mindset is key here - something Van talks a lot about. There's a passage in one of Rory's books where he talks about putting being hit (by a bad guy) in perspective.

I've been hit harder than that before. Hell... my WIFE has hit me harder than that!

I think the important thing which Rory articulates so well is not to get stuck in an OODA loop.* Freezing is deadly. Taking the initiative (short-circuiting the loop) and turning the tables (putting THEM in an OODA loop) seems to be the best solution. Being able to do that when it counts? Ahh... that's the key! 8)

- Bill

* Observe, Orient, Decide, Act


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:00 pm 
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I also agree with TSD guy.

'Surviving the training' is a good way to put it_ especially if one is training to spar taking full body blows and if anticipating open tournaments fighting…the kind that will expose the fighter to diverse styles and techniques.

We have all seen great fighters 'fold' when struck hard by, just as one example, a spinning back kick landing squarely in the gut or chest.

I still remember the great Taro Tanaka who visited the Boston Mattson Academy in the sixties, as an 'exchange student' from Japan …tournament and street fighter 'extraordinaire' from the Japanese Goju-Ryu style, George had met in Japan and invited over.

They were two….Moto and Taro. They were so good that at the NY All American tournament sponsored by Henry Cho…they advanced to the quarter finals against Joe Lewis and Chuck Norris.

People today really have no idea of how beastly those tournaments could be in the old days.

As Good as they were, they were no match for the beastly power kicks of Lewis and Norris.

Moto Yamakura was floored a number of times, very painfully, by Norris' lightning kicks and had to quit.

Taro was taken out by Lewis' side kick.

Additionally, Taro, once up against Walter Mattson in a Rhode Island tournament, was slammed violently out of the ring by the flying spinning back kicks of Walter impacting in the middle of his chest.

Fortunately they were both well conditioned or serious injuries could have resulted.

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