Just finished my Uechi-ryu workout and thought to offer another one of my after-workout ranting. This time a few comments on Sanchin. I thought I would use this thread instead of starting a new one.
Some of my workout buddies from way back would never believe that one day I would come to this. My old slam-bang-head-breaking mentality is gone. I have come to appreciate more and more the concept of Sanchin, and the concept of Pangai-Noon.
I do not perform my katas with lighting speed and full power throughout any more. Those same old buddies might say "Yeah Henry, you just don't have the speed and power anymore"-- or "you just can't keep your body rock hard or take those poundings anymore". They are right, I never could anyway. I have also long passed the full-of-pi##-and-vinegar stage. But I would also add maturity and increased understanding of the art as the main reasons. What took me this long?
Please bear with me---
Uechi-ryu came from Chinese Kungfu. We all know that.
There are three main Kungfu concepts: Soft, hard, and half-hard-half soft. It is also in George's books.
Pangai-Noon, as we all know (right?) means half hard half soft. It is the basic concept of our style. Those young tough dudes doing sanchin and other Uechi katas with full power and maintaining hard as a rock throughout and totally ignoring the concept are doing something else.
Before I talk about Sanchin, let me mention that Chi Kung (or Qigong) is an inherent part of a lot of the Kung Fu systems. Hung-Ga (it is a hard style, by the way) for example, begin all their major forms (katas), the ones that I learned anyway, with some Chi Kung movements. We do the same with the Sanchin hand movements at the beginning of Seisan. (For those who wish to learn more about Chi Kung, check out Yang Jawing-Ming's books such as Chi Kung Health & Martial Arts, and if you want to get fancy, The Root of Chinese Chi Kung are good references. I don't know him. He seems very knowledgeable but just don't believe everything you read though. Some stuff is probably more than hundreds years old and was probably dreamed up by the monks high on weeds when they still believe the earth was flat.)
OK, Sanchin (in my opinion) is more of a Chi Kung exercise than anything. It is not a fighting kata as some claim. (I said it is my opinion!) And speaking of over analyzing movements as I saw on some videos, at the risk of digressing let me simply say that a bow is just a bow, it is not a head butt. A close-gate position is similar in meaning to a bow and that's that, they are not meant for attacking. Of course you can use them as head butts and strikes but those interpretations are just inappropriate. Those Japanese and Chinese people bowing and close-gating to each other all over the place are not preparing to attack each other, they are showing courtesy and respect, nothing more (Well, may be a little more with the close-gate gesture-- at one time it was supposed to identify themselves to their own secret society. Check history of the Ming Dynasty I think, on the origin of the close-gate hand gesture if interested).
Sorry, difficult not to digress. That being said, the close-gate hand gesture after performing katas is no more than showing respect after a performance. Maintaining rock-hard position or pounding on someone's close-gate position after a performance is not demonstrating what it is supposed to be.
Some people believe that Sanchin is part of the old Iron-shirt training, it may or may not be but, you know what? They thought they could stop bullets doing that iron-shirt training too and you don't believe that do you? (Google the relevant Chinese history prior to the Boxers Rebellion, if interested.)
And why would anyone want to train Iron-shirt in the Year 2000+? Are they crazy? Yea, train to be able to take a few punches here and there is one thing, but pounding the hell out of someone thinking that it is proper training is something else. Do professional boxers stand still and let their training partners pound the hell out of them repeatedly for training?
I studied Northern Shaolin Chi Kung a bit when I was younger. Although some very minor self-pounding on the body during Chi Kung practice is involved in the style, breathing and concentration are the most important aspects. The self poundings were meant more to spread the Chi (let's not argue whether it exists) and the poundings were relatively soft and nowhere even close to as hard as some of those tough dudes do unto others, probably for reasons they don't even know of.
As I get older and spending more years doing Uechi-ryu, I am appreciating Sanchin more and more-- the breathing, the concentration, the Pangai-Noon concept, the Chi Kung concept. But keep those pounding tough dudes away from me.
If Sanchin is not learned and practiced following the Pangai-Noon concept and breath with something close to Chi Kung style breathing, the rest of the Uechi-ryu practice may very well be off. And if all other Uechi-ryu katas are practiced with full power and hard as a rock throughout the katas, it is just tough guy stuff, it is not in accordance with the Pangai-Noon concept.