Sanchin Checks on a Woman
Date: 23 Aug 1998
Remote Name: 188.8.131.52
Hello all! I wanted to toss out a subject that quite a few people have kind of skirted around with me for a few years - how to best check a woman's sanchin.
Now, let me preface this by stating that I feel that women and men should and can be treated the same in the dojo, IN MOST RESPECTS. There are some significant differences that can be addressed. For one, all you guys out there have sustained numerous hits to the chest and pectoral region. So have I and it is NOT pleasant - actually, there are serious health concerns for women getting struck in the breast - so it is an area to be avoided at all costs; it is impossible to condition that area after all! Let me state right now that I am a strong advocate of chest protectors for women, mostly and especially in sparring exercises. Face it, we train to nail the chest quite a bit in friendly practice and we've already said that's not good for women. Now I have to admit, I don't wear chest protection all the time - never have for any of my dan tests, and almost never in sparring - I have changed my tune recently as I have a crop of upcoming green belts and we are hitting the sparring pretty hard and they are hitting pretty hard themselves!
Now, back to the sanchin thing - obviously the same type of upper body check is out for a women. Some guys are so uncomfortable checking a woman on the front (especially a well endowed lady!) that they barely check the stomach/abdominal area if at all. I can take a pretty good shot to the stomach, as I'm sure most women dans can, but how to get past this uncomfortable spot? It's also somewhat difficult to tell the actual target area when we women wear all kinds of tops to workout - t-shirts, tank tops etc. Here are my recommendations for checking a female sanchin:
1) Checking upper chest: Make sure it is UPPER chest and away from the collar bone. My collar bones have taken more than one hit when someone may have been uncomfortable hitting any lower on the upper chest. Basically as a rule of "thumb" shoot for a thumb or two distance down from the collar bone, and that area should be fine to throw a few good punches to.
2) Checking stomach/abdominal area: Try your best to find the navel on the female being checked. If necessary, establish the location BEFORE starting the check. If you go for the area just above the navel you'll be doing great! Any lower and you're sending shocks to the bladder and the female organs which is NOT nice (speaking from experience here!) While I appreciate the consideration of watching out for my chest, I don't want the adjustment to be so low that I'm getting hit on an area I can not focus.
3) Women: wear sports bras or tight fitting tanks if possible - I know I prefer wearing a big loose tank over a sports bra, but when I'm getting checked I prefer to let the person checking me have an unrestricted view of areas to be checked - floppy t-shirts and big tanks restrict the view, leading to guesswork and an ineffective check, (or a potentially harmful one)
4) One last area to watch for is the neck and top of shoulder region - women naturally lack in upper body strength as compared to men, and sometimes I have seen someone performing a check perhaps feeling like they didn't do justice to the check-ee by not hitting very hard in the front - (because they weren't sure about targets) try to make up for it by slamming into the back area - I have taken a few jolts on top of the shoulders that have caused a sore neck. Lats are fine though! Lay into them, please! (depending on the conditioning level of course!)
5) Finally, erring on the side of caution is a good thing, but please, do NOT be shy about discussing the type of check you are giving/receiving. Even if you feel strange giving comments to a senior rank who may be checking you, they will probably appreciate your forthrightedness in advising them of any concerns you have, thus providing a better check for BOTH parties.
As a disclaimer, I wish to say that the men I've had the pleasure of working with over the years in my dojo have always been great. They have always been open to my comments and suggestions, in fact welcomed them; which is why I pass on the experience to others who may not have been as fortunate.
Please add/share your comments on your experiences checking women and girl's sanchin - I'm anxious to hear how it goes elsewhere.
Last changed: September 08, 1998
[This message has been edited by Anthony (edited 09-22-98).]