Kata Sanchin

“Three Battles”

The kata Sanchin appears in many styles of Okinawan karate.  It is different from most of the other kata in that it is an “internal” kata.  Whereas with most kata, we are taught to visualize an opponent in order to access the fighting systems embedded in the kata, the opponent here is oneself.  The emphasis is on Mushin (No Mind), Ibuki breathing, and dynamic muscle tension.  The three battles of Sanchin are: Body, Mind, and Spirit.

Sequence of Techniques

N – Yoi Dachi

N – Migi Sanchin Dachi, Morote Yoko Uke (inhale, exhale)

N – Left hand draws back into chamber (inhale), Hidari Seiken Tsuki (exhale), (quick inhale), return left hand to Morote Yoko Uke position (exhale).

N – Step through to Hidari Sanchin Dachi. Repeat punch sequence with right hand.

N – Step through to Migi Sanchin Dachi. Repeat punch sequence with left hand.

N – Repeat punch sequence with right hand.

N – Repeat punch sequence with left hand, leaving the punch extended.

N – Flick hands open. Bring both hands to Yama Uke (quick inhale). Press downward into Osae Uke (exhale).

N – Roll fingers into fists, then draw hands into double chamber (inhale). Flick the hands open. Push the hands up and out to Morote Nukite to the throat (exhale), turn the hands over to Yama Uke (continue exhale), then press down with Osae Uke (continue exhale).

N – Repeat sequence.

N – Repeat sequence.

N – Set up hands for Mawashi Uke. Step backwards to Hidari Sanchin Dachi, beginning Mawashi Uke (to the double chamber) (inhale). Push outwards with hands to complete Mawashi Uke (exhale).

N – Repeat on other side.

N – Noalte: Top hand circles down to meet the bottom hand. Inhale as the hands rise, exhale as the hands rotate down. Exhale again. Exhale again (to make sure you get it all out). Hands return to sides (inhale). Rei.

Notes on breathing:

  • Inhale through the nose. Exhale through the mouth.
  • All breaths are slow, filling and emptying the lungs as much as possible within the bounds of the hand techniques, unless indicated as “quick”.
  • Each exhale is cut off at the end, which involves tightening the abdominal muscles. The pelvis will tilt up slightly when this occurs.