Journey through the Sans (Sanchin and Sanzhan)

So for the last 7 weeks I have stopped my normal strength training routine and just focused on Sanchin/Sanzhan to see how they will affect my training. The first point is that it has been nice not to be injured all the time, strength training is good but focusing on the Sans has enabled me to stop when I have needed to and if I have enough energy do some swimming.

The main idea was to see if it affected the way I sparred, but I was really surprised with how much it has increased my musculature, I have noticed a difference with my chest and shoulders, but I can really feel my lats and abs getting harder. Obviously the sans are a form of isometric training, a bodybuilding type tool, I just found it ironic that the one point I was just focused on improving my karate and nothing to do with strength or muscle building, that I have increased in size. From what I have read the idea behind this is so that you have a sheet of muscle ready to tense and absorb blows with easy affect.

I noticed within a few weeks that my short ranged power increased with the intensity of what I had back in china, which leads me to believe that like the gaining muscle issue, that it could be more of a muscle memory regrowth than anything else, also I noticed that my speed has increased in my hand strikes, again another sign of regaining some of the assets that I acquired in China. What is weird though is that although I am a bit more muscular my speed has actually increased. I am not as strong as usual and my endurance is shocking, especially if I have been swimming that week (my main form of cardio) or not, including with looking leaner, the Sans have really improved some definition, but only if I am swimming.

Now that bits is out of the way let me talk about how it has affected my sparring, actually I have noticed a difference with my grappling, I feel much more calm and heavier when grappling, and get into positions easier, otherwise I don’t seem to be much different except when I need to switch to primal mode or tenacious mode and I can explode into what I want to do, without the massive amount of effort that I use to put into it. The same with sparring, when I am waiting for the strikes, I’m pretty much same old same old, but when I decide press the attack, the speed and animal aggression is really impressive, I can feel when the Sans hand principles are working.

But the real key I believe is that it has enabled me to unleash the inner animal in a controlled way, which does lead me to being too hot-headed or  using any energy if that makes sense. My best mate when we practiced some sticky hand stuff and the sparring reckons I have become more go (hard) than I have for years, but I feel so much more relaxed, and just let the animal out on a controlled tap. Obviously I have a long way to go, it hasn’t changed me radically, but I think it is a step in the right direction.

I feel a sense of aggressive calmness which sounds like a contradiction in itself, but it does feel like qigong in the sense that I feel more relaxed and calmer in mind and spirit and needing to get my San fix makes me feel a lot better, but I think the key is that it isn’t hiding your inner animal, the beast within you that you need to survive it allows you to train in so that you have complete control of it, to call it at will, like you would have to in street situation.

It has improved my posture tremendously, my lower back doesn’t hurt, my knees feel great and my shoulders are square, more of a Sanzhan affect than a Sanchin affect, but still it has been a real blessing.

I am excited to go back to calisthenics, to see how focusing on the Sans will potentially increase my strength and endurance, it has been a nice break, I may end up continuing this avenue but I know that I need to do other forms of training to continue on my path towards my full Shodan. Osu!

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