Wilderness training

I went training with my mate, over the fields and far away. It was a really good karate workout, first we did sanchin, first normal then extremely tensed, then relaxed, then normal but a focus of tension then relaxation.

Straight away we went into three punch drill, three kick drill, three strike drill and rotated through until we did 6 punch drill, six kick drill and six strike drill. Then light sparring focusing on using sanchin principles.

We discovered a bar for pullups and inverted rows and I taught him the correct form, and how to change it for explosiveness or endurance or muscle building.

After this we worked on San Dan gi 1 and 2, drilling this in. After this we did sparring again focusing on our guards.

Then I showed him some Kakie with some games me Adam and mike had created from it, only touched upon Kakie and sparred a bit more with a focus on reading our opponents movements.

We finished off with inverted rows for him and pullups for me. It was a very fun session, we got drill some advanced stuff we don’t do enough in the dojo and sparred inbetween to bring it’s relevance to the fight. It was also the first time in a long time I taught a karate session, I have things to work on but I think the tempo was very go-ju.

We are hoping to do this extra training once a week depending on our work schedules but already I have new ideas how this can help us both grow and develop into more well rounded martial artists.


Sandan Course – Sanchin Punch

You can always tell how good a course is when months later you are still practicing its principles on your punch bag, and this course was especially awesome. The underlying feature was the three mechanisms that Tim and Caz (Bristol’s newest Sandans) use when striking an opponent.  What they refer to as the Sanchin punch. It was really interesting when they showed how they generate so much power just from body mechanics and structure, with a combination of the three principles that derive from Sanchin.

The first one is the simple spear, where you punch through the pad, but rather than just focusing on the punch, your focus is on pulling the other arm back with force which seems to drive your shoulders and hips more into the punch therefore generating power.

The second mechanism they use was the circular hip punch, rather than punching through the pad, you use your whole core to pivot providing more weight to the punch enabling you to deliver power without using tensing your muscles.

The third mechanism was the corkscrew punch , drawing yourself from the ground and using the structure from the hip to the punch. It appears deceptively less powerful than the other two seem but you can generate power at a far shorter distance than the others.

When we combined all the principles together there was a considerable difference in our power output with minimal effort. This in itself is very useful for a fighter, not having to rely on their physical power to give power to the punch it means that your punches can be faster and use less energy. It shows that when you use the principles of Sanchin that you don’t need to muscle your way in. The Sanchin punch relies on technique giving a small person the ability to generate a lot of power though their body structure.

Videoing each punch was very useful as it shows us how each principle works, and what we need to work on to make them far more effective. Mix in watching how the Nidan’s adopted it to how they fight on the pads, surprise Kumite with the London lot, ale and the ingenious of a collapsible donkey toy it made for a very special course.

Sanchin/Sanzhan training

I have put my strength and fitness regime on a down step, and have focused on swimming (mainly butterfly) walking, and Sanchin/Sanzhan training. I am listening to my body, some days i will train alot of San(zhan)chin, and others little or non. I mainly do them with pullups, not necessarily for reps but for one day full range explosive, and another day very slowly with tension. then I will finish off with Shisochin.

I am trying to develop the way I want to fight via these three kata, and when we start proper sparring again (too many injuries from the big grading) I want to see how it has affected the way I spar. The pullups is to help me to focus on my back muscles (and I missed doing them after 2-3 weeks), which Sifu Yen Da Shi (my White Crane teacher in China) said that doing white crane, specifically the Sanzhan form really develops you back muscles, especially your lats. I have noticed that when I practice Sanzhan regularly that my short range power increase alot, and when I came back from China my pullup max increased dramatically.

What I love is the more I discover about Sanchin from my Sensei, the more i realise that my white crane teacher was teaching me directly translates to it, I didn’t appreciate at the time but I really do now. I find for me to develop in my understanding in a mental and spiritual way that i need to do both, one for perfect alignment, subtly and get the body to work together as a rooted tree, and the other for explosion tension and sheer will power.

I need to start practicing more kicking and stretching more to get to where I want to get to, but I will build up my year journey towards my full Shodan slowly and with patience.

through San(zhan)chin I am trying to develop the body, my willpower and I have recently found a meditative calmness during it. I know it will take a lifetime to truly understand it, but the doubts that the other masters in kung fu school in china are long gone, it is a constant battle of the the three parts of human, it is designed to prepare to fight, it is the heart of our art.

Sanchin workout

One of the best workouts i have was when I did Sanchin kata followed by pull ups after every set, but this time I slowed down and focus on tension and oh boy did my body feel amazing afterwards. It was also reassuring that I can do sanchin kata again with full tension without hurting my shoulder as long as I do a pulling exercise afterwards to balance it all out. I discovered this when I did sanzhan and then bent over rows immediately after each set.

Which I suppose what this year has been all about, because i haven’t been able to just train to my default settings, I am having to learn more control, flow with both karate and strength training. It has taken me 26 years to become sensible, well at least slightly sensible.

Sanchin-The path to fighting

The more I understand Sanchin kata, the more I realise that it is the basic blueprint on how to fight an opponent and that all these hidden techniques are very much in the Sanzhan form (from White Crane Kung Fu) that a lot of Kung Fu styles scoff at, simply because they don’t understand it’s true meaning.

Last night was a great opener in what I need to do to improve my Sanchin, towards the end sequence I am starting to rush it and with a little chat to Sensei, I can now have a further understanding of what I need to do to get to the next level in my way of Sanchin. Which ironically will be me drawing more from the Sanzhan form that I learnt from in China.

Someone requested that I do my own thoughts on Sanchin and it’s role in the way we fight and spar, and at the moment I am unable to do that as my new level of understanding of Sanchin kata and it’s role in fighting started when work was getting in the way, followed by a rib injury and a shoulder injury.  But through two great resources and trying to implement them in in my shadow boxing has made a huge difference, in fact with the pad drills I am now able to throw faster punches without straining the shoulders through this method (it is a little like wing chun principles.

The book the way of Sanchin and a few videos by the actor Michael Jai White (he holds several blackbelt’s one of which is in Goju Ryu), and for me they go hand in hand to developing the way I think of Sanchin, which is the role of a fighter or gives you all the basic tools in how to deal with the situation. I won’t say too much, and if anyone wants me to review them I will, but these have been great tools, in developing my way of Sanchin, and the way I think about the battle of Kumite which is a testing ground for if you want to go into the ring, or have to deal with a situation on the street.

Shadow boxing (and Sanchin)

So, with being injured, I haven’t been able to focus on my strengths, of lets say going for the big hits and charging forward, so when I do shadow boxing I have been trying to go for lighter faster strikes, and work more as a tactician fighter, rather than the brawler I tend to lean towards.

When I went training yesterday, I noticed how my sparring hadn’t really changed, largely to me making sure that I wasn’t getting hit too much (and how flat footed I had remained). Alot of my strengths is that i have a good close guard which means I can make sure that a large part of me is protected, I can absorb some decent hits for when I open up close quarters  I have noticed that alot of people can’t use any power at close range with their elbows bent, something which I have always been able to use. But it means I am more flat footed, easier to hit when I go to strike, as my guard is much closer in than others, I need more time to fire it out.

Since china I have been trying to work on quicker hands, and using Kakie (or sticky hands) principles to get me to open up the target, and to an extent I have been able to do so, unless they are much faster or much much bigger. This also means that I am getting less hit, and using more of my quicker reflexes, but I am not sparring to the potential that I believe I have. Also what other people think as toughness, is actually me being in my zone of comfort, I know people can’t hit as hard if I am out of their range or too close inside their range, I am not normally fighting in the area that others fight, because basically of fear of getting hit too hard and not being able to fire out the quick punches.

So in shadow boxing I have been work on my Ali and Tyson, or more like my Apollo creed  and Rocky. I have been for a while working on my longer range, as it isn’t something that isn’t that natural to me and the close range, of how to open them up whilst still keeping my guard. I have been watching Kyokushin fights (our sparring is similar to theirs) and boxing fights, and trying to develop myself into a more instinctive fighter, rather than just a brawler. Then I was thinking of the Sanchin book I read, what my training mate  of my new reactive tendency I accidentally learnt in china (from makiwara board training, I developed a certain reflex), Michael jay Whites analysis of perception punch and how certain blackbelts fight, all came to me last night when I was shadow boxing last night. Stuff I have been thinking about for a few months, but haven’t been able to put into practice.

When I was practicing my close range style, it suddenly clicked on how one blackbelt is very good at making people drop and their body, and then follow through with a knee strike when they are defenceless, and I realised it was all in Sanchin, the spitting, dropping the body weight and pulling with the other punch, and it was exciting. Then Working on my longer ranger, and recalling michael jay whites videos on fast reflex punches, and ones you don’t see that it also related to the Sanchin book, which shows you how to perform strikes, with all the body mechanics without giving away your  intention. This also made realise why my strikes take longer, that the guard is too close to my body therefore I generally need more time to fire the strikes out.

I know that the principles I am learning in my spare time, will take along time to happen when I am fighting in the dojo, firstly with the ribs, then fear, and then years of certain habits falling will take a long time to adapt, but I feel that this is a right step in the right direction. I am not trying to completely changed the way I normally fight, and in gradings it is a blessing, but I want the brawler to evolve  as the higher up I go, the harder it gets.

But I was really surprised with how Sanchin itself has been helping me with my shadow boxing.

The many ways of Sanchin

Not only are there many versions of Sanchin (or Sanzhan in Chinese), there are many ways to perform or practice the kata. When ever I am injured, I up the tension and turn it into an isolation exercise, to maintain or build strength in the muscles (upper and lower) so that you can keep up your training and train around your injuries. When I am feeling stressed, I take most of the tension away and have a Zen like view, like Qigong  I use it when I have a spare minute or two to bring me back to myself, and feel that I am not losing my mind, I am still in control or when I need to get some peace for the sole. Or when I am forced to be away from the dojo, I end up exaggerating the moves, trying to emphasis it’s martial aspect, the lifting of the blocks, the sinking of the legs, being relaxed and tense, over emphasising the hip movement with the once inch punch.

In any of the case’s, or in whatever way that you train Sanchin, it doesn’t take too much time, and you can quickly disguise it if someone comes into the room, making me really appreciate the okinawan factor of persevering their art through hidden forms, it means I can keep practicing the core of my karate training wherever I may be.