Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sanchin Boogie

Q) What has made you drop your focused breathing and slow speed in Sanchin? 


About 25 years of focused study on the issue.


It began the first year I was a new sho-dan. I had received the last of my Isshinryu instruction for life when Charles Murray returned to the USAF for a career.   Training on my own and teaching youth left me time to look into other interests and I began to study Yang Tai Chi Chaun with Ernest Rothrock.

I very quickly encountered a conflict between my tai chi training and my Sanchin, and there was nobody I could turn to  that could advise me what to do as I was not going to stop either Isshinryu or Tai Chi. After deep introspection on my training I started to continue to practice but de-emphasize Sanchin and continue my Yang studies.

Add to that then I took the advantage to train with many other great practitioners of different arts. The truth is there is not necessarily an advantage in any one approach to training as long as the person has been properly instructed. I fully believe  Sanchin and/or Chinkuchi is a great training alternative, but I fully believe Isshinryu without chinkuchi or deep Sanchin training is a great alternative too, and there are incredible MA’s I’ve worked with who do not pursue Sanchin. IMO the key isn’t that there’s just one approach that works, just that there are different, often diametrically opposed approaches that  with  supreme work function fully.

When I eventually met Harill Sensei at his kata application clinics and heard a very small bit about what he did with Sanchin, I realized he was truly on to a great level of study, but I also realized I could never touch it. There is a vast difference between clinic study and true training. Harrill Sensei’s offering had to be based on years of non-stop work something impossible for me.

I had made my choices at that time, just as I never tried to teach myself Chinkuchi from Charles example. But where you don’t have one thing, your studies may yield better answers.

In my self study I eventually had Uechi students join my program. In my experience Uechi students cross the divide of other studies into Isshinryu than the other programs I’ve had chance to work with.

My years of study at that point made me start to learn how efficient alignment and motion were incredibly important in usage. Those students shared their Uechi  Sanchin and Uechi Sesan with me, and in the Uechi Seisan I found an incredible energy release in the study. It made me more aware to work to neutralize  a Uechi attack, they use serious tools.  (BTW relatively speaking New England has a strong contingent of Uechi practitioners).  Course that’s just a theoretical basis for study.

It took me 10 years before the day I decided to change my Sanchin practice, to full speed and natural breathing. The day I did I was struck how more improved Sanchin was practiced that way and very quickly came to my own decision how I would teach it from that point forward.

I had also had decades of friends outside of Isshinryu continually tell me Sanchin was not for fighting.  I never accepted that if only for the logical reason that a technique is a technique, but after I began practicing full speed I started to realize how unique Sanchin could be to destroy an attack.

I’ll put it this way, my students are not terribly happy when I start using Sanchin answers to their attacks.  Several are on this group, perhaps Marc Fryberg will volunteer to attack me for all of you <GRIN>.  Of course I’m being cagy and not describing what I do….

Look I’m only right for what I do in my dojo. If I could train with John Kerker for a decade I’d jump at that chance, but it’s not in the cards, so what I do is what I do.

The logic of my program is my program, something I work to share with my students.

2) I understand your statement: "I believe it is deceptive to watch one performance on youtube and be sure that is the norm the performer is working towards, but I will spend some time this weekend looking at this." However, I find it peculiar that someone would show me something 'they don't like'.

Perhaps they may 'mask' what they are doing as not to let out their Dojo's 'proprietary' methods, but I'd be surprised someone would put something out on youtube that they weren't proud of at that level.

I’m not saying anyone (whether I agree with their performance or not) on YouTube is not trying their hardest. It’s more that a performance does not necessarily show where that performance is on the scale of their art. It that the peak, is it just a point in the traning.

I accept many do not share much of their arts (nor do I mine for that matter).

There are many senior Okinawan instructors that I do not feel are holding back. Let me use the Okinawan seniors in Uechi as one example. They show the core of their art because of their skill, and perhaps a form of intimidation in that what they show is how they will take you apart.

In my own case I’ve only shared my students kata to show a point of their passage. To show the steps a sho-dan should pass through. To show what the pressure of competition provides on their performance at the stage they re in. Or at most a clean performance but not necessarily their peak. And why should I show their peak, it’s their surprise after all.

But then I’m not trying to recruit anyone, but to provide examples for useful discussion.

I have learned one lesson, you won’t casually see me demonstrating there, a rule I’m going to bend one time as soon I plan on perhaps sharing my wansu NO tonfa exercise. Not to showcase me, I’m old, tool heavy and slow, but to show a solid way to develop good Tonfa technique.

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