Sanchin by Otsuka Tadahiko

otsuka tadahiko sanchin goju kensha

I’ve been rereading sections of Otsuka Tadahiko’s “Goju Kensha Karate-do Kyohon” published in 1977. For those of you who may not know, Otsuka’s “Goju Kensha Karate-do Kyohan” is a 13-volume series outlining his training methodology for Goju-ryu. For its time, the series was unparalleled and provided detailed explanations of preparatory exercises, fundamentals, kata and applications. Years later, the series was  reprinted as one book and included an instructional DVD; segments of which you can view here.

The other day I was reading through the section on Sanchin kata which included a detailed explanation of not only how to perform the kata, but also how instructors should assess the kata. In the last few years there have been some well-written articles in English on how to perform and check Sanchin kata, I thought I would contrast this and share this part of the book to give you an idea of what the state of knowledge was in Japanese during the 1970s. So, I  have translated it from Japanese to English.

Below you can find the translation, but as with everything I translate if you intend on using or sharing it, please credit this blog.

Source: Goju Kensha Karate-do Kyohon Vol. 4 – Otsuka Tadahiko – Pg. 8 & 9

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Sanchin1aPerformer (left), instructor (right)
Sanchin1b(1) Assume a right sanchin stance & double middle guard position. The fists are slightly lower than the shoulders. The elbows are approximately one fist width from the body. The wrist and forearm are at a right angle.
Sanchin1c(2) Tighten the throat to protect against a sword hand strike.
Sanchin1d(3) Tighten the muscles on the side & lower neck as well as the lower jaw to protect against a grab to the base of the throat.
 Sanchin2a(4) Training the Sides of the Neck. Tighten the lower jaw to protect the carotid artery & the like.
 Sanchin2b(5) Training the Outer Thighs. In sanchin stance, tighten the muscles of the inner & outer thighs.
 Sanchin3a(6) Training the Knees. In sanchin stance, push the knees outwards & tighten the whole leg.
 Sanchin3b(7) Look at the performers sanchin stance. Note the position & angle of the feet.
 Sanchin3c(8) Training the Inner Thighs. In sanchin stance, tighten the muscles of the inner thigh to protect the testicles.
 Sanchin3d(9) Training the Abdomen. The skeleton provides limited protection for the internal organs. Therefore use the body’s muscles to protect them.
 Sanchin3e(10) Do not let the arms collapse from the double middle guard position. Make sure to use the muscles & skeleton to maintain your guard.
 Sanchin4a(11) Strike both shoulders to make sure they are engaged.
Sanchin4b(12) The spine should be straight, the posture erect & the back muscles tightened.
Sanchin4c(13) Tighten the elbow and lats to train the lower scapula.
 Sanchin4d(14) Training Between the Pelvis & Elbow. This practice strengthens the muscles & connects the upper & lower body, which are used in twisting, stretching & chopping in sword hand strike & the like.
 Sanchin5a(15) Training the Buttocks. Tighten the anus & buttocks at the same time.
 Sanchin5b(16) Stretch the knees against a slap.
 Sanchin5c(17) Tighten the calf muscles against a slap.
 Sanchin5d(18) Check the Feet. Make sure that the weight of the body is centered on the back of the feet.
 Sanchin6(19) From a right sanchin stance, look for anything unusual. Check the performer’s skeletal alignment, muscular contraction & overall balance.

Key Points for Performing Sanchin

The performer should not wait until corrections have been made by the instructor, but should continue the kata in order. The instructor will make corrections while the kata is being performed.

1 Look for anything unusual in the performer’s posture, gaze, legs and feet when he is in right sanchin stance and double middle guard. Make the necessary corrections to the double middle guard position.
2, 3, 4 Observe the performer’s neck from the front and side.
5. Observe before checking the performer’s legs and then deliver the double slap to the thighs.
6. Check the flexion and angle of the knee. Adjust the kneecap and big toe as needed.
7. Observe the angle of the leg in relation to the floor.
8. Assess if the performer’s sanchin stance is correct observing if the groin is protected. Check if the top of the foot penetrates while kicking.
9, 10 Observe the upper, middle and lower body then return your focus to the middle portion. Check the abdomen and then the double middle guard.
11 After finishing to the rear and returning to the front, observe the performer’s balance, any looseness or separation in the body. Make any necessary corrections.
12. Observe if the performer maintains his balance and has correct posture. As he exhales, slap both shoulders.
13. Check the lower scapula. Watch to see that the performer’s chest does not cave-in while breathing.
14. Watch to see if the performer’s lats are tightened.
15. See if there is any loosening between the sternum and the hip (sometimes referred to as ‘Gamaku’).
16. Thighs
17. Knees
18. Legs
19. Correct any mistakes in the position of the feet in sanchin stance. After finishing continue from #11.

Otsuka Sanchin 4