[Unified Body: Mind, Body, and Spirit (Technique)]
In Seibukai Karate, we practice Kata that have three progressive stages based on individual performance levels such as beginning basic kata, intermediate training kata, and advanced kata. In this article, I would like to explain Sanchin as the most significant kata with a component of a breathing method.
We call the unified body condition as "Touitsu-tai” which means to re-assemble the body by connecting the upper and the lower body with centering the mind internally and externally as a whole body. This state of the mind and body enable to execute a maximum potential power, "energy.” In order to attain this specific state, we practice kata "correct forms” training. Consequently, we are able to execute the potential energy that is hidden inside of us in such a way that we do not utilize the movements in our normal daily lives.
To practice the martial way, we consider three components besides winning in fighting. The first component is to practice offensive and defensive technique in order to win the fight. The second component is "Gai-kou” that is to train the external skeletal muscles of the body. The third component is "Nai-kou” which is opposite of "Gai-kou.” It means training inside of the body such as internal organs and movement of Ki, "life force” that is not exhibited to the outside appearance. With these three components, we are able to execute a force beyond the power of muscling-out. That is called "Martial Way” training. The power of martial arts that does not become affected by aging based on Sanchin form which is the methodology and techniques of karate. These components distinguish from sport science and western sport medicine.
[To Train Tendons – the exploration of hidden parts of the body]
Sanshin practice allows training tendons of the skeletal muscles by squeezing up internal and external muscles of the body. Martial arts’ training allows strengthening the tendons that enable to create energy that penetrates inside of the opponent’s body. Even if the muscle groups become weakened with age, the strengthened tendons tend to keep the strength that enable to move the body. As a same sense of training in sport science, it is easier and faster to build up muscles and bones with weight lifting exercise; however, the sports in general do not strengthen tendons.
To show evidence of this theory, we can observe in nature which demonstrates the strength of tendons. For example, eagles and hawks hunt prey lager than they are. These raptors catch those animals with their claws, yet they do not posses big muscle groups in their legs. Instead, they use their strength of tendons in their legs to grab and hold the struggling prey when escape is attempted. This proves that the tendons can generate tremendous force than muscles.
Sanchin in particular actually train this tendon groups in the body. In Sanchin form "Kame” (holding large pottery vases in hands) can train tendon groups in the upper body. Once the tendons are trained and strengthen, these strengths do not deteriorate like muscles.
["The power of Center” created by Sanchin]
The significance of Sanchin training is as definite as its stance that is utilized throughout various stages of training: Kihon (Basic training), Idou (movement with steps), and Kata (form practice). The purpose of Sanchin training is to create the unified body. In order to attain this condition, it is important to focus on three parts of the body such as: loosening the shoulders, pressuring the lower abdomen, and tightening up the buttock with abductor muscles. The movements of energy which are created by the squeezing up from the bottom and loosening shoulders from the upper body meet at the Tanden as the center of gravity. This state is described as "Jou-kyo & Ka-jitsu” which translates as the upper body becoming "empty” or loosens up without tension and the lower body becoming "full” or filled with steady energy. It is the state of the body that is balanced and harmonized inside out, front or back, and left and right with mind, spirit, and body. This state of the body enables one to form the strongest moment that permits one to attain the highest performance of the body.
[Breathing Method to create the enhanced condition by harmonizing mind and body]
As a part of training Sanchin, there is a breathing method called Ibuki. By incorporating this breathing, we can expect better and stronger effects of contraction in the body. Breathing consists of a paring of inhalation and exhalation. This breathing is categorized three main ways which are the equal amount of inhalation and exhalation, longer inhalation and shorter exhalation, and shorter inhalation and longer exhalation. Normally, the parasympathetic nerve system controls breathing; however, sympathetic system can take over the control of breathing slower or faster with intention. Breathing is an important factor to control one’s own state of mind by one’s own will. Attaining this breathing method enables to calm yourself when needed by stimulating the parasympathetic system with breathing slowly. On the other hand, to excite yourself, breathe faster by stimulating the sympathetic nerve system. Greater contraction of diaphragm muscle in deep abdominal breathing strengthens associated muscle groups such as soas major. Abdominal breathing is when you inhale, the abdomen expands. The reverse of abdominal breathing is called "Tan-den breathing” meaning when you inhale, the abdomen shrinks.
The purpose of breathing is to harmonize the mind and the body. This leads to the harmonized body, harmonized breath, and harmonized mind. When the individual achieves this state of mind and body, he or she may obtain the ideal strength and energy balance in the body. Consequently, the higher level of breathing method, the higher energy become that allows the individual to take charge of the opponent by detecting the opponent’s breathing rhythm.
This conscious breathing method allows your body to be aware and deepen the consciousness into the fine points and the corner of the body. When the conscious mind extends to the all parts of the body, the techniques subconsciously emerge without thinking cognitively.
[Penetraing force: exploding power from hara (abdomen)]
When you perform Sanchin, you utilize "Ibuki” breathing combined with kata movement. Ibuki is a particular example of reversed abdominal breathing. When you breathe out, the abdomen pressurized with expansion enables you to consciously be aware of the center of gravity "Tan-den.” Therefore, it is called Tan-den breathing as well. By pressurizing the abdomen, it creates tension in the muscle groups in order to generate an explosive energy. Combined with Ibuki breathing and squeezing muscles of upper body, this condition facilitates intense contraction. Thus, the generation of explosive energy multiplied by unification of Ibuki and Sanchin form. The energy from the tan-den is transferred from spine to the upper, the lower limbs, and throughout entire body.
This power is created from the accumulation of the energy of the body, and it is not generated by the muscles that become strengthened from weight lifting. This power is called, "Kei-ryoku” which is when the entire energy generated by a harmonized body. This power is the penetrating energy deep into the opponent’s body.
The power created by the muscles that are strengthened from weight lifting is confrontational energy. In this case, the individual may not overcome the opponent who has bigger muscles. This ends up with a muscle competition. Weight lifting strengthens partial muscle group that utilize simple crank movements. The purpose of training martial arts is to attain the method and the ability to utilize the specific body mechanics of martial arts which is different from daily movement of individuals.
[Technical Methodology of continual development - overcoming aging]
The strengths of muscles, stamina, and youth are eventually weakened by aging. There are no medical fields and sport medicine that has discovered away to prevent this from occurring. Aging is inevitable, and it is the truth of life. However, true martial art techniques should be refined and developed by aging. It is possible to develop to increase strength of the technique. This power is not exerted by stamina or muscles.
In Seibukai, we aim to attain the Touitsu-tai by incorporating the practice of Sanchin and breathing method. Touitsu-tai is gradually built up over the years of training regardless of the facts of individual’s talents and physic. It is unlikely to weaken by aging process. This is the power of Ki and the explosive energy that is combination of the mind, body and spirit based on the unified the body.