Sanchin Kata may be the oldest kata whose origins are believed to go all the way back to Bodhidharma and the exercises he taught Chinese Buddhist monks at the Shaolin Temple. Kanryo Higaonna, founder of Naha-Te, brought Sanchin Kata from China to Okinawa. Higaonna taught the kata to Chojun Miyagi, founder of Goju-Ryu, who in turn taught the kata to Tatsuo Shimabuku. Miyagi modified the kata by replacing the open hands Chinese version with closed fists to emphasize the hard aspects of Goju-Ryu. Sanchin means three battles or conflicts and is supposed to produce a unity of mind, body, and spirit.
The kata is performed very slowly and emphasizes dramatic deep breathing with dynamic tension or isometric muscular contractions. The forced breathing acts as a respiratory exercise and was added to the kata by Miyagi. The dynamic tension provides power training to improve the physique, stamina, and energy of the practitioner. The dynamic tension also produces an overall body hardening effect enhancing a resistance to blows. The level of dynamic tension may be tested by applying blows to the body while the kata is performed.
The kata uses only one stance, the Sanchin dachi stance, which has the front foot turned inward, looking like a pigeon-toed stance. The stance should be very stable, with the pelvis tilted up and the toes gripping the floor. The kata has three forward steps, two backward steps, double middle body blocks, a series of punching and nukite strikes and two simultaneous palm heel strikes. The correct breathing technique taught by the kata is diaphragm breathing, versus chest breathing, and exhaling while tensing the body and delivering the strike.
Sanchin Kata is the only Isshinryu empty-handed kata with no kias. Also, there are no kicks in Sanchin Kata.
1. Usual Kamae, announce, "Kata Sanchin"
2. (Except where indicated, perform all techniques as slow and muscular) From Shizen Hontai move into Migi Sanchin Dachi.
3. With Nogari, bring both arms up into Morote Uchi Uke (Chinkuchi).
4. Hidari Fist back to Hidari shoulder, then to Hidari Obi, then push out slowly into Seiken Choku Tzuki (with Nogari) - Chinkuchi.
5. Bring back Hidari Seiken to Uchi Uke opposite Migi Fist - Nogari - Chikuchi
6. Slide forward into Hidari Sanchin Dachi.
7. Bring Migi Fist to Migi shoulder, to hip, extend into Migi Seiken Choku Tzuki - Nogari - Chinkuchi.
8. Bring back Migi Fist into Uchi Uke opposite Hidari Uke - Nogari - Chinkuchi.
9. Slide forward into Migi Sanchin Dachi.
10. Bring back Hidari Fist to Hidari shoulder to hip to Hidari Seiken Choku Tzuki - Nogari - Chinkuchi.
11. Return to Hidari Uchi Uke (Morote Uchi Uke, actually) - Nogari - Chinkuchi
12. Repeat step 10 with Migi Fist and Migi shoulder and hip & Migi Seiken Choku Tzuki - Nogari - Chinkuchi.
13. Repeat step 11 with Migi Fist - Nogari - Chinkuchi.
14. Repeat step 10 with Hidari Fist (Nogari, Chinkuchi). Leave it extended.
15. Repeat step 10 with Migi Fist over the top of the extended Hidari Fist (Nogari & Chinkuchi).
16. Open hands into claws and slowly rip open the center body of the opponent (Nogari & Chinkuchi).
17. Rapidly raise Morote Nukite Tzuki to shoulders, to hips then slowly push out Morote Nukite Tzuki into opponent's stomach (Nogari & Chinkuchi).
18. Repeat 17.
19. Repeat 17.
20. Raise Migi Nukite into throat of opponent above Hidari Nukite which is across your own body.
21. Stepping back into Hidari Sanchin Dachi, perform Windmill Block rapidly followed by slow pushing of Morote Shotei Uke (Migi up and Hidari low) (Nogari & Chinkuchi).
22. Stepping back into Migi Sanchin Dachi, perform Windmill Block rapidly followed by slow pushing of Morote Shotei Uke (Hidari up and Migi low) (Nogari & Chinkuchi).
23. Slide Hidari foot up to Migi foot in Musubi Dachi and perform closing Kamae to kata. First push down of hands is forceful and muscular with Nogari and Chinkuchi. Second time, push down hands with slight sound to breath. Third time, push down hands, normal breath. Rei.