Entrance to the Barn Dojo....

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thoughts on the Chinese classics -- Part One

"All the joints of the arms should be completely relaxed, with shoulders sunk and elbows folded down." --Yang Ch'eng-fu, quoted in T'ai-chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions, p. 6. Compiled and translated by Douglas Wile.

So often, people collect kata or bunkai without really learning how to move. This is especially a problem for people who try to learn by reading or watching videos, studying photographs in a magazine or talking to others over the Internet. It is difficult learning movement without working with a teacher, without working it out on the dojo floor. It is easy to collect kata or even bunkai, but you won't really learn how to move without doing kata and bunkai in front of a teacher.

Most people who practice karate are far too rigid. It is difficult to learn how to relax. But without relaxation, you won't be fast enough or have real power. If you have never experienced it, then it is also hard to imagine. The joints must be open and relaxed in order to use the whole of the body in each technique. Folding the elbows down--the position of the arms in Sanchin--is one of the lessons we learn from Sanchin kata and one of the lessons we carry over into other katas and many other techniques, in fact almost anytime we "touch arms" with an opponent. It is the structural integrity of this position that is so important. For example, if this position is correct, then one is in a position to effectively withstand the force of the attacker with very little effort. There have been some recent discussions in books and articles, as well as on line, about some of the important lessons we learn from Sanchin, and yet this position is given little or no discussion or emphasis.

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