International & Global Education
Apologies for a rather lengthy absence - between work and budo the Fall seemed to disappear.
As I again take up the work on the early years of Chitose I thought I would share a translation of a work by his top ranked deshi Major Inomoto-Masaru. Intomote-sensei was a direct student of both Chitose and Akamine sensei, and currently is one of the top ranked swordsmen of the All Japan iaido federation. I was fortunate enough to be his student between 1998-2009, of which six years were directly under his instruction in Kumamoto (2003-09).
During these years Inomoto-sensei wrote and shared a number of ideas regarding budo with his students. Out of respect for Inomoto-sensei I have never shared or translated these pieces, however I believe the article below is `ok` to share as it helps reveal his thinking regarding Sanchin kata.
Indeed my decision to share this article was due to a recent conversation with my friend Mr Joe Swift. Over a recent chat Joe and I were discussing how we both believed the whole range of motion in a given technique should be given attention and not just its start and end point. As you will see below, this was an idea which was first planted in me by Inotmoto-sensei.
If you have done an internetsearch for `Sanchin Chito Ryu` the black and white video you will inevitably find is Inomoto Sensei.
The Sanchin I learned from Inomoto-sensei, while having the exact same embusen of the mainstream Chito version, was far more pliable in the limbs that I had previously learned under Higashi-sensei and Chitose-Jr. Such softness of technique is the bedrock of Inomoto Sensei`s Jikishi Ryu approach to Chito Ryu and Kobudo.
Inomoto sensei noted the body should be rooted like a tree, but the limbs, especially the arms should remain soft, like branches that blow and whip in the wind. This version also had many close quarter interpretations and was not focused on only developing a strong body. Below is a short piece of Inomoto-sensei`s thoughts on Sanchin. My thanks to my son, Aodhan and Joe Swift for helping with some of the finer points of the translation.
As these instructions were meant for direct students, Inomoto Sensei left some key words out. In an effort to add clarity I have added some words to help with the articulation of his teaching. To this end, this is not a word for word direct translation, as such a translation would miss key, background principles which were implied, but not written. To this end any misleading information herein, are a result of my translation and in no way detract from the ideas of Inomoto-Sensei.
興武館 館長 井野元 勝
Concerning the Three Elements of White Crane.
When we discuss the notion of the `middle` in karate/martial arts we are actually referring to the inside of the body.
Sanchin seeks to cultivate the strengthening of the internal organs, chi, and chakras through focused muscle contraction, tendon/ligament development/enrichment, and the utilization the power of correct breathing.
Such cultivation is learned through the practice of the Sanchin kata (aka three battles).
What is the meaning of the word "joint" within the White Crane System?
A special, but often missed aspect of training the Sanchin system, and by extension, the white crane is the role of joints. However, what do these joints refer to? It is important to be mindful of the sets of joints within the human body and your train, explore and understand Sanchin. Herein, the word "joint" refers to the three joints of the legs (hip, knee, and ankle) and the three joints of the hands (the three joints of the hand are the shoulder, elbow, wrist).
Moreover, there are also the joints of the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and hips. The meaning and significance of utilising joints are gained through practising the "White Crane Joint Method".
It is important to pay attention to the intricacies of each motion, not just those on the surface. Focus on all aspects of the motion, not just the start and endpoints - that is what are the potentialities of the technique as it moves through its range of motions from its starting position, to its ending position.
The meaning of "搖".
In the White Crane system and thus Sanchin "搖" means "to shake".
Therefore, when faced with an enemy's attack at close range, the fighter will quickly twist his body to face the attacker, evade the attack, and unbalance the attacker. This twist motion also has the additional benefit of utilising the rotational power of the joints to generate power while simultaneously attacking multiple places at once, which we first learned in Seisan’s "13 steps" kata. Another means of thinking about Seisan kata is rather than simply thinking of it as 13 steps, expanding your consideration to seek to master the 13`shakes` or twisting kata. Mastering Seisan forms a bedrock to unlocking Sanchin.
NB+Jikishin Ryu Karate-do and Okinawa (Ryukyu) Kobudo incorporate all three of these elements.
All three elements are incorporated in Jikishin Ryu karate.
The more you train, the more you will understand.
Signed: Masaru Inomoto, Director, Koubukan
Okinawan and Japanese Budo
James M. Hatch
International Educator who happens to be passionate about Chito Ryu Karate. Born in Ireland, educated in Canada, matured in Japan