Tag Archives: kalaripayat

SANCHIN KATA: The Three Battles In A New Perspective

21 Feb

The within is submitted for the benefit of all life journeymen. The foregoing discussion of the Sanchin Kata is not intended simply as the divine province of those martial artists fortunate to know Sanchin. Rather, every person who reads the within should endeavor to learn the Sanchin Kata and perform Sanchin at least daily. Embrace Sanchin as a long lost lover and Sanchin will fulfill you with its enticing secrets.

The Sanchin Kata is perhaps one of the most treasured Kata of traditional Karate-Do and the predecessor arts of Kung-Fu, Kalaripayat and Pranayama. Within my methodology and ideology of Jiriki Kata-Do, Sanchin Kata is made available to all who wish to learn and probe its benefits and secrets regardless of whether they wish to learn a full Karate-Do curriculum. To borrow from my article on this blogsite entitled Dante’s Issho Dojo (please see the category Martial Ideology Applied To daily Life), Sanchin is the portal to a new contextual paradigm for Kata to be found in Jiriki Kata-Do. This paradigm allows the three battles of Sanchin Kata to be extended into a new dimension.

The translation of the Kanji for the word “Sanchin” offers insight into the attributes that are found within Sanchin Kata.

 Kanji for Sanchin taken from an original Sumi-e drawing on rice paper

As one may see from the Kanji, the word Sanchin is composed of two root words. The root word “San” means “Three” and the root word “Chin” means “Battle”. The word “battle” does not refer to warfare; rather, “battle” refers to conditions, or aspects requiring attention and cultivation by the performer of the Sanchin Kata. Thus, while Sanchin literally means “Three Battles” , the interpretation of the Kanji should be extended to mean “three aspects of the human condition.” Through the regular performance of the Sanchin Kata the three aspects of the human condition are incubated, nurtured and evolved so as to facilitate an enraptured human experience.

Historically, the interpretation of the three battles of Sanchin Kata has been limited to a martial arts perspective. There are many interpretations of the three battles of Sanchin that are derived from the Art of Karate. The central theme of the Karate-Do proclamation of the three battles is the development and unification of body and spirit. This development of mind and body is fundamental to the practice of Karate. In general terms, the three battles of Sanchin have been described as: Breath, Posture and Spirit. All three aspects are to be unified through the Kata. Thus, historically, it can be said that the Sanchin Kata unifies the body (through the elements of breath and posture) and spirit (through the moving-Zen concepts) of the Karate-Ka (one who practices Karate). Such a unification of mind and body elements are essential to the practice and execution of Karate technique and Kata.

Through the Sanchin Kata, the Karate-Ka forges a body that is tough and resilient. A Karate-Ka’s body would be as solid as the trunk of an oak tree and as flexible as the boughs of a willow tree. The spirit of the Karate-Ka would be fostered so as to allow the Karate-Ka to perceive the external world and act spontaneously in accord with the attendant circumstances. Through the Sanchin Kata, the Karate-Ka would achieve a superhuman perception. This would enable the Karate-Ka to be impervious to physical pain and discomfort. The Karate-Ka would also be immune to harmful emotions and spiritual distractions. This state of being forms the building blocks to Karate.

The definition of the three battles of Sanchin within the boundaries of the perspective of the martial arts is, by its very nature, limited in scope. Further, the definition is redundant as it uses three manifestations (breath, posture and spirit, or similar expressions) of only two aspects of the human condition (body and mind). I note here that I am aware of a limited number of martial artists that define the three battles of Sanchin as the unification of body, spirit and “soul”. I submit that such a definition, while it appears hopeful in expanding the concept of Sanchin beyond the realm of martial arts, is dismally disappointing. One need simply explore the definition of soul to be disappointed. I submit that the soul is an improper aspect of the Sanchin Kata for the following reasons. The use of the word soul automatically (like Merlin’s magic wand) conjures up religious connotations that do not belong integrated within Sanchin. Even assuming, arguendo, that such religious inclinations can be suppressed, the traditional and philosophical view of the soul is that at some point it must reside within the human bio-body. Thus again, the definition merely draws upon conditions that exist within the human and fails to account for external universal-environmental factors. This failure results in the human existing as separate and distinct from the universal environment on both a physical and conscious level.

For more than three decades, I have engaged in the practice of the Sanchin Kata. My devotion to Sanchin enlightened me to the discovery that the traditional proclamation of the three battles of Sanchin Kata was incomplete. The traditional proclamation of the three battles possessed a very sever limitation. The limitation is that three battles of the Sanchin Kata were expressed solely within the martial arts context and perspective. Such a perspective of the three battles of Sanchin merely describes two states of the human condition. These two states represent a limited view of the source of physical power, spiritual insight and emotional stability of the Karate-Ka. The two states of human existence I am referring to are a physical state and a spiritual state. To date, the unique attributes ascribed to a Karate-Ka, or any martial artist for that matter, were believed to be solely a manifestation and unification of the body and spirit (or mind) aspects of the human condition.

After many years of continued rigorous practice of and devotion to the Sanchin Kata, I came to realize that clearly lacking from the definition of the three battles is an additional third human quality. It became apparent to me that the three battles of Sanchin must be allowed to break the limiting boundaries imposed upon it by the martial arts perspective. This means that the three battles must be viewed and defined from the perspective of the total human condition. The three battles of Sanchin, as expressed to date, account for two aspects of the human condition that are internal to the human (body and mind). It became apparent to me that the missing, heretofore undiscovered battle, or aspect, of the Sanchin Kata must be external to the human bio-body. I call this aspect the metaphysical aspect of the human condition. Just like the Tesseract shown below illustrates a standard three dimensional cube in a new paradigm of four dimensions, my ideology of Jiriki Kata-Do extends the three battles of Sanchin Kata into a heretofore undiscovered new paradigm, to wit: the redefining the three battles of Sanchin to recognize a metaphysical aspect of the human condition that exists external to the human bio-body. Further, by way of my methodology and ideology of Jiriki Kata-Do, the Sanchin Rite (this is a term of art I coined so as to avoid the use of the word “Kata” and the martial arts connotation of the word) is made available to anyone that desires to learn its secret teachings.

The metaphysical aspect of the Sanchin Rite recognizes the presence, consciousness and creative power that exists in the universe around us. In addition to recognizing the metaphysical aspect of the three battles of Sanchin Kata, I was enlightened to a means of incorporating a methodology into the performance of the Sanchin Rite for perceiving this metaphysical realm. I submit that the Three Battles of Sanchin are:

1. Physical Battle, or the aspect of properly breathing while performing all components of the physical movements of Sanchin so as to experience the physical, metabolic benefits of Sanchin;

2. Spiritual Battle, or the aspect your mental processes, emotions, psyche and state-of-mind;

3. Environmental Battle.

It is imperative to remove the boundary of the martial arts perspective and begin to think of the three battles of Sanchin within the overall perspective of the entire human condition. Such a boundless interpretation of the three battles mandates that factors that are internal to the human must be considered as part and parcel of factors that are external to the human condition (including those factors that may exist beyond the ken of human perception). I was awakened to the metaphysical aspect of the Rite of Sanchin Kata only after three decades of practice coupled with an introduction into newly developing sciences, including quantum physics, noetic sciences and traditional and non-traditional philosophic ideologies. To date, I am aware of no other Sanchin-Ka (A term of art I use to describe anyone who practices Sanchin) that has defined the three battles in the manner I set forth. Further, I am not aware of anyone that has promulgated a specific methodology and manner of performing the Sanchin Rite so as to experience the metaphysical aspect of the Rite (or Kata). Perhaps I am the only person willing to commit name and reputation to acknowledging the existence of a third, metaphysical aspect present in Sanchin. I am also confident that Sanchin can and should be learned by anyone who desires to embrace it and learn its secret teachings. Such knowledge can be undertaken independent of a full Karate curriculum. I have developed my methodology and ideology of Jiriki Kata-Do so as to grant practitioners the divine province of experiencing unification and synchronization of not only body and spirit, but the universal presence and consciousness.

Through the understanding and development of the three battles, or aspects, of the Sanchin Rite, one can begin to foster an understanding of the state of human existence I call the Plateau of Human serenity. The Plateau of Human Serenity is the portal to the broader concepts of the human condition as explored through the various Rites (or Kata) of Jiriki Kata-Do. The Sanchin Book (which may be found on the Sanchin Book page of this Blogsite) sets forth the first installment of the Jiriki Kata-Do dynamic lecture and exercise series. The foundation of the Sanchin Kata presentation is the imperative nature of recognizing and awakening the potential gained by existing and synchronizing with factors that are internal and external to the human bio-body.

Sanchin Kata in Tonto National Forest, Arizona

Here is a link for a promotional video about my Sanchin Kata & Jiriki Kata-Do DVD filmed in the Tonto National Forest. Arizona. Please see the “SANCHIN DVD & BOOK” page tab above for information on how to purchase the DVD.

LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-pC-tPUrYE


 I remain, as I hope you do, enraptured by the new knowledge to be gained on this remarkable journey called life,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

The Kanji for Sanchin Kata was taken from my series on the Mokuroku No Kata of Goshin-Do Karate entitled Goshin-Do Kata-Jitsu: Volume Three: The Goju-Ryu Influence (Issho Publications, E. Rutherford, NJ 2002). 

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Mushin Applied To Daily Life – Part 2: The Myth Of Bodhidharma

27 Dec

*** NOTE: For part one of the series on the Mushin state of mind, please see the bottom of this page and click on the category: “Martial ideology extended to daily life” & then click on the “Previous Entries” on the bottom of the page*** 

Martial arts and Mushin is connected to the journey of a unique figure in history known as Bodhidharma, or Dharma for short. In Sanskrit, “Bodhi” means “enlightened” and “Dharma” means “righteous duty“. Thus, Bodhidharma means “enlightened righteous duty“.

Since Dharma lived before written records, his pedigree and historical account comes to us from oral history, traditional tales and mythology. Based upon this foundation, it is known that Dharma was the son of the Indian King Kancheepuram of Tamil Nadu. Dharma was a Buddhist monk. He traveled to the Far East in and around 522 to 527 A.D. During that time period, Dharma arrived in the court of the Chinese Emperor, Liang Nuti, of the Sixth Dynasty. The Emperor granted him an audience and gave him travel documents to walk to the Kingdom of Wei (now Hunan Province, at the foot of the Han-Shan mountains). Dharma arrived at a Buddhist Monastery called the Temple of Shaolin. Upon arrival at the temple, Dharma is said to have been disappointed with the meditation habits of the monks that resided at the Temple. He found that the monks lacked the physical stamina necessary for prolonged meditation. To overcome the lack of physical stamina, Dharma introduced various physical exercises. These exercises were derived from Dharma’s training in Pranayama and his martial training in the Art of Kalaripayat (and its component art of Marama-Adi, or bare-handed combat). Kalaripayat literally means “(The) Way of the Battlefield” it is the indigenous martial art of India. Kalaripayat is still practiced in Kerala, India today. The martial curriculum of Kalaripayat included formal exercises called “Suvasus“. The Suvasus combined combat techniques, and the breathing of Pranayama with a focused warrior spirit.

There is an interesting myth regarding Dharma that may shed some further light on the Mushin state of mind. Mythology states that Dharma went into a cave located near the Shaolin Temple and sat in meditation for nine years. Dharma is said to have sat in seated meditation for so long that his image was burned into the wall by the sunlight that penetrated the cave. Varying versions of the myth have Dharma entering the cave either to prove his meditative skills to the Shaolin Monks (who were said to have referred to Dharma as “The blue-eyed barbarian”) or as a subjective means of furthering his meditative powers after having been accepted as a Bodhi, or enlightened one, by the Shaolin Monks. There are wild variations of the myth that attempt to account for Dharma’s ability to remain in seated mediation for such a prolonged period. One such variant states that Dharma had tired and fallen asleep during mediation. Dharma became angry with himself and sought to preclude that from happening again. As a preventive measure, Dharma cut off his own eyelids so that his eyes would remain open. The wild myth continues to state that Dharma threw his eyelids to the ground. At the point where Dharma’s eyelids hit the ground, a bush sprouted and grew. The bush subsequently produced a medicinal tea with restorative powers similar to modern metabolic and neurological stimulants.

I submit that Dharma was able to maintain prolonged mediation because he did not engage in traditional mediation as has been submitted in the oral myths. I believe that Dharma neither sought to quiet his mind by thinking of nothing, nor, sought to focus his mind on an object or sutra. Again, the organic brain that gives rise to the higher mind is always in a natural state of activity. To either quiet the mind or focus it utilizes energy so as to maintain the brain, and therefore, the mind, in a unnatural state. Clearly, such expansion of energy would have been counter productive to Dharma’s goal of prolonged meditation. It is my hypothesis that Dharma was able to maintain such prolonged mediation because he enabled the mind to expand and envelope its natural state of perception by maintaining a constant, prolonged state of Mushin. As such, Dharma’s mind was naturally able to perceive, absorb and accept all sensory inputs around him so as to achieve a heightened, relaxed state.

Sufficient practice and development of the Mushin state of mind through the Sanchin Rite, (evolved from the Sanchin Kata of Karate) and the other rites of Jiriki Kata-Do dynamic meditation would seem to lend credence to my theory of how Dharma was able to maintain such prolonged meditation. From my own personal experience, this theory is more plausible and more readily capable of subjective experience than the cutting off of one’s eyelids. Through sufficient practice of Sanchin, one is able to maintain the Mushin state of mind continuously during life. Mushin is no longer, therefore, a state of mind TO BE ENTERED INTO. Dr. Deepak Chopra often talks of having a “default” state of mind. I submit that the state of mind of Mushin is the ultimate default state of mind and perception.

In the next article, I will illustrate how Mushin is applied to daily life. Future submissions will discuss:

1. Examples of how Mushin is incorporated into daily life;

2. Mushin as a sacrament to spirituality.

For additional information, please feel free to visit my website at WWW.Dynamic-Meditation.Com.

An expanded discussion of Mushin may also be found in my new book The Dynamic Meditation Rite Of Sanchin: Gateway To The Three Battles To The Plateau Of Human Serenity.

You may also find additional information on Jiriki Kata-Do, by reading my article herein dated December 15 , 2009. Entitled “Kata evolves into a methodology and ideology …” 



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