Hello All. One of the key things I've been learning from Iain's material is that every kata represents a complete fighting system, and that every technique in the kata is designed to incapacitate your opponent. I see how that works in almost every kata I know - been studying Iain's bunkai of the Pinan Series, Bassai, Tekki and Kanku Dai and trying to apply those principles to other katas - but I'm a bit stumped by one of my style's most essential katas: Sanchin.
In Kyokushin, we learn a mix of katas derived from the karate styles Mas Oyama studied - Shotokan and Goju-Ryu. I've always heard that Sanchin and Tensho are the most important katas in the Goju system (and are equally important in Kyokushin), respectively representing the go/hard and ju/soft aspects of that style. Yet, here's the thing: both katas execute most of their techniques under tension, with a heavy emphasis on strong abdominal 'ibuki' breathing; both only use a single stance, which itself requires the muscles to be tensed against each other from the ground up. Now I've seen a lot of self-defence applications such as break-holds, wrist and arms locks and neck cranks derived from the circular movements in Tensho - but almost nothing like that from Sanchin.
Sanchin uses a very small number of techniques - uchi uke, gyaku tsuki, a grab that's supposed to pull your opponent onto a double nukite strike to the mid-section (which never struck me as very practical), and finally two shuto mawashi ukes to the front. I've practised this kata for a long, long time, and in the context of my training, I always understood it to be an isometric strengthening exercise for the body, which trained you to take some hard hits (instructors can be pretty ruthless in testing your stance) and control your breathing. But now, in the light of what I'm learning here, I've been trying to see if there's more to it than that.
In the last couple of months, I've read articles and books and watched videos about the kata from senior goju instructors. All of them go into the mind/body/spirit aspects of the kata, all talk in great depth about the details of how to hold the stance, how to breathe, and how to perform the techniques. But NONE of them mention real combat applications - which is a little frustrating and leads me to wonder whether Sanchin might be the only kata out there which is primarily a physical/mental exercise, rather than a fighting system in itself.
It is possible to apply the type of interpretation Iain does to Sanchin - the initial punch/block sequence is a bit reminiscent of a brief section of Bassai, but that's only ONE brief section of a very involved kata. Then there's the impractical-seeming grab-pull-nukite sequence, then the circular blocks while stepping backwards. But this doesn't seem to constitute a complete fighting system in the same way that pretty much any of the katas I've seen Iain interpret does.
Another oddity - the kata is said to be about "the application of power", yet there is no hip movement in the strikes. In each position, the hips are tilted, held firm and always facing forward, while the only movement is in the arms and the breath.
So, yeah - is Sanchin different in this way from all the other katas in karate, inasmuch as it is more of an exercise in conditioning the body for combat, than a record of real, effective combat techniques? Am I missing something here?