By Steve Rowe
Samchin – Harmonising Mind, Body & Breath
Saamchin (Sanchin) = The resolution of the conflict between mind, body & breath.
Saamchin is the internal training, the neigong and qigong of the Martial Arts. It links the different level of breathing exercises to the different levels of physical co-ordination and mental awareness, sensitivity and intensity. It exercises the internal connection from feet to hands and methods of utilising the spine and core for power.
Many Martial Artisits use it for a more external ‘dynamic tension’ and forced valsavic style breathing, not realising that there’s far more power using it for it’s original purpose in deep internal training.
Without this going into a huge deep unreadable post, let me list the fundamental considerations in plain English in a way that most people can read and understand to improve your form and give you alternative ideas to what you already train:
The Saamchin circle can be drawn around the outside of the feet.
The diameter of the circle is the width of the shoulders.
The head is the centre of the circle & should be ‘suspended’ from the crown – opening the occipital area.
The ‘plumb line’ of the body should go from the crown of the head, down through the ear lobes, the centre of the shoulder, the centre of the hips to the arches of the feet.
The tongue should lightly press to the top palette behind the front teeth.
The ankle, knee and hip joints should be unlocked.
The gentle outward spiral pressure of the feet to the floor should rotate the femur in the hip socket enough to open the inguinal crease in the hips and this alignment allows the bottom of the spine to drop, lengthening and loosening the spine.
The chest should be sunk by ‘letting go’ and not forced.
The softening and connection of the core goes from the head through the neck, down through the myofascia in the chest around the heart and lungs, in to the diaphragm, through the psoas, inside the hips through the pelvic floor, down the inside of the legs, around the back of the knees, down the calves into the plantar fascia in the feet to the arches.
Breathing is from the lower abdomen and back.
The ‘4 pumps of chi’ (ki) are the arches of the feet, the lower back, between the shoulder blades and the occipital area. These 4 pumps need to worked to manipulate the spine and core and energise the breath, body and mind.
The positioning and movement of the body dictates the breathing method and this alters at each of the 3 levels of the form. The 3 levels of co-ordination are:
One side moves whilst the other is fixed.
Both sides move together powerfully manipulating the spine and core.
Both sides move in opposite directions and open and close sharply.
The deep breathing from the lower abdomen and back draws the diaphragm down and fills the lungs fully with air. This puts more oxygen into the blood and brings it to the brain making the mind more aware.
The qualities trained in the mind are:
It requires an aware and focused mind to utilise the sensitivity to read the body from the inside and increase the kinaesthesia (understanding where your body is in space and how it is aligned). The intensity is required to maintain that awareness, focus and sensitivity throughout the form.
The continuous good structure, aliveness and internal spiralling in the form maintains peng (ward off) and this can be tested by pressing against the practitioner in various places and differing angles and they should be able to resist without pushing back or leaning against the push. This is done by the internal spiral in the feet connecting to the core and out throughout the entire body.
Saamchin HAS to be taught by a knowledgeable Instructor who can correct and test each posture, but learned well, provides everything you need to know about the internal system that is lacking in most martial arts these days and will provide infinitely more power as well as a form of meditation and vigorous health!