Seisan is introduced to GKR students at Sandan (3rd dan). It is perhaps the slowest (by way of timing) kata practiced in GKR’s curriculum. It is a strong kata that predominantly uses Sanchin dachi in combat, utilizing many open hand blocks and strikes.
Seisan (along with Sanseryu) is a member of the Sanchin family of kata. (note that the term ‘San’ – meaning three – appears in the name of each of these kata). GKR Nidan kata, Shisochin is also a member of the Sanchin family however it does not have the term ‘San’ in its name. Each kata hailing from the Sanchin family are easily recognised by their opening sequence of three forward steps in Sanchin dachi.
While the original kata (Sanchin) executes this opening sequence with absolute tension and intensity, the kata that have spawned from Sanchin execute the opening sequence with much less physical exertion. Additionally, these kata are far more complex in their use of techniques, angles and embusen (performance line). Each kata takes Sanchin’s opening sequence to not only pay homage to the original kata but to quickly illustrate that the kata uses many of the same senjutsu (combat philosophies). Just two of these include:
Utilizing a short stance (sanchin dachi) in close quarter combat applications. Note that most kata promote the use of deep rooted stances during close quarter situations as these provide us with a more stable base to wrestle from. One martial arts theory on wrestling is that he or she with lowest belt will win (ie he or she with the lowest centre of gravity will win). Equally, most other kata use deep stances that have us on an angle from our opponent whereas the Sanchin kata have us predominantly remain square on to our opponent.
Note this senjutsu clearly illustrates why kata of the Sanchin family are high grade and very advanced kata. Despite the basic pattern being easier to learn than many lower grade kata, and their being less demanding (physically), the ability to successfully apply their combat principles in combat is far more difficult.
The ideology of, no matter what, marching forward through an opponent irrespective of whether striking, blocking, grappling, locking up etc. Successfully applying this senjutsu in actual combat requires not only the right physical skills, but a determined and confident mental attitude. The Sanchin kata prepare both physically and mentally for this ideology.
In general terms, a karate-ka’s goal is to distance themselves from their opponent during combat. This is because a karate-ka will have a distinct advantage whenever distance exists between them and their opponent. Some kata have us move back after striking, others create distance by promoting movement in other directions. These are a stark contrast to the Sanchin kata whereby we march forwards, and right over the top of our opponent.
These kata also prepare us both mentally and physically to absorb blows during combat. It’s worth noting that moving forward into an opponent while blocking means that even if the block is unsuccessful, the strike absorbed will have reduced power because it is unable to gain full reach and momentum.