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Shisoshin and the four fundamental principles

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The kata Shisoshin come from the family of kata that include Sanseiru and Suparinpei. These kata open with 'Sanchin', and express the principles of this fundamental form.

Sanchin cultivates the vitality of the mind and body (Ki), also developing the resilience of the body to take blows . These two disciplines balance the internal and external. However If the path of body conditioning is practiced exclusively, then the hard external method will likely desensitize the body and make it stiff.

Shisochin lends its self well to developing the vitality with its open hand performance and its fluid movement.

The corner stone of the southern Chinese styles emphasis a rooted stance and fluid arm methods. Okinawan Karate is an example of this with power coming from the legs, directed via the midsection and projected through the arms.

Rooting also enables an external force to be received by the arms, contained by the midsection and projected through the legs into the ground.

Developing strong legs with an inane sense of balance and stability is the first step toward rooting. Utilizing the pull of gravity and the support of the ground leads to a strong foundation on which to build the martial body.

From the open hand guard position of Shisoshin (1), draw the arm back so that the line of intention of the forearm (between wrist and elbow) points down to the ground behind (2) and not on a horizontal plane. As the arm draws back inhale and allow the feeling of inhalation to travel down to the lower abdomen about 1.5 inches below the navel.

When the hand moves out, exhale with the movement with a push of breath at the end of the strike whilst allowing a projection of intention via the base of the palm and through the finger tips (3) rather than locking the joints of the arm solidly. It is imperative that you do not raise up, instead keep the power down in the legs and lower abdomen so that you do not lose contact with the ground.


The opening sequence should be practiced many times, this will develop the projection of the body power opposed to a stiff arm strike with little penetration. Of the four fundamental principles of Goju Ryu this rooted striking concept is that of 'sinking and spitting'

The reverse of projecting outwards is to draw down through the body into the ground.


First the opponent is pulled off balance by seizing the clothing just below the neck and dropping the body weight down (4), pulling down via the elbows and bending the knees at the same time. As the balance is broken, step back and the continue the downward motion (5) so that the opponents head strikes your leading knee. This is the concept of 'sinking and floating'.

As part of Tuite - Grappling, rather than pull the clothing place both hands round the back of the opponents neck and then drop down.

Stepping forwards both hands open in a middle and lower kamae (6). The feeling in the bottom hand is to intercept an attempted kick, with back of the hand threatening the opponents groin. The middle block has the feeling of intercepting the outside opponents arms. Both arms project along the line of intention. Receive the opponents arm on the outside(7) with a feeling of pressing into their body and then seize their wrist (8).


Coming inside the opponent, hit upwards with elbow to strike the chin (9), this interrupts the connection between neck and upper body so taking the strength away in shoulders. This allow the the opponents arm to be extended and twisted. Pivot the body to lead the opponent (10) with a feeling of dropping. The forearm rolls over the bicep so lifting the muscle and then strikes into the upper arm attacking the Median Nerve behind the biceps muscle.

This combines swallowing, floating, sinking with dividing the 'muscle and tendon'.

At all times maintain the root, being mindful of the one point in the lower abdomen known as the Hara - Japanese or Tan Tien - Chinese.
Sodokan Goju Karate Association
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Mike Clark 1997-2005. Reproduction of material on this site is not permitted