Sanchin and Tenshow are two basic katas originated from the school of Naha-te. They are two sets of prescribed movements in slow motion that can be categorized as a kind of Qi-gong in Karatedo. The practice of Sanchin and Tenshow requires the correct conception of the katas and their movements, together with concentration of mind and regulation of breathing of the practitioners. As the practice helps practitioners to generate a steady flow of Qi in human body, it is of great benefit to their body mechanism and constitution. Naturally, karatekas regard Sanchin and Tenshow as invaluable treasures of Karatedo.


The performance of Sanchin and Tenshow is not a mere set of passive manoeuvre of body parts; it has to be directed by two key elements: the Yi and the Qi. As some masters said, “Where the Yi goes, the Qi goes; and where the Qi goes, the Jin follows.” It goes without saying that Yi, Qi and Jin are closely interrelated……


We breath with the abdomen for Sanchin and Tenshow. In the abdominal breathing, the diaphragm rises and lowers deliberately to a greater extent, so that the vital capacity of the breathing taken will increase correspondingly. The correct way of breathing has to be coordinated with the pace and rhythm of body movements. As some masters said, “Exhaling is substantial, inhaling is insubstantial.” The effects of substantiality and insubstantiality are the natural feelings of our bodies and they are the outcomes of breathing governed by our mind. The basic principles of applications are: inhaling when reserving energy, exhaling when discharging energy……


Sanchin Dachi is the main stance applied in Sanchin and Tenshow. When moving with Sanchin Dachi, the movement should be agile and stable, while the head should be kept moving along a level plane……


We should keep our heads straight, and relax our shoulders and elbows. With the aid of concentration of Yi and flowing of Qi, we should be able to coordinate precisely our body movements with abdominal. We should purposefully control the muscles of our arms and hands, and let them move gently and smoothly along the correct paths. Never exert undue strain to our muscles to generate excessive body power as this will result in undesirable body shaking. In addition, all movements should begin and end gradually, the speed of movements should be uniform, and the line of movements should be smooth……


Sanchin and Tenshow are easy to learn but hard to, yet the practice of these katas in the correct way is extremely helpful in building the foundation of attacking and blocking techniques in Karatedo, and is of great benefit to the constitution of the practitioners. Therefore after learning the basic movements and breathing method of Sanchin and Tenshow, we have to practise the katas unremittingly in order to achieve these ultimate goals……


Dan-tian is a small area of the human body just below the navel. It generates and reserves vital energy that is considered to be the root of human life. The coordinated action of mind, breathing and movements in the practice of Sanchin and Tenshow will activate the Dan-tian; thus revitalizes the body strength and spiritual strength, and fortify the ability to cure diseases and maintain good health……


Sanchin was brought to Japan by Sensei Kanryo Higaonna, who was the teacher of Sensei Kenwa Mabuni – founder of Shitoryu Karatedo. Sensei Kanryo Higaonna learnt Sanchin during his stay in China in quest of the ways of Chinese Kung-fu.

Sanchin, also known as “San-shin”, means the movements begin and progress with advancing three steps forward. Since Sanchin Dachi is the main stance adopted for the kata, so the kata is also called “Sanchin”, and “Sanchin” is widely-received as the title of this kata nowadays.

The basic constituent attacking and blocking techniques adopted in Sanchin are Chudan Tsuki and Yoko Uke. Apart from these, Wa Uka and Mawashi Uke are also included in the kata. The purpose of incorporating these techniques in the kata is to enable practitioners to apprehend the theory of “Yi generates Qi which in turn strengthens body movements” more easily through constant practice of the simplest and basic techniques of Karatedo. It may sound easy to understand. However, only through correct and unremitting practice that the practitioners can be benefited both mentally and physically.

Apart from the mental and physical benefits mentioned above, practicing Sanchin also functions to elevate the speed of delivering Tsuki and Uke and enhance our power. This is because in the practice of Sanchin, we always make use of mind concentration and abdominal breathing in kata movements. By this method of exercise, we will naturally relax our shoulders and elbows so as to reserve our internal energy in a calm and flexible manner. This helps us to increase the speed of delivering the techniques. When Qi is activated through the application of Yi, Jin will be generated. The correct combination of Jin and body power will produce substantial, penetrating and even destructive power.




Tenshow is another kata brought to Japan by Sensei Kanryo Higaonna, who was the teacher of Sensei Kenwa Mabuni – founder of Shitoryu Karatedo. Sensei Kanryo Higaonna learnt Tenshow during his stay in China in quest of the ways of Chinese Kung-fu. The origin of Tenshow can be traced back to a Shaolin Kung-fu – Liu-qi-show; and Tenshow was later further modified.

Tenshow was initially referred to as “Liu-qi-show”. As the progression of the kata mainly comprises forms and movements of open-hand and rotation of palms, it was gradually titled as Tenshow, which means, “rotating palms”.

The major techniques contained in Tenshow include Shoutei Tsuki, Shoutei Uke, Soto Kakete, Uchi Kakete, Yoko Uke, Ko Uke, Sukui Uke, Wa Uke and Mawashi Uke. In the kata, various forms of open-hand techniques for attacking and blocking will be performed using skillful and precise bending and rotation of the wrists and palms. The training will improve the movements of the open-hand techniques; thus enhance the suppleness of the wrists and arms. After constant practice of Tenshow, Jin could be effectively generated along the correct paths of movements in the applications of open-hand techniques.

The practice of Tenshow not only benefits our body health, but also enhances the instant power produced by the movements of open-hand techniques. This is because the bending and rotating of the wrists will help practitioners to generate powerful and speedy swirling force. The combination of this swirling force and Jin will produce enormous power even within short driving distance of movement. Moreover, by bending and rotating the wrists swiftly in a set of movements, individual movements will be coordinated and their continuity will be improved; thus their application time will be shortened.