The intricacies of movement, strength and power- or solid technique- are the essence of Bujutsu, Martial Technique or Strategy. Exercises, forms and combat application, armed and unarmed, fall under the Bujutsu headline, along with strategy and war planning. It’s all technique to better you in the battlefield, whether it is a domestic disturbance, a street quarrel or real warfare.
Dedication to the martial path as a way of life is called Budo, or Way of the Warrior. Bujutsu is an integral part of Budo- you cannot have Budo without Bujutsu, but you can have Bujutsu without Budo or Bushin (Spirit of the Warrior). Since Bujutusu relies heavily on bodily mechanics and mental fortification, certain masters thought it best to add the ethos of justice (later, morality and ethics) into the martial curriculum, making way for Budo. Sensei Funakoshi Gitchin (Githcin Funakoshi in American lingo) wrote an excellent book called “Karate-Do: My Way of Life” that was a requirement in my Dojo (training hall) that is an inspiring story of the founder of Shotokan Karate and the Budo spirit.
Body and path now described, we find a finer representation of martial skill and application under the guise of Bushin, only this is not merely physical technique or determination upon the path but a refinement of every skill learned and intuited. It is the meditative aspect of (Japanese/Okinawan) martial arts and the Way towards self-perfection. Beyond technique, justice and morality, Bushin is living with a pure heart. This is the truly spiritual aspect of martial arts training. The subtleties of non-verbal communication (awareness and reaction), of graceful yet devastating techniques and a mind light as air grounded to the solid Earth in one package are Bushin. It is determination beyond ego and skill; it is perfecting the subtle aspects of self and uniting with ones true Nature and that of others, being human and animal, flora and fauna. It is complete grace and mastery over life. To further your studies on these three aspects, I refer you to Thomas Cleary’s addition of the “Bubishi: The Bible of Karate” for more information (one of my favorite martial arts books, although it’s really a treatise on Chinese Kung Fu that the Okinawan masters studied and possibly refined to fit their cultural styles).
This covers the abstract aspect of Shin Gi Tai, or Spirit, Mind, Body. Now we will move on to the physical representation of these three principles with an explanation of Sanchin Kata, or Three Battles Form- the three battles being Body, Mind and Spirit. The Three Battles can also be thought of as Legs, Core, and Breath and the unification of these elements.
Bujutsu is represented by the legs because your steps are grounded by a grabbing of the floor with your toes (taken from the Tiger). This represents rooting (lowering center of gravity and gripping the floor), strength (tensing the body with movement and breath) and moving power (stepping and turning).
Budo is represented by the principles behind these metaphors of techniques of life reworded as financial/familial security, courage and adaptation and transformation in life. This is found in the core because our power comes from the hips and morality is often considered to be housed in the heart (the core, in this essay, is not simply your lower abdomen, but the literal center of your body as in the spine and the agility of the torso). The core because of its twisting, whipping (of the spine and arms, represented by the Crane) and power accumulation also represents Budo.
Sanchin is not only about explosive power and combat efficiency but also harnessing internal energy for health and spiritual determination- the very essence of Bushin, represented by the Dragon Spirit. The internal aspects of Sanchin are coordinated by the breath (kyuko-ho) and concentration (kimae). Rooted movement and power, daily practice and reflection, and internal development (kiko) are all now united under one roof of proper Sanchin Kata. Many masters, such as those of the Goju-Ryu and Uechi-Ryu lineages claim Sanchin is the only kata one needs for complete Karate mastery.
Refining further, the Japanese Esoteric Buddhists, such as Tendai and Shingon (and certain Reiki circles, which was influenced by Tendai Mountin esoteric practices) call this triple aspect Sanmitsu, or Three Secrets. The Three Secrets in this definition is the same as the previous mentioned Three Battles, only now one can take into account the mystical aspects of martial arts. In Reiki the Three Secrets are Gassho (‘hands together [in prayer]’), Reiji-Ho (energy awareness), and Chiryo (‘[medical] treatment’), but how does this relate to martial arts? Within Bujutsu Sanmitsu can be found. Gassho represents a pure heart and diamond mind focus, Reiji-Ho represents the breath and feeling of internal energy, and Chiryo represents the healing aspects and physical components of Sanchin.
For meditative purposes Reiki-ka (practitioners of Reiki), Sanmitsu is used to connect all three worlds and aspects of self into one- the world above (Sky or Heaven), the personal world (Self) and the world below (Earth), which is obvious in the practice of Sanchin. The head is held erect and the eyes forward like a hungry wolf- spirit on the move. The core twists and the spine ripples with power, all concentrated in the lower abdomen and shoulder girdle- the seats of power and compassion, where Self finds stability and strength. The feet grip and move, connecting you to Earth which helps develop strong stances and devastating strikes- it’s like a deeply rooted bamboo stalk on a windy day- as hard as the wind blows the bamboo can only stay rooted and react to the onslaught of wind. Once the wind stops, the bamboo whips than stops, yet it remains perfectly in its ‘stance.’ Sanchin develops this into reaction and the principles can be take with you throughout your martial arts career.