Chinkuchi: The Unique Power of Uchinandi

by Dan Smith, Kyoshi, Shorin Ryu Seibukan


The Uchinan Chu or Okinawan people use the term “chinkuchi” in Uchinan gushi (Okinawan language) to describe the power that occurs when using the mind and body in a spontaneous action creating maximum power with minimum effort. To achieve “chinkuchi” all of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, breathing and mental intentions are in perfect coordination in a single moment of time.

One of the goals of Shorin Ryu Seibukan is to achieve “chinkuchi” at the right moment. It is not possible for all movements to achieve “chinkuchi” due to the situation but every technique should have the possibility. The achievement of this unique power of Okinawan karate is accomplished through the five elements of creating maximum results with minimum effort.

Intention or Zanshin – You must have the correct intention and understanding of the particular circumstances of the situation. Strategy and tactics are of extreme importance. Okinawan kata provides the strategy and tactics to be deployed for multiple situations.

Perfection of Technique – Execution of the kamae, intermediary movement, and timing and distance are elements that when integrated with perfection lead to “chinkuchi”. The balance and stability of the postures are effected by the correct use of shitabara, koshi and jushin.

Fluid Movement – Fluid movement comes from the relaxed use of the body. The body moves as one without pauses. Breath control and use of the koshi, shitabara, and jushin are key ingredients to fluid movement.

Speed of Movement – Speed of movement is determined by the acceleration and velocity of the movement. The transfer of energy from the koshi to the limbs creates the speed of movement and impact of the technique.

Power of Movement – Muscle contraction, snapping of the tendons and ligaments have to be strong to produce energy to deliver a decisive blow. The correct posture has to be maintained to allow the energy to be transferred to the opponent.

The five elements are the keys to creating a technique that will have the possibility of “chinkuchi”. If one element is missing the achievement of obtaining maximum power with minimum effort is not possible.

Chotoku Kyan:

Chotoku Kyan perfected the five elements discussed above and passed those concepts and techniques to Zenryo Shimabukuro, who was the founder of the Shorin Ryu Seibukan dojo. His son Zenpo Shimabukuro carries on the teachings of Kyan and places great emphasis on attaining maximum power with minimum effort. The kata of Kyan were designed to teach and develop these five elements.

Kyan sensei is reported to being able to lift a bag of sugar weighing two hundred pounds with a pole and throw it several feet in the air with just the movement of chudan soto uke. Okinawans called this a demonstration of “chinkuchi”.

A carpenter demonstrates “chinkuchi” when a nail is driven with a single blow. A perfect hit with no thought creates the best outcome.

Sensei Zenpo Shimabukuro demonstrates “chinkuchi” often in the kata Wansu when he picks up men that outweigh him by one hundred pounds. He performs the movement of kataguruma with ease as he uses the perfect movement with no thought as to how much the opponent weighs. If he considered the weight of the opponent the spontaneity of the movement would be lost and he would have to rely just on strength alone.

Zenpo sensei has said, “ Through constant practice and doing the technique correctly you will realize chinkuchi”.” If you are looking for chinkuchi you will not find it”, and “chinkuchi comes from natural movement, it just happens.”

“Chinkuchi” comes from the spontaneous movement that brings all the body and mind together at one moment. We practice the kata and seek the perfection of movement to bring us to the execution of “chinkuchi”.



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