View Full Version : White Crane 3 Battles Set=Sanchin?

16th December 2003, 05:41
I was reading a book about the White Crane system of Chinese martial arts and the routine featured in the book was called 3 Battles White Crane Mother Fist. I had never really connected up the fact that 3 Battles in Japanese is Sanchin, and that is the name of (I think) one of the oldest karate kata.

This White Crane set bears some resemblance to what I remember Sanchin as looking like, which gets to my question; is it viewed as an established fact that the kata known as Sanchin derived from the White Crane set of the same name?

To give a bit of background, the book (which is in Chinese and published a couple of years ago here in Taiwan) was written by a Taiwanese named Tsai Hui Lung and discusses a subdivision of the White Crane system known as Long Limbed White Crane.

The 3 Battles routine presented in the book starts with an opening salutation, then a section called "Inviting White Crane Fist" (which has 18 moves). The "inviting" means, in a sense, to prepare to receive the attack. Then comes the "First Battle" section, it has 32 movements. Then the Second and Third Battles which are exact repeats of the first. The routine is done with what I would call a "Z" shaped footwork (the Chinese refer to it as "corner stepping"); i.e. right foot forward, then pull the left up to the right, then withdraw the left and withdraw the right. Basically kind of "shuffling" in place.

Does this sound like the grand-daddy of Sanchin? I am considering doing an article on this for Classical Fighting Arts magazine.

Take care,

16th December 2003, 20:14
Sounds good. I will wait for your article.

I have only one Chinese book resembling Uechi-ryu. http://spiritdimension.com/martial-arts-books/009/five-ancestor-fist-kung-fu--the-way-of-n.htm

The book you are reading is it available for purchase?

Jock Armstrong
17th December 2003, 04:11
Since there was a lot of contact between Chinese and Okinawans in this area I'd be surprised if sanchin is not a simplified or "Okinawanised" Chinese form.

18th December 2003, 02:45
Happy Holidays from Taiwan,
The 3 Battles White Crane book was published by Lion Publications here in Taipei. If you have to handle your business in english then the easiest way to get Lion Publications reprints is from Plum Publications. The folks running Plum Publications are good folks.
Their website is at:

The specific page for their selection of Lion Publications is:

The book itself is:
LionBooks #LBWC-A301 US$9.75
by Chin Li-Yen Shihfu

If you can read and write Chinese or can get someone to help you out then you can go direct to Lion Books. Their website is:

Hope this helps.
Take care,

Rob Alvelais
18th December 2003, 05:18

Pardon the stupid question, but are the books in English? The photos of the books don't show any English, but the descriptions of the books are in English. So, If they're not in English, it seems strange to have the descriptions in English.


18th December 2003, 06:22
Hi Rob,
Yeah, it is not clear what the language is, it is however Chinese. None of the Lion Publishers books (with one exception, a book about Pakua) are in english.

What Plum Publishers (who is the North American distributor for Lion Books) is hoping is that folks who can not read Chinese will still buy the books simply for the pictures.

take care,

Joseph Svinth
19th December 2003, 04:19
Brian --

It has been years since I looked, but see what Morio Higaonna has to say in his book on Goju Ryu history. Patrick McCarthy's Bubishi may also give you some ideas.

20th December 2003, 01:07
Good Morning Joe,
thanks for those two leads. I noticed a copy of Patrick McCarthy's Bubishi over at Lion Books the other day so over the weekend I will pick it up.

Congrats on your new book. You have had two come out this year, right? If so you are the Hardest Working Man in Rock and Roll and in Martial Arts History Books.

take care,

20th December 2003, 07:52
I have the book in question but feel that it is but one of the many different versions of that which could be considered to be the Sanchin form of Karate. For example Ngo Cho Kun has a form known as Saam Chien which contains some small elements of Sanchin and the Fujian Immortal White Crane of Taiwan's Sifu Dong Mu-Yau is remarkably like the Happoren/Paipuren form except with a few minor differences.

With Respect,

20th December 2003, 10:19
Hi Ron,
Yeah, I realize that there is a lot of possible sources and I know even here in Taiwan there is a range of different styles of Crane Boxing (also a fair amount of rivalry and "secrecy") and that any or none of them could have been the ancestor of modern day Sanchin kata.

Somebody else pointed out the possibile Ngo Cho Kun origin. I was simply struck by the fact they both had the same name and a roughly similiar "look". Although actually the last time I saw someone perform any version of Sanchin was about 20 years ago!

I went over and took a look at your Crane Boxing web site; nice work, very interesting. As an aside do you know anything about a person named Chen Tso Chen (here in Taiwan) and his art of Hsu Hsi Tao which is mentioned by Tim Cartmell in one of his books as being "an esoteric internal version of White Crane".

take care and Happy Holidays,

20th December 2003, 23:52
Hi Brian,

I guess that within the world of White Crane, many could lay claim to having the "original Sanchin". I think that all the forms that make this claim are interconnected.

No I am not familar with Chen Tso Chen and his Hsu Hsi Tao but it sounds interesting! Please tell me more.

Are you familar with Sifu Dong Mu-Yau and his Fujian Bai He Tang. He was featured in a back issue of Wu Lin Magazine. What about Lio Yin-Shan of Shihequan (Feeding Crane)???

Best wishes!

22nd December 2003, 09:41
Hi Ron,
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I do not personally know any of the Crane boxers here in Taiwan. I know both Dong Mu Yau and Liu Jin Lung by reputation and by the magazine pieces. I have seen Dong Mu Yau perform at the Lion Books Grand Openning a couple of years ago. He is an impressive Taiwanese martial artists and I respect him for his willingness to share his knowledge publically.

In a similiar vein I am impressed with Liu Jin Lung. I spoke briefly with one of his foreign students (via email), a guy named Paul Wollos, who was in the process (if I remember right) of being accepted as a "closed door" student of Liu Jin Lung.

Although I practice xingyi and pakua, I am interested in the various crane schools because they were a major part of what we can call the "pre-KMT" Taiwanese martial arts world. They also have a natural connection to xingyi and pakua as many crane schools (as you are well aware) use what we could call an "internal" approach to training. I put "internal" in quotes as that word is much abused and misused.

Hsu Hsi Tao is a good example of that, as (if I understand correctly) it is a hybrid system that mixes Crane boxing with Taijiquan. It is of fairly recent vintage but supposed to be an interesting "creature". Beyond that I know nothing about it.

Happy Holidays,

23rd December 2003, 02:18
Hi Brian,

Yes Dong Mu-Yau is an extraordinary martial artist with his White Crane being considered a family art (It has been in his family for over three generations). He considers it to be the art of Fang Qi Niang. His Playing Crane form is a wonder to watch!

Have a great Christmas.


26th December 2003, 22:23

Found the link and checked out the books. Is there another method of purchasing the books? Their site is about as safe as driving on the LBJ Freeway here in Dallas. (no https or other security features required by Visa/MasterCard International Associations)

J Flurry

28th December 2003, 03:22

Plum Publications, I think, is the only source for any of the Lion Publications books. I too am quite concerned about internet credit card security and what I do in such cases is use the "old fashioned way" of a check through the postal mail. It takes a lot longer but I am not worried about some "internet robber" getting my credit card info.

take care,

Old Dragon
7th January 2004, 17:55
To respond to the original post.

Dont hold me to this because it is word of mouth and I cant find any written proof of it at this time but YES i do beleive sanchin Came from white crane.

The Z stepping you talk of could that be compared to the circular stepping of Isshin ryu and shorin ryu.???????????????????????

I think it is pretty much accepted that Sanchin is one of the "grand old men" of the okinawan karate kata.

Mike O'leary.