what is seichusen?
Seichusen literally means Correct Center Line.
- Sei — Correct, where you can naturally draw the most power from.
- Chu — Centre, or middle relative the your opponents position.
- Sen — Line, not your spine so it's imaginary and built by feeling.
Having said that, the Kanji for “Chu” (Chu from Chudan or Naka from Nakadaka Ipponken) can also mean ‘inside’.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but in this case it has high-level value...
The "inside" Seichusen is actually the advanced skill.
To start though, Seichusen divides your body equally in a left and right side, which gives you balance and fast, smooth movement.
Let's have a closer look at this image from my book "Wado No Michi"...
The image shows several lines and dots:
- Seichusen — The black line is the centre line seen from the side.
- Tanden — The white dot is the exact centre of the body, the centre of gravity. This is Tanden or Seichushin.
- Seichumen — As we have to deal with an opponent who also has a Seichusen, there is a plane that connects both Seichusen of yourself and the opponent. We call this Seichumen.
Squeeze Seichusen through Seichumen as much as possible to achieve maximum effect.
As you start to understand, it's not just dividing your body in a left and right hand side... Here's what Seichusen means and how it applies to your opponents position 👇
If you have enough knowledge, experience, skill and imagination, Seichusen can be used for a variety of things. It can be used to for example:
- Improve the quality of your movement — Quality means how you move (effortless) and how easily you can combine movements and react to change. For example, if there's too much weight on one leg it's more difficult to move.
- Create a more stable posture — If you misalign even one spot in your body, you're unstable and vulnerable like a stack of cubes put together by a 2 year old.
- Increase the amount of striking force — This is another "quality" example as you can strike and get 70 output. And you can strike with the exact same effort and get a 100 output. When you push a car, you want your whole body behind your push. The same goes for your punch.
- Control the opponent — Project your Seichusen forward through your stance and finally hands to be able to intercept ANY movement from your opponent. I'm demonstrating advanced ways to use this at the end of this video.
8 ways to use seichusen
Practically, you can use Seichusen for
- Generating movement
- Axis Rotation
- Control of space by Kamae (like when you extend your arm you can keep him at a distance).
- Controlling your opponent (like an armbar)
- Whip-like movement
It seems like too much to master... but in the end it's down to ONE thing.
Dr. Hideo Takaoka founded "Shintai Ishiki" which translates into Consciousness of body.
He publised a book about Seichusen that covers not only what it is, but also how it's present in all physical activities. It's this consciousness that's necessary to have if you want to improve your skill.
The "consciousness" that Dr Takaoka speaks about, is similar to "awareness" and "mindfullness" which touches on the connection between body and mind.
It's all about feeling your centre line
It's like when you happen to hurt yourself, you FEEL where the pain is instantly. And it's that level of feeling you want in your techniques so you can feel what to do...
...where to relax more
...if your timing was off breaking the chain of events
...where your body is misaligned and how to fix that
...or "simply" improve your techniques with what I call "Micro Movement"
With that being said, let's move on to a perfect example outside of Karate.
Close your eyes and vividly see Usain Bolt running the tracks.
How does it look?
Does he have a good Seichusen? DEFINITELY.
Has he ever heard of the term? Probably not...
Running involves coordinated movement of the hands and feet, which move in unism along the centre line of the body. The faster the hands move, the fasters the legs move and vice versa.
As they run their HEAD STAYS STILL and the line moves practically straight forward.
A runner never bends his Seichusen. (if he does, he'll tire easily)
Even though a runner might lean forward slightly, the whole line leans forward. You can compare this to Junzuki no tsukkomi, where the line is leaning but is still straight.
Think about it...
Usain Bolt has probably never heard about Seichusen, but still has a good Seichusen.
Of course, he's a professional and get's proper instruction, but finally it is down to feeling and especially hard work. You can improve the quality of your Seichusen and your awareness i.e. "Consciousness Of Body" through training.
In other words, when you are AWARE of your centreline during practise, you can use your own feeling for feedback to improve your movement.
Let's make sure you understand seichusen perfectly...
Maybe YOU are correctly aligned, but are you aligned in the right direction?
I had the priviledge to have many many private conversations with Yokoyama Kancho. One of the things that we talked about was Kamae. Not just because we were writing his book, but because Kamae is a key feature of Budo.
We talked about being able to see someone's level of skill based on their Kamae. It does not tell you everything, but like you can spot a young and an old person... we can spot a rookie and experienced Kamae.
Does your Kamae have Seichusen?
Remember Seichusen can be used for rotation using it as an axis?
There's a name for it: Seichujiku.
Yokoyama Kancho used the term Seichujiku when talking about using Seichusen for axis spinning. Seichujiku is not a seperate thing, but an aspect of Seichusen. A way to use it.
A stable axis creates speed and smooth movement and having one means your movement has quality.
The Kanji used are identical to Seichusen, except for the last Kanji of "Jiku".
Jiku translates into axis, pivot or stem, and now axis is the best translation. So Sei Chu Jiku is Correct Central Axis.
Now I hear you thinking... are all these terms necessary?
Seichusen is the imaginary line that runs through your body from top to bottom, straight through Tanden. That's why, it's a radial axis as well.
You can simply call it Seichusen, centre line or axis, but sometimes it's easier to use a specific term like Seichujiku to avoid confusion.
Whatever you like, we're now digging into Seichusen as a radial axis for spinning movement.
A radial axis means not just front viewing. It's about all directions.
develop your seichusen with these training methods
Theory is great - especially if you can pull it off. The first step to being able to pull it off is to practise methods to highlight not just Seichusen, but specific aspects 👇
- USHIRO GYAKUZUKI — Forward movement and to the side only help you so much as these are directions we naturally move in. We're used to it. With Ushiro Gyakuzuki you get the chance to explore uncharted territory that will develop your backward movement overall.
- GEDAN BARAI WITH SEICHUJIKU — Execute Gedan Barai dropping straight out of centre line to combine Seichujiku with Chinshinho. It is not a practical training per se - it is a fundamental training. To program your body. Developing movement patterns that create sharp and stable movement.
- DEVELOP YOUR ALIGNEMENT — With the help of your friend, you can increase the quality of your line and your alignment strength.