June 22, 2024

Featured Kata

Naihanchi / Naifanchi (Video’s are below) .

About / History: It is speculated by some that the kata Naihanchi (Naifanchi, Naifanchin, Naihanchin) is derived from a Chinese Tam Tui (Northern Mantis) form called Dai-Po-Chin (Dai-Fan-Chie in Cantonese, and Da-Fan-Che in Mandarin). Some say this means “whirlwind” because of arm movements in it, while other say it means “Big Chariot.” There is another similar form in some Mantis styles called Xiao-Fan-Che, or “Little Chariot.” They are said to be part of the Chariot (Fan-Che) set from the Shaolin temple. Tradition has it that the “Dafanche” was part of sixteen sequences systemized by Shaolin Monks at the prime of Shaolin history, and that it was later perpetuated into the Northern Mantis style. If Naihanchi is not derived from it, it is at least similar to it. But the similarities in the name and in the form are a little hard to overlook. One report of how the kata got to Okinawa is through the Chinese master Ason. The story goes that Ason was one of the first Chinese teachers in Kumemura, and built up his style on the base of the original Naihanchi Kata, which apparently he brought from China. His students were Sakiyama, Tomigusuku, Gushi, Nagahama and Tomoyose. But the style ended with Tomigusuku and was not passed on. The report alleges that only the Naihanchi kata was passed on into the Naha te, from where Matsumura and Itosu got it. Some believe that Matsumura was a pupil of Ason, but other reports claim that Ason came to Okinawa too early on for that to be true. Whatever the case, somehow the kata got from Ason to Matsumura, directly, or through other masters. Then again, did Matsumura get it from China, directly from Shaolin? It is not out of the question to suppose that this kata was perpetuated in Shaolin as well as the Mantis style.

Some claim that Bushi Matsumura created both Naihanchi Shodan and Nidan, apparently from a pre-existing kata, perhaps the one he recieved through the Naha-te line if that story is true. Some believe either Itosu or Choki Motobu created Naihanchi Sandan. Some say that Itosu created all three of them, and that Matsumura had nothing to do with the first two at all. However, Nabi Matsumura taught Naihanchi Shodan and Nidan, but he never studied under Itosu.

Motobu Chōki’s emphasis on naihanchi has given rise to the myth that he only knew the kata, when in fact he mastered and taught multiple kata as described above. However, it is also true that he believed that naihanchi contained all of the principles of karate. Below are some of Motobu’s sayings on naihanchi and the principles of karate.

  • All is spontaneity and transformation.
  • Kamae is on the inside, not on the outside.
  • Me-oto-de is a principle of karate that must be adhered to at all times. Even in everyday life — for example, when pouring alcohol, holding a cup, or picking up chopsticks — students of kenpō must follow this principle so as to make it a part of themselves.
  • One must become able to discern the strength of another in a glance.
  • Against an opponent of inferior strength, one does not have to defend against attacks one by one. One should instead oneself instantly attack.
  • Karate is sente, or making the first move.
  • Kassen, or engaging an opponent, is strategy.
  • One cannot understand the true meaning of something without putting it into practice.
  • The way the legs, hips, and lower back are used in the naihanchi kata is the basis of karate.
  • In the naihanchi kata, twisting to either the right or the left is a stance that can be used in actual confrontation. Thinking of twisting to either the right or left in the naihanchi kata, one can start to understand one by one the meaning of the movements contained therein.
  • A defending arm must always be able to instantly transform into an attacking arm. Defending with one arm and attacking with the other is not true bujutsu. Achieved with further development, the waza of defending and attacking at the same time is true bujutsu.
  • Against true karate, a series of strikes cannot be used. That is because if an opponent’s strike is blocked with true karate, the opponent will not be able to make a second move.


Koryu Naihanchi Kata by Katsuyuki Shimabukuro Sensei: Katsuyuki Shimabukuro Sensei, was a student of Higa Yuchoku who was a student of Chibana Sensei


Koryu Naihanchi Shodan; Bushi-te Koryu Naifanchi by Yoshizawa Sensei Yoshizawa Sensei told me that Modern Japanese martial arts is a great sports martial arts. But only the front part of the body is attacked. People’s vital points are also in the back of the head and back. Koryu Naifanchi firmly protects the backside.


Koryu Naifanchi Shodan: This old version of the Naifanchi Shodan is taught by the Genseiryu Karate-do Federation. This Koryu version was taught by Seiken Shukumine (1925–2001).