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Naihanchi ナイハンチ

     Naihanchi (a.k.a. Naifuanchi) is typical of in-fighting techniques, including grappling. There are three kata in modern (i.e. post 1900) karate, with the second and third being thought to have been created by Itosu Anko (Iwai, 1992; Kinjo, 1991a; Murakami, 1991). Another popular theory is that originally the three were one kata, but were broken up into three separate parts by Itosu (Aragaki, 2000; Iwai, 1992).

This kata was not originally developed to be used when fighting against a wall, but this does not preclude such interpretations. While the kata itself goes side to side, the applications are more often than not against an attacker who is in front of you, or grabbing at you from the sides or behind. Some say that the side-to-side movement is to build up the necessary balance and physique for quick footwork and body-shifting (Kinjo, 1991b).

Interestingly, most versions of Naihanchi start to the right side, including Itosu, Matsumura and Kyan's versions. Isshinryu's Naihanchi starts to the left. There are others that start to the left as well, including that of Kishimoto Soko lineage schools like Genseiryu and Bugeikan (Shukumine, 1966), the Tomari version of Matsumora Kosaku lineage schools like Gohakukai (Okinawa Board of Education, 1995), and Motobu Choki's version (Motobu, 1997). This last may account for Shimabuku Tatsuo beginning his Naihanchi to the left.

Isshinryu Naihanchi is basically a re-working of the classical Naihanchi Shodan, in order to keep it in line with the principles around which Shimabuku built his style. The main reason Shimabuku did not retain Naihanchi Nidan and Sandan is probably because his primary teacher Kyan did not teach them (Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education, 1995).

*from The Kata of Okinawa Isshinryu Karate-do: An Informal Discussion on their Possible Origins by Joe Swift


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