|Training in Naifanchi kata at the Seiyo no Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai hombu in Arizona.|
Members train using kiba dachi, or horse riding stance, which is prevalent in these three forms.
Kenwa Mabuni, the founder of Shito-Ryu Karate, is quoted as saying, "Karate is not fixed or immoveable. Like water, it's ever changing and fits itself to the shape of the vessel containing it. However, kata are not some kind of beautiful competitive dance, but a grand martial art of self-defense which determines life and death". Could it be that these great Okinawan masters of karate knew something that those who claim there is nothing of value to kata know. I suspect so.
When a qualified person takes each kata and dissects it into several bunkai (self-defense applications), each individual bunkai (every move in kata) can be taught as self-defense. When this done over and over to educate the muscles, mushin will take over and the technique, or a variety of the technique, will appear later during karate training when you least expect it, or during a time when you need to defend yourself - but only if the bunkai is practical and it becomes part of your daily life.
Every move in kata should be able to stand alone for self-defense. Such self-defense applications are taught to increase punching, blocking and kicking power while at the same time strikes are focused on pressure points. In Shorin-Ryu schools, we also teach shitai kori (body hardening) to assist the practitioner in the ability to take strikes to pressure points. Through time, kata becomes a personal sensei (teacher), that self-instructs the student in self-defense and should include punches, blocks and kicks along with hidden techniques such as pressure point strikes, throws, chocks, releases, restraints, ground techniques, and more.
Kata is very important in most Shorin-Ryu Karate schools. A large variety of kata are taught at the Arizona Hombu dojo in Mesa and Gilbert, Arizona, as well as all of our schools around the world. Students of Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo train in many of these forms including the Naifanchi kata. These three kata (forms) known as Naifanchi are practiced by nearly all Okinawa karate and Japanese schools and even some Korean taekwondo schools. The kata are known as Chulgi (Korea), Dai Pochin (China), Tekki (Japanese) and Naihanchi or Naifanchi (Okinawa), and sometimes referred to as Naifunchin. The interpretation of how they are used in training and combat (bunkai) varies from style to style and even from school to school. All three kata follow the pattern along an imaginary embusen (line) running right (migi) to left (hadari) focusing on kiba dachi (horse-riding stance).
|Inside the Arizona Hombu.|
|Wyoming Horse riding stance, |
(c) sketch by Soke Hausel
Kiba dachi on the rocks – practicing kata at 8,500
feet in the Laramie Mountains on 1.4 billion year
old Sherman Granite in 1985.
Still others suggest these kata were designed to teach close quarters combat for a defender with his back against a wall. With this in mind, most waza (techniques) in Naihanchi seemed to be directed against attackers from the front and sides. But, there is at least one exception - the first waza in Naihanchi Nidan that is almost always interpreted as a defense against a bear hug from behind. But the more we examine this technique, it is apparent there are many applications including defense against single and double lapel grabs, and single and double wrist grabs.
|Front kick (mae geri) at the University |
of Wyoming about 1993.
|Master Cho of the Shaolin, |
(c)pencil sketch by Soke Hausel.
|Sensei Hausel stands in kiba dachi|
with 400 pounds of weight on his back at the
University of Wyoming.
|Gichin Funakoshi, father of modern Okinawa |
Karate. (c)pencil sketch by Soke Hausel.
|Hanshi Finley, 7th dan, trains in kiba dachi at the University of Wyoming|
At the Arizona Hombu in Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona, students train in these kata until they learn all of their bunkai (self-defense applications) before moving on to another kata. But during this training, they also learn many other martial arts including kobudo, jujutsu, various self-defense applications and samurai arts to keep the students from getting bored. Not all Arizona martial arts schools teach naifanchi kata but they are a very important part of the curriculum at Grandmaster Hausel's school in Gilbert, Mesa, Arizona, who taught martial arts for 3 decades at the University of Wyoming prior to moving to Gilbert, Arizona.
|Bunkai from Pinan Yodan and from Naihanchi Shodan practiced by Lexi and Janet at the Hombu Dojo|
|Gavin and John practice bunkai from Naihanchi Sandan kata.|