Posts tagged ‘Sokon Matsumura’

June 3, 2011

Naifanchi / Naihanchi / Tekki Kata

Lately I’ve been spending some much-needed time practicing Naifanchi Kata. This has always been one of my favorite forms. It can be found in every major karate system in various degrees. It was Sokon Matsumura (1796-1893) who is said to have brought Naihanchi into karate. ‘Anko‘ Yasutsune Itsou (1830-1915) a student of Matsumura specialised in Naihanchi and believed that it was both, “the easiest and hardest kata to learn”.

It is my belief that Naifanchi Kata is a complete fighting/self-defense system in its own right. There is much depth in the kata that many students never understand nor take the time to master. One of the reasons is that the kata is broken down into three steps, (Shodan, Nidan & Sandan) to make learning the form much easier and I believe to hide many of the “truths” of the kata.

As I have traveled the world and practiced in many dojo, I have found that there are very few Martial Artist that practice all three parts of the form and even rarely putting the three parts together to complete the whole form. Most school & styles practice Shodan with some having learned and teach Nidan. Many of the instructors I talk to say their instructors know Sandan but they themselves haven’t learned or been taught it. And over the years I’ve only talked to a few that say they knew it was one whole kata broken down into three parts.

Each time I practice the kata, I learn more and more about it. In thinking about the techniques that are in the form, I find that it is a well-rounded form. To think that Nifanchi is a fighting system all on its own is not hard to believe nor is it all that far-fetched. It used to be said that in order to master (understand) a form, it must be practiced daily for three years. Being broken down into three parts, we find that it actually takes 9 years to master Nifanchi. I have been practicing it for over 30 years now and am still having insights to its techniques. Even after all these years, I still feel if I haven’t achieved mastery of the kata yet. (Will I ever?)

Choki Motobu (1871-1944) taught many grappling and throwing techniques all from the Nifanchi Kata and was the kata he emphasised in his teachings. If you’re interested in having highly effective close in fighting techniques, then Nifanchi is the Kata you need to study and master. Not just one part of the form either. You must seek out and learn all three aspects of the form, putting them together as a complete form and you will find great insight to how many of your techniques you will begin to understand with deeper meaning.