Iron Horse; Empty Hand Part 3

Following on from Empty Hand Part 2, I bring you’re the next kata in order of advancement through the formal Karate gradings. We will only cover one kata in this post as it is technically tricky to learn, and you’ll need to get used to moving like a crab.

鉄騎初段 (ナイハンチ)

Tekki Shodan (Naihanchi)

Woop woop woop. The good Doctor has his own version of the Kiai.

Woop woop woop. The good Doctor has his own version of the Kiai.

Tekki means iron horse. Tekki Shodan is the first of three increasingly complex katas, that are a bit Dr. Zoidberg-ish; they do not follow the Embussen or ‘H’ shaped path of the five katas presented last post but instead move vigorously from side to side. Very crab like but a lot deadlier.

Kata History

The Tekki or Naihanchi, (meaning knight), are Shorei kata. Shorei means slow, strong movement, emphasizing strength. These kata were revised or created by Master Yasutsune Itosu. Master Funakoshi was required to spend three years learning each tekki kata. At that time, students would spend several years learning a single kata, such is the karateka’s dedication to their Martial skill.

Tekki Shodan was originally called Naihanchi and was revised by Master Yasutsune Itosu; Tekki Nidan and Sandan were created by Itosu.The Naihanchi kata is so integral to karate that Kentsū Yabu, Itosu’s student, instructed his own students “Karate begins and ends with Naihanchi”, He put his student under rigorous training, they were instructed to perform the kata 1000 times. If you haven’t got it mastered by then, Karate ain’t for you.

One of the few existing pictures of the geat Karate pioneer. Nice tache Sensei.

One of the few existing pictures of the great Karate pioneer. Nice tache Sensei.

Before Itosu created the Pinan, (Soon to be renamed Heian by Funakoshi), kata; Naihanchi would be taught first in Tomari-te and Shuri-te schools, which indicates its importance. Master Gichin Funakoshi learned the kata from Anko Asato. Funakoshi renamed the kata Tekki (Iron Horse) in reference to his old teacher, Itosu, and the kata’s power.

Motobu Chōki’s writings contain the oldest known reference to the kata. This information comes from books written by himself, in which he states that the kata was imported from China, but is no longer practiced there.

Motobu learned the kata from Sōkon Matsumura, Sakuma Pechin, Anko Itosu and Kōsaku Matsumora. Motobu taught his own interpretation of Naihanchi, which included te, (Okinawan parent of karate), revising some techniques.

Tekki Shodan

Once again our instructor, (in the seventies in these instructional vids. He was only 7th Dan), is.

先 生 金 澤 弘 和

Sensei Hirokazu Kanazawa 

Still ripped from his Karate practice, even in his forties.

Still ripped from his Karate practice, even in his forties.

The Bunkai

As you can see from the bunkai , the real applications of the techniques aren’t as simple as the kata makes them look. This, once again, is because the Okinawans had to practice in total secrecy. Because of this ‘disguise’ karate had to maintain, many think it to be the Dane Cook of Martial arts. Believe in your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor; this is the real deal.

Until next time. Stay informed.

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