Sunday, January 12, 2014

Karate's Most Effective Form

This page is meant to present resources on Naihanchi Shodan (and to a much lesser extent Naihanchi Nidan) which are designed to highlight its functional utility as a fighting method. This page only attempts to highlight resources which are compatible with my own approach to the kata. It makes no attempt to catalog resources relating to other approaches. This isn't meant to suggest that those approaches aren't valid in their own way. Rather it is just meant to present an internally consistent approach to the kata.

The first resource is the Facebook Naihanchi discussion group:

The footwork of Naihanchi is somewhat abstract and causes a great deal of confusion for many karateka in terms of bunkai (analysis/application). This article cover basic Tenshin (evasive body rotation) for Naihanchi kata focusing on practical applications of Kosa-dachi:

This video show many waza using kosa-dachi footwork similar or identical to that shown in the article.

The video below presents many trapping and striking methods as well as Naihanchi nu tuidi (Naihanchi joint techniques). It covers mainly single waza bunkai and doesn't address combinations.

The video below is meant to be an instructional video and all techniques are performed slowly and typically with a distinct staccato rhythm. This is merely a teaching/learning device. It should go without saying that once proficiency has been achieved, these techniques are to be performed very quickly and smoothly.

It introduces "bunkai rules," tenshin drills, combination bunkai, and slightly more complex trapping.

Here is a simple Naihanchi Flow Drill. This drill is intended to develop trapping and  flow, and to enhance one's awareness of the relationship between techniques in the kata:

Here is a video covering 5 movements from Naihanchi Nidan and a flow drill to practice those techniques. This portion of the kata illustrates how to address resistance encountered while trying to apply tuidi (joint techniques). Instead of trying to muscle the techniques, the kata shows how to reverse direction and co-opt the attacker's force while transitioning into a new technique. In other words it shows how to "go with the flow".

Angel Lemus shinshii's One Minute Bunkai™  video series includes a number of videos on Naihanchi. His insights into the kata should be considered carefully. I actually don't think of us as having different approaches to the kata. Rather we just have slightly different takes on the same approach. I think you'll see what I mean.

The One Minute Bunkai™  Webpage.

Next I want to draw the reader's attention to Chris Denwood shinshii. Here is his Website:

Here is Denwood shinshii's article on the key structural elements of Naihanchi kata:

He are a set of drills from Naihanchi Shodan exploring the ways the different techniques can be combined and recombined to maintain control of an attackers limbs as the encounter evolves. This is exploring the techniques in a way that is not bound by the order they appear in kata. This is an important stage in developing Naihanchi as a fighting method.

Here is a demonstration of Nahainchi kata followed by a simultaneous performance of Naihanchi Kitae and Naihanchi bunkai. Both bunkai practice and kitae practice are important training methods for developing the full potential of Naihanchi as a fighting system.

Here is another demonstration of the techniques of Naihanchi being recombined in a new order to explore how the relate to each other in the context of a fluid and evolving exchange of techniques at close range.

Here Denwood shinshii explains some power generation principles from Naihanchi in a very comprehensible way.

Here Denwood shinshii adapts Naihanchi power generation principles in a way that alters the outer appearance of the strike somewhat, but utilizes some of the same core principles.

For comparison here is Shinzato Katsuhiko shinshii demonstrating Naihanchi Shodan kata with some very sophisticated body dynamics.... You can see that Denwood shinshii has presented some Naihanchi body mechanics in a way which is easier for people to digest, especially people without many years of training to draw on.

Here is a link to a web site dedicated to Denwood shinshii's new book on Naihanchi kata (definitely recommended reading) including a free 20 page preview.

Finally here is a link to Noah Legel's Budo no Kaizen blog. In it you will find many Naihanchi related articles which are well worth reading.

Here is a video of Naihanchi Sandan Bunkai from Richard Poage sensei (Noah Legel's teacher): 


  1. Great article: one technique or many?

  2. thank you for sharing this blog. It has a lot of meaningful information. I wish if i could get some more information on this.Brooklyn Karate

  3. Glad to see the video. all of my favorite video for a long time. that is so amazing Karate's Most Effective Form. Thanks for sharing

  4. One of the most complete and useful article on naihanchi !!!
    Dan shoto instructor