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Thread: Naihanchi, what’s in the name ?

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    Default Naihanchi, what’s in the name ?

    Hello All ! I’m new to the forum but have made my introduction in the Gendai Budo section.
    As the headline say this post is about the Naihanch/Tekki Katas, specifically what’s in the names ?
    The names of Katas and similar exercises in both Japanese and the Chinese martial arts may refer to or tells or even teach something in/about the Katas, and maybe that’s even more so the case In theChinese martial arts.
    Now Im not versed in the Japanese language but I learned that Tekki translate to “Iron Horse”, and at a basic level of understanding it most certainly suggest reference to the predominate Kiba-dachi (horse stance) at use.
    But what about Naihanchi ? The name might not be of Japanese language but probably from Okinawan dialect/language and maybe an older such, maybe related to Chinese?
    So my question to this knowledgeable board is - Naihanchi, what’s in that name ?




    Tryggve Rick


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    This is a great question. If you find out please post here. Most books use phonetic Japanese (katakana) for naihanchi. Nagamine Sensei uses kanji. I used to ask people on Okinawa what it meant. Got less than helpful answers, not really Japanese, cannot read Nagamine's writing, Karateka typically said name of kata. One American well versed in Japanese said he talked to Nagamine Sensei about it and got the feeling the kanji were arbitrary. You cannot ask older Okinawan point blank why did you use something that doesn't make sense.
    Respectfully,
    Len McCoy

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    Hello!
    Thanks!
    Yes, that’s about the understanding I’ve come to about the Naihanchi name enigma..... it’s funny the Okinawans themselves don’t know, or maybe not funny, maybe records got lost during the WW2?


    Funakoshi’s Tekki might be a clue to the Okinawan name?




    Tryggve Rick

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    Hello,

    The name “Tekki” 鉄騎, chosen by G. Funakoshi (1868–1957) for this kata, signifies “Iron Horse Rider” (not “Iron Horse”).

    The kata was formally known by another name that was transmitted only orally. And that is the problem when we want to know what this name means. The oldest written source (that I am aware of) mentioning this kata name is from 1896 and gives it as “Naihanchin”. From 1913 on G. Funakoshi gives the name as “Naihanchin”. Because of the Okinawan dialects there are also the variants “Naifanchin” and “Naifanchi”. Because of the oral transmission these variants are only written down in phonetic script, i.e. without kanji (Chinese characters) bearing a meaning. So from the early sources it is impossible to understand what the name was supposed to express exactly.

    Later on some Okinawan and Japanese teachers and authors tried to make sense of the name and tried to fit in kanji which can be pronounced as “Naihanchi” etc. some of the better known are from

    G. Nakasone (1895–1978), 内歩進, signifying “Advancing with Steps [turned] Inward” and
    K. Hisataka (1907–1988), 内畔戦, signifying “Combat within the Field Border”.

    In fact I collected more of those for my research published in German.

    Besides this kanji centred approach the Okinawan linguist M. Sakihara (1928–2001) suggested that “Naihanchi” is the combination of two Okinawan verbs so that it would signify “do snap”. Please bear in mind that all these interpretations are modern.

    Regards,

    Henning Wittwer

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    Hi !
    Thanks for that interesting info. “Iron Horse Rider”! , that’s interesting.
    Since 1990 I’ve been learning and practicing the Chinese martial art Xingyiquan, wich basics contain five fists/techniques(elements) which later expands to twelve animals(variations of the 5 basics) one of those is the Horse.




    Back in 2009 I learned a variation of the horse which gave me a big Aha!moment, it felt so similar to a sequence in the Tekki shodan that it actually could be some relation between them. My teacher half jokingly half seriously showed and explained the hand/arm movement as holding on to the reins when riding - The “Iron Horse Rider” might fit in here 8-)
    Now that “Horse” variation I’ve not come around anywhere else but from my teacher(in China,city of Dalian/Liaoning, formerly known as Manchuria)




    After that when my attention was caught I could also relate the more “common” Xingyiquan Horse variations to the Tekkis (1&2)
    So when I stretch my far fetched theory long enough I can almost believe the Tekki/Naihanchi has or at least share a common source with the Xin/Xingyiquan in China ?




    But then I also can find the Bear, the Eagle and perhaps the Snake there in the Tekki katas 8-)
    This is most probably because we just have our four limbs with their specific range of motion, so commonalities comes around......But still my gut feeling say there could be something more in common.




    Tryggve Rick


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    Hello,

    No version of the modern interpretations for "Naihanchi" contains the term "horse". A. Itosu's style of stepping in Naihanchi was referred to as "crab walking" in an article published directly after his death. Of course, a crab is not a horse. So I would say it would be a little too much to conclude that because in Chinese fighting styles the term "horse" is used it has to mean that Naihanchi is historically related to one of these stlyes using the term "horse" ...

    Regards,

    Henning Wittwer

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    Hi!


    Thanks for reminding me about the “crab walk” I have read about that but had totally forgotten about that.
    About my horse reference, we can agree on Tekki contain the word Horse ? What I was trying to say, maybe Funakoshi knew “more”about the Naihanchi(than just relating to the “horse riding stance”) when he named it Tekki ?
    But since the name Naihanchi seemingly is shrouded in mystery and probably will continue to be so, but then how about the history of the exercise on Okinawa ?
    Who developed it, or who brought it to Okinawa ?


    Was Naihanchi what Chatan Yara brought back from China, or did the Kata come around later, perhaps with Sokon Matsumura ?


    It is said that Naihanchi was the first Kata a student had to master before advancing his studies. Does the Naihanchi predate the Seisan Kata, which I have read somewhere was also considered a “first” Kata ?
    Maybe at one time the Naihanchi was the first and only Kata that was practiced ?


    Tryggve Rick


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    Some references suggest the modern Naihanchi series (Nidan and Sandan after learning/adapting Shodan from Sokon Matsumura) along with Pinan 1-5 (after adapting the first two Pinan kata taught to him by Matsumura to develop 3-5) were developed and introduced to the general public by Yasutsune “Ankoh” Itosu circa 1904 (Gima and Fujiwara 1986). Interestingly, the basis for Pinan 1 and 2 may have been from a kata series called Chanan (Bishop 1999), of which scant information appears to be available but may have been developed by Matsumura himself. Naihanchi 1 and 2 are said to have been taught to Sokon Matsumura by the Chinese teacher Wai Shiu Zan after studying Chinese Kenpo and weaponry in Fuzhou, Fujian province, China around 1830. Choki Motobu suggests in his books that Naihanchi did indeed come from China (Motobu 1926). Kinjo (1999) suggests the modern Naihanchi kata taught in Okinawa today originated from a Taiwanese form of White Crane boxing that included a technique remarkably similar to the sweeping motion of the legs in modern Naihanchi. As with the true history of many traditional kata, the actual lineage is difficult to discern.

    Another interesting anecdote has the Shuri-te form of Seisan being developed by Matsumura’s wife so she could fight while carrying a baby on her back, who perhaps was an adept martial artist herself, but the actual history of Seisan remains a mystery. Okinawan karate historian Hiroshi Kinjo suggests there is no evidence of Seisan being transmitted through Matsumura and Itosu and therefore should be referenced as Tomari Seisan (Kinjo 1999). Akio Kinjo asserts that Seisan derived from Yong Chun White Crane boxing from Fujian province (Kinjo 1999) and was demonstrated in Okinawa by Seisho Aragaki in 1867 (McCarthy 1999), although whom actually imported the kata to Okinawa is unclear. If these particular accounts are correct (and we really have no way of truly verifying), then Naihanchi kata would predate Seisan in Okinawa by about 30 years, give or take, depending on how long Aragaki practiced Seisan before his demonstration.

    According to the lore of Matsumura Seito, Shinjo Choken is one of the earliest known practitioners of Shuri-Te and was active in the late 1600’s and early 1700’s. It has been handed down that after Shinjo Choken, Satunuku “Tode” Sakugawa (1733-1815 whom studied under Takabara Peichin of Shuri) practiced a mixture of Shuri-Te and Chinese Kenpo. In 1756, Sakugawa became a student of Kusanku, and Kusanku had also previously taught Chatan Yara and Shionja of Shuri, among others. Chatan Yara’s bo and sai techniques significantly influenced Okinawan kobudo, and his katas Chatan Yara No Sai, Chatan Yara Sho No Tonfa, and Chatan Yara No Kon continue to be practiced today. Of course, a competing theory suggests Sakugawa did not study directly under Kusanku but rather under Chatan Yara, citing references to Bushi Matsumura teaching Yara’s version of Kusanku kata (depending on Yara’s actual date of birth), although Sakugawa is widely credited as developing the original Kusanku kata (whether from Kusanku himself or from Kusanku’s student Chatan Yara). There does not appear to be much information online regarding the kata Chatan Yara taught (he didn’t appear to establish a formal school himself), so who knows if he practiced Naihanchi or Seisan. It sure is an interesting (and quite muddled) history, and sadly we may never know the true origins of some of these great cultural traditions, but it sure is fun to explore the possibilities!

    Literature Cited:

    Bishop, M. (1999). Okinawan Karate: Teachers, Styles and Secret Techniques, 2nd Edition. Boston: Charles E. Tuttle.

    Gima S., and Fujiwara R. (1986). Taidan: Kindai Karatedo no Rekishi wo Kataru. Tokyo: Baseball Magazine.

    Kinjo A. (1999). Karate Den Shinroku. Naha: Okinawa Tosho Center.

    McCarthy, P. (1999). Ancient Okinawan Martial Arts: Koryu Uchinadi Vol. 2. Boston: C.E. Tuttle.

    Motobu, C. (1926). Okinawa Kenpo Karate-jutsu: Kumite-hen. Osaka: Karate Fukyukai.

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    Hello !




    Wow, thats some interesting info, and sorry I have not replied to say that until now.




    Yes i know about the Chanan theory, but that it was just Pinan 1&2 that came from it and Itosu later created pinan 3-5 based on those two is news to me, interesting.
    As for the Naihanchi’s i can not really talk for them since I’ve only learned and practiced the Tekki katas so I can only talk from that experience. But I think the “Okinawan” Naihanchi katas might have the same feel to them as the Tekki’s . With that I mean 1&2 seem to blend quite well as if coming from the same source, but Naihanchi/Tekki Sandan might be a little odd comparatively, as if created with a somewhat different idea behind ?




    The idea that the Naihanchi katas are of Fuijianese origin seem to be the common view. But I’m not so sure about that. Of course my only experience of MA’s that surely came out of Fuijian Province is my little Goju-ryu training I did in Okinawa, so my theorizing is quite unprofessional.
    But anyway, I think as the way the Naihanchi Katas(1&2) are designed they are not at all in line with what usually can be associated with Fuijianese boxing ?
    But more with(as I have ranted on earlier) northern Chinese boxing, as of how waist oriented they are(and also other methods if view the Tekki specifically). Rather than hip turning oriented they’re more waist turning, which goes in line with the practice methods of many northern Chinese boxing methods......
    But wait a sec, now here in the middle of my rant, I came to think about how Fuijian Crane boxing seemingly make more use of the spine and open/close of the chest/back movement to generate power, which let’s say it’s Okinawan of shot Goju-ryu seem to have lost. So yes of course there’s a possibility that Naihanchi has an Southern Chinese origin.




    But back to my north of China theory. As I recall reading someplace many years ago, Sokon Matsumura did travel with an Okinawan“Royal”delegation to the Chinese capital(perhaps several times?). Might he have picked up something there from his Chinese counterparts(Royal guard)?
    And just some days ago reading in an old thread here on E-Budo a poster claim that Tode Sakugawa learned combat methods on “mainland” Japan(weapons) and also in North of China(hand to hand combat). Are there som reliable sources that confirm this?
    And then, the famous Chinese envoy to Okinawa ‘Kusanku’ might not have been an local Fuijianese but an northerner, perhaps Manchu. And again that would point to that Shorin-ryu with perhaps Naihanchi katas indeed has northern origin ?
    And then perhaps closely related to Xin/Xingyiquan which has an Shaolin boxing relationship/origin, and maybe even the Shaolin boxing that eventually evolved and became known as Taijiquan ??




    And here I might extremely loosely tie the name Seisan to the original 13 postures/methods that the legend tells that Zhang Sanfeng created after he left the Shaolin temple to reside at Wudang....Yes I understand this sounds blasphemiously silly to most Karatekas and of course also to Taijiquan enthusiasts,...but why not, could there be this connection ? 😎




    And lastly for this post. Crabs was mentioned earlier in the thread referring to the stepping in the Naihanchi katas(sideward walk)
    Now I don’t know the Japanese name and writing for “Crab”, But the Chinese word is “Pangxie” and if we ad the Chinese word for sea(hai) then we have “Hai Pangxie”-Sea Crab(which there are plenty of on Okinawa?).......Pretty close to Naihanchi, no ? 😎 And also “crab apple” could be “Nai” in Chinese .....But of course this has nothing to do with combat practice.




    Tryggve Rick


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