Naihanchi and Taiji 2

Every now and then, I like to search YouTube with the kanji/kana for certain key phrases, to see if I’m missing any good material because it isn’t listed in English. Sometimes, it’s as simple as searching for 空手 (karate). Other times, I will search for something specific, like 取り手 (torite/tuidi). As an English speaker, with very limited Japanese skills, I have found that searching the internet in this way can bring up a lot of material that I would have otherwise missed. Sometimes, you get popular videos that you have already seen, like the Rika Usami videos in the screenshot above, but sometimes, you find hidden gems. This weekend, I searched for ナイハンチ (Naihanchi), and I stumbled across a very interesting video, which I most definitely would never have found by searching only in English.

In the video, above, you can see Ikeda Hideyuki Sensei demonstrating how he performs the kata, Naihanchi, as well as demonstrating several applications for the kata. Ikeda Sensei is primarily a Taiji (Tai Chi Chuan) instructor, but he also holds a black belt ranking in Uechi-Ryu, and quite clearly has some training in an Itosu-lineage system, since he knows Naihanchi. When watching him move, even if he wasn’t wearing a Chinese-style shirt, you can recognize the Chinese martial arts influence in his movements. I found the kata, itself, to be quite interesting to watch. The applications were even more interesting.

Many of the applications shown by Ikeda Sensei are very similar to ones that I have learned, either through my Shorin-Ryu training, or through my KishimotoDi training. For example, the technique shown in the screenshot, above, is one that we use quite frequently in our dojo–controlling a limb while using suki-geri (shovel kick) to destroy the knee and force the opponent to the ground. This can be done from a variety of angles and grips, but the concept is the same.

For a more KishimotoDi-esque application, we need look no further than the very first technique in the video, shown in the screenshot above. The arm movement is a bit different, but the way Ikeda Sensei enters and uses the technique is very similar to the way KishimotoDi uses this movement. Normally, we train it the other way, so that you and your opponent are facing the same direction, because it is a safer fall for the uke (person receiving the technique). The technique, itself, doesn’t actually change, no matter which way you end up, though.

 The technique that he shows as an application for the morote-tsuki (double thrust) at the end of Naihanchi is one that exists in both Shorin-Ryu and KishimotoDi, albeit with slightly different mechanics. Ikeda Sensei actually uses the same mechanics we use in Shorin-Ryu to execute this throw. Even though most people would say that Taiji, Shorin-Ryu, and KishimotoDi are pretty distinctly different from each other, it’s amazing what kinds of similarities you can find if you look for them.

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About Noah

I began training in karate (Shuri-Ryu) in the Summer of 2006. Subsequently, I started training in judo, kobudo, and iaijutsu within the next 6 months. During my training there, I earned the rank of Sankyu (3rd Degree Brown Belt) in Shuri-Ryu, Gokyu (Green Belt) in judo, a certification in the use of the bo, and passed proficiency tests for the four tachigata of Shinkage-Ryu iaijutsu. I moved to Arizona in the Summer of 2008, and continued training and researching karate at home. I continued regular training in judo at a local club until 2010, when I was able to start training in Shorin-Ryu with Sensei Richard Poage. I have been training with him ever since, and currently hold the rank of Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt) in Shorin-Ryu under him. In addition, I began studying KishimotoDi under Sensei Ulf Karlsson in 2014.

2 thoughts on “Naihanchi and Taiji

  • Anonymous

    I took Tai Chi classes with Ikeda sensei when I was stationed in Japan. He’s an amazing guy. He taught 24 forms and Chen style, he would teach the regular forms for the first half of class and then teach you how to use the forms for self defense. I think the first part of the video is “Part the Wild Horse’s Mane” from 24 form Tai Chi, but it’s been a really long time. Ikeda studied Chen style in China in the early 80s. He went to Chen Village, they wouldn’t teach him, he had to keep coming back every day for two or three weeks before they’d teach him.

    • Noah

      Very cool! Thank you for the information, and the story of his training in China–that’s a very old-school approach to weeding out students!

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