This week in my closed dojo, we spent some time looking at the main structural components of Naihanchi Kata, investigating why its analysis and application is somewhat different to that of the other forms and how its specific teachings can be integrated into the rest of the art.
I recently wrote some words detailing my understanding and opinions regarding these structural components, which will eventually become one of the main chapters in my upcoming book. So as a bit of a 'taster', I thought I would share a concise summary those words here for my blog readers that will also provide some supplementary information for my own students. Needless to say - the original chapter goes into far more depth!
Since the human structure is given shape through the skeletal framework, I have referenced each component against the major joints along what I call the 'power chain' between the floor (our source or power), up through the body and out from the issuing limb. It's worth also noting here that there are always two energy systems at play here: the (1) delivery system and the (2) reaction system. Both systems play a significant part in overall effectiveness and whereas most martial artists can easily relate to the delivery system, the reaction system must also be seriously considered.
Ultimately, the stances and movements used in kata are only ever as valid as your personal interpretation and application - otherwise it resembles nothing more than dancing!
Attributed to each structural component is a word that describes a particular 'feeling' to aim for. I am still in two minds whether or not I have chosen the right words here, since sometimes these feelings are difficult to put into words, nevertheless I think this is still much better than using more 'mechanical' or 'visual' descriptions.
So, from the floor you should aim to...
So, I hope that the points listed above help to stimulate some thought regarding the structural components of Naihanchi Kata.
To me, kata should be thought of as a 'process' of learning, not simply as a single or isolated aspect of training. If the traditional forms are to become useful to us then we must embrace this developmental process. In fact, I think it would be hard to disagree that Naihanchi Kata is anything else other than a process, since the depth of application found within the movements can seamlessly flow into almost all other aspects of the art.
Chris Denwood has been studying martial arts since childhood and specialises in the practical application of karate's traditional principles for civilian self-defence, personal development, life integration and discovery.