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Do Pinan Like Naihanchi

I often tell my students that if they perform the Pinan kata like Naihanchi, they will look very good, but if they perform the Naihanchi kata like the Pinan, they will look very bad.

The Naihanchi kata teach stability, instability, and the proper range of motion. All of Karate can be learned from the Naihanchi kata.

The Pinan kata teach mobility, mostly -- how to move and turn. Derived from more advanced kata, they are not really designed for beginners. Actually, they are not really for beginners at all!

In some schools, the Naihanchi kata are taught first. I believe that this is a good idea.

In other schools, the Fukyugata kata are taught first. The Fukyugata kata were developed in 1940, essentially because the Pinan kata were not simple enough (in my opinion). The two Fukyugata kata were simple kata that could be performed by any Karate students, of any style, in Okinawa. But when you think about it, the Fukyugata kata are not really that basic either.

After the Fukyugata kata, some schools teach the five Pinan kata. Only after this do they introduce the Naihanchi kata.

In my opinion, this is too late. By the time a student has learned the two Fukyugata kata and the five Pinan kata, it is too late to learn the Naihanchi kata properly. Such a student will always do the Naihanchi kata like the Pinan kata.

Recently, my sensei mentioned that he thinks that the Naihanchi kata lay the foundation for the use of hanmi in the other kata. In essence, the Naihanchi kata teach us how to move sideways when we move forward.

When someone says that you have a strong Naihanchi, that is really saying something!


Charles C. Goodin