Uploaded on Dec 26, 2011
Iron Horse (Naihanchin)
Taught at Cobra Martial Arts on Pro-Red and Red Belt (adults) and Black Belt (children).
The kata Iron Horse has been practiced since ancient times and has been known by many names over the years, depending on where it was practiced, ie China, Okinawa, Japan or by Westerners.
Records show that the kata was first developed in Shaolin, China and named Naifanchi. Other names is has gone by over the years include Naihanchin, Tekki and Iron Horse.
The original Chinese word "Naifanchi" can be translated as follows. "Nai" meaning "inside" or "inner" and refers to standing with ones feet turned inward. "Fan" refers to a claw footed animal such as a bear, gripping the ground with its feet and toes whilst maintaining a strong stance. "Chi" in this translation means "soil" or "the foundation you stand on".
The Okinawans later named the kata Naihanchi meaning "Iron Horse". They adopted the kata and its name from a form of martial arts called Hua-Chuan, being one of the main training forms of Tiger Style Northern Shaolin Wu-Shu (Kung Fu). The kiba-dachi stance (horse stance) used in the kata is the main training stance of Northern Shaolin Tiger Style of Wu-Shu.
The Japanese Sensei Matsumura, later renamed the kata "Naihanchin". "Naihan" is the narrow path that runs between rice fields and "Chin" means battle or fight. Matsumura in conjunction with two other Japanese Masters, split the kata into three parts and named the three new kata Naihanchi Shodan, Naihanchi Nidan and Naihanchi Sandan.
In the early 1900s, the man regarded as the 'father of modern Karate', Japanese Master Gichin Funakoshi, renamed the kata "Tekki" ie, Tekki Shodan, Tekki Nidan and Tekki Sandan. He did this for political reasons when Karate was introduced to Japan, from Okinawa; these names being more acceptable to the Japanese. The word Tekki literally means "Iron Horse". In more recent times, newer versions of Iron Horse have been developed and it is one of these hybrid forms that we study at Cobra.
So as a generalised visual interpretation, the name of the kata alludes to fighting in a paddy field, on narrow, treacherous terrain, ensuring to step only on the thin terraces. Stepping off the path would mean being immobilised in the mud, resulting in death. In order to navigate such terrain in the midst of battle, strong footwork and gripping stances were required. The most appropriate stances were the horse and bear, which were practiced and perfected through the kata Iron Horse, until they became as strong and stable as iron.
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Sensei Craig Monie
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