Tekki Shodan for Self-Defense: Okinawa Strikes Back
Tekki Shodan belongs to the Shotokan katas with the most commonalities with Okinawa katas. First of all, this does not come as a surprise. Because Karate was developed in Okinawa. Therefore, all Shotokan katas share a certain amount of commonalities with Okinawa katas.
However, the Tekki katas are by far the closest to the Okinawa originals. One can grasp this relatedness by considering the Bunkai of Tekki Shodan. It is a close-range Kata. Above all, no high kicks take place during the kata. On the other hand, the focus lies on a very complex hip rotation. Such an refined application of the hips is needed in close combat situations with limited space for maneuver. This relationship becomes more obvious, if one stands a little bit higher than in a regular Shotokan kiba dachi. Then the hip can rotate even more freely. As a result, the whip-lash effect, which is fundamental for Okinawa Karate, becomes emphasized.
Tekki Shodan in Okinawa Karate
The Okinawa Karatekas call Tekki Shodan Naihanchi. The name means “internal divided conflict”. Gichin Funakoshi, however, changed the name to Tekki, which means “iron horse”. The name refers to the “horse stand” (kiba dachi). The kiba dachi builds the foundation of Tekki. While some authors claim the use of the stance focuses on leg training, this argument seems unplausible. Its advantage in close-combat situations might has justified its use more than considerations of physical fitness.
Choki Motobus Favorite Kata
This fact also made Tekki Shodan/Naihanchi the most favorite kata of grand master Choki Motobu, who was a specialist in self-defense. Many Karateka know Choki Motobu because of his famous quote:
Nothing is more harmful to the world than a martial art that is not effective in actual self-defense.
For him, Karate aimed at self-defense in the first place. He considered the other aspects as minor important. The legend says, that his strong focus on self-defense derived from his career as a “bar brawler”. According to rumors, he used to had regularly fights in the streets Naha the capital of Okinawa. Therefore, his sense for self-defense emerged during real-life conflicts.
From his point of view, Naihanchi was a perfect routine to prepare Karateka for such situations. Another quote of him says, for instance:
“Twisting to the left or right from the Naifuanchin stance will give you the stance used in a real confrontation. Twisting one’s way of thinking about Naifuanchin left and right, the various meanings in each movement of the kata will also become clear.”
To make this thinking process a little easier and inspiring for you, we have selected several excellent application videos for you. You can find them at the end of the article.
Tekki as Foundation of Karate
Choki Motobu also argued that the heart of traditional karate lies in kata, especially Tekki (Naihanchi). Above all, Tekki served as the main and only original training forms. Many different versions of the Kata exist in other Karate styles. Shotokan also distinguishes between Tekki Shodan, Nidan, and Sandan. Thus, no other Shotokan kata has three variations. Hence, Karateka must study Tekki in oder to get a feeling for the physical foundation of Karate. In short, to focus on hip rotation to generate speed and power.