"Battle in horse stance"








The Muidokan version of this Shorin kata is a simplified one developed by Anko Itosu from the original Chinese form taught by Sokon Matsumura. The characters used by the Academy literally mean "battle in a horse stance" (see "Origins of Naifunchin" for more detail). This is a very formal kata and the original Chinese version (now lost) was one of the oldest kata practised in Okinawa.

Also known as Naihanchi/Naifuanchi/Tekki shodan, it is perhaps the most well known and widely practised kata worldwide. Its precise, direct and hard techniques and their crisp delivery epitomise karate as it is portrayed by the media and as it is understood by mainstream society. However Naifunchin represents only a part of the vast repetoire techniques and methods of Okinawan karate.


    Naifunchin kata  is required for Green 3 and 4.

Members can proceed to the Naifunchin materials page for videos and other instructional material relating to Naifunchinkata.


    Naifunchin tuide

Naifunchin tuide is a 2 person "lock flow" drill, containing locks and holds found in Naifunchin.

It can be practised both standing and on the ground.

Naifunchin tuide is required for Green 4.

    Naifunchin embu

Naifunchin embu is a 2 person version of Naifunchin that can also be performed as a single person form. 

Naifunchin embu is required for Green 4.




Origins of Naifunchin

There are various legends associated with the origins of Naifunchin, however no written records of this kata survive.  All that is known with any certainty is that it was passed down from Shorin founder Sokon Matsumura.  Researcher Akio Kinjo1 speculates that it is derived from southern White Crane.   Its side-to-side embusen (line of movement) is also strongly reminiscent of many southern Arhat/Lohan/Monk fist schools.

It is interesting to note that the name of the kata has only ever been written in katakana, not kanji1.  Kinjo1, 2 suggests that the kata may originally have been called "Nohanchin".  He and others believe that the name refers to the use of the inside sweeping motion of the knee and leg (nami ashi).  This is presumably on the basis that the kanji "nai" ("nei in Mandarin) means "inner".  

However this proposal relies on two potentially flawed assumptions: first, that the character "nai" survived "Okinawanization" where the other characters in the name mysteriously did not, and second, that the nami ashi is such a fundamental characteristic that it warrants naming the kata after it.  In fact the nami ashi only occurs twice and is hardly representative of the form. 

If there is any characteristic feature of the kata, it is the horse stance, known in Mandarin as "mabu" () and pronounced in Japanese and Okinawan as "mabu/mafu/maho" (literally "horse step").  It is important to note that the kata is traditionally regarded as meaning "horse riding kata", prompting Gichin Funakoshi to rename it "Tekki", meaning "iron horse" or "iron horseman".

Another salient point is that Naifunchin is regarded in the Shorin school as a fundamental kata in much the same way that Sanchin kata is a fundamental kata in all of the Naha te systems (eg. Goju-ryu).  It seems odd then that while the latter is named after its principal feature, namely its stance, the former is not.

Accordingly the Occam's razor principle might suggest that the name Naifunchin is nothing more than a mispronunciation of "Mafuchin" (meaning "battle in horse stance").   Similarly "Naihanchi" could well have come from "Mahochin" - another rendering of the name.  The idea that "n" was mistakenly substituted for "m" over time in a largely oral tradition is hardly surprising given the similarity between the two consonants.  The mistaken addition of further vowels and consonants is also hardly inconceivable if one considers the Okinawan pronunciation of kata such as "Suparinpei".

While there are 2 other Naifunchin kata (ie. "Naihanchi/Naifuanchi/Tekki nidan and sandan") these are believed to have been developed by Itosu (although some suggest that the original Naifunchin was a combination of Naihanchi shodan and nidan).

1See Mario McKenna's article  "Naihanchi" at

2 See Joe Swift's article "The Kempo of Kume Village" in Meibukan Magazine No. 6 at


Pictures of Gichin Funakoshi performing Naifunchin in 1924


The nami ashi or returning wave kick

Applying the nami ashi

Naifunchin's grappling applications