Pinan or Heian & Naifanchi or Tekki

Way of peace (literally, “Great Peace”, sometimes translated as “Calm Mind”, “Peaceful Mind”, “Serenity”, or “Security.”).

The Pinan kata series was introduced into the Okinawan School District karate program as gym training from 1902 to 1907 by Ankoh Itosu. The history of this kata is somewhat controversial – Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu stylists claim that Itosu developed all five kata using either the kata Bassai and Kusanku or Kosokun. The Matsumura Seito Shorin-Ryu tradition states that Itosu only developed Pinan 5 by himself. (It is curious to note that Chosin Chibana, Itosu’s senior disciple and Kobayashi founder, taught only Pinan 5 and Naihanchi 3 out of respect for Itosu’s authorship.) Hohan Soken (family inheritor of Bushi Matsumura’s style) taught only Pinan 1 and 2; saying that Matsumura had devised these two and laid framework for Pinan 3 and 4.

Gichin Funikoshi revised the order of 1 and 2, changed the kata name to Heian, and initiated deeper stances and higher kicks. He also replaced front kicks with side kicks and altered other moves in the series. Funakoshi was so well known for teaching the Pinan series that he was often referred to as the “Pinan Sensei.” Interesting enough, he did not learn the Pinans from Itsou as he had already finished his training with the great mejin before they were developed.

According to several sources, Funikoshi was first introduced to the Pinans during a trip to Osaka where he received instruction from Kenwa Mabuni, the founder of Shito-Ryu.

During his subsequent visits he learned a number of the kata from Mabuni that would eventually be taught in the Shotokan system. Regardless of their origin or lineage, there is no doubt that today the Pinan Series is practiced world-wide by Okinawan, Japanese, as well as some Korean styles.

Naifanchi or Tekki
Iron Horse. Missing Enemy Form. Sideways Fighting. Inside Fighting. Fighting Holding Your Ground.

The kata is a widely used international form, which is performed in many different styles of Karate as well as Kempo and Taekwondo today. Because of the kata’s complexity and length it was divided into three sections for student learning and practice. The originator of Nihanchi Sho is unknown but it is known that the three katas were practiced as one single kata by Master Sokon (Bushi) Matsumura around 1825. Naihanchi was however handed down to Matsumura from earlier times. This kata was also the favorite form of Yusutsune Itosu (1830-1915) who was nicknamed “Iron Horse” because of his performance of this kata. Itosu is said to have modified Sho and Ni and developed Naihanchi San. This was confirmed in the writings of Mabuni and Funakoshi.

Kenwa Mabuni, the founder of Shito-Ryu, learned all three from Ankoh Itosu. However, first, while traveling and studying, Mabuni learned a form of Naihanchi from a student of Matsumura’s namved Matayoshi. When Mabuni returned and showed the kata to Itosu, his teacher remarked that it was similar to the kata Matsumura had devised after training with a Chinese attache named Channan. It was at this time that Itosu confirmed that he (Itosu) had modified them as well.

Around 1895, Master Choki Motobu popularized the kata by daily performing the three forms as one kata at least five hundred times. The three Naihanchi katas performed as one became known as Motobu’s Kata, and he is said to have stated many times, “There is only one kata necessary to develop and excel in karate, and that is Naihanchi as one.” The form was developed as a defense against four to eight opponents, with performer pinned against a wall defending to the right, left or from the front, but never from the rear.

This kata is more appropriately called naifanchi 1 or nai han chi ichi, for it is actually the first of three segments which comprise the kata proper. The kata, unlike most Shorei katas, is meant to be performed very quickly (though still within the bounds of good technique).

“Iron Horse” comes from the continual use of kiba dachi or Naifanchi dachi in the form. “Missing Enemy” refers to the lack of an attacker to the rear, as the kata only travels laterally.

Naifanchi also appears in Shotokan as Tekki (or Tekki Shodan, Nidan, and Sandan). Gichin Funakoshi claims to have spent 10 years perfecting just these three forms.