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Wastelander's picture
Naihanchi/Tekki Bunkai

Hello everyone,

I had a couple minutes after class this Saturday before I had to head home to help my wife around the house, so I recorded an ugly, quick-and-dirty demo of a broken-down bunkai drill I like for the beginning of Naihanchi Shodan. I would have preferred better angles, close-ups of some parts, more detailed demonstrations, better lighting, etc., but I did what I could with the time I had. I really appreciate Brent, one of our intermediate teen students, for letting me beat up on him :P. As always, there are many applications that could work for any given movement, so these are not the only applications we use for Naihanchi and they certainly aren't the only ones out there! I'll also give the disclaimer that I am not a representative of my dojo, organization, or style--this is just some of the stuff that I work.

The scenario starts with someone grabbing you and threatening you. The first movements of the kata are used a pre-emptive strike in this drill, where you grab your attacker's head and strike it--in the demonstration, I simply punch the face, but you could backfist the nose or use small-surface strikes like ippon-ken on kyusho targets. From there, I lever the head down into a knee strike, and shovel kick the attacker's knee.

The second part of the drill is when you have failed to pre-empt your attacker and they let go of you with one hand to start punching. You deflect and trap the punch beneath your arm and use that hand to slap the back of their head while elbowing them in the face. Just like the first technique, the strike (elbow, in this case) can be thrown as many times as necessary, although I only did it once in the demo.

The third part of the drill is when you have done one of the first two (I only demonstrate this off of the second part of the drill in the video, though) and your attacker blocks and clinches with you to prevent you from hitting them more. From there, you grapple with your opponent (normally I like doing this randori-style, plus strikes) until they try to make space to start hitting you again, at which point you drag their pushing arm across your body into hiji osae gatame (elbow press lock). That lock can be used to control the attacker, dislocate the joint, or simply bring their head level down, and then you can follow up with hammerfists or punches to the head/neck.

This drill can be worked into just about any self defense drill, because often when people start getting hit and don't like it, but also don't want to quit fighting, they will grab onto you and start wrestling with you. From that same situation, I have other drills from Naihanchi, but this was the only one I had time to record. I hope it is clear enough for you guys to see where I'm going with it, though! Eventually, I would like to record other applications that can be used for a variety of other scenarios.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Thanks for sharing this! It takes quite a bit of courage to put your head above the parapet and share your thoughts and ideas. What I like about this one is the underlying thinking you explained in the text. I like the way you progress through the three scenarios: “well if that does not end it, then do this”. I think the” underlying theme” should always be there in kata analysis otherwise it becomes a random collection of unrelated techniques.  I like to see the “organising system” and I think you achieve that here. Please do share more as I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to see how you develop these ideas.


All the best,


JWT's picture

Nice work Noah!

Thanks for sharing.

Katharii's picture

Great work! Solid techniques that fit the kata well. Looking forward to seeing the rest!

Wastelander's picture

Thanks, everyone!

I do try to keep things in context, and I would like to think I've done a fair job at that. I'm glad you guys are liking what you've seen so far! While I have been working on this drill in my head for quite some time, I have only been physically working with it for about a month, so I'm still tweaking it. The last two movements of the kata, in particular, are ones I'm still playing with as to which applications I prefer for the drill.

As it stands, the full drill is rather like a renzoku bunkai flow drill that goes through every movement in the kata in one continuous process. Every technique can be separated out and drilled individually, or any of them can be set back-to-back, and they can also be mixed and matched as needed. The drill is one that can be done as a non-resistant flow drill, as my videos will show it, but I have also used sections of it semi-resistant self defense drills. Eventually I would like to work them into fully-resistant practice, as well. I recorded the current drill, in its entirety, on Monday, and I'm hoping to be able to get something uploaded this weekend.

Wastelander's picture

I ended up having some time after class last night to upload the video of the full renzoku bunkai drill. As I mentioned, I'm still tweaking it, so it's a bit rough and there are a couple things I would like to change. It does cover an application for every movement in the kata, and any individual application can be taken out and drilled separately. The drill is really just intended to be a flow drill that covers the entire kata, but it is also semi-live in that there are several sections where the uke can attack with either side or from odd angles, and they can resist or block as they see fit. It isn't a fully live drill, of course, since tori and uke are working specific techniques, but I think it's a decent introduction to the idea. Ideally, I see this drill as being an "entry level" partner drill that can become more and more live as you get more comfortable with the techniques. When I've done it with people who don't know the drill, they sometimes respond in unusual ways and I can just about always find an application from another section of the drill.

Continuing from the first video, we have the attacker breaking free of the lock or withstanding the strikes to the head and firing back with a punch from their free hand. This is a section where I'm looking into changing the attack, but it will take some experimentation. Right now, I'm thinking that uke grabbing the punching arm to control it might fit better. Tori responds by blocking, then twisting the arm into hiji dori garami (elbow grip lock--that's what we call it, anyway) and striking kyusho targets in the cervical plexus or side of the neck/head.

From there, should uke break free from the lock we transition into a hammerfist across the jaw, which also serves to jam any punch from uke's free hand (whether it's coming or not). I didn't do a very good job of showing that in the video--we've been beating up on Brent (my uke) a lot lately and I didn't want to keep knocking his head around, so I ended up leaving it out. From there, if there is contact with the uke's punching arm we roll it over into a cross-body armbar (shown in the video). If the uke didn't throw a punch, I do the same motion as a hammerfist to the side of the head/neck in conjunction with a sweep (not shown in the video).

If uke escapes the lock and stands up, tori pulls them off balance and then grabs or strikes the neck/head to throw uke over tori's leg. The pull to disrupt balance is very judo/jujutsu/aikido-ish, and isn't absolutely necessary to making it work, but I wanted to include the concept. The pulling motion can also be used to deflect a punch or grab downward away from the face. The throw, itself, is really hard to match up precisely with the kata when you're being nice to your partner--the arms end up much lower. When I've done this full-speed it matches up perfectly, but the fall is pretty rough. The arm coming across the body the way it does also serves to jam any punch uke might throw.