Monday, March 21, 2011

The ideal of naihanchi

RE: Openhand's blog post - one of the things he talks about is teaching beginners the basic form  - the one that remains unchanged - unpolluted by personal preference - and allowing them to get good at that basic form before getting much into personal application and etc...

While I'm sure that Openhand could probably naihanchi me to death, I disagree about how to best teach it.  Instead of teaching a standardized, basic form first then applying it to the individual,  I think it is probably best taught as an application-first sort of practice with a live partner, with great amounts of repetition, similar to what you'd expect to see in a jujitsu-type class.  Then, once the student has gotten a decent grasp of how to apply these ideas to a live person, you can teach the kata as sort of an encoded shorthand mnemonic device that the student can take home and use in his spare time as a visualization aid.
Application before kata instead of kata before application

Of course, when practicing application, the student is often forced to make little individualized tweaks to the movement in order to get it to work for them.  So then, after practicing individualized application, it makes little sense to teach them a standardized, basic form of the kata as a mnemonic.  You want the mnemonic to reasonably well mimic the idea that it is supposed to help you remember.  So then, we're back to the idea of eveyone having their own personal version of naihanchi full of their own little tweaks.  Most of these naihanchis will be similar and easily recognizable as naihanchi) but still not something that you would teach to new students as a standardized ideal.  
I favor letting each student develop their own ideal naihanchi through live partner practice instead of teaching them your ideal naihanchi and hoping they can extrapolate from your ideal to theirs.

[photo courtesy of Mike Oliveri]

Patrick Parker
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