If you watch practitioners from different lineages doing this kata, there is a good bit of superficial variation. A good basic indicator of which lineage you are watching is the opening motion. Commonly thought of as a salute or simply an opening flourish, these movements have actual combative application. There are three common openings for naihanchi, which I have nicknamed...
- "Modesty" - The practitioner holds two spearhand-shaped palms pointed downward and crossed with straight arms, as if covering his groin in modesty.
- "Hidden Fist" - The right fist is covered by the left spearhand. This usually starts high, near the face, and sweeps down the body until the covered fist is held low, near the groin.
- "Viewing The Sky" - This one follows a path opposite to that in Hidden Fist. The open palms start low and arc up the centerline to just above head level, then separate and follow separate arcs downward to either side, ending at the starting point.
I typically interpret Modesty as a frontal bearhug separation, Hidden Fist as a shearing wrist destruction against a frontal chest grab or push, and Viewing The Sky as a generic opening response to any punch.