The 3 “Tekki” katas (鉄騎) are said to originate from a unique and ancient kata known as “Naihanchi” – which could be translated as “in the middle of the battlefield” – quite appropriate with techniques such as hair pulling, knee stomping, genitalia squashing, throat crushing, etc.
In fact, and yet again, the name “Tekki” was introduced by Funakoshi when karate was exported to Japan. It is composed of two kanji characters: the first character is “Tetsu” (“iron” or “steel”) and the second “Ki” (“ride on a horse”, “equestrian”, or “knight”) – put together meaning “Iron Knight” or “Steel Horse Riding”.
Each of the 3 katas has a slightly different flavour but they represent different stages of training in close range fighting (imagine fighting with a wall behind you, or on a narrow footpath between 2 rice fields, etc.), with Tekki Shodan being a primer, Tekki Nidan being counter grappling and Tekki Sandan being counter-striking based.
The kata are performed in a stance called kiba-dachi (騎馬立ち), moving side to side in a linear fashion. In other words, the embusen is a straight line, running horizontally.
“Naihanchi” has evident Chinese roots and was passed on by Matsumura Sokan to Anko Itosu, who is said to have subsequently created the second and third versions to create the series. Prior to Itosu Sensei introducing his Pinan / Heian system in Okinawa, the “Naihanchi” was said to be the first kata taught to karate students to condition them physically and mentally to the years of training to come… Which shows how important these kata are…