Empi Kata & bunkai

Enpi (燕飛?), also frequently transliterated as Empi, is a kata practiced by Shotokan and other karate styles. Enpi means Flying Swallow.

Enpi comes from the Okinawan martial art of Tomari-te, where it first appeared in 1683. It is believed to have been influenced by Chinese boxing. It was originally called Wansu. Funakoshi Gichin changed the name to Enpi when he moved to the Japanese mainland in the 1920s. Funakoshi changed the names of many of the kata, in an effort to make the Okinawan art more palatable to the then nationalistic Japanese. The most commonly accepted theory about its creation and development is that a Sappushi Wang Ji, an official from Xiuning, transmitted the kata while serving on Okinawa. Legend has that Wang Ji had the habit of throwing and jumping on his adversaries. Because of this dynamic form of combat, this kataresembles a swallow in flight.

Others suggest that Enpi was a product of the interaction between Okinawans and the so-called “36 Chinese Families” that immigrated to the islands in the late 14th century. Still other teachers believe that it was based upon Sasaki Kojiro’s sword techniques, because they were also said to resemble a swallow.

The following clips are Iain Abernethy’s interpretations of the bunkai:

The opening sequence
The signature sequence of the Kata
The shifting sequence

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