Empi Kata

The term Empi (also commonly spelled Enpi), like many terms in both English and Japanese, has multiple meanings. You have most commonly encountered the word Empi referring to the elbow. The term more accurately means monkey elbows or long, protruding elbows.

In some contexts the term Empi may suggest extension of the arms, and this is the context for which this Kata was apparently named.

The Empi Kata is characterized by sharp, brisk, darting, and nearly instantaneous movements. Apparently at some point someone suggested that these movements are similar to the way a swallow bird moves during flight. This apparently took on a life of its own and somehow the term Empi became associated with a flying swallow, but only in martial arts circles. There is nothing in the Japanese language that I have been able to find that makes any association between the term Empi and this (or any other) bird. So when you read that the term Empi refers to a flying swallow you will some idea how this apparently inaccurate word association may have come about.

Traditionally one performs this Kata with a strongly set (chambered) back hand. This is the most common way you will see this Kata performed. We dislike this chambered back hand mentality and believe it is always more prudent to have your opposite hand placed into an effective guard position. Wherever you see the term “effective guard position” you will know that other styles normally chamber their hands in that situation. This information may prove useful if you intend to perform this Kata in an open, non-Tensoku Ryu tournament where judges may be more accustomed to seeing a chambered hand position. You may wish to adopt this chambered position if you participate in such a tournament. For most Tensoku Ryu events, including tests, you should strive to have your hands in an effective guard position.

The chambered hand position is not without its merits. Proponents of this movement suggest that strongly moving the back hand to a chambered position helps to amplify the power and rotation imparted by the front hand. We think this is true. We also think the additional power gained may not be worth the risk of being struck by a thinking and cunning opponent. In other situations the chambered back hand might be used for subtle purposes such as holding or controlling an opponent’s arm. If you can use a chambered hand for such purposes then by all means adopt this hand position when thinking of the Kata in this way.

The procedure below utilizes numerous abbreviations derived from our discussion of the Octagon. If you are unfamiliar with these abbreviations please visit the article on The Octagon at the end of this page.

Empi Kata Procedure

StepMovement
IchiPerform the traditional opening salutation and then adopt Heisoku Dachi F1. Open the left hand and place the left forearm against your left side. The right fist closes and the knuckles of the right hand press gently into the palm of the open left hand. The right forearm rests against and across the abdomen. Pause here for a few seconds.
NiLook T5 and then step L3 and drop quickly into Iagoshi Dachi F5 as you both look and deliver Migi Gedan Age Tate Tettsui Uchi T7. The closed left hand should be raised to a central guard position.
SanQuickly rise to Heiko Dachi F1 and establish a hidden hands (chambered) position on your left side.
YonLook T4 and then step R6 to establish Migi Zenkutsu Dachi F4 as you deliver Migi Gedan Barai T4. The left hand should be positioned to an effective guard position.
GoTurn CCW as you slide the left leg back slightly to establish Kiba Dachi F1 and strike with Hidari Chudan Mawashi Tsuki T1. Concurrently place the right hand in an effective guard position.
RokuStep L5 into Hidari Zenkutsu Dachi and deliver Hidari Gedan Barai T1 followed by Migi Jodan Age Tsuki T1. Do not return the strike. Instead, open the right hand and circle the hand, palm down, to perform a check, grab, or spider’s flick action.
NanaClose the right hand and pull it downward to Gedan Level along your center line as you raise the right leg to issue Migi Hiza Geri T1. Step forward R1 and then step forward L1 to form Migi Juji Dachi F1 as you deliver Hidari Chudan Ken Tsuki T1 with a slightly downward trajectory. The closed right hand concurrently moves to a position near your left shoulder.
HachiStep L8 to establish Hidari Zenkutsu Dachi F3 and deliver Migi Gedan Barai T1. This block is delivered behind you. The left arm should be in an effective guard position.
KuSlide the left leg T4 until you can establish a Hidari Zenkutsu Dachi F2. Upon establishing this stance deliver Hidari Gedan Barai T2 followed by Migi Jodan Age Tsuki T2. Do not return the strike. Instead, open the right hand and circle the hand, palm down, to perform a check, grab, or spider’s flick action.
JuClose the right hand and pull it downward to Gedan Level along your center line as you raise the right leg to issue Migi Hiza Geri T2. Step forward R2 and then step forward L2 to form Migi Juji Dachi F2 as you deliver Hidari Chudan Ken Tsuki T2 with a slightly downward trajectory. The closed right hand concurrently moves to a position near your left shoulder.
Ju IchiStep L7 to establish Hidari Zenkutsu Dachi F4 and deliver Migi Gedan Barai T2. This block is delivered behind you. The left arm should be in an effective guard position.
Ju NiStep L5 to form Hidari Zenkutsu Dachi F1 and deliver Hidari Gedan Barai T1. The right hand should be placed in an effective guard position.
Ju SanOpen the left hand striking with Hidari Gedan Haito Uchi T4 as you step L4 to form a Heisoku Dachi F4. The left arm should protrude slightly downward and in the direction of A4. The right arm should remain in an effective guard position. Both knees are slightly bent.
Ju YonThe left leg and the left arm now move in a large high arc from angle 4 toward angle 3, passing through angle 1. Neither movement is focused, but rather function as a large sweeping movement. The left leg eventually settles at A3 to form a Sochin Dachi F5. The left arm comes to rest in an Ura Shuto Uke T5. The right hand is placed in an effective guard position. It is common to see this movement done as a very slow and deliberate controlled action designed to demonstrate good stretch, balance, coordination, and muscle control. This is strictly a stylistic interpretation, however.
Ju GoRaise the right knee T5 to form Hidari Ippon Dachi F5 and deliver a Migi Morote Tate Tettsui Uchi T5. Kiai.
Ju RokuStep R4 to form Kiba Dachi F1 and issue a Hidari Chudan Shuto Uchi T1 while returning the right hand to an effective guard position.
Ju NanaStrike with Migi Chudan Ken Tsuki T1 followed by Hidari Chudan Ken Tsuki T1. The opposite hand returns to an effective guard position during each strike.
Ju HachiLook T3 and step L8 to from Hidari Zenkutsu Dachi F3 as you deliver Hidari Gedan Barai T3. Now strike with Migi Jodan Age Tsuki T3 as you return the left right arm to an effective guard position.
Ju KuStep forward T5 to form Migi Kokutsu Dachi F3 and strike with Migi Tate Shuto Uchi T3. The left arm is placed in an effective guard position.
Ni JuPull the right leg back to establish Heisoku Dachi F3. The right arm should be fully extended forward at the shoulders in the direction of A3 with the open palm facing downward. The left arm moves to an open hand guard position near the right shoulder.
Ni Ju IchiNow step forward with the left leg T8 to form Hidari Kokutsu Dachi F3 as you strike with Hidari Tate Shuto Uchi T3. The right arm is placed in an effective guard position.
Ni Ju NiWithout changing your stance, strike with Migi Gedan Ken Tsuki T3, placing the left arm in an effective guard position.
Ni Ju SanStep forward R5 to establish Migi Kokutsu Dachi F3 as you strike with Migi Tate Shuto Uchi T3. The left arm is placed in an effective guard position.
Ni Ju YonLook left T4 and then step L7 to form Hidari Zenkutsu Dachi F4 as you deliver Hidari Gedan Barai T4 followed by Migi Jodan Age Tsuki T4. The left arm is placed in an effective guard position. Do not return the strike. Instead, open the right hand and circle the hand, palm down, to perform a checking or grabbing action.
Ni Ju GoClose the right hand and pull it downward to Gedan Level along your center line as you raise the right leg to issue Migi Hiza Geri T4. Step forward R4 and then step forward L4 to form Migi Juji Dachi F4 as you deliver Hidari Chudan Ken Tsuki T4 with a slightly downward trajectory. The closed right hand concurrently moves to a position near your left shoulder.
Ni Ju RokuStep L5 to form Zenkutsu Dachi F1 and deliver Migi Gedan Barai T4. This block is delivered behind you. The left arm is placed in an effective guard position.
Ni Ju NanaSlide the front leg in the direction of angle 2 until you establish Hidari Zenkutsu Dachi F3. Deliver Hidari Gedan Barai T3 with the opposite hand placed in an effective guard position.
Ni Ju HachiWhile maintaining your current stance, return the left arm to an effective guard position as you deliver a Migi Chudan Age Kake Uchi T5.
Ni Ju KuPull the right leg in toward the left leg to establish Migi Neko Ashi Dachi F1. During this transition the right hand turns over and descends in an open hand Migi Gedan Uke T1 while the left hand rises to form a Hidari Chudan Age Kake Uke T1. Both hands should be placed along your center line as the left hand presses up while the right hand presses down.
San JuStep R7 to establish Migi Zenkutsu Dachi F1. During this transition the left hand turns over and descends in an open hand Hidari Gedan Uke T1 while the right hand rises to form a Migi Chudan Age Kake Uke T1. Both hands should be placed along your center line.
San Ju IchiStep L5 to establish Hidari Zenkutsu Dachi F1. During this transition the right hand turns over and descends in an open hand Migi Gedan Uke T1 while the left hand rises to form a Hidari Chudan Age Kake Uke T1. Both hands should be placed along your center line.
San Ju NiStep R7 to establish Migi Zenkutsu Dachi F1. During this transition the left hand turns over and descends in an open hand Hidari Gedan Uke T1 while the right hand rises to form a Migi Chudan Age Kake Uke T1. Both hands should be placed along your center line.
San Ju SanShuffle forward slightly R1L1 to establish Kokutsu Dachi F1 as you deliver a Migi Chudan Ken Tsuki T1. The right arm should not be retracted to initiate this strike.
San Ju YonShuffle forward slightly R1L1 to establish Sochin Dachi F1 as you strike with concurrent Migi Gedan Shotei Uchi and Hidari Jodan Shotei Uchi both directed at A1.
San Ju GoBriskly rotate CCW and jump in the direction of A2. Rotate a full 360° in the air as you travel in the direction of A2. Both feet should contact the floor in unison. Upon landing immediately establish a Migi Kokutsu Dachi F1 with a Migi Shuto Uchi T1. The left arm should be placed in an effective guard position.
San Ju RokuStep back R6 to form Hidari Kokutsu Dachi F1 and deliver a Hidari Shuto Uchi T1. The right arm should be placed in an effective guard position.
San Ju HachiPull the left leg back to form Heisoku Dachi F1. Open the left hand and place the left forearm against your left side. The right fist closes and the knuckles of the right hand press gently into the palm of the open left hand. The right forearm rests against and across the abdomen. Pause here for a few seconds.
San Ju KuPerform the closing salutation. Yoi. Yame.

See Also

The Octagon

 

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