Seisan kata

Source 1: "Katas of Shorin ryu Seibukan" by Kim Mitrunen & Tommi Prami

Kyan Chotoku learned Seisan kata from Sokon Matsumura, the master of the Shuri-te branch. This kata contains long distance techniques like rensoku tsuki geri, which are representative of the shuri-te style. It was assumed that Seisan was the first kata taught to him by the great master Matsumura, and due to the age differences, was learned by Master Kyan at a tender age.  This kata still remains as the first major Sukunaihayashi lineage kata to be taught in Seibukan. Seisan is a powerful kata, where quick changes from shiko dachi to zenkutsu dachi come into its own as a source of power. This ancient form was a favorite of Master Zenryo Shimabukuro, and was performed by him in many exhibitions. Even at an advanced age, Master Zenryo Shimabukuro used this kata to demonstrate his excellent fitness.  

Source 2: The kata of okinawa Ishin ryu karatedo by Joe Swift

Meaning 13, some people refer to it as 13 hands, 13 fists, or 13 steps. Customarily taught in both Shuri and Naha, this kata, following the tradition of Kyan Chotoku, is the first kata the Isshinryu student learns.
It is unclear exactly what the number 13 actually represents. Some think it was the number of techniques in the original kata; some think it represents 13 different types of "power" or "energy" found in the kata; some think it represents the number of different application principles; some think it represents defending against 13 specific attacks; and some think that it is the number if imaginary opponents one faces while performing the kata. Out of all these theories, this author must disagree with the last, as it is highly unrealistic that kata teaches one to handle such situations. On the contrary, kata was designed to teach the principles needed to survive more common self-defense situations, rather than a long, drawn out battle against several opponents (Iwai, 1992).

Kinjo Akio, noted Okinawan karate researcher and teacher who has traveled to China, Hong Kong and Taiwan well over 100 times for training and researching the roots of Okinawan martial arts, maintains that this kata originally had 13 techniques, but due to a long process of evolution, more techniques were added to it (Kinjo, 1999). He also maintains that the Okinawan Seisan kata derives from Yong Chun White Crane boxing from Fujian Province in Southern China.

It is unsure who brought this kata to Okinawa, but we do know that in 1867, Aragaki Seisho (1840-1920), a master of the Chinese-based fighting traditions (Toudi) demonstrated this kata (among others) in front of the last Sappushi, Zhao Xin (Tomoyori, 1992; McCarthy, 1995, 1999).

The main lineages that include Seisan include those passed down from Matsumura Sokon, Kyan Chotoku, Aragaki Seisho, Higaonna Kanryo, Uechi Kanbun, and Nakaima Norisato, among others. Shimabuku learned this kata from Kyan. Both the Kyan and the Shimabuku versions of this kata strongly resemble the Matsumura no Seisan (see Sakagami, 1978).

Source 3:

Some say that this is the oldest kata that is still practiced. Seisan means "crescent moon" or "13 steps".  It is definitely from Fukien, China, because it is also known to be had in Fukien Shaolin Monk Fist, Dragon and Lion Boxing Kung Fu styles. In Okinawa, there are two different versions. The Naha-te version is pretty much like the Chinese, but Shuri-te version is quite different, and evolved differently. The Naha-te version was either handed down by Liu Liu-Ko, a Chinese master, brought to Okinawa by Higashionna Kanryo of Naha-te. However, some say that it was passed down in Kunida long before Higashionna came along. As for the Shuri-te version, some say that Takahara Peichin and other early Shuri-te masters handed it down.




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