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