This is the first kata of the Isshinryu system, which originated from Shorin-Ryu. It emphasizes a straight forward stance, mae geri, and rapid techniques.

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Some people refer to the kata as ’13 Seeisan, ’13 Fists’, ’13 Techniques’, ’13 Steps’ or even ’13 killing positions’.

However, these names have no historical basis. Seisan is thought to be one of the oldest kata, being quite spread among other Nahate schools. Shito-ryu has its own version and different versions are now practised even in Shuri-te seiszn like Shotokan called Hangetsu and in Wado-ryu called Seishan.

Due to its difficulty, this kata is often reserved for advanced students. There are numerous theories regarding the name of the kata. Seisn include the number of steps originally in the kata, the number of different types of ‘power’ or ‘energy’ in the kata, the number of applications, or that the kata represents defence against 13 specific types of attack.

The most likely explanation is the number of non-repeating techniques contained within the kata. This is completely unproven and uncorroborated.

There are some other Chinese styles having a form called ‘Shisan’ 13 in seeisan curricula, but a link from a specific kung-fu form to Okinawan Seisan has never been established. Versions of Seisan taught today have roots in Shuri-te, Naha-te and Tomari-te streams of karate that is the karate that was traditionally taught in the Okinawan towns of ShuriNaha and Tomari respectively.


Seisan – Wikipedia

This is the second of the three kata of Pangai-noon learned and then taught by Kanbun Uechi. As is a feature of the style, all punches are performed with a vertical fist.

It contains techniques performed under full tension through the range of motion, as well katw strong fast techniques. Seisan is said to complement Seiunchin.

Although rooted in the same form, significant differences can be seen in the Goju version compared to the other versions mentioned above. The form predominantly features the stance Shiko-Dachi common in Tomari-te kata accompanying a block iata often sets up a powerful pivot and punch into Zenkutsu-dachi.

This form introduces many recurring concepts used in higher level Seibukan Shorin-Ryu kata. Though not considered a basic kata, the Okinawa Seidokan version is foundational in teaching koshi trunkial twist power from a beginners onset. Traditionally the regular performance is performed to a regular counting cadence maintaining the same tempo throughout the kata.

This slower version is called ‘Seisan Breath’ and taught to higher level students to develop internal martial arts. Funakoshi’s could have taken the best from these contrasting styles synthesising them into Hangetsu, which possibly explains why the form is so different from other kata in the Shotokan canon. Another more obscure version of this kata known as Aragaki-no-Seisan, bears the closest surface resemblance to the Shotokan kata Hangetsu.


The Shotokan version was probably renamed when Gichin Funakoshi formed his school in Japan. Hangetsu translates to ‘Half Moon’ or ‘Half Month’ a reference to the half-moon stance used extensively and the semi-circular stepping actions in this kata. A more obscure and unlikely theory is that the kata was taken from a Chinese folk dance where the performer is explaining the importance of the tides as they cycle on day intervals as the moon revolves around the earth.

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Isshinryu Karate

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Seisan – Black Belt Wiki

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