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Kata performed at GKR Dojo Kruger

Sepai was introduced by Higaonna to Naha-te (karate style of the city Naha), and modified slightly by Chojun Miyagi when he continued teaching it in Goju. Sepai is one of the most famous kata in karate. / / Similarly to Sanseru, Sepai’s translation is a numerical reference, meaning ‘18 hands’, and just like Sanseru the debate continues over what the numbers refer to. A number of Okinawan historians claim it refers to 18 guards of the King although this is unlikely, (especially when so many other traditional kata have a similar numerical pattern). / / When studying its Chinese lineage, it suggests a connection to Buddhist philosophy (see Sanseru) while others again claim it is referring to the attacking of 18 pressure points. Both of these are very plausible, as when one considers how the use of martial arts has evolved, so too would the associations to the names of its forms. An explanation of this follows: / / Kung fu was originally developed purely as a form of physical exercise so that Monks could endure their very grueling meditation sessions. It stayed this way for 800 years and this supports claims that many kata have numerical references to Buddhist philosophy. However in 1647 when the Ching family’s invasion and subsequent takeover of the Ming family ended China’s Golden era, the Shaolin temple was destroyed and many monks were slaughtered. This marked the beginning of the transformation of Kung-fu into a more militaristic art. Over time the Shaolin monks began to revise and strengthen their art, often studying the movements of animals for guidance and inspiration. It is highly conceivable that after this time, many forms that had numerical names would have not only been modified in technique, but the explanations of their numerical significance would also have changed to represent a more militaristic representation. / / Another possibility is that in 1392 a group of 36 families moved from Fukien Province in China, to Kume-Mura, a village just outside of Naha (where Goju was developed). This community of 36 families introduced a style known as Shi Pa Sho Kempo (18 postures boxing).

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