Empi - Flying Swallow (1st of 3 Bird Katas)
Empi is generally the first of three bird katas taught in Shotokan karate. It is a beautiful and popular kata for competitions. Empi meaning flying swallow is supposed to mimic the way a bird flies through the sky, gracefully changing direction and heights in a sudden movement.
This kata first appeared around 1683 in Okinawa and was a martial art of Tomari-te it was said that this kata was influenced by Chinese boxing and was originally called Wanshu but the name was changed by Gichin Funakoshi when he moved to mainland Japanese in the 1920’s
This kata is designed around throwing and jumping on attackers. A theory around this is because of a story about an official called Sappushi Wang Ji who served in Okinawa and spread the kata using his habits of throwing and jumping on his opponents.
This kata is the only kata out of all 26 Shotokan kata to use Age Zuki (rising punch) which also make it a unique kata.
(image from portugalresident.com)