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SEIUCHIN KATA

by

Sensei Don Bohan

 

              The translation of Seiuchin is "lull in the storm" or "calm within the storm."  The origin of the kata is unknown, however, it is believed to have been named for a famous Chinese martial artist from the 16th century.

              Kanryo Higashionna traveled to the Fukien Province in Southern China to study Chuan-fa and learned Seiuchin Kata from Master Woo Lu Chin.  When he returned to Okinawa in 1800, he began teaching in the City of Naha and developed the system of Naha-te (named after the city).  Later Chojun Miyagi became Higashionna's top student and learned Seiuchin kata as well as Sanchin at the age of nine.  Miyagi refined the Naha-te system and founded the Goju-ryu style of karate after traveling extensively throughout China in search of further martial arts knowledge.

 

            Goju-ryu is one of two styles that Isshinryu Karate is based upon.  Seiuchin is another kata Tatsuo Shimabuku learned during his studies under Chojun Miyagi in 1921.  Tatsuo Shimabuku further refined the kata and incorporated it into the Isshinryu system as the second kata taught.  Many people employ dynamic tension and deep breathing in Seiuchin Kata.  Originally, they were not a part of this form.  According to some writings handed down by Chojun Miyagi, the only two katas which use dynamic tension and deep breathing in Goju-ryu karate are Sanchin and Tensho. Tatsuo Shimabuku taught Seiuchin without using deep breathing or tension.

   

SEQUENCE/BUNKAI

            For reference, each technique and movement is numbered below on its respective line of orientation. Occasionally two Bunkai will be given:(A) The basic Bunkai, and(B) the intermediate to advanced Bunkai.

 

OPENING

              Stand in attention stance; heels are together, toes point at a 45-degree angle.  The spine is straight (including the neck) with the knees bent slightly.  Hands are open with the palms against the thighs (fingers point toward the ground).  Relax by taking a few deep breaths utilizing the diaphragm and set the mind toward the purpose of concentrating on the kata.  Perform the Tachi-Rei (standing bow).  Bend from the waist to a 45-degree angle; do not take the eyes off of the opponent and do not show the back of the neck (this is a form of disrespect); straighten back up to the original position.  Bring the hands (left over right) left hand open (palm toward the body) and the right hand (also palm toward the body) in a fist.  Lower the hands from the solar plexus to in front of the groin (The fingers of the left hand now point to the ground).  As the hands are lowered, pivot the feet inward to a pigeon-toed stance with the knees slightly touching together (this is a cover for the groin against possible attacks at that level).

 

1.         From the ready, pivot 90 degrees on the left foot to the left into a Seiuchin-Dachi using a circular step.  While pivoting, draw both fists up to rib level, palms up.  As soon as the stance is set, immediately perform a downward twisting strike with both fists; the thumbs should end up nearly touching each other with the backs of the hands facing the opponent.  

(A)       This is a block against a groin kick. The strike of the fists is intended to injure the instep, shin or ankle of the opponent.  

 

2.         Start to raise the fists upward toward the ribs.  As the hands are even with the solar plexus, open the hands into a palm-up shuto position in preparation for a spear hand attack.  Thrust both hands upward into a spear hand at chin-level about 12 inches from your face.  The fingertips should have a very slight amount of overlap.  From the double spear hand, continue the movement by spreading the hands outward until they are even with the shoulders.  Keep the elbows tightly tucked in along ribs, as this is a guard.  

(A)       This is a double spear hand to your opponent’s throat causing the opponent to break a chokehold he has on you.  The spreading of the arms tears the opponent's hands from around the neck.  

(B)       During the spear hand movement the wedging thrust of the forearms is intended to help in the break the choke hold. At this time, both wrists are grabbed.  

 

3.         Sweep both hands down in a double-down block.  

(A)       This action will cause disjointing of shoulders if grasp is maintained.  

 

4.         Look 90 degrees to the right.  Perform a right-ridge-hand block to the right at shoulder level.  At the same time, cross the open left hand the right arm and then return as a fist to the left hip. Invert the right hand and strike with the knife hand to rib level.  

(A)       The left hand acts as a rib guard.  The ridge hand (right) is either a middle level block or a strike to the neck/head of the opponent.  

(B)        This technique is based on which arm the opponent strikes with.  If the opponent strikes with the right hand, perform the left cross-body technique over the right arm and catch the strike.  Pull his arm across your body and strike the back of his elbow with the ridge hand. The knife hand is to the small ribs.  If the opponent strikes with the left hand, your left hand will cross over the right arm.  Catch the striking hand and pull the arm across your body, which will lock the elbow.  The ridge hand strike will be directed to the center of the opponent's chest, which provides the necessary leverage for the elbow break.  The knife hand strikes the solar plexus/small ribs.  

 

5.         Pull the right hand back to hip with a tiger-claw.  At the same time perform a cross-body spear hand; palm up, to rib level (cross-body to right).  

(A)       The right hand pulls the opponent in close for the spear hand to finish him off.  The spear hand is to available torso targets.  

** NOTE ** As you move the hands up and down in front of your body in moves 1-4 the hands will open and close when they are parallel to each other or when one is behind the other.  

 

6.         Step across 180 degrees to the right to Seiuchin-Dachi; pivot on the ball of the right foot.  Do not swing the left foot (stepping foot) but perform a type of tuck and slide. (Swinging the left foot produces centrifugal force that slows the step, unfavorably changes the center of balance, and produces vulnerable lower targets for your opponent).  At the same time, draw both hands to the ribs, palm up, fist closed. As soon as the stance is set, perform a downward twisting strike with both fists; the thumbs should end up nearly touching each other with the backs of the hands facing the opponent.  

(A)       This is a block against a groin kick.  The strike of the fists is intended to injure the instep, shin or ankle of the opponent.  

7-9??

 

10.            Withdraw the fists to the ribs, palm up and open, hands in preparation for a spear hand attack.  Thrust both hands upward into a spear hand to chin-level about 12 inches from your face.  The fingertips should have a very slight amount of overlap.  From the spear hand, spread the hands outward till even with the shoulders.  Keep the elbows tightly tucked in along the ribs, as this is a guard.  

(A)       This is a double spear hand to your opponent’s throat causing the opponent to break a chokehold he has on you.  The spreading of the arms tears the opponent's hands from around the neck.  

(B)       During the spear hand movement the wedging thrust of the forearms is intended to help in the break the choke hold. At this time, both wrists are grabbed.  

 

11.       Sweep both hands down in a double down block.  

(A)???    

(B)       This action will cause disjointing of shoulders if grasp is maintained.  

 

12.       Turn head to left.  Perform a left ridge hand to the left.  At the same time, cross the open right hand over the left hand and then return as fist to the right hip.  Invert the left hand and strike with a knife hand.  

(A)       The left hand acts as a rib guard.  The ridge hand (right) is either a middle level block or a strike to the neck/head of the opponent.  

(B)       This technique is based on which arm the opponent strikes with.  If the opponent strikes with the right hand, perform the left cross-body technique over the right arm and catch the strike.  Pull his arm across your body and strike the back of his elbow with the ridge hand. The knife hand is to the small ribs.  If the opponent strikes with the left hand, your left hand will cross over the right arm.  Catch the striking hand and pull the arm across your body, which will lock the elbow.  The ridge hand strike will be directed to the center of the opponent's chest, which provides the necessary leverage for the elbow break.  The knife hand strikes the solar plexus/small ribs.  

 

13.???

 

14.       Pull the left hand back to the left hip with hand formed in tiger claw.  At the same time, perform cross-body spear hand, palm up with right hand to left.  

(A)       The right hand pulls the opponent in close for the spear hand to finish him off.  The spear hand is to available torso targets.  

 

15.       Step across 180 degrees to the left to Seiuchin-Dachi; pivot on the ball of the left foot.  Do not swing the right foot (stepping foot) but perform a type of tuck and slide. (Swinging the right foot produces centrifugal force that slows the step, unfavorably changes the center of balance, and produces vulnerable lower targets for your opponent).  At the same time, draw both hands to the ribs, palm up, fist closed. As soon as the stance is set, perform a downward twisting strike with both fists; the thumbs should end up nearly touching each other with the backs of the hands facing the opponent.  

(A)       This is a block against a groin kick.  The strike of the fists is intended to injure the instep, shin or ankle of the opponent.  

 

16.            Withdraw the fists to the ribs, palm up and open, hands in preparation for a spear hand attack.  Thrust both hands upward into a spear hand to chin-level about 12 inches from your face.  The fingertips should have a very slight amount of overlap.  From the spear hand, spread the hands outward till even with the shoulders.  Keep the elbows tightly tucked in along the ribs, as this is a guard.  

(A)       This is a double spear hand to your opponent’s throat causing the opponent to break a chokehold he has on you.  The spreading of the arms tears the opponent's hands from around the neck.  

(B)       During the spear hand movement the wedging thrust of the forearms is intended to help in the break the choke hold. At this time, both wrists are grabbed.  

 

17.       Sweep both hands down in a double down block.  

(A)       This action will cause disjointing of shoulders if grasp is maintained.  

 

18.       Turn head to right.  Perform a right ridge hand to the left.  At the same time, cross the open left hand over the right hand/and then return as fist to the left hip.  Invert the right hand and strike with a knife hand.  

(A)       The right hand acts as a rib guard.  The ridge hand (right) is either a middle level block or a strike to the neck/head of the opponent.  

(B)       This technique is based on which arm the opponent strikes with.  If the opponent strikes with the right hand, perform the left cross-body technique over the right arm and catch the strike.  Pull his arm across your body and strike the back of his elbow with the ridge hand. The knife hand is to the small ribs.  If the opponent strikes with the left hand, your left hand will cross over the right arm.  Catch the striking hand and pull the arm across your body, which will lock the elbow.  The ridge hand strike will be directed to the center of the opponent's chest, which provides the necessary leverage for the elbow break.  The knife hand strikes the solar plexus/small ribs.  

 

19.       Pull the right hand back to the right hip with hand formed in tiger claw.  At the same time, perform cross-body spear hand, palm up with left hand to the right.  

(A)       The right hand pulls the opponent in close for the spear hand to finish him off.  The spear hand is to available torso targets.  

 

20.       Leave the palm up (left hand) spear hand extended.  Bring the right hand up to a backfist, and strike downward onto left palm. Draw the right foot back and slide the left foot back into Neko-Ashi-Dachi. At the same time rotate the open left hand on top of the right hand (fist) and draw both hands back to right hip.  (Note: As the hands are drawn back perform a right middle level block the right arm travels in a clockwise semi-circle on way to right hip.) Immediately step out into right foot forward Seisan-Dachi, and strike with right fist while grasping wrist with left hand. Leave the left hand extended while drawing right fist to ribs; follow up with right The elbow is shuffle-step.  uppercut elbow to open left palm to head level. performed while executing a right lead in~3  

1.     Seiuchin to Cat Stance.

2.     Cat Stance to Seisan pivot on ball of foot  

(A)       Drawing back into the Neko-Ashi-Dachi and stepping to Seisan-Dachi is to add momentum to the technique.  The grabbing of the right wrist is to re-enforce the strike.  The left hand acts as a guard or disengagement for any obstruction in the way of the punch.  The elbow strike to the head is the killing blow as the left hand grasps the opponent's head to keep it from moving away from the elbow and to add impetus to the elbow strike.  

(B)       In opening this technique, it is supposed the left spear hand was parried and grabbed by a downward open hand push-block (either hand).  The hammer fist strikes the holding hand to break grasp and injure the small bones in the top of the opponent's hand.  The hand rotation and drawback into the Neko-Ashi-Dachi is to extend the opponent's arm and lock the shoulder and elbow.  (With this, the opponent will be pulled across and to the right).  The forward step into Seisan-Dachi and punching-type thrust of the arms will bring about dislocation of the opponent's shoulder.  Sufficient momentum will result in a flipping-throw.  The elbow technique can be a breaking strike to an extended elbow or finishing strike to the head.  

 

22.       Pivot 45 degrees to right and shuffle step to right foot forward Seisan-Dachi.  Bring the right hand across the body to shoulder block.  Re-enforce the block with the left hand by placing left palm against heel of right hand.  

(A)            This is a re-enforced shoulder block or head strike.  

(B)       While performing elbow strike, you were grabbed at the throat by an opponent 45 degrees on your right.  You pivot into the opponent and sweep across the elbows with the re-enforced right forearm against his grasp.  45 degrees to right with shuffle step  

 

23.       Pivot on ball of foot (right) into Seiuchin-Dachi while remaining on a 45-degree line.  Bring the left hand from underneath with hammer fist to the groin.  Bring the right hand back to hip.  Direction of strike (Note: As the right foot pivots, take a step forward (on the 45 degree line) with the left foot and set into Seiuchin-Dachi.)  

 

24.       Step back into Seiuchin-Dachi by pivoting counter clock wise on the ball of the left foot and step (tuck-and-slide) with the left foot back toward main kata line.  When stance is set, do a right hand down block to right and withdraw left hand to the hip.  

(A)            This was a retreating down block.  

(B)       While in previous stance, the opponent had counter kicked while you were striking at his groin.  The forearm of the striking hand (left hand) deflected this kick.  After the deflection, trap the kicking leg with the left hand.  When you pivot back into Seiuchin-Dachi, you drag the leg with you to overextend his leg and destroy his balance.  The down block thus becomes a strike to the side of the knee to complete the injury and dump the opponent.  

 

25.       From Seiuchin-Dachi, pivot 90 degrees to the left (you are now 45 degrees off line to the left side) into a left foot forward Seisan-Dachi, with a small shuffle step.  

(A)            This is a re-enforced shoulder block or head strike.  

(B)       While performing elbow strike, you were grabbed at the throat by an opponent 45 degrees on your right.  You pivot into the opponent and sweep across the elbows with the re-enforced right forearm against his grasp.  45 degrees to right with shuffle step  

 

26.       Step with right foot into Seiuchin-Dachi.  Hammerfist to groin with right hand, left hand on hip.

(Bunkai from number 23 applies)  

 

27.       Step back with right foot and pivot clockwise with left foot into Seiuchin-Dachi.  Perform a left hand down block and return right fist to hip.  

(A)            This was a retreating down block.  

(B)       While in previous stance, the opponent had counter kicked while you were striking at his groin.  The forearm of the striking hand (left hand) deflected this kick.  After the deflection, trap the kicking leg with the left hand.  When you pivot back into Seiuchin-Dachi, you drag the leg with you to overextend his leg and destroy his balance.  The down block thus becomes a strike to the side of the knee to complete the injury and dump the opponent.  

 

28.       From Seiuchin-Dachi, pivot on right foot counter clock-wise into Seiuchin-Dachi along original line.  At the same time draw the left hand to position in front of forehead, and strike along line with chest level knife hand, palm down.  (Note: As the pivot on the right foot is performed, step back along main line with the left foot to assume Seiuchin-Dachi.)  

(A)             The left hand is a guard, the right hand is a chop.  

(B)       The left hand parries and catches opponent's punch coming from main line while stepping back.  When the stance is fully set and left hand pulled pack to forehead, the opponent's arm will be fully extended which exposes his rib cage.  The knife hand chop is to the short ribs.  

 

29.       Pivot clockwise back into Seiuchin-Dachi and step with right foot on  main kata line (backwards).  While stepping back, draw open right hand back to forehead, palm outward, and strike down along line with left hand knife hand chop.         

(A)             The left hand is a guard, the right hand is a chop.  

(B)       The left hand parries and catches opponent's punch coming from main line while stepping back.  When the stance is fully set and left hand pulled pack to forehead, the opponent's arm will be fully extended which exposes his rib cage.  The knife hand chop is to the short ribs.  

 

30.       Step forward into right foot forward Seisan-Dachi.  While stepping draw right hand back to side of head and form a fist, the left hand is drawn back to chest level, hand open, palm down, about 12 inches from the chest and parallel to the ground.  Once the stance is set, strike at head level with right hand hammer fist.  

(A)             Hammer fist strike with left hand guard.  

(B)       The left hand presses down on the arm you had control of in step 29. The hammer fist strikes the head.  

 

31.       Shuffle forward into right foot forward Seisan-Dachi.  Keep left hand  parallel to the ground.  At same time, rotate the fist downward and back towards your body.  As the stance is set, continue this motion upward and over the left arm in a cobra-style backfist or secondary punch to the bridge of the opponent's nose.  (This applies to(B) and(A) Bunkai, as it teaches secondary or recoil punching.  In other words, if the fist strike is blocked the block provides the momentum for a strike with the same hand). 

        Shuffle with right, drag with left

         Right side view of secondary backfist from hammer fist.

MOVEMENT ALONG STRAIGHT LINE ROTATION OF HAND. KEEP RIGHT ELBOW AS CLOSE TO LEFT HAND AS POSSIBLE THROUGHOUT STRIKE. 

 

32.       From Seisan-Dachi, pivot on the left foot counter clock-wise for 225 degrees (you end up 45 degrees off line in opposite direction). While turning, perform left hand shoulder block, palm inward, and right hand groin block.  You will be in left forward Seisan-Dachi.  

(A)       Double shoulder/groin block.  a. You have pivoted into opponent.  Your left shoulder block has caught his striking left arm above the elbow.  Your downward striking right hand catches left wrist and breaks the left elbow.  

 

33.       With the left foot, step into a deep Seiuchin-Dachi.  Keep an open hand guard by placing the right hand over the solar plexus.  (NOTE: The thumb should be just to the right of the solar plexus thus allowing the palm to absorb the force of any strike to the solar plexus and providing a solid base that will not be moved by a strike.  The thumb should not be placed on the solar plexus as a strike to that area may have sufficient power to drive the thumb into the solar plexus thus negating the guard.) As soon as the stance is set, perform a left hand uppercut punch.  Immediately follow with a left hand back fist (Again, the arm is rolled downward and inward in recoil punching manner.) The left hand now performs a down block, at the same time, pull right hand to hip in fist.  

(A)            Uppercut punch, backfist punch, down block or groin strike.  

(B)       The open right hand guard catches opponent's punch, and the uppercut is to the elbow of the controlled arm.  The backfist is cobra-style to bridge of nose.  The down block blocks opponent's kick and grabs it at the ankle.  (This sets up the next technique.)  

 

34.       Pivot 180 degrees to the rear on right foot to Seiuchin-Dachi keeping focus along same line.  Perform a down block.   

(A)       The down block is to the side of the knee to the previously caught leg.  The step will also hyper-extend opponent's stance causing him to fall.  

 

35.       Pivot on left foot in opposite direction to Seisan-Dachi.  Left foot will be forward.  As stance sets, perform left shoulder block, palm inward, and right groin block, palm inward.  

(A)       Double shoulder/groin block.  a. You have pivoted into opponent.  Your left shoulder block has caught his striking left arm above the elbow.  Your downward striking right hand catches left wrist and breaks the left elbow.  

 

36.       Step into Seiuchin-Dachi with right foot.  As in step 33,  uppercut backfist, down block.  (All movements and Bunkai are identical to steps 33 and 34.)  

 

37.       From Seiuchin-Dachi, pivot back on right foot and step back on main line with the left foot.  Draw right foot back into Neko-Ashi-Dachi; at the same time, drive the left hip upward and perform a high block with the right hand and elbow strike to rear with left elbow.  (Identical to basic number 13.)  

 

38.       From the Neko-Ashi-Dachi, step back with the right foot to left foot forward Seisan-Dachi.  At the same time, perform right rear elbow strike and bring left arm around until it is directly in front of the body approximately 12" from the body; elbow at 90 degrees, forearm parallel to ground.  

 

39.       Punch downward with right twisting fist, palm down.  Left arm does not move, stance does not change.  Bunkai for steps 37, 38 and 39 are interdependent on each other, and each forms one chain of logic.  

(A)       1 Step 37 presumes you have been grabbed in a bear hug from the rear.  The hip action and rising block unseats the opponent’s center of balance and breaks the hold.  The elbow provides first strike. Step 38 is finishing elbow strike, and left arm provides guard or block to the front.  

            (1)       Step 37 is a high block against opponent to your front while you retreat. Step 38 is circling punch to ribs, and Step 39 is finishing punch to groin.  

(B)       This next series requires excellent balance and timing.  Step 37 again presumes you have been grabbed in a bear hug from the rear.  The hip action and right rising block unseats the opponent’s center of balance and breaks his hold.  As the hold breaks, the rising right hand grabs opponents left wrist.  As you step back into Seisan-Dachi (Step 38) you pull his arm across your body to your right hip.  This will cause the unbalanced opponent to begin to fall around your body on your left side.  As he comes around, grasp the bicep of the controlled arm with left hand to increase the momentum of his fall.  When your left hand comes all the way around to the front, the opponent will be on the ground in front of you, in a sitting position.  Maintain control of his arm with left hand, and finish him off with right hand punch to head.  (Step 39).  

 

40.       Step forward into right foot forward Seisan-Dachi.  Keep left arm extended parallel to body as guard, and strike at new opponent with hammer fist to the head.  (This strike is blocked.  The opponent reaches across and over your left arm to grab your throat in a two-handed chokehold.)  

 

41.       Step back with right foot into a deep left hand forward T-stance.  While stepping back, raise arms directly overhead, elbows close  together, palms facing to the rear.  This movement backward will extend opponent's arms and weaken his balance.  As soon as stance is set, drive the elbows downward into opponent's forearms and pin his forearms against your chest.  The back of your hands should be just inches from his face.  Invert the hands while keeping arms pinned, and jab your fingertips into his eyes.  Rake eyes with short outward slash; at same time, shift feet into Seisan-Dachi for additional power.  

CLOSING

42.       Step up with right foot into Attention Stance and bring the hands to left over right.  Left hand open and right hand in fist and step to ready stance with the right foot; at the same time, bring hands to in front of the thighs.  Perform the tachi-rei after closing the right foot to the left foot into attention stance.

 

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