HANGETSU - Half Moon
Hangetsu is one of the oldest katas know to exist. Named for the semi-circular movements of the hands and feet Hangetsu was originally known by the Okinawan name of, Seisan. It is very effective for close in attacks and the circular leg movements are an excellent way of unbalancing your opponent. This kata introduces several new techniques such as hangetsu-dachi (half moon stance), gedan-gassho-uke (lower level double palm heel block), chudan-ippon-ken (middle level single knuckle strike) and several unique combinations of basic hand and foot techniques.
One of the most important aspects of this kata is proper breathing. The first half of the kata is done with very slow hand movements and with Goju Ryu style breathing. You must breath in thru your nose while at the same time pushing your lower abdomen outward filling it with air. As you step forward and as you perform any of the various hand techniques exhale the air out thru your mouth while at the same time pulling your lower abdomen emptying it of air, the sound of the air being exhaled should be audible for everyone to hear. The second half of the kata, beginning at the first kiai point is thereafter done at what would be considered normal Shotokan style as far as the pace of the kata is concerned.
In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai (application of technique) for the various movements in this kata as a requirement for advancement. This kata contains 41 movements and should also take the student approximately 60 seconds to complete. The correct performance of this kata is required in order to advance in rank from 1st kyu (brown belt) to Sho Dan (1st Black Belt).
There are two kiai points in Hangetsu. The first one occurs quite early in the kata on the first turning combination which is comprised of two techniques, shuto-chudan-uchi-uke (middle level sword hand inside outward block) and shuto-gedan-barai (lower level sword hand block). The second one occurs on the second to the last movement of the kata, gedan-gyaku-zuki (lower level reverse punch).
To return to a ready position after the last movement of the kata leave your right foot in place and step back with your left foot so as to stand up once again facing forward in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). You must now formally end the kata. You do this by bringing your left foot half way in towards your right foot and your right foot half way in towards your left foot so that you are now standing with your feet together. At the same time as you bring your feet together also bring your hands to your sides so you are again standing in heisoku-dachi (attention stance). Now rei (bow). After bowing, step out with your left foot and then your right foot and once again stand in hachiji-dachi (natural stance) while at the same time bringing your hands from your sides and hold them in a ready position in front of you with your fists closed.