Empi, or Enpi as it is aslo referred to is said to resemble the up and down pattern of a swallow in flight. It is a favourite kata of many students. The quick complex movements and unique combinations found in this kata make it challenging even for the more senior students in the dojo. For example, the correct movement into kosa-dachi (cross legged stance) while at the same time making chudan-soto-uke (middle level outside inward block), and a gedan-zuki and a lower level punch). Or, properly performing the series of three chudan-teisho-oshi-age-uke (upper level pressing palm heal block) and gedan-teisho-osae-uke (lower level pressing palm heal block) while at the same time using the correct hip motion when stepping into a zenkutsu-dachi (forward stance). Thought to be Chinese in origin this kata was originally introduced to Okinawa as, Wanshu, a name by which this kata is still known today within several other styles of karate.
Like all advance kata Empi requires a high level of disciplined effort and the accurate technique that only begins to emerge after several years of previous training. This kata contains 37 movements and should also take the student approximately 50 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 Empi. The first one occurs on the on the jodan-soto-uke (upper level forearm strike) that is performed while in hidari-ashi-dachi (left one legged stance). The second one begins the moment you start the jump, and continues until you land in kokutsu-dachi (back stance) where a chudan-shuto-zuki (middle level sword hand strike) is performed.
To return to a ready position after the last movement of the kata leave your right foot in place and withdraw 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.