WANKAN - Kings Crown

his is one of the shortest katas found in the Shotokan syllabus and yet Wankan is far more complex kata than it first appears to be. Originally from the same historic line as the Chinese kata's Wanshu and Wando. This kata is said to have been created by Master Gichin Funakoshi's son, Yoshitaka Funakoshi (also known as Giko) who tragically died in the prime of his life during World War II. Because Wankan is so short there are many practitioners today who feel that Sensei Yoshitaka never completely finished Wankan, thereby leaving us with an incomplete kata. Wankan is unique amongst Shotokan katas in that it only has one kiai.

Wankan is often referred to as "old man kata" because of the fact that it is practiced primarily by the older more experienced senior karate-ka. This is thought to be because unfortunately Wankan is not often taught in all Shotokan dojos today, even in Japan, as such only karate-ka who have trained for many decades are familiar with it. As such Wankan is sometimes referred to as the "lost kata" of Shotokan karate.

This kata contains 20 movements and should take the student approximately 30 seconds to complete. The correct performance of this kata is required in order to advance from Ni Dan (2nd Dan) to San Dan (3rd Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.

This kata only has one kiai point in Wankan. It occurs on the very last movement of the kata, yama-zuki (mountain punch).

To return to a ready position after the last movement of the kata leave your left foot in place and withdraw your right 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.