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 from the Tomari area of Okinawa and it is also practiced by students studying Shorin-ryu, Shito-ryu, and Matsubayashi-ryu. It was aid to be the favourite kata of the Founder of Matsubayashi-ryu, Master Shoshin Nagamine.

The Shotokan version of Wankan 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 it is a genuine Shotokan kata, since Sensei Yoshitaka never had the opportunity to finish modifiying Wankan. Today, Wankan is unique amongst Shotokan katas, in that it only has one kiai.

Wankan is often referred to as the "old mans kata" since it is practiced primarily by the older, more experienced karate-ka of senior rank. This is thought to be because, unfortunately, Wankan is not often taught in many Shotokan dojos today, even in Japan, as such only karate-ka who have trained for many decades are most familiar with it. As such Wankan is sometimes called 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 and it occurs on the very last movement of the kata, the 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.