Some historians claim this kata
was developed by Chogun Miyagi. However, most historians assert Kanryo
Higaonna (his Sensei) brought it back from China and Miyagi modified
it. This kata is thought to have been derived from white crane boxing
style in China.
The direction and techniques are similar but there are a few differences
in intensity, stances, and angle routes. As all kata, there is no
orthodoxy concerning this form. One thing for certain is, Saifa is
a Goju-ryu kata performed in many different ways. It is a wonderful
form that other Okinawa systems such as Shorin-ryu, Shito-ryu, and
Shorei-ryu have adopted in their kata repertoire
Saifa kata is comprised of two
and Ha ,
the Okinawan pronunciation though of Ha is Fa.
The kanji Sai, as in Gekisai, is to 'smash'.
The second kanji Ha/Fa means to 'tear'. This can be translated as,
'Smash and Tear', i.e. to Rend. The folding techniques contained in
the kata reflect the name with its joint manipulations used to smash
bone and tear muscle.
The main visual difference between the
Okinawan and Japanese performance is in how the descending hammer
fist strike is performed. In the Okinawan version this strike is performed
to the side standing in a parallel stance, with the Japanese version,
the hammer fist strike is to the front standing in Sanchin.
Both methods are correct. Striking to the
side is a training method to develop the required relaxed circular
movement in the shoulder joint to develop Whipping power. Striking
to the front shows a specific variation of a practical fighting application.
Key principles developed are Folding, Grounding
Folding is collapsing the joints i.e. wrist, elbow and shoulder enabling
the limb to be controlled. Saifa uses efficient leverage principles
by employing the elbows to bend and lead the opponents arm prior to
a dislocation, lock, break, throw etc.
Grounding is where the body is aligned so that when the body weight
is dropped the feet press against the ground and then the force rebounds
back along the same path to amplify the technique. Correct posture
and a firm lower abdomen are required.
Whipping requires shoulder, elbow and wrist to be relaxed in a pliable
and firm way. Rib power is required, not bicep and shoulder strength.
An example of whipping is the use of a back fist as demonstrated in
the opening sequence. As the fist extends outward toward the end of
its range, the elbow is pulled back and down, the wrist being relaxed
'whips', because of the sudden acceleration.