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Saifa Kata Meaning

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 kanji Sai 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 and Whipping.

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.

1) http://www.gojukarate.co.uk/sodokan011.htm