"To smash and tear"








This is the first of the advanced kaishu (or "open hand") group of kata. The name of this kata uses the same Chinese character as for the 'sai' found in gekisai kata. The second character 'fa' means to tear or rip. It therefore means "to smash and tear". It is pronounced "sui-po" in Mandarin, "sai-fa" in Okinawan dialect and "sai-ha" in Japanese.

Members can proceed to the Saifa materials page for videos and other instructional material relating to Saifa kata.



This is a close-fighting kata which utilises hammer fist and backfist strikes along with kicks using the knee and kicks to the groin. It is thought that this kata uses techniques from the white crane and tiger (or perhaps lion) systems. It mixes swift, light stances (neko ashi dachi & sagi ashi dachi) with solid, grounding stances (shiko dachi).

Saifa kata  is required for Green 1 and 2.


    Saifa tuide

Saifa tuide is a 2 person "lock flow" drill, containing locks and holds found in saifa.

It can be practised both standing and on the ground.

Saifa tuide is required for Green 2.


Saifa standing tuide

      Saifa embu

Saifa embu is a 2 person version of saifa that can also be performed as a single person form.  

Saifa embu is required for Green 2.



Like all embu, saifa embu can be practised
as a single person form


Origins of Saifa

Orthodox history maintains that Kanryo Higaonna brought saifa kata back from Fuzhou where he learned the form from Ryu Ryu Ko.  However a comparison1, 2 with goju-ryu's sister school, tou'on-ryu (the school of Higaonna's most senior student Juhatsu Kyoda) suggests strongly that only 4 kata were brought back by Higaonna, namely sanchin, sanseiru, seisan and suparinpei.

Accordingly it seems quite likely that Chojun Miyagi learned saifa during his own travels in China or perhaps even that he synthesised it from techniques learned both in China and Okinawa.

Researcher Akio Kinjo2 has suggested that saifa kata has its origins in the lion systems of Fujian and that the original characters may well have been which means "lion law" (pronounced "saifa" in the Hokkien/Amoy dialect or "shifa" in Mandarin).   Kinjo supports this idea by noting that saifa contains a double punch that is traditionally performed in many schools as a "hira ken" (foreknuckle fist punch) in the manner used in the lion school. 


Chojun Miyagi and Juhatsu Kyoda practising what some argue is an application of saifa (picture from

Miyagi teaching Saifa (picture from


However, aside from this technique there appears to be little more to support this theory and it remains principally conjecture.  Certainly the hira ken is also used in the tiger and tiger/crane systems that appear to have a strong connection to the evolution of karate.  In this regard it is interesting to note that Saifa does have some similarity to the ryuei-ryu kata anan which is said to be of the tiger school.




1See Mario McKenna's article  "Higaonna Kanryo and Nahate" at

2 See Joe Swift's article "The Kempo of Kume Village" in Meibukan Magazine No. 6 at