"18 hands"










The standard kanji of Seipai mean “18”. The pronunciation is an Okinawan rendering of the Fujian dialect. "Sei" means 10, and "pai" means 8.  It is thought that this name was given because the kata has (or originally had) 18 types of movements/techniques.

Traditionally Fujian quan fa schools would have added the character ("bu" meaning "steps") or sometimes ("ji" meaning "skill" or "technique") after such a number.  In Okinawa it is traditional to add the character ("te" meaning "hands").

Seipai contains a variety of unusual movements and techniques including one that requires the unique use of a fist shaped like it would be when one knocks on a door (called "hiraken" in Japanese).

Seipai is required for Nidan 1 and 2.




  Seipai tuide

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

It can be practised both standing and on the ground.

Seipai tuide is required for Nidan 2.



Laoshi Bob demonstrates the hiraken knuckle strike from Seipai in 1996

    Seipai embu

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

Seipai embu is required for Nidan 2.



Laoshi Bob shows the "controlling steps" of Seipai in 1988


Origins of Seipai

Orthodox history maintains that Kanryo Higaonna brought Seipai 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 namely Sanchin, Sanseiru, Seisan and Suparinpei.

Seipai is unique in that it does not feature 3 opening moves (in line with Buddhist philosophy/convention) of any kind (as opposed to the "core"  Higaonna kata which feature the standard 3 opening steps and double blocks).  The kata is largely “symmetrical” in its use of left and right as is the case with the other "Miyagi" Goju-ryu  kata. 

Traditionally Seipai has been considered part of the Tiger or Tiger/Crane Shaolin systems, however researcher Akio Kinjo2 is of the view that, like the kata Kururunfa, it is from the Dragon Shaolin system. 

Seipai bears at least superficial resemblance to the kata Nipaipo - an Okinawan White Crane kata created by Shito-Ryu founder Kenwa Mabuni and inspired by a kata called Neipai taught by Miyagi's friend, White Crane master Gokenki (Goju's sister school Tou'on-Ryu still practice Gokenki's Neipai although it is said to bear little resemblance to Mabuni's Nipaipo other than a similar embusen).

Some regard Seipai as the second half of Seiunchin, however there is nothing to corroborate this other than a similarity in technical emphasis and tempo.  On this topic, it is possible that Seipai might have originally shared Seiyunchin's kanji "sei" (meaning "to control"), while "pai" might have been the character "pu" or "bu" meaning steps.  Accordingly Seipai might have originally meant "controlling steps".  This would seem to be quite an appropriate name given the bunkai of the kata which effectively control an opponent during consecutive steps forward and back.



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


Laoshi Bob performs his textbook Seipai at a demonstration in 1985