Takayuki Mikami perofming Hangetsu.


Hangetsu (Half Moon) is possibly the oldest kata in the whole art of karate. Formally known as Seishan, it came through the Naha-te school though its origins are unknown. One theory is that the kata was formed from a Chinese folk dance, which aimed to explain to the onlooker the importance of the tides.

The original name, Seishan, means Thirteen which may be in reference to the thirteen day intervals as the moon revolves around the earth. However a more likely explanation is that it got its original name as a result of the fact there are thirteen moves in the kata (as long as you only count repeated techniques once).

Another theory is that it comes from Southern Chinese martial arts from an old form known as Four Gate Hands, which is still practiced today in Southern Praying Mantis kung fu. This seems more likely as the moves of the two are very similar, which suggests that they either share a common ancestry within the history of the martial arts or that one was derived from the other.

The name may have been changed to Hangetsu by Sensei Gichin Funakoshi, but if this is so it was later in his career than some of the other name changes he implemented as in his book, Ryukyu Kenpo Karate (1922), it is listed under the name Seishan.

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