Empi was initially known as Wanshu, which is the name of a Chinese diplomat. It has 37 counts and hence the shortest of the Sentei kata. Empi is literally translated as “Flying Swallow” or “Flight of the Swallow.” It requires great speed and agility and that make it a very dynamic kata. It takes its name after the small bird known as swallow, whose diving patterns are quite popular for its excellent swiftness. This kata hence mimicks the various sinking and rising motions of the swallow’s flight, and it is characterized by swift changes in direction.
The technique of this kata is same as that of the swallow, where in the flying insects are caught in mid-flight. In the similar manner, focus is made by the bunkai of Empi on catching the opponent in mid-attack, by not letting him make further attacks.
The angles are changed in Empi, where several new variations on previously learned techniques are offered. Gedan-zuki, age-zuki, tekubi-uchi (similar to soto-uke), teisho oshiage-uke and teisho-osae-uke are the techniques included. The practices of certain rare techniques that are not common to other kata are also allowed in this kata. Dropping to one knee (orishiki), the reverse lean (in hizakutsu), and kirikae-ashi, an advanced form of footwork whereby the karateka switches the feet to counterattack are those several rare techniques included in this kata. What makes Empi the most notable and attractive kata of all is the spinning jump (kaiten-tobi) that occurs at the end of the kata.