empi is another of the required kata for second dan, and sits alongside jion as the other 'brown belt' kata that is considered difficult and visually impressive enough to be seen in high-level competition. empi, often spelled enpi (the difference doesn't exist in the japanese), is often translated as 'flight of the swallow', an evocative name that conjures an image of grace, but also of sharp bird-like thrusts. if that translation and description helps you, great!

in practice, empi is an athletic and intricate kata that requires both depth and strength. powerful attacks are matched by instant escapes, brutal power is matched by stalking footwork, and basic stances are topped by varied arms/hands. while not the only kata to contain a lean in the upper body, empi is notable for this as part of a recurring motif. the start of the kata is compact and challenging, while the end of the kata is a crescendo of soft intensity, sharp feet, and one of the hardest jumps in the shotokan canon.

in empi, as with all advanced kata, the idea of phrasing and punctuation is to the fore. swift combinations are interspersed with demonstrations of core control and zanshin, making empi the full package and not a kata to be underestimated.

details of the kata and common mistakes in the following video:

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