Saifa is believed to have been developed in China and brought to Okinawa in the late 1800's by Kanryo Higaonna Sensei. Saifa is the first classical Kaishu kata to be learned in our dojo. Saifa introduces students to a new set of strikes and smashes as well as grappling maneuvers where the hands are torn away from the opponents grip.
Historians believe Saifa was invented in China to help teach and execute combat tactics on a gunwale of a boat or ship, mainly because all of the techniques are done going forward or backward in a straight line.
Saifa is one of the traditional Goju Ryu kata it is performed in many different ways. The structure and sequences are usually the same but there are differences in speed, force, height and individual interpretation. Kata should not be changed, but it does evolve through awareness and perception. If the original principles are still contained within the physical movements then it holds true to the Goju Ryu teaching.
Introduced by Kanryo Higaonna from China, although some claims have stated that Miyagi may have introduced saifa. If the Geki kata are the introductory kata for children and adolescents, then Saifa can be considered the adult equivalent.
Saifa kata is comprised of two kanji Sai and Ha , the Okinawan pronunciation though of Ha is Fa.
The kanji Sai, as in Gekisai, is to 'smash'. The second kanji Ha/Fa means to 'tear'. This can be translated as, 'Smash and Tear', i.e. to Rend. The folding techniques contained in the kata reflect the name with its joint manipulations used to smash bone and tear muscle.
The Key principles developed are Folding, Grounding and Whipping.
Folding is collapsing the joints i.e. wrist, elbow and shoulder enabling the limb to be controlled. Saifa uses efficient leverage principles by employing the elbows to bend and lead the opponents arm prior to a dislocation, lock, break, throw etc.
Grounding is where the body is aligned so that when the body weight is dropped the feet press against the ground and then the force rebounds back along the same path to amplify the technique. Correct posture and a firm lower abdomen are required.
Whipping requires shoulder, elbow and wrist to be relaxed in a pliable and firm way. Rib power is required, not bicep and shoulder strength. An example of whipping is the use of a back fist as demonstrated in the opening sequence. As the fist extends outward toward the end of its range, the elbow is pulled back and down, the wrist being relaxed 'whips', because of the sudden acceleration.