Empi means “flight of the swallow” and contains movements that resemble a small bird darting in & out, up & down. This kata is derived from a very old kata, Wanshu, which may have been brought over from China to Okinawa as early as the 17th century (reference)
Empi is a kata normally introduced at brown belt level and, along with Jion, Kanku-dai and Bassai-dai, is considered one of the “Big Four” kata and should be studied seriously by anyone considering testing for black belt.
Even if we’re beyond the kata you’re presently focusing on, it’s great to begin to learn how techniques can be combined, and the practice in applying techniques can be very valuable to your development in Karate.
At SVSK our Saturday morning kata classes focus on one kata at a time. We typically spend four Saturdays on each kata:
Week 1: Overview/review of the kata
Week 2: Fine points of the techniques and the kata
Week 3: Hands-on practice to understand applications (bunkai)
Week 4: Variations in the kata