Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Kata: Nipaipo (karate), Er Shi Ba (White Crane Kung Fu)

Nipaipo (Nepai) meaning 28 ‘beats’ or steps, is a shito-ryu kata developed by Kenwa Mabuni. It descends through the Naha-te lineage of shito-ryu. Mabuni’s influence for this kata came from Gokenki, a Chinese tea merchant who moved to Okinawa in 1912. An expert in the Southern Chinese style of Whooping Crane Kung Fu (Baihequan) he set up home in Kume village just a short distance away from Matsuyama Park and close to the Ryukyu Tode-jutsu Kenkyukai (a hidden and secret underground Karate research society).  

He started teaching his brand of white crane kung fu to karate masters at the Ryukyu Tode-jutsu Kenkyukai, including Kenwa Mabuni, Chojun Miyagi, Juhatsu Kyoda and Shinpo Matayoshi. He taught several white crane forms including Nipaipo. However this version of the kata is not the same as the karate version developed by Mabuni, though it did influence it; the original Chinese white crane version, called Er shi Ba (28 constellations), is longer and performed using the softer, more flowing moves of kung-fu.

Here’s the karate version of the kata: 

Here's the original White Crane version:

The World Karate Federation has adopted Nipaipo as a mandatory kata to be performed in the early stages of WKF kata competitions. 

Nipaipo is a 2nd dan kata on our syllabus and thus one of my current kata.

22nd June update: 

Since writing this post I have had some e-mail correspondence with Joe Harte, a Taiji instructor of over 20 years experience. He said:

“Traditionally in the white crane world the form was called ershiba lohan, meaning “28buddhas" or "28sages" but sometimes shortened to just  ershiba.

In the Taiji syllabus we refer to it as Quickfist as it’s the only fast form we use in master Huangs system of taiji.  More formally it’s called SanFeng Quickfist in reference to the legendary founder of Taiji, Chang San Feng, and also in recognition that master Huang changed the emphasis of this form over his lifetime so now it is externally the same as the white crane version but internally has a different flavour – towards the pure taiji principles.”

Thanks Joe, look forward to meeting you at Marfest!

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James. said...

Nice Kata, my preference is for the Kung-Fu as it still has the character of the White Crane with all the little hops and steps, both were great to watch

SueC said...

Hi James, I've never done any kung-fu myself - it looks very complicated in that video! Thanks for commenting...

The Strongest Karate said...

Wow, nice form.

After watching that, I no longer feel so proud of my Taikyoku sono ichi, lol!

Ah, well. Back to polishing the floor.

SueC said...

Hi Brett, don't for one minute assume that I can perform nipaipo anything like those guys in the video! I'll come and polish the floor with you....

Yamabushi said...

Holy Cow! Sue, thank you for this article and the linked video. I just had a realization. I have been practicing a kata called (at our dojo) Hachuko. In watching Nipaipo I have just realized they are the same form (albeit with stylistic differences). Revelation for me!
We have been doing bai he quan and shaolin quan at our dojo for the last few years, and even the "taikyoku" forms leave me feeling behind. Complex stuff with a lot of small detail.

SueC said...

Yamabushi, That's a revelation to me too! I've just added an update to this post by the way...

JOe said...

Hi Sue, it was nice to meet you and your husband at Marfest. I enjoyed sharing a moment or two with your Nipaipo kata and our QuickFist.

SueC said...

Hi Joe, it was a pleasure to meet you too, thank you for sharing your knowledge and insights with me...

Anonymous said...

Okinawan Karate vs. White Crane Kung Fu.
Your comparison of the two kata vids highlights the distinctly different interpretations of the traditional martial arts.
The Okinawan Masters clearly took the sophistication of the Chinese form and fit it into their notion of martial combat. As a traditional karateka, I believe a lot got lost in the translation.
But rather than oooh & awe over the Chinese form, I firmly believe there is considerable sophistication in the Okinawan kata.
Moreover, I firmly believe the same holds for the taikyoku kata. The genius of the Okinawan Masters, IMHO, was that they simplified the outer physical form in order to facilitate a better & deeper understanding of what kata is trying to accomplish, what skills it it trying to impart.
Hence, the taikyoku kata while simple in appearance, are quite deeply sophisticated in the actual inner workings of doing them to a standard of developing a strong foundation of martial skill.
The lesson of the Chinese form to me is not that more complex & involved is better, but at how very high the level of sophistication there is in traditional martial arts skill.
How many attempting to accomplish the Chinese White Crane form realize that?


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