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Hangetsu Breakdown

Hangetsu is an often forgotten kata in Shotokan. The "half moon" stance, body tension and heavy breathing are among its unique features. Use this video to learn the kata for the first time or to gain some insight on the finer points. Shot on the beautiful south shore of Nova Scotia.


Andy Allen

Heath White
Heath White's picture

Great stuff,  Andy!  Thank you!

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Thanks for sharing Andy!

shotokanman70 wrote:
Hangetsu is an often forgotten kata in Shotokan.

It is. I think that’s something so a shame too because, as you say, it does have some unique features.

It’s also a kata that is “common” to many different styles; which makes it historically interesting too. Probably the closes thing we have to a kata to a “pan-karate kata”. We find variations in Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu, Wado-Ryu, Shito-Ryu, Isshin-Ryu, Shorin-Ryu, etc. Tang Soo Do also has a version.

The various members of the “13-steps” (#) family are quite different from one another, but there is common features and motions found in them all. The “original” maybe long gone, but its decedents have prominent “family features”. By way of imperfect analogy, my grandfather is no longer with us, but you can look at my dad, my uncle, my brother, my cousins and me, and although none of us look exactly like him, we call share certain traits pointing back to a common ancestor. I see as similar thing in the Seisan / Seishan / Hangetsu family.

It was one of the kata shared in Funakoshi’s first book, but it’s now not widely practised in Shotokan circles. The Wado version is very similar: Otsuka being an early student of Funakoshi who quickly became an assistant instructor to him. The Wado kata are essentially a fusion of the earlier kata of Funakoshi and Mabuni (the exemption being Naihanchi as Otsuka credits Motobu as the primary source for the Wado version). In Wado, the kata is given a way higher prominence: it is generally taught at brown belt level and widely practiced. It’s “naha-te” origins give it a different feel to the others in the Wado cannon, which is why we also like it.

Thanks once again for sharing!

All the best,


(#) – The kata most commonly goes by the name “Seisan” or “Seishan”. Either way, that is an Okinawan approximation of the Southern Chinese dialect for “13”. Some add various suffices to that such as “hands”, “fists”, “techniques”, etc. However, my understanding is that earliest record we have of the kata is Seisho Aragaki’s demonstration at a cultural event in 1867. In the programme fro that event, the kata is written as “13 steps” using the character produced as “ho” or “po” in many other kata i.e. Gojushiho, Nijushuho, Nipaipo, etc. The character has a similar reading to the English world “steps” in that it can refer to physical movement of the feet, or stages of something. My own take is that the name probably refers to 13 stages / elements / drills that the kata contained at that time. Funakoshi renamed the kata “Hangetsu” (“half-moon”) which he tells us was because of the crescent shaped steps.

shotokanman70's picture

Interesting stuff! Thanks.

AllyWhytock's picture


Enjoyed this. It is my favourite (tied with Sochin perhaps) and when I was in UKASKO, I won a few Scottish championships with it. However, it is exhausting and I'd be made to do it twice because some judges just didn't get it. One judge, a freestyle karate ka, marked me zero because "I don't get that funny stance". 

I've now incorporated some sequences into our nidan kihon and two person practices.  


I've also got a nice wee flow drill, learning how to recover from mistakes.  


I think in Funakoshi's Karate Do Kyohan (trl. Suzuki-Johnson) he uses Zenkutsu Dachi. I'll check later (on vacation too).