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Sunsu (スンスウ)

Black Belt (Sho Dan)
  • Sunsu Translates as "strong man"
  • Sunsu has also ben translated as "son of old man"
Run Time:
Sunsu takes about 65 seconds to perform
Sunsu consists of approximately 87 movements.

Sunsu (スンスウ) Kata Tree

Grand Master Tatsuo Shimabuku

About Sunsu (スンスウ)

Sunsu kata is the last empty hand kata taught for black belt. Sunsu encompasses the essence of Isshinryu Karate and is the kata that Isshinryu is most known for. Sunsu is most difficult of the Isshinryu empty hand kata to perform. GrandMaster Shimabuku formed this kata after years of studying the other 7 empty hand katas. Sunsu is considered the "MASTER" kata. The exact year Sunsu was developed is unknown though is believed to be in the late 1940's. Sunsu combines the main points of all the empty hand katas, though Kusanku and Wansu have the most influence. The floor pattern (umbusum) of Sunsu is in the form of a plus (+) sign which is defended from all four directions. Sunsu consist of 2 kiais. The 1st one is on the last elbow smash and the 2nd one is on the last right front snap kick.

About Sunsu (スンスウ):
By: Joe Swift

This kata was created by Shimabuku Tatsuo, although it is still unclear as to exactly when he created it. It is often described as a combination of techniques and principles from the other seven Isshinryu karate kata. However, there are elements of other kata as well, such as Useishi (Gojushiho) and Passai that Shimabuku is thought to have learned under Kyan.

There is also one sequence that appears as if it came out of Pinan Sandan. However, Shimabuku's teachers appear not to have taught the Pinan kata, so we are faced with the problem of where he learned them. However, looking at the timeframe in which Shimabuku was active, it becomes clear that he could have learned the Pinan just about anywhere, or even just taken the technique via observing the Pinan kata being performed.

There seems to be some confusion as to what the name Sunsu means. It has been stated that it means either "strong man" (Uezu, et al, 1982) or "son of old man" (Advincula, 1998). However, a recent newspaper article from Okinawa tells us a different story:

"It is said that when Shimabuku performed Sanchin kata, he appeared so solid that even a great wave would not budge him, like the large salt rocks at the beach, and his students nicknamed him "Shimabuku Sun nu Su" (Master of the Salt) out of respect." (sic, Ryukyu Shinpo-sha, 1999, p.9)

Another possibility is that Sunsu may be named after a family dance of the Shimabuku family (Advincula, 1999).

No matter what the meaning, it is safe to say that Sunsu kata represents the culmination of Shimabuku's understanding of the principles of the defensive traditions, and was, along with Isshinryu, his unique contribution to the classical art of Okinawa karatedo.