4 Evil (And Fun) Karate Pranks For April 1st

This week my favorite day of the year arrives:

April 1st.

Also known as April Fools’ Day.

The only day when you’re “officially” allowed to do things that society (read: your friends) doesn’t always want you to do…

Practical jokes!

And, if you ask me, a day marked by the commission of hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication is not something to be taken lightly.

This day deserved to be used to its fullest potential.

By you.


In Karate class of course!

And I have some great tips for you.

But, before I give you some awesome ideas for fooling you fellow Karate-ka, I would like to begin by telling you about a great way that I was fooled, back when I lived in Okinawa.

It was a rather normal evening (I think it was a Wednesday, or Monday) and I had just arrived to training, at my Kobudo dojo, located in Torihori village (in the old castle district of Shuri).

Some old black belts, shihan guys, were already there, casually talking to each other in one corner of the dojo. Since I was a bit early, one of them came over to me with a quite mysterious look on his face.

“Oh, hello, good evening!” I probably said. But in Japanese of course.

He replied some standard greeting phrase, and then looked around, to his left and right. Then he slowly leaned forward and whispered to me… Still with a mysterious look:

“Jesse-san, do you want to learn a new kata today?”

Wow. That would be great. In Japan it’s pretty rare to be asked if you would like to learn a new kata, so I just replied:

“Me? Oh, I don’t know…. What kata are you talking about?”


He looked at me like a sneaky tiger.

This must be really serious.

He looked around again, as to make sure that nobody was eavesdropping, and then whispered:

“You know that Itosu sensei created the three Naihanchin kata, right? Naihanchin Shodan, Nidan and Sandan?”

[If you train Shotokan, you would know these as Tekki Shodan, Nidan and Sandan]

“Yes, of course I know.”

“Good, good… Well, the thing is, before he died he created another one… a kata so rare that nobody in Okinawa knows it. Except our dojo.”

Huh? A rare kata?

I immediately though of some “lost” kata that I had read about, like Wanduan, or maybe Channan. Was I about to see one of these kata, that were actually believed to be extinct?!

“The kata I’m talking about is Naihanchin Yondan.”

WHAT?! Naihanchin Yondan?!

I was about to flip out!

I thought I had heard it all. I thought I knew practically every name of every kata, but I had never, ever, heard that there was a fourth kata in the Naihanchin series.

I tried to keep it cool.

“Naihanchin Yondan? No, I don’t think I’ve heard about that one” I said, trying desperately to hold back my enthusiasm and sound casual.

“No? You haven’t? Well, maybe because it DOESN’T EXIST!”

He quickly turned around, looked at the other old black belts, shouted something in Japanese and they all broke out laughing! “BWAHAHAHAH!!!”


I had walked right into a “fool the gaijin” trap!

I was so fooled I couldn’t believe it.

I didn’t even know if I should laugh or cry.

And I’ll never forget that evening because I couldn’t concentrate the whole training. All I kept thinking about was how stupid I had been, and what a great prank those old farts had pulled on me.

It was quite disturbing.

I could barely sleep that night.

So, anyway, with that intro out of the way, it’s time for you to think about how you’re going to fool the other people at your dojo on April 1st.

It doesn’t matter if you a beginner, an instructor, a green belt or even a parent. You just need to have some guts and humor. And be a little cynical.

Here are my tips:

Tip #1. “Naihanchin Yondan”

This one might be the most effective one (hey, I fell for it once)! And it works great for fooling a large group.

Simply take a famous kata series that many people in your dojo knows, and then add a “new”, “secret” one. It doesn’t have to be Naihanchin/Tekki though.

For instance, you can do Gekisai (a third, which would be san) or maybe Pinan/Heian (a sixth, which would be “rokudan”). Another alternative is to take a kata that has Sho/Dai variations and add a Chu variation (Chu meaning middle).

For example, Kusanku Chu or Bassai Chu.

And then teach it.

Be dead serious.

“Yes, folks, this is the Fourth Naihanchin kata, that I learnt 35 years ago from an old master in China, just before he passed away. I was his only disciple by the way.”

And then comes the really fun part: Start out like the other (authentic) kata in the series, but then keep adding totally ridiculous moves: 360° spin kicks, axe kicks, split kicks, The Crane (from the Karate Kid movie), flip flops, jumps, handstands and more (depending on how much your conscious allows you to) and never stop.

Just keep going.

Throw in some weird kiai here and there too.

And maintain a stone face.

Until somebody finally realizes that it’s April 1st.

Tip #2. “Go Pai Sho”

I once saw the most embarrassing “traditional”, “Japanese”, Karate kata on Youtube ever. It was called “Go Pai Sho”, and was absolutely hilarious.

Perfect for April 1st.

Hey, it sounds like a legitimate kata, right? But apparently, even though it looks like a joke, some people in America actually practises it very seriously.

See for yourself:

(If you can’t see the video, click here)

If you want to see a few hundred more, look no further.

So this is my idea: Learn Go Pai Sho (aah, my eyes sting from just writing that sentence) and then teach it to somebody (or everybody).

Claim it’s the next black belt kata or whatever. Make up a fitting story.

And then drill it relentlessly.

Practise all of the kiai too.

Practise it again, and again, and again.

Chances are, they’ll probably never be able to cleanse their bodies from Go Pai Sho! Their Karate is ruined for ever!

Evil? Yes.

Fun? Oh yes.


Tip #3: “Karate… or Kobudo?”

This one is great if you have people who train both Karate and Kobudo.

I’ll keep it simple: Take a Kobudo kata (that the person knows), but remove the weapon.

Then teach it as a Karate kata. Make up a name that sounds similar to the original Kobudo name. “Sakugawa no Ken” [Sakugawas Fist] you could say if you teach the bo kata Sakugawa.

Or even better: Whatever weapon or kata you choose to teach, call it “Boke no [insert weapon here]”.

For example: “Boke no Kon”, “Boke no Sai”, “Boke no Tonfa” etc.

Why? Well, let’s just say that the Japanese word “boke” stems from the verb “bokeru”, which carries the meaning of “senility” or “air headed-ness”.

You get the point.

Teach it and then observe.

Just sit and wait for it…

See how long it takes before your lucky “object” realizes he/she is actually doing a Kobudo kata without the weapon!

HA! Fool!

Tip #4: “A New Competition Form”

This one needs to be done with a partner.

Tell your chosen victims that there has been some changes in the World Karate Federation, or the Japan Karate Association, or whatever organization you belong to. Some major changes that affects us all.

Add some fancy words, along with some random dates and important names, to sound more trustworthy.

Then tell them the following: “The old way of competing in kata is gone. The [insert your federation here] found it too boring, and it wasn’t good for bringing audience to tournaments, so a new way has been invented. A new way that hopefully will get more people to come.

It works like this…”

And then you demonstrate the following: Everyone works in pairs. You have to have the same weight. Because one person sits on top of the shoulders of the other person…

And then they do the kata together!

[I tried this, and it totally works, so don’t worry. Everyone will be able to do it.]

However, the person on top must only do hand techniques. And the person below can only do the stances. To make it even better, create some own rules, and throw them around like they’re established facts: “And remember, folks, according to the new rules your kiai’s must be synchronized!”

Oh, I almost forgot. Tell them this new way of competing is called “Boke no Kata”.

Then take a few steps back and enjoy your prank.

Actually, my prediction is that it will be so incredibly fun that I demand you to videotape it and send me.

Or at least leave a comment.

So there you have it.

4 Evil (And Fun) Karate Pranks For April 1st.

My part is done.

The rest is up to you.


  • Nicolas
    OH MY GOD! WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT? GO PAI SHO? ARE YOU SERIUS DUDE? do people really practice THAT stupid coreography? please tell me that´s a prank! HOW DID YOU FIND that video? Jesse... you rock dude! Greetings from Argentina. PS: did you read the comments on that video? Shuri-ryu Okinawan traditional Karate? OLD SCHOOL? haha can´t stop laughing....
    • Nicolas, Let's just say there's more where that came from... :D
  • Diego Romero
    HOLY SH*T and i thought scott wu's monstrosity was already bad enough... i am SO doing something like this if i ever open a dojo and get english-speaking students, though
    • Eliza
      ::YAWN:: your story was uninteresting for the most part. Maybe this is why you decided to make this crappy page just to feel like a MAN. maybe you should put your money where your mouth is and know your facts on why these competitors do what they do in the tournament. Naive bigots that's what it sounds like. And I am sorry to hear that you got FOOLED by you sensei. I bet you were so embarrASSed in front of the other black belts that you literally ran off to the bathroom and cried. Yeah we know the truth, you couldn't cry yourself to sleep my friend. It was SO DISTURBING to you that you even want put someone on the spot just to make yourself feel better. THAT'S THE KARATE-KA way isn't it? Where is your integrity and respect towards other martial artist?! SO if you think you are a tough boy, why don't you post a video of yourself doing "Naihanchin Yondan" so you can show the world how a kata should be presented. Furthermore dont try to nut in your pants with excitement while you are at it. As a matter of fact, why don't you try to compete against this Scott Wu or the guy in the video. Show them up please. I beg you. Show them how a real kata should be!!!! OSU!!! Greetings from Canada and United States
      • Diego Romero
        you know hy i'm not going to compete against scott wu? because i don't like sportified martial arts and i don't really care about winning (nowadays i compete very rarely in small local comps). that said, i have no problem with scott wu himself, but with the form he routinely does, which has little relevance in the context of what is usually called "classical" forms. that is to say, collections of movements intended for solo training of basic form/technique, plus a repertoire of techniques and combinations to be drilled in partner practice. for all i know, though, scott wu could kick seven shades of crap out of me, or he could not, it's impossible to say; i've never seen him train, never fought him, and don't know what kind of karate he practices outside of the competition arena. and by the way, i don't know about jesse, but my katas are here: http://www.youtube.com/user/asd748wsx they're not anything awesome (particularly the parts where i nearly stumbled. thanks uneven floor! or the jump in enpi, which i hate although i love the kata), and in most i was a bit rushed, but i think at least the rohai was of an acceptable quality. cheers
      • Diego Romero
        by the way, if that comment was an april fool's, i'm gonna cry :( but if it was not, my proper reply is above :) OSS!( or osu, if you prefer, i'm just used to oss ;) )
      • Kinara
        Can you stop dragging the rest of the United States’ reputation down with your disrespect to others? Karate is about courtesy and respect. If you don’t like what was written, just don’t read it. There’s no need to attack someone who is just trying to make the world a little funnier (plus, all of these pranks are completely harmless, and much better than most April 1st pranks).
  • You guys crack me up!
    • Diego Romero
  • RyuRenshiDan
    This Scott Wu and the person in the video apparently compete on a circuit called NASKA (North America Sport Karate Association). This is a 'Sport Karate' based Open circuit which promotes Xtreme Martial Arts (XMA) and other forms of Martial arts which have a 'traditional' base. Basically, it's an arena for a bunch of little turds to flip around like monkeys and pass it off as legitimate martial arts. If anything, it's more like a circus than it is a tournament. With that said, competitors in this circuit exhibit 'traditional' forms rather than the Classical ones that we know and love. Basically, a form can be made up as long as it has 'traditional moves' within the form. Both Wu and the individual in the video perform routines that fall within the boundaries of the circuit rules. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt that they are only performing the said routines only because the circuit allows them to. Is that THEIR fault that they are allowed to show creativity in their 'traditional' routines?
    • To everyone: The whole idea behind this was that you could teach "Go Pai Sho" (for example) to a traditional/classical/orthodox (whatever term people use) karate class, as a "prank" People can do whatever they want to. XMA is great! My idea has always been that if somebody gets happy from doing XMA (or skydiving, motorcrossing or plying chess), then do that. I respect that. Just don't mix it up with what we do :) There is no sense in that. When you do, it becomes a joke. A joke suitable for April 1st, even!
  • Pat
    Traditional forms have sure changed in the tournament scene. They have become like open forms and open is like the flying monkeys. They are entertaining, however I have no idea why they have changed in the past 20 years. What made it ok to mess with the system. Maybe everyone wants the flash. I like the traditional aspects. Iwould like to change a typo or two but this program will not let me go back for some odd reason. So sorry about my typing skills. I must be one of these new form computers, crazy like a flying monkey.
  • Julia
    I actually am one off those people in America who practices Go Pai Sho seriously. My style is Shuri-Ryu, and that kata is in our system. Now, that guy is a joke and offence to Shuri-Ryu. He's not in a stance, he's squatting. He's not kiaing, he's shrieking. He's not performing the kata, he;s flailing his arms around. Please not think this is typical of Shuri-Ryu, it's not.
  • Wow, that form video looks like a great exercise for the constipated. Perhaps that's the bunkai for it. Now, THAT would be an interesting video for sure.
  • Szilard
    There is a team Go Pai Sho video too: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1202759273481149803 It seems to be fun one of the fun katae. Now I really want to learn it. An additional April 1st prank for you: Tell everyone at your dojo: they have dissolved the Okinawan Karate Federation, because they admitted how karate was just an elaborate "fool the gaijin prank", the OKF was really just a con-artist association, to fleece everyone caught in their net.
    • spephsrih
      The link doesn't work
  • warrioress
    I am SO going to learn Go Pai Sho! *sniggers*
  • D
    i got 2nd place to that same guy doing that same Go Pai Sho in 2005
  • Jack M
    argh! alas, we usually have a grading around Easter time, so people will probably be too busy desperately trying to think of their own bunkai by April fools. bugger!
  • Maggie
    I also practice shuri - ryu, an eclectic system created by Robert Trias. It has traditional roots, but it has been "americanized", if you will. We train go pai sho and I promise it is nothing like how this man has preformed it. Also seems silly to learn kata in such detail and exhaust for a prank, if you in fact find the kata to be a joke.. To each there own.
  • Liam
    Has anyone actually sent you in a video of them and a partner doing combined kata?
  • Lizzy
    My eyes are burned forever by "go pai sho"
  • Andy
    I really hope people don't seriously come away from the Go Pai Sho video thinking that is how the kata is supposed to be done (T_T) It is a horrible monstrosity and should never be done like that (here both in terms of the screaming, the tension, the weird movement speeds, the horrible kihon, and the non existing technigues like the crazy flaring elbows). It is supposed to be a soft kata, focusing on whipping motions and rolling hips, not this insane stroke inducing exercise in screaming. ....I would say though, that it could be fun to do it like that in the Dojo just for a joke or something xD
  • Swapnil san
    Hey jesse,doing the bunkai on Go Pai Sai anytime soon?plz let me know.

Leave a comment