Wanshu kata was introduced into the Tomari district of Okinawa in 1683 by a Chinese envoy or “Sappushi” of that name. Sappushi were the official governmental contacts between China and Okinawa. Following Wanshu, there is nearly a century gap untile our knowledge of the development of karate resurfaces with Kung Shang K’ung, also called Kusanku. The opening posture is unique to this form. The ready positions in all other Shorin-ryu kata are quite different than the ready position in Wanshu. However, this position is consistent with many opening salutations in Chinese-style forms. Historically, these postures were ways of identifying and differentiating between specific organizations. According to Grandmaster Nagamine, the hidden fist strike is the signature technique of this kata.
Wanshu lived and worked in Tomari, and aside from his diplomatic responsibilities, he also instructed a small following of disciples in a style called Shaolin White Crane Fist Boxing. Wanshu taught the importance of blocking and countering while using evasive foot maneuvers. The practitioner also develops the secrets of taking the opponent up and off his feet and throwing him to the ground. Many believe the original version of Wanshu was much longer than the modern kata, which derives from either Kyan or Itosu. Kyan learned the kata from Maeda, a student and contemporary of Kosaku Matsumora. Itosu, on the other hand, learned the kata from Kosaku Matsumora, but he revised the form and actually taught a longer version of the kata.