Enpi comes from the Okinawan martial art of Tomari-te, where it first appeared in 1683. It is believed to have been influenced by Chinese boxing. It was originally called Wansu. Funakoshi Gichin changed the name to Enpi when he moved to the Japanese mainland in the 1920s. Funakoshi changed the names of many of the kata, in an effort to make the Okinawan art more palatable to the then nationalistic Japanese. The most commonly accepted theory about its creation and development is that a Sappushi Wang Ji, an official from Xiuning, transmitted the kata while serving on Okinawa. Legend has that Wang Ji had the habit of throwing and jumping on his adversaries. Because of this dynamic form of combat, this kata resembles a swallow in flight.
Others[who?] suggest that Enpi was a product of the interaction between Okinawans and the so-called "36 Chinese Families" that immigrated to the islands in the late 14th century. Still other teachers[who?] believe that it was based upon Sasaki Kojiro's sword techniques, because they were also said to resemble a swallow.