Heian Shodan

Peaceful Mind, First Level. A Shotokan Kata.


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Contains techniques: Zenkutsu Dachi, Gedan Barai Uke, Chudan Oi Tzuki, Tetsui, Nukite Uchi, Age Uke, Kokutsu Dachi, Shuto Uke.


The Heian kata are the first five students learn in Shotokan Karate, and were created by Master "Ankoh" Yasutsune Itosu in 1905-1906 as the Pinan kata series. They demonstrate the Shuri style of fighting and movement patterns to the beginners: not too heavy or power focused, and very flexible.

Pinan translates to peaceful mind or long peace, from an Okinawan saying Heiwa-antei or peace and calmness. The name suggests that the student who has mastered these kata can be confident in themselves and their skills. Heian has the same meaning, and was also the name of a temple near where Funakoshi Gichin stayed in Kyoto when he first moved to Japan.

When Funakoshi went to Japan and was formulating a syllabus to introduce to the general public, he took the Okinawan Pinans and changed the name to Heian as well as swapping Shodan for Nidan. He felt this created a more gentle introduction and a more gradual increase in difficulties for learning.

Most of the Heian kata follow a similar Embusen or path. The path looks like an H turned on its side or a capital I with upturned ends at one end or the other. This Embusen is historically significant only because several other styles have mirrored this pattern, which allows for practice of turns and also dynamic straight movements in practice.


• The Tetsui can have an exagerated sweeping leg motion, with the knee, body and head turning completely to the front before returning square on to deliver the strike.
• The Jodan grab can be on the first Age Uke, or all three [Shotokan variations]. It can be a Nukite Uchi to the eyes rather than a grab [GoSoku Ryu].
• The three Age Uke can be performed one per count; or one, one-two (two counts).
• The Age Uke can be Age Tzuki.

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