Pinan (Heian) Kata – The way we do it

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The Pinan/Heian (平安) Kata

Itosu Anko created the Pinan Kata for use in the Okinawan Elementary School around 1900.
The creation of the Pinan Kata was to make the introduction to Karate easier for children and beginners. It also made it easier to learn the more advanced Kata later on.
The name Pinan was an obvious choice, since Itosu was an expert on the Chinese classics, and as such, he would certainly be proud of the Chinese roots in his martial arts.
According to Funakoshi, the Okinawans thought about Chinese things to be fashionable. However, the attitude of the Japanese was different at that time Karate where introduced to mainland Japan. Gichin Funakoshi therefore changed the name to Heian, to make the Kata more edible for mainland Japan.
Nowadays, it does not matter if you call them Heian or Pinan. However, Heian will somehow be associated with the mainland Japan, and Pinan with Okinawa.

Heian can translate into

  • Peace and tranquility
  • Peaceful mind

Nevertheless, there is nothing tranquil or peaceful about the Heian/Pinan Kata. The techniques are used to hit, kick and punch our opponent. Some techniques can be used to dislocate the neck, joint locks etc.

Pinan can translate into

  • Safe from harm
  • Stay safe
  • Be protected from danger

This name probably says more about the meaning. The name “Pinan”, chosen by Itosu, is related to their purpose and combative function.

Our five basic Pinan/Heian Kata can be seen here.

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