katas" by Kim Mitrunen & Tommi Prami (1)
Itosu Anko, who was a Sensei of schoolchildren, developed this series
of kata. Itosu took elements from different kata, Kusanku for example,
and incorporated them in the series of forms. It is interesting to note
there is mention that elements of the old Channan kata located in the
techniques of the Pinan series. In Okinawa, there are still some teachers
who say that they still know how the kata Channan is performed, but
the likelihood is that the kata does not exist in complete form anymore.
The Pinan series contains many high stances like choku dachi and narrow
stances like neko ashi dachi. There exist many basic foundation maneuvers
in the Pinan kata, as well as many basic techniques, presented in an
easier format than the complete traditional kata they came from. In
many mainstream Japanese styles, Pinan is known as Heian. Funakoshi
Gichin made this name change. His philosophy was to teach Pinan Nidan
first because he felt it was an easier transition into the Pinan series.
The Pinan Katas (Ping 'An in Chinese) are very important. The name Pinan
means "Peaceful Mind." This name seems to be inspired by the
Bubishi. In article 1 on the History and Philosophy of White Crane.
It says, "Immeasurable self-conquests are made possible through
a peaceful mind and inner harmony. The strength and resiliency gained
from martial art training fosters an inner force with which one can
overcome any opponent and conquer worldly delusion and misery."
Pinan Shodan and Nidan were created by Bushi Matsumura, and were originally
called Channan Sho and Dai. They were based on kata taught at Fukien
Shaolin in the Five Elder style. The Chinese reading for this name is
"Chiag Nan." Chiag Nan was the name of a Chinese Diplomat
who resided Shuri. It is possible that Bushi got the techniques from
him. Itosu created Pinan Sandan, Yondan, and Godan and added them to
his own system. Some sources say he took them from other Chinese kata
also called Chiag Nan that he got from a Chinese master, who may have
also been Chaig Nan himself. These three are not Matsumura kata, but
were passed down other Shorin lines.
Also known as, Heian, Heinan. Meaning: Way of peace (literally, "Great
Peace", sometimes translated as "Calm Mind", "Peaceful
Mind", "Serenity", or "Security.")
History: The Pinan kata series was introduced into the Okinawan School
District karate program as gym training from 1902 to 1907 by Ankoh Itosu.
The history of this kata is somewhat controversial - Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu
stylists claim that Itosu developed all five kata using either the kata
Passai and Kusanku. The Matsumura Seito Shorin-Ryu tradition states
that Itosu only developed Pinan 5 by himself. (It is curious to note
that Chosin Chibana, Itosu's senior disciple and Kobayashi founder,
taught only Pinan 5 and Naihanchi 3 out of respect for Itosu's authorship.)
Hohan Soken (family inheritor of Bushi Matsumura's style) taught only
Pinan 1 and 2; saying that Matsumura had devised these two and laid
framework for Pinan 3 and 4.
Gichin Funikoshi revised the order of 1 and 2, changed the kata name
to Heian, and initiated deeper stances and higher kicks. He also replaced
front kicks with side kicks and altered other moves in the series. Funakoshi
was so well known for teaching the Pinan series that he was often referred
to as the "Pinan Sensei." Interesting enough, he did not learn
the Pinans from Itsou as he had already finished his training with the
great mejin before they were developed.
According to several sources, Funikoshi was first introduced to the
Pinans during a trip to Osaka where he received instruction from Kenwa
Mabuni, the founder of Shito-Ryu.
During his subsequent visits he learned a number of the kata from Mabuni
that would eventually be taught in the Shotokan system. Regardless of
their origin or lineage, there is no doubt that today the Pinan Series
is practiced world-wide by Okinawan, Japanese, as well as some Korean
Most historians believe that the Pinan kata were composed and introduced
after 1902 by Anko Itosu(1813-1915). Itosu was one of the most accomplished
student of Soken Matsumura, and a teacher to Chotoku Kyan and Choki
Motobu, two of Grandmaster Nagamine's most prominent instructors. Pinan
kata clearly has many similar techniques and sequences as the Matsubayashi-shorin-ryu
version of the kusanku kata. Therefore many believe Itoshu derived Pinan
from this form. When Karate was first introduced publicly in the high
school in okinawa. Itosu did not want to give the impression that Karate
-do was about violence or aggression. Consequently, he introduced Pinan
kata, which translated means "Peaceful Mind". Pinan kata strives
to develop a mental state in the practitioner similar to the state of
awareness in Zen Buddhism. That is, where the mind is completely relaxed,
yet completely alert at the same time. In Pinan kata, the practitioner
is surrounded on all sides by several imaginary opponents, but does
not know in which direction the first attack will be unable to react
to an attack by multiple opponents. it is essential to clear your mind
of all distractions in order to change direction and prepare for the
next attack. All five Pinan kata begin with an imaginary opponent attacking
from the left. In Matsubayashi Shorin-ryu it was decided for the first
move of each Pinan kata that the practitioner should move away from
the attack by stepping back with the right foot and twisting into a
cat stance. In other Shorin-ryu styles the practitioner, however, moves
into the oncoming attack by moving the left foot first. Psychologically
this is an enormous difference. The way this technique is performed
can chang the entire nature and philosophy of the Pinan form. Pinan
kata is about developing the skill to move out of the way of harm by
stepping at an angle in the cat stance. The practitioner must land with
the weight down so that the spring is already tightly compressed once
the practitioner's leg touches the ground. In Pinan, the practitioner
learns to move away which is a basic for beginner and intermediate Level
practitioners. In more advanced kata, the practitioner develops the
skill to move in when being attacked. The first time in the Matsubayashi-Shorin-ryu
curriculum that this technique is used is at the beginning of Wankan
kata. In the Pinan kata, step at an angle away from the attacker, so
it is advantageous to deliver the counter attack. As soon as the toes
of the right foot touch the ground, use the legs to snap the hips and
generate power on the blocks. When the practitioner steps back to avoid
the attack they must land with their weight already dropped, so that
the coil is already compressed. This creates greater speed and power
on the subsequent counter attack. Before turning or changing direction
in Pinan, the practitioner must remember to look in the direction of
the attack before moving their bodies.
Most historians contend that the Pinan Kata were composed and introduced
in 1902 by Anko Itosu (1813-1915). Itosu was student of Soken Matsumura
and Gusukuma. Some historians credit Soken Matsumura for introducing
both Channan and Kusanku to Okinawa. Pinan kata clearly has many similar
techniques and sequences as Kusanku Kata and Channan Kata’s, therefore
many believe Itosu derived Pinan from one or both of these forms. Karate
was first introduced publicly in the high school in Okinawa. Itosu did
not want to give the impression that Karate-do was about violence or
aggression. Consequently, he introduced Pinan kata, which translates
as "Peaceful Mind".
The Pinan series (pronounced "pin-yan" or "pin-an")
is a series of five empty hand forms originated in Okinawa, now taught
in many karate styles. The Pinan kata were adapted by Anko Itosu from
more ancient kata such as Kusanku and Gojushiho into forms suitable
for teaching the gross body movement skills of karate to young students.
When Gichen Funakoshi brought karate to Japan, he renamed the kata to
Heian, which is translated as "long peace."
The Pinan kata were introduced into the school systems on Okinawa in
the early 1900's, and were subsequently adopted by many teachers and
schools. Thus, they are present today in the curriculum of Shorin-ryu,
Shorei-ryu, Shotokan, Matsubayashi-ryu, and several other styles.
One of the stories surrounding the history of the Pinan kata claims
that Itosu learned a kata from a Chinese man living in Okinawa. This
kata was called "Chiang Nan" by the Chinese man. The form
became known as "Channan" to the Okinawan masters who found
"Chiang Nan" difficult to say. The Channan kata were thought
lost but rumor has it that a Chinese Master knows Channan 1, 2 and 3.
Itosu formed 5 Katas from the long Channan Kata which he thought would
be easier to learn than Channan. The 5 kata were Pinan Shodan, Nidan,
Sandan, Yondan and Godan. A loose translation of the word Pinan could
be 'calm and peaceful'.
Another story says Itosu formed the Pinan kata from some of the more
advanced kata like Kusanku, enabling him to teach high school students
The Pinans are taught to various ranks according to their difficulty.
The kata are all based at least loosely on an I-shaped embusen or shape.
These kata serve as the foundation to many of the advanced kata within
Okinawan Karate systems, as many of the techniques contained in these
five kata are found in the "black belt" kata as well, especially
Each of the kata contains Bunkai, or the practical application of the
techniques performed. Many of the kata moves look like dance and bear
little resemblance to actual combat. However, these seemingly dance-like
moves often have a hidden meaning, all but lost to only the most senior
practitioners within a style. These high-level practitioners have been
lucky to have studied with the Grandmaster of the style, who often received
his own tutelage from the founder's protege.
In certain styles, Pinan Shodan and Pinan Nidan are inverted. That is,
what certain styles call Pinan Shodan is what others call Pinan Nidan,