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Pinan Kata Meaning

Source 1: "Seibukan 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.

Source 2:

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 styles.

Source 3::

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 karate kata.

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 Kusanku.

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, and vice-versa.

1) http://www.karate.org.yu/articles/kata_pinan.htm