“Peaceful Mind Number One”
The word Heian is a mixture of the syllables for “Heiwan” and “Antei”, peacefulness and calmness. The meaning of the kata signifies a peaceful mind.
This is the first of five kata taught in the Heian series, originally known by their Okinawan name “Pinan”. The Pinan kata were created by the Okinawan master Itosu Anko (1831 – 1915) to teach the art of karate to children in the Okinawan school system. Prior to creation of this series the new students were first taught the three Naihanchi or Tekki katas. Sensei Itosu felt that these kata were too difficult for most school age children and so created the Itosu form of training, bases around the Pinan series.
It is widely thought that the Pinan series is derived from the more advanced kata known as Kankû Dai, however it is also believed that a much older and longer Chinese kata called Channan was also used as source material for many of the Pinan/Heian katas. Heian Nidan was originally taught by the Okinawan teachers as the first kata in the Pinan series (and called Pinan Shodan), but Gichin Funakoshi reversed the order of Pinan Shodan and Pinan Nidan when he first introduced karate to Japan as he felt that Pinan Nidan was a much more complex kata and should therefore be taught as the second kata. This arguably changes the flow of learning as each Pinan/Heian kata teach us a particular new aspect of karate. Using our current naming, Heian Shodan is very much about driving forwards using front stance to attack, whereas Heian Nidan is a much more defensive kata utilizing more back stance. Therefore we have reversed our teaching order from defense then attack to attack then defense, which makes less sense and is inconsistent with the principles as set out in the 20 Preconcepts of Gichin Funakoshi.
It was also at this time that Gichin Funakoshi Sensei changed the name of this particular series of katas from the Okinawan pronunciation of Pinan “Peaceful Mind” to the Japanese pronunciation of Heian.
This kata introduces the student for the first time to several new hand techniques, such as jodan-age-uke (upper level rising block), jodan-tetsui-zuki (upper level hammer fist strike), shuto-uke, (knife hand block), shuto-uke/shuto-uchi, (knife hand block/strike) and the concept of tai-sabaki (body shifting). To complete the kata from the last movement (shuto-uchi), leave your right foot in place and withdraw your left foot to stand facing forward in a hachiji-dachi (natural stance). Now bring your left foot half way in towards your right foot and then your right foot the remaining distance in to your left foot, at the same time bring your hands to your sides to stand in heisoku-dachi (attention stance).
This is the same for the whole series. This kata contains 21 movements and should take the student approximately 40 seconds to complete.