“Peaceful Mind”

The word Heian means “Peaceful Mind,” and is a is a combination of Heiwan that means “Peacefulness” and Antei that means “Calmness.” 

It is Yasutsune Itosu, Gichin Funakoshi’s teacher who developed the five Heian kata (or Pinan in Okinawan) to enable the effective teaching of karate to a wider range of students. The word Heian is two words combined, heiwa which means calm or peaceful and wordantei meaning easy or stable. Thus the term Heian is in actuality translated as peace and stability. Peaceful mind is the translation given by Gichin Funakoshi in his book Karate-Do Kyohan. The beginner and intermediate students are taught the Heian kata and it is through its practice that the students occur to learn the basic skills of karate.

Initially, it was in reverse order that Heian Shodan and Heian Nidan were taught with even the names reversed. In order to render a better understanding about the difficulties associated with it, Gichin Funakoshi swapped their order.

Heian Shodan

The first kata in the Heian series and the first kata to be learned by a beginner is known as Heian Shodan. The embusen of it is roughly I-shaped and it comes with 21 movements. Oi-zuki (lunge punch) and gedan-barai (down block) with which over half of the kata is comprised of are the essential points to be learned in H1.  

The development of zenkutsu-dachi (front stance) which is the main stance of H1 is also of great significance. The arc-like moves of the feet as well as the reversing direction have to be mastered by the student as these as the skills that appear time and time again in all kata. The student should also be able to use and develop power from the hips in both the hanmi (for blocks) and showmen (for punches) positions.to be learned in H1.

Heian Nidan

Heian Nidan is almost I-shaped and it is known to be the second in Heian kata with 26 movements. Kokutsu-dachi (back stance) is the way in which half of the kata is performed. A very important and inevitable technique in this kata is shuto-uke (knife hand block) and it appears seven times.

Kicks and double-hand movements are taught first by H2 kata. H2 is also the first kata that teaches gyaku hanmi where in the torso’s position is reversed. The keage/uraken (side snap kick/back-fist) combination appears in several other kata and hence has to be given special attention

Heian Shodan to Heian Godan (5 Kata series)

Heian Sandan

Heian Sandan has 20 counts and it is known to be the shortest kata in the Heian series. Half of the movements in this series are performed in kiba-dachi (horse stance). In H3, what is more important is Tai sabaki or body shifting. The knack of rotating the entire body to gain momentum, and also the technique in which the feet have to be slid, (yori-ashi), has to be learned by the student. 

It is in this kata that the Empi (elbow) techniques are first learned. As H3 is the first kata that contains slow movement, timing skills turned out to be prominent.

Heian Yondan

Heian yondan which is the fourth level Heian comes with 27 counts and are in many ways similar to H2. Kokutsu-dachi (back stance) is the primary stance in this kata. However, the students who learn this kata for the first time have to be aware of the newkosa-dachi which is a cross stance that has been considered to be awkward for most karateka. The students who learn H4 are introduced to many new techniques such as kosa-uke, shuto-uchi, kakiwake-uke, mae-empi, and hiza-tsuchi. 

Flexibility to a certain level is inevitably required in order to perform H4 as almost all of the mae-geri (front kicks) are jodan (upper level). Compared to other Heian kata, Heian Yondan has more kicks (5). There are four slow moves in this kata and all four of them need to be mastered, H4 is comprised more of double-hand techniques where in morote-uke (double-hand block {*4} occurs more than nay technique. During this kata’s creation, morote-uke was considered to be of great standard

Heian Godan

Heian Godan has 23 counts and is considered to be the last kata in the Heian series. For this kata, quick and slow movements, timing skill and fluidity of motion, in fact a combination of all these is very essential. The jump (tobi-komi) which is a very exciting technique for a beginner and the intermediate karateka is included in this shotokan kata. It is in H5 that Mikazuki-geri is first seen,

For a better and proper kata performance, the mizu-nagare-kamae at the beginning of the kata and the shuto-uchikomi/manji-uke combo at the end is very important. Many throws, locks and takedowns are involved in the Bunkaifor H5. 

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