Pinan Shodan through Godan were created by Yasatsune “Anko” Itosu in 1907 and were intended to be practiced by high school students as an integral part of the regular curriculum.
Grandmaster Itosu (left picture) and Grandmaster Funakoshi (right picture)
When Ginchin Funakoshi introduced karate to mainland Japan he modified the Pinan katas and renamed them “Heian” in Japanese. Additionally the Shotokan system he founded changed Pinan I to Heian II and Pinan II to Heian I.
There is some discussion whether Itosu Sensei developed the Pinans from the more sophisticated “Black Belt” katas or if they were developed from a mysterious kata known as “Chanan”.
We may never know the full truth.
The Pinan (平安?) kata are a series of five empty hand forms taught in many karate styles.
The Pinan kata originated in Okinawa and were adapted by Anko Itosu from older kata such as Kusanku and Gojushiho into forms suitable for teaching karate to young students. When Gichin Funakoshi brought karate to Japan, he renamed the kata to Heian, which is translated as “peaceful mind”.
The Chinese translation of Pinan is “safe from harm”. Korean Karate (Tang Soo Do) systems also practice these kata; they are termed, “Pyungan”, which is a Korean pronunciation of the term “pin-an”.
The first Pinan kata, performed by Sensei Jim Sindt.
Pinan Nidan (II)
Pinan Sandan (III)
Pinan Yodan (IV)
Pinan Yodan (IV)
The Great Pinan, practiced by some schools, is an amalgamation of all the five Pinan kata. The order in which the five kata are performed is changed from that of the simple and basic training order (above) and in this order the five kata blend naturally from one to another, without any breaks forming one elaborate and intricate kata.
This kata although Okinawan in origination encompasses the basic Buddhist elements and is performed in their order of earth, water, fire, air and ether as also outlined by Kōbō Daishi (Kūkai) of the Japanese Heian period.