HEIAN SHODAN

Peaceful Mind, Level 1

The original name of the Heian kata is Pinan. Other karate styles kept the Pinan name (Wadō-ryū, Shōrin-ryū, Shitō-ryū).

Peaceful Mind

The denomination of this kata refers to the mental attitude that the Karateka develops through constant practice. By mastering the techniques, concepts and strategies proposed by the Kata, one can attain such mastery and confidence that in the event of real combat they allow a calm mental attitude. The latter increases the probability of victory over an opponent who is mentally less strong. It is obvious that a relaxed spirit allows to put in action of technical and tactical knowledge that a stressed attitude would block, at least in part, compromising the positive outcome of the fight.    

Not only for students

The first basic Kata must not be underestimated neither as a learning tool for beginners nor as a measure for advanced levels. The continuous repetition of the main movements offered by Heian shodan must accompany the Karateka a lifetime. After many years of practice one must be careful not to fall into the trap of arrogance by neglecting the practice of the first Kata. Its execution must go through a development that reveals the degree of maturity of the advanced Karateka, even of the master. It is, after all, also a training in humility.
In the classic book of Master Nakayama, which should be present in the library of every Karateka, the student of master Funakoshi speaks of an experiment carried out in the middle of the last century. In it was analyzed the technique of Oi zuki, present seven times in the Heian shodan. This fist technique performed by an expert with the level of 4th dan develops a force up to 700 kg (1543 lbs) concentrated on the surface of the knuckles of the index and middle finger! From here one can easily realize the effect of repetition and therefore the importance of the fact that both techniques and Kata (even the basic ones) must always be trained. 

The first part of the Heian series

Heian shodan is the first of the Heian series that consists of a total of five katas.
The Heian contains the most important basic techniques of the Shōtōkan style.
Heian shodan teaches mainly the two most important stances (Zenkutsu dachi and Kōkutsu dachi), the basic blocking techniques (Gedan barai, age uke, and Shutō uke), and the first strike (Oi zuki). In addition the sanbon principle is practiced.

Sanbon principle

Sanbon techniques are tactical attack combinations, which have the goal of making the opponent used to a speed (in the first two attacks), to then accelerate them and surprise them with the last attack.
For this purpose, the target regions are chosen differently to make repelling even more difficult (Jōdan, Chūdan, Chūdan). 

Turns

Apart from the turns that are already known from Taikyoku shodan, two additional turns at forty-five degrees and 135 degrees, both in Kōkutsu dachi, have been added.

Important concept

On the subject of bunkai, it is first important to develop a deep understanding of the application of the techniques. Once the Karateka has internalized the effective teaching of the techniques of a Kata, he can go on to find his own applications. There are many messages contained in each Kata. To understand them, the subject of Bunkai should be approached with humility. The accumulated knowledge can later be personalized with own and perhaps fancy interpretations.

Possible application

In technique No. 3 – the release from the grip to the wrist – special attention must be paid to three things.
The hand rotation must be very quick, with the arm in no way bent, and the circular movement must be executed very largely.
If any of these points are neglected, the application will not work.

The Age uke techniques (No. 7 to 9) can also be defenses against stick attacks, for example.
However, applications against stick attacks should only be considered at a more advanced level.

Duration: about 40 seconds

You can find the matching book here:
Shotokan kata up to black belt