From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pinan, Pingan
Other namesHeian, Pyungahn
Martial artKarate
Place of originOkinawa Prefecture Shuri, Okinawa, Japan
CreatorAnkō Itosu
Date of creation1895

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 Channan[1] into forms suitable for teaching karate to young students. Pinan is the Chinese Pinyin notation of 平安; when Gichin Funakoshi brought karate to Japan, he spelt the kata name as Heian, which is the onyomi of 平安. Pinan or Heian means "peaceful and safe". Korean Tang Soo Do, one of 5 original kwan of Korea, also practice these kata; they are termed, "Pyong-an" or "Pyung-Ahn", which is a Korean pronunciation of the term "ping-an".[2][3]


According to Motobu Chōki, one of Ankō Itosu's early students, the Pinan kata was created by Itosu and was originally called Channan (チャンナン) and had slightly different movements.[4] When Motobu asked Itosu about this point in his later years, Itosu replied, "The form is somewhat different from those days, but now I have decided on the form as it was performed by the students. Everyone preferred the name Pinan, so I followed the young people's opinion."

Since Motobu (b. 1870) began studying under Itosu at the age of 12 (East Asian age reckoning), this means that the Channan was already in existence by the 1880s. The name "Pinan" was suggested by students of the former Okinawa Prefectural First Middle School (now Shuri High School) or Okinawa Prefectural Normal School, where Itosu was a karate instructor at the time, and was adopted by Itosu.

The Channan is now lost, but some believe that the Motobu-ryū's "Shirokuma" (白熊, lit.'white bear') kata may be Channan because of its similarity to Pinan.[5]

The Pinan kata were introduced into the school systems on Okinawa in 1895, and were subsequently adopted by many teachers and schools in the 1900s. Thus, they are present today in the curriculum of Shitō-ryū, Wadō-ryū, Shōrin-ryū, Kobayashi-ryū, Kyokushin, Seido Juku, Shinki-Ryu, Shōrei-ryū, Shotojuku, Shotokan, Matsubayashi-ryū, Shukokai, Shindo Jinen Ryu, Kosho-ryū Kempo, Kenyu Ryu, Kushin Ryu and several other styles.

Funakoshi modified the Pinan forms to Heian forms, introducing his version of Kushanku (actually renamed Kanku Dai). The 5 kata were Pinans Shodan, Nidan, Sandan, Yondan, and Godan.

Current practice[edit]

The Pinans are taught to various beginner ranks according to their difficulty. The kata are all loosely based on an I-shaped embusen or shape. These kata serve as the foundation to many of the advanced kata within Karate, as many of the techniques contained in these kata are contained in the higher grade katas as well, especially Kusanku.

In certain styles, Pinan Shodan and Pinan Nidan are inverted - what certain styles call Pinan Shodan is what others call Heian Nidan, and vice versa[citation needed]. For example, the kata Shotokan calls Heian Shodan, other styles, such as Shitō-ryū call Pinan Nidan[citation needed]. Another point to note is that Shūkōkai teaches Pinan Nidan first, and Pinan Shodan second, believing Pinan Nidan to be the easier, more beginner-friendly kata[citation needed]. The order that is learnt in Wado-Ryu goes as follows,

  1. Pinan Nidan,
  2. Pinan Shodan,
  3. Pinan Sandan,
  4. Pinan Yondan (also called Pinan Shidan) and
  5. Pinan Godan.[citation needed]

In some Shito-Ryu dojos the order is different, as most Shito Ryu versions of Pinan Shodan are harder than the rest, so the order is as follows,

  1. Pinan Nidan
  2. Pinan Sandan
  3. Pinan Yondan (also called Pinan Shidan)
  4. Pinan Godan
  5. Pinan Shodan[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schmeisser, Elmar T. (2004). Channan: Heart of the Heian forms. Trafford Publishing. p. 124. ISBN 978-1-4120-1357-4.
  2. ^ Pak, Ho Sik; Escher, Ursula (2002). Complete Tang Soo Do Manual: From white belt to black belt. High Mountain Publishing. p. 237. ISBN 978-0-9718609-0-2.
  3. ^ Shin, Jae Chul (1992). Traditional Tang Soo Do Vol. 2: The Basics. J.C.Shin.
  4. ^ Karate Kenkyū-sha, ed. (1934). Karate Kenkyū [Karate Studies] (in Japanese). Tokyo: Kōbukan. p. 20.
  5. ^ Swift, Joe. "Channan: The "Lost" Kata of Itosu?". Retrieved 2023-10-26.

External links[edit]