Heian Shodan, developed by Master Yastasune Itosu, is the first kata a beginner to Shotokan Karate learns, and is fundamentally one of the most important kata you study.
Despite being developed by Master Itosu, this kata, along with all of the Heian kata have origins that lead back to China, and these kata we practice today are based on the older training forms called Channan.
This kata introduces the basic stances zenkutsu-dachi and kokutsu-dachi, with the blocks gedan barai, age uke, and shuto uke.
The kata also employs the more complicated sequence involving the tetsui and the shift of the centre of gravity. Taking roughly 40 seconds to perform, this kata contains 21 movements.
One very significant part of the kata is the timing of the three age-uke and the three oi-tsuki. To the beginning student, this may feel difficult, but this kata lays the essential foundations for all Shotokan Kata. Only once you have perfected this kata can you truly develop further.
Heian Shodan translates as ‘Peaceful Mind – level one’. In many ways, the symbolic significance of the ‘Heian’ series represents the spirit and attitude that accompanies Karate-Do as a Martial Art, so these five kata that make up the series are truly significant, both fundamentally and philosophically.