Heian Shodan -
Heian Shodan is the first of five katas taught in this series. The creation of the Heian series of katas has been attributed to the great Okinawan karate teacher, Master Yasutsune Itosu (1831 - 1915) who was one of Master Gichin Funakoshi's two primary teachers. This series of five katas was originally known by its Okinawan name, Pinan Shodan. Master Itosu created this series of katas around 1905 in order to teach the art of karate to children in the Okinawan school system. It is believed that he derived many of the movements, and material from more advanced kata, as well as a much older root kata called, Channan.
When the Founder of Shotokan Karate, Master Gichin Funakoshi, first introduced karate to Japan it was he who changed the name of the five katas in this series from, the Okinawan pronunciation of Pinan, to Heian (Peaceful Mind). It is speculated that perhaps he did so in order to have these katas more readily accepted by Japanese society. It is interesting to note that this kata was originally the second kata taught in this series, and that Heian Nidan was originally the first kata taught. However, Master Funakoshi reversed the order, as he felt it was more appropriate to teach Heian Shodan first, since it is a much less complex kata than Heian Nidan.
This kata introduces the student for the first time to several new hand techniques, jodan-age-uke (upper level rising block), chudan-tetsui, (middle level hammer fist) and shuto-zuki, (sword hand strike), as well as the concept of tai-sabaki (body shifting). This kata contains 21 movements and should take the student approximately 30 seconds to complete. The correct performance of this kata is required in order to advance in rank from 10th kyu (white belt) to 9th kyu (yellow belt).
There are two kiai points found in Heian Shodan. The first one occurs on the last jodan-age-uke (upper level rising block) at the top of the embusen (line of attack). The second one occurs on the last chudan-oi-zuki (middle level lunge punch) at the bottom of the embusen (line of attack).
To return to a ready position after the last movement of the kata leave your right foot in place and withdraw your left foot so as to stand up once again facing forward in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). You must now formally end the kata. You do this by bringing your left foot half way in towards your right foot and your right foot half way in towards your left foot so that you are now standing with your feet together. At the same time as you bring your feet together also bring your hands to your sides so you are again standing in heisoku-dachi (attention stance). Now rei (bow). After bowing, step out with your left foot and then your right foot and once again stand in hachiji-dachi (natural stance) while at the same time bringing your hands from your sides and hold them in a ready position in front of you with your fists closed.