The history of the heian kata (original name Pinan), is a subject of much argue. Many karate historians believe the karate moves contained in the heian kata, come from the kata Kusanku, which is the original name of the shotokan kata, Kanku Dai (to view the sky). They say that master Itosu thought Kusanku (kanku dai), was too long and contained too many karate moves for new karateka to learn. So he took Kusanku and divided it up into the five heian kata.
Other karate historians believe the hiean kata were developed from the long Chinese kata, Channan.
Another theory says Channan kata is the Heian Kata.
at any rate the history of the Heian kata, they are now practiced by millions of karateka worldwide and play an integral part of every shotokan karate practitioners development.
The five heian kata are:
1. Heian Shodan (Peaceful mind, first level)
2. Heian Nidan (Peaceful mind, second level)
3. Heian Sandan (Peaceful mind, third level)
4. Heian Yondan (Peaceful mind, fourth level)
5. Heian Goodan (Peaceful mind, fifth level)
Many karate styles and organisations have kept the original name of Pinan. Master Gichin Funakoshi, who trained under Master Itosu, changed the name Pinan to Heian, when he first took Okinawan karate to mainland Japan.
Heian Shodan is a basic shotokan karate kata and consists of single stepping strikes and blocks. Heian Nidan has the first example of at the same time block/strike techniques. Heian Sandan has the first use of Kibadachi (horse riding stance), in a shotokan kata and Heian Yondan has the very technical double block/strike techniques.
The fifth and last in this kata series, is Heian Godan. This kata has very fast one/two combinations, starting with the first two karate moves and finishing with the last two karate moves in the kata. Godan also has the first jump in a shotokan karate kata.
at any rate the real story is, behind the origins of the Heian/Pinan, one thing is for sure. A shotokan karateka who has had a substantial background in the Heian kata, stands out, from those who have not!