The Pinan (Heian) kata were designed to teach basic self-defense so that if you mastered all five kata, you could effectively keep yourself safe or at peace. Some translate pinan as peaceful mind, but a better translation from the Chinese (Anko Itosu who created these forms admired and was influenced by Chinese culture, as was much of classical Okinawan culture and martial arts) is protection or keep from harm. I’m convinced that Itosu meant for these kata to help students train basic self-defense and how to respond to civilian violence or what Patrick McCarthy calls habitual acts of violence.
In this video, we explore a basic drill for the opening movements of Pinan Shodan that take advantage of the flinch response. The simultaneous chest block and high block provide a flinch cover as the defender moves to one side of the enemy, toward what is known (the striking hand) and away from what is unknown (the other hand that is wound up to strike). The kata then demonstrates a possible counter strike followed by a takedown (the simultaneous chest block and front kick move) to get away from the enemy.