We’ve returned to the beginning of the cycle, now working on the kata Heian Shodan (平安初段) in the Beginner Kata class on Saturday mornings. This is the first kata in our regular syllabus, the one we all begin learning at the start of our training (kids start off with simpler versions to lead up to this one). It’s an excellent opportunity for even beginning students to attend the Saturday classes — and for those with more experience to really polish Heian Shodan.
The Heian kata came to Japan from Okinawa, where Funakoshi Sensei gave them their Japanese name. Heian means “peace and safety.” These kata were developed from the advanced kata to play the same role we use them for today: as a gateway into karate training for beginners. Heian Shodan gives us practice in two basic stances, four of our most common basic techniques, and one that’s a little less common — tetsui uchi (hammer-fist strike). We also start to learn about varying timing. Maybe the most consistently difficult parts of Heian Shodan at first are the turns. They’re a challenge for nearly everyone, but with practice they help us start to learn how our lower bodies direct our movement.
Even though the techniques are basic, doing the kata really well takes a lot of practice. Osaka Sensei provides a nice example in this video. Another good example is here.
Especially now that we’re into the beginning kata again we encourage students of all grades to come to the Saturday kata classes. Even when we get beyond the kata you’re practicing, it’s great to begin to learn how techniques can be combined, and the practice in applying techniques is indispensable.
See you Saturday!
At SVSK our Saturday morning kata classes focus on one kata at a time. We typically spend four Saturdays on each kata:
Week 1: Overview/review of the kata
Week 2: Fine points of the techniques and the kata
Week 3: Hands-on practice to understand applications (bunkai)
Week 4: Variations in the kata