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Kata: Heian Yondan

By admin - Posted on 26 January 2014


English - Peaceful Mind: Fourth Step
The five Heian katas were created by Sensei Itosu, one of the two masters of Sensei Funakoshi, for teaching karate in Okinawan High Schools in 1905. Drawing mainly from the Kusanku and Passai katas, the name of the series was originally Pinan, and this is still how they are known in many styles of karate. In Shotokan, Sensei Funakoshi changed the names to the more Japanese sounding Heian, along with Kusanku which became Kanku Dai and Kanku Sho, and Passai which became Bassai Dai and Bassai Sho.

This fourth Heian builds on the lessons of the other three, and requires a real sense of rhythm to master. There are a number of changes from slow to fast, and many students stuggle with the moves. Here are some common things that people need to practice when learning this kata:

  • The opening double handed blocks - breath in, then out for a count of five while performing the block in a strong back-stance (kokutsu-dachi). Nowadays we have the hands in a slightly different position from those of Sensi Kanazawa in this video - he has the fingers of the horizontal hand at the same level as the top of the vertical hand, but we have them at about the level of the thumb. Think of putting your hands in the same position as for Heian Nidan and opening the fingers.
  • The yoko-geri-keage - mawashi-empi-uchi (side snap kick - roundhouse elbow smash) combinations. Use a powerful uraken (backfist) with the kick, and leave it there while you snap your kick back strongly (very important). Then use the hips to drive the elbow from the hip onto the extended hand and land in a strong front stance (zenkutsu-dachi). Many people get their arms in all sorts of problems with this, but just remember the rule that the arm that starts on the outside stays on the outside!
  • Move from the mae-geri (front snap kick) into the right handed otoshi-uraken (dropping backfist) by snapping your kick back and then taking a long, smooth step into kosa-dachi (cross legged-stance) as you execute an osae-uke pressing block with the left hand and draw it back to the hip. Don't make either of the two common mistakes here of jumping into the the kosa-dachi or finishing with the left hand under the right elbow.
  • Get the angles and stances right for the techniques on the returning leg. The kakiwake-uke (reverse wedge blocks) are performed in back stance and at 45 degrees - the followup double punches are in front stance. The morote-uke augmented blocks are all in back stance.