The Taikyoku series is a series of kata in use in several types of karate. The name Taikyoku (太極) refers to the Chinese philosophical concept of Taiji. The Taikyoku kata were developed by Yoshitaka Funakoshi and introduced by Gichin Funakoshi as a way to simplify the principles of the already simplified Pinan/Heian series. The embusen, or pattern of the kata’s movements, are the same as in Heian shodan. Students of karate systems that use the Taikyoku kata series are often introduced to them first, as a preparation for the Pinan/Heian kata. Gōjū Kai developed five of its own Taikyoku kata, based on the Shotokan katas and retaining the I-shaped embusen. The embusen (pathway) of all the Taikyoku kata is simple (here, the # represents the starting and ending point):
Heian shodan is a shorin kata containing 21 movements (waza) with 2 kiai points. In Japanese, heian (平安) means “peaceful mind” and shodan means “first level“. Heian shodan was adapted from older kata by Anko Itosu to make them more suitable for young karateka.
Being in the shorin category, this kata focuses on being flexible, soft and slow with quick, sharp movements. In this kata you will learn:
- the first punch,
- 2 stances,
- 3 blocks, and
- 1 strike
However, as the years go by, you start to take a lot more from this kata, partly in combination with the other heian kata as well as more “advanced” kata. Depending on your belt ranking, you will have a different focus when studying and practicing heian shodan. These are cummulative and not mutually exclusive.
Heian nidan is a shorin kata containing 26 movements (waza) with 2 kiai points. It is the second kata in the Heian Series you learn when joining Shotokan karate when you are a yellow belt. In Japanese, heian (平安) means “peaceful mind” and nidan means “second level“.