The five Pinan kata were said to have been created by Anko Itosu (Funakoshi's instructor) in 1905 in order to simplify instruction to the children he had been teaching in the public schools of Okinawa since 1905. He developed these from the original Chinese kata such as Kushanku and Channan.

Funakoshi renamed these kata "Heian" when he took karate to mainland Japan. Heian is shortened from two words "Heiwa" meaning Peace and "Antei" meaning Stability. The name can translate as Peaceful Mind, Peaceful Safety, and also Peaceful and Calm. Pinan is the Chinese "Pinyin" notation and it also means Peaceful and Calm.

One of the stories surrounding the history of the Pinan kata claims that Itosu learned a kata from a Chinese man living in Okinawa. This kata was called "Chiang Nan". The form became known as "Channan", an Okinawan/Japanese approximation of the Chinese pronunciation. The original form of the Channan kata is lost. Itosu formed five katas from the long Channan Kata which he thought would be easier to learn. The five kata were Pinans Shodan, Nidan, Sandan, Yondan, and Godan. We call these Pinans Ichi, Ni, San, Yon, and Go in Kyokushin.

Pinan Ni was the first kata that was taught in this series but it is reported that Funakoshi changed the order and made the current Pinan Ichi the first kata. In his book Karate do Kyohan states that once the five Heian kata have been mastered one can be confident that he/she is able to defend themselves competently in most situations.


It is not very clear who devised these three kata, but it is claimed by Gichin Funakoshi that he created them. Other evidence suggest that the three Taikyoku kata were developed by Gichin Funakoshi's son Yoshitaka on instruction from his father and introduced to Shotokan karate by Master Funakoshi. It is also noted that Yoshitaka was probably assisted by grand master Motonobu Hironoshi who was a good friend of Yoshitaka and a key figure in the development of Shotokan karate after the death of Gichin Funakoshi. These kata were said to simplify the principle of the five Heian (Pinan) kata.

In his book "Karate-Do Kyohan — The Master Text" Funakoshi states that the three Taikyoku kata and the "Ten-No kata" (introductory kata to sparring — similar to Kihon Kata) were introduced for beginners. He states that the student who gained proficiency in basic techniques and understands the essence of the Taikyoku kata will appreciate the real meaning of the maxim, "In karate, there is no advantage in the first attack". It is for this reason that he had given these kata the name Taikyoku which he translates as "First Cause" (First Level). The name also translates as "Grand Ultimate View".
Hanshi Arneil calls these kata "Wide View" and in no way is this contradictory or in conflict with the original name. It is merely a further in-depth explanation of the name originally given by Funakoshi. Once a person understands that the first level of anything is the beginning, they will look forward to advancing from that point, and this in turn widens their understanding and comprehension.

There have been several interpretations of the name Taikyoku because the individual words themselves carry more than one meaning. The word "Tai" could translate as Great, and "Kyoku" to study thoroughly, ultimate, best, etc. The characters for Taikyoku read "T 'ai Ch'i" in Chinese.