The Pinan - 平安 were originated in Okinawa by Anko Itosu sensei from older Kata such as Kusanku and Channan into forms suitable for teaching Karate to young students. When Gichin Funakoshi brought Karate to Japan, he renamed the Kata to Heian, which is translated as ‘peaceful and safe’. Pinan is the Okinawan pronunciation of the characters Hei - 平, meaning 'peace', and An - 安, meaning 'relax'. Though the physical moves of Kata involve techniques used for fighting, the purpose of Kata is to develop a calm, peaceful mind and harmony between the mind and body.
The Pinan were made in the form as we now know it by Anko Itosu sensei in 1905. Anko Itosu, a teacher on Okinawa, was born in the village of Yamagawa in the Shuri region. One of the stories surrounding the creation of this Kata claims that Anko Itosu learned the Kata from a Chinese man who lived in Okinawa and called it ‘Channan’. This original form of the Channan Kata has been lost. But, it's more likely that Anko Itosu created a Pinan Dai ('the great Pinan') from the older Kata: Kusanku Dai, Gojushiho and maybe Bassai Dai. This Kata had to act as a beginner Kata for school lessons and be easier to learn than the more complex and advanced Kata that are usually taught later. After completing his new Kata, Pinan Dai, he changed his mind about learning such a long Kata for beginners and cut it into five parts and then renamed it by analogy of Godai - 五大, the Japanese Five Elements Philosophy: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Emptiness.
Masutatsu Oyama implemented the five Pinan Kata in Kyokushin Karate with a few modifications, to adapt the Kata to the Kyokushin system, with its own modes and techniques, where more emphasis is placed on strength. In the 1980s, Masutatsu Oyama developed the Pinan Kata – URA. De Ura or 'reverse' Kata, were a form to develop balance and skill in circular movements (turning) against multiple opponents.
Once these five Pinan Katas and their applications have been mastered, the Karateka can be confident in his/her ability to defend themselve in most situations, keeping him/her safe from being harm. The Pinans are taught to various beginner ranks according to their difficulty.
Known as the Northern Kata within Kyokushin Karate, Pinan were adapted by Sosai Masutatsu Oyama from his background in the Shuri-Te tradition, as 4th than in Shotokan Karate, which he learned from sensei Gichin Funakoshi.
This is the first Kata of the Pinan group, Pinan Shodan - 平安初段 is loosely based on an I-shaped Embusen. It develops body positioning and a number of defensive techniques and a number attacking techniques in Oi-Tsuki. In Pinan Sono Ichi, above all the leg movements and changes of direction, the posture of the upper body and the tension control are focused upon. This Kata is considered the ‘Earth’ Kata.