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Wastelander's picture
Pinan Godan Opening Sequence

Hello, everyone!

This week, we take a look at a fairly simple striking application for the opening sequence of Pinan Godan (Heian Godan), as well as a joint lock variation.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Thanks for sharing. I think the point about the angles representing a shift to that angle is key to understanding the application of kata. It’s definitely one of the most powerful keys there is because it gives you the orientation and things tend to fall into place from there.

Mabuni is 100% explicit that that’s what the angles represent too:

Wisdom from the Past: Tidbits on Kata Applications from Pre-War Karate Books Part One By Joe Swift wrote:
"The meaning of the directions in kata is not well understood, and frequently mistakes are made in the interpretation of kata movements. In extreme cases, it is sometimes heard that "this kata moves in 8 directions so it is designed for fighting 8 opponents" or some such nonsense. I would like to specifically address this issue now.

Looking at the enbusen for Pinan Nidan, one can see that karate kata move in all directions, forward and back, left and right. When interpreting kata, one must not get too caught up in these directions. For example, do not fall into the trap of thinking that just because a kata begins to the left that the opponent is always attacking from the left. There are two ways of looking at this:

1 - The kata is defending against an attack from the left.

2 - Angle to the left against a frontal attack.

At first glance, both of these look alright. However, looking at only number (1), the meaning of the kata becomes narrow, and the kata, which in reality must be applied freely in any situation, becomes awfully meagre in its application.

Looking at an actual example, the 5 Pinan kata all start to the left, and then repeat the same series of techniques to the right. Looking at interpretation (1), the opponent must always attack from the left, and while fighting that opponent, another opponent comes from behind so the defender turns to fight that opponent. This type of interpretation is highly unreasonable.

Looking at interpretation number (2) however, the 5 Pinan kata show us that against an attack from the front we can evade either left or right to put ourselves in the most advantageous position to defend ourselves.” - Extract from Karatedo Nyumon by Kenwa Mabuni


It’s a real shame that the what Mabuni regards as “highly unreasonable” and “nonsense” has come to be viewed as the mainstream “traditional” way of looking at angles in kata.

Like you, I also see the angle as representing the angle we shift to. I’ve put a video showing my take on the same sequence below. Thanks once again for sharing.

All the best,


Les Bubka
Les Bubka's picture

Hi Wastelander 

thanks for the clip, I see the angles the same - moving around the oponent, we actually have nearly identical application but finished with choke.

Kind regards


Paul_L's picture

Nice one. I am now a youtube subscriber!

JWT's picture

One from the archives. My rarer arm control as opposed to rib strike version.

All the best


Wastelander's picture

Thanks, everyone! It's always interesting to see how different people can take the same principle to start with, and the same basic movements, and use them in various ways.