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The Meaning of Pinan

This latest podcast calls into question the accepted translation of “Pinan” as “Peaceful Mind”. I’m currently preparing a book on the combative application of the Pinan (Heian) series and, as a result of some of the new research for that book, I’m now convinced that the karate world has got the translation wrong and that this alternative translation has ramifications for how we should view those forms. You can see the characters used for writing “Pinan” (Heian) as part of this blog entry and their meaning will be explained in the podcast.

I believe that Anko Itosu (the creator of the Pinan Series) did not intend for these characters to be read as “Peaceful Mind” and that they do in fact have a name directly related to their purpose and combative function. The view expressed in this podcast runs contrary to the universally accepted meaning of “Pinan” and I am aware that this view is potentially controversial. To my knowledge, I am also the only person to who has suggested this alternative theory to the widely accepted “Peaceful Mind”. However, by suggesting it, I hope that others will look at the evidence for themselves and come to their own conclusions. So what does “Pinan” mean? And why do I now doubt the accepted translation of “Peaceful Mind”? You’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out!

The second part of the podcast covers some of my answers to the questions posed to me as part of Martial Arts Illustrated’s “Ask the Experts” column. The questions in this podcast relate to the creation of kata and which past master I would most like to talk to and what questions would I ask them. I hope you enjoy the podcast!

Best Wishes,


Pinan ...
Iain Abernethy
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