In the first year of my karate training, I learned five Heian kata. Among these five Heian kata, Heian Yondan is my favorite. Heian, in Japanese, means “peaceful mind”. Yondan means “the 4th level”. Heian Yondan is the longest Heian kata. It has 27 movements, including punches, front and side snap kicks, X blocks, knee strikes, knife hand strikes, etc. Heian Yondan also is the first kata that has frequent rhythm changes.
These is a popular belief about Heian kata, which is five of them represent the five elements philosophy in Japanese culture. The five elements are Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Void. Heian Yondan is considered to be the Wind kata. This is because not only Heian Yondan has so many rhythm changes, but also it includes several different levels of techniques, like low level X blocks, middle level kicks and punches, high level head grasping, back fist and knife hand strikes. Learning Heian Yondan is also the first time I feel the power and elegance of karate.