In this blog we present Pinan Shodan to you, as it is practiced in Wado Ryu. Although variations of Kata exist within Wado and among several teachers, "the nine Kata" are virtually identical. Here and there there are some slight nuances, but they are not in comparison to the major differences that exist between Kata like Niseishi, Wanshu, Bassai and Jitte.
Pinan Shodan (often practiced second or third because of the difficulty) is officially the first kata from the Pinan series which consists of five kata. Originally they were designed by Itosu sensei round 1900. The kata served as a physical educational system on Okinawan schools. The movements from Pinan kata are probably derived from Kushanku and some other kata. Although the techniques are relatively easy in comparison to some other kata, you have your hands full with them even after 10, 20 or even 30 years of training.
As mentioned, many schools practice them after Pinan Nidan or even after Pinan Sandan due to the difficulty. In Shotokan the names have been changed because of this. In Shotokan, Pinan Shodan is called Heian Nidan and Pinan Nidan is called Heian Shodan. I heard that Itosu originally created Pinan Shodan first and introduced this Kata to the schools. Later on, Itosu was asked to present them with another easier Kata, as Pinan Shodan proved quite difficult to learn from scratch. Karate history is not my forté, but this story does sound logic to me. My guess is, as with many things, that things that are created are always updated, systematised and structured later on. I think it is a quite reasonable idea that the above story is at least close to the truth.