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By Charles Rhodes, P. Eng., Ph.D.

Heian Shodan is a basic kata of Shotokan karate. The third turn of Heian Shodan goes 90 degrees Counter ClockWise (CCW) from 3:00 o'clock to 12:00 o'clock. The rotation occurs about the right leg. Novices at Fisher Shotokan may prefer to rotate about the right heel. Rotation about the ball of the right foot gives a slight increase in distance from an attack from 12:00 o'clock.

The initial position is zenkutsu-dachi, left leg forward, left arm chudan oi-zuki, right fist at hip, hips shoman toward 3:00 o'clock. The weight distribution is 70% left leg, 30% right leg. The body must be erect with the centers of mass of the pelvis, trunk and head forming a straight vertical line herein referred to as the body axis. The ass and chin are tucked in. The right leg must be completely straight and under compression from the horizontal force vector component exerted by the the muscles on top of the left leg. Relaxing the right leg releases the energy pulse from the left leg that is required to explosively start this turn.

1. Look left toward 12:00 o'clock.

2. Simultaneously straighten the left leg, bend the right leg and swinging the extended left arm with closed left fist about 45 degrees in a horizontal CCW circle. The body CM should not rise. This movement shifts the body Center of Mass (CM) from near the left foot to close to the vertical pivot axis through the heel of the right foot and generates angular momentum about the pivot axis. The unloaded left leg remains in firm contact with the ground and is extended toward 3:00 o'clock.

3. Further generation of upper body angular momentum is accomplished by vigerous hip CCW rotation while both feet are still in firm contact with the ground to exert torque. Generate further angular momentum by punching toward 12:00 o'clock with the right fist;

4. Right ankle movement positions the supporting right foot to allow free rotation about the pivot point (the heel of the right foot). Continuing CCW hip rotation lifts the extended left foot off the ground. The right leg is fully loaded.

5. Free rotation commences about the pivot point. Initially the left leg is extended forward which is balanced by the body axis being slightly behind the vertical pivot axis. Allow the right foot to revolve around the right heel;

6. Immediately after free rotation commences tighten the buttocks to retract the extended left leg against the shin of the pivoting right leg and move the body axis directly over the pivot point (eg. heel of right leg). The Achilles tendon of the left foot should bounce against the lower shin of the right leg. The body axis should remain vertical.

7. Simultaneously retract the left fist to the right shoulder as in retraction after a horizontal backfist strike.

8. These leg and arm actions minimize moment of inertia about the vertical pivot axis. The reduction in moment of inertia while in free rotation increases both the angular velocity and the rotational kinetic energy;

9. If additional distance is required from the attacker shift the weight forward on to the ball of the right foot to make it the pivot point;


10. As the rotation reaches 90 degrees the hips and shoulders must be square to the target and the big toe of the right foot must point toward the target at 12:00 o'clock. The feet are still together and the body axis must be vertical. Press the right heel into the ground and drive (half step) out with the left leg into zenkutsu-dachi hips hamni toward 12:00 o'clock. Half stepping out toward the target with the unloaded leg increases the moment of inertia slowing the rotation and positions the body hamni for delivery of all available kinetic energy to the target via a gedan block/strike. The gedan block/strike is reinforced by retracting the right fist to the right hip. Linear kinetic energy comes from partially unloading the fully loaded supporting right leg and from conversion of rotational kinetic energy into radial kinetic energy.

11. Use momentary tightening of all major muscle groups to make the body rigid at the instant of impact in order to achieve maximum energy transfer to the target.

12. Use the extended left foot as a rotation brake to absorb remaining angular momentum.

There are variations to this turn that start in hips hamni and/or end in hips shoman.

Of the first four turns in Heian Shodan this turn may be the most difficult to do well using the Fisher Method because this turn has simultaneous complex motions that must be fully executed in an extremely short period of time. Sensei Fisher suggests concentrating on the right leg motion as the left leg will automatically follow the hip. The left arm motion has to be super fast to extend, retract and block within the available time window. If this turn is not done correctly the moment of inertia will be large and the turn will degrade into a slower JKA Method turn.

This web page last updated January 23, 2011.

Contents Blogs Introduction Fisher One Page Contacts Links