Contents Blogs Introduction Fisher One Page Contacts Links



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

Heian Shodan is a basic kata of Shotokan karate. The fourth turn of Heian Shodan goes 270 degrees Counter ClockWise (CCW) from 12:00 o'clock to 3:00 o'clock. The rotation axis is the right leg. Fisher Shotokan novices should rotate on the right heel.

The initial position is zenkutsu-dachi, right leg forward, hips hamni, right arm jodan age-uke, left hand at left hip. Right leg bears 70% of body weight, left leg bears 30% of body weight. The body is erect with the pelvis, trunk and head in a straight vertical line herein referred to as the body axis. The ass and chin are tucked in. The left leg is straight but fully unloaded. The left leg is under slight compression due to counter force from right leg.

The immediately prior technique was a right oi-zuki. It is not necessary to return the stance to a 50% - 50% weight distribution because the CM is already almost over the right leg and the next movement, which involves a 270 degree turn about the right leg, is known.

1. Glance right and then look left.

2. Tighten the muscles behind the right knee to pull the body Center of Mass (CM) forward to toward the initial pivot point (the heel of the right foot) thus further loading the right leg. The left foot remains in firm contact with the ground.

3. Using the left hand strike backwards with a hammer fist in a vertical plane semicircle until the left arm points straight behind you. During this motion the left palm faces inwards. Simultaneously vigorously punch chudan with the right fist under the left shoulder. The right palm faces inwards. Simultaneously vigorously spin the hips CCW to generate upper body angular momentum while both feet are in firm contact with the ground to exert torque. The hip spin should shift the CM to the vertical pivot axis.

4. Use right ankle movement to position the supporting right foot to allow free vertical axis rotation about the initial pivot point (the heel of the right foot) and the body CM;

5. Continuing CCW hip rotation lifts the left foot off the ground. Free rotation about the vertical pivot axis commences. Allow the right foot to revolve around the right heel. If additional distance from the opponent is required use right ankle and right knee action to shift weight forward so the pivot point becomes the ball of the right foot. The body axis must remain straight and vertical.

6. Immediately tighten the buttocks to pull the vertical body axis the vertical pivot axis and to pull the left leg toward the vertical pivot axis so that the Achilles tendon of the left foot bounces against the lower shin of the right leg. Simultaneously pull the left hand back to the right shoulder in a whipping retraction as is used after a horizontal backfist strike. The body axis must remain straight and vertical. These actions while rotating reduce the moment of inertia about the vertical rotation axis and hence increase both the angular velocity and the rotational kinetic energy.

7. As the body passes 225 degrees of rotation extend the right fist chudan or gedan toward 3:00 o'clock. Flatten the right foot to prevent over rotation.

8. As the body reaches 270 degrees of rotation the shoulders and hips should be square to the target at 3:00 o'clock and the big toe of the right foot should point at the target at 3:00 o'clock. Press the right heel into the ground and drive out (half step) with the left leg toward 3:00 o'clock into zenkutsu-dachi, hips hamni, block/strike gedan with the left arm and pull the right hand back to the right hip. Stepping out toward the target with the unloaded left leg increases the moment of inertia which slows the rotation rate and positions the body for delivery of all available kinetic energy to the target via the gedan block/strike. Hips hamni with the right hand retracted reinforces the left arm block/strike. Linear kinetic energy comes from partially unloading the fully loaded supporting right leg and from conversion of rotational kinetic energy into radial kinetic energy.

9. Momentarily tighten all major muscle groups to make the body rigid at the instant of impact in order to achieve maximum energy transfer to the target.

10. Use the extended left foot touching the ground as a rotation brake to absorb remaining angular momentum.

11. Note that the right leg remains partly loaded to enable the immediately following lunge punch.

There are variations to this turn that start with hips Shoman, right hand reverse punch and/or end with hips shoman, right hand reverse punch.

Note that from an initial position of zenkutsu-dachi, right leg forward a rapid CW turn is not possible because there is not sufficient CW hip range of motion to develop the required angular momentum. In order to turn CW the CM must first be shifted back over the left leg as in the 2nd turn of Heian Shodan. However, if the CM must go forward to avoid an attack a backwards CM shift is not possible. Hence in this situation it is faster to turn 270 degrees CCW than 90 degrees CW.

This web page last updated January 23, 2011.

Contents Blogs Introduction Fisher One Page Contacts Links