Virginia Dojo Pinan Defense

Okinawan Karate Alexandria: Pinan Katas

Okinawan Karate Alexandria: Pinan Karate Katas

Anko Itosu reportedly developed the five Pinan Katas (called Heinan in Shotokan and other Japanese styles) prevalent in Okinawan Shorin Ryu Karate to teach appropriate Karate techniques to school children. Many claim these katas derived from a now lost Channan kata. Yet others think many of the moves were taken from the Kusanku katas.

What does Pinan mean? Pinan has no direct translation in Uchinaguuchi (the Okinawan Language) or Japanese. I have heard and read that Pinan means things like “Divine Wind”, “Fighting Spirit”, “Fighting to the East”, and stuff like that. Many historical Okinawan Martial Artists trained with Chinese in Okinawa and China. Reportedly, Pinan in the Chinese dialect spoken in Fujian Province, the province closest to Okinawa, means “Stay Safe”.

Virginia Dojo Pinan Defense
Pinan Shodan kata Self Defense Karate

There are so many many assumptions around the meaning of the Pinan name, and Itosu didn’t specify what it meant, that the definition “Stay Safe” sounds the most reasonable to me at this time and I will stick with that until someone comes up with something better.

Stay Safe!


Kiyoshi, 8th Dan, Virginia Dojo


Roberto began studying martial arts in 1969 at Michigan State University.  He studied Judo,  Kung Fu and various styles of Karate. He started studying with now Grand Master Seikichi Iha, 10th Dan, Beikoku Shidokan Shorin Ryu in 1979 when he returned to MSU from Paraguay for graduate studies and continues until now as one of Iha’s senior students.

During Roberto’s long-term overseas assignments stationed as a Foreign Service Officer (Diplomat), he trained US Embassy Security Personnel, US Marines, foreign security operatives, and people just like you.  When stationed in the Washington, DC area he also always built a cadre of dedicated Shidokan Shorin Ryu Karate students.  Now retired from the Foreign Service he concentrates on teaching proven-effective adult-focused self defense karate at the Virginia Dojo in Alexandria VA.

Roberto’s Northern Virginia karate students convinced him to rent a more permanent location for his Karate instruction instead of wandering from building to building renting out space on an hourly basis in School gymnasiums and Churchs. In 2017 he and his students decided upon a unique space in an Alexandria office condominium complex. His students have built the office into an outstanding training space evoking the sense and feel of a traditional Okinawan Karate Dojo. In addition to karate training in Alexandria, many students drop by just to meditate, or for Yoga or Tai Chi classes. Drop by even if just to appreciate the dojo!

Many people call the Virginia Okinawan Karate Dojo the Martial Arts Grad School because Roberto teaches pressure points, joint locks and grappling applications that Sensei Iha taught him during 40+ years of instruction in addition to the obvious percussion techniques of punching, kicking and blocking.

Roberto is a member of the East Coast Beikoku Shidokan Karate Black Belt Promotion Board and the National Black Belt Promotion Board. Among his numerous awards are:

“Best Martial Arts Teacher in Washington, DC” in 2017.

“Best Martial Arts in Washington, DC” 2018

“Best Martial Arts in Alexandria” 2019

“Best of” in 2018 and 2019

In addition to English, Roberto speaks Spanish, Italian, German, and some Guarani, Portuguese and Japanese.


Virginia Dojo

6416 Grovedale Dr., #302-B, Alexandria, VA 22310