Japanese Karate Terminology

Please note that terms used in the martial arts often are specialized terms and may be used differently in conversation. Japanese who are not martial artists are often not familiar with these expressions. For example, the term “nukiuchi” means “suprise attack” in martial arts but in schools it means “pop quiz”.

Pronunciation: i always sounds as ee, as in skeet; u always sounds as oo, as in tool; o always sounds long o, as in pole; a always sounds as ah, as in father; e sounds eh, as in bet. Often the last vowel of a word is not fully pronounced, especially if is a u, or an i ” r” in Japanese has a “d” sound, so that geh-ri (kick) is pronounced more like geh-di. Japanese words that begin with “K” often change the k sound to g when the word follows others in a compound, i.e. ” kumite”, but ” kihon gumite”.

Commands:

Hajime

Kiritsu

Kyukei

Matte

Mawatte

Mokuso

Motoe

Naore

Otagai ni Rei

Rei

Seiza

Seiretsu

Senpai ni Rei

Sensei ni Rei

Shokyu

Shomen ni Rei

Yame

Yoi

Pronunciation:

hah-ji-meh

kee-reets

kew-kay

maht’-teh

mah-waht’-teh

mow-ku-sow

moh-toh-eh

now-reh

oh-tah-guy-ni ray

ray

say-zah

say-rehts

sen-pie-ni ray

sen-say-ni ray

show-kew

show-mehn-ni ray

yah-meh

yoy

Meaning:

start

come to attention

rest

wait!

turn!

clear the mind for meditation

return to starting position

prepare for standing bow

bow to each other

bow

sit in kneeling position

line up at attention

bow to the seniors

bow to the teacher

short break

bow to the shomen

stop!

ready (goto ready stance)

Basic counting :

Ichi

Ni

San

Shi

Go

Rokku

Shichi

Hachi

Kuu (or kyuu)

Jyuu

Pronunciation:

i-chi

ni

sahn

she

go

rowk-ku

shi-chi

ha-chi

Kuu (or kyuu)

Jyuu

Meaning:

one

two

three

four

five

six

seven

eight

nine

ten

Terms Pronunciation Meaning
Ashi

Ashi-barai

ah-shi

ah-shi-bah-rah-i

leg

foot sweep

Barai/Harai

Bunkai

bah-rah-i/hah-rah-i

buhn-kah-i

sweep away

breakdown of movements

Chudan chew-dahn middle body
Dachi

Domo

Dojo

dah-chi

Do-oh-mo

Do-oh-joh-oh

stance

thank you (lit. in every way)

training hall

Empi

Empiuchi

Empiuke

ehm-pi

ehm-pi-uch(i)

ehm-pi-ukeh

elbow

elbow strike

elbow block

Fumikomi fu-mi-koh-mi stamp kick
Gedan

Geri (or Keri)

Gi

Gyakuzuki

geh-dahn

geh-di

gi

gya-ku-zu-ki

lower part of body

kick

uniform

reverse punch

Hai

Haito

Hara

Hidari

Hijiate

Hiraken

Hiza

Hizageri

hah-i

hah-i-tow

hah-rah

hi-dah-ri

hi-ji-ah-teh

hi-rah-kehn

hi-zah

hi-zah-ge-di

yes (“I understand”)

ridgehand

belly, seat of ki

left

rising elbow strike

flat fist knuckle strike

knee

knee kick

Ippon-ken

Ippon-nukite

Irimi

(i)pohn-kehn

(i)pohn-nu-ki-teh

i-ri-mi

one knuckle fist

one finger spear hand

entering

Jodan

Josokuto

Junzuki

joh-dahn

joh-soh-ku-toh

jun-zu-ki

upper body (usually head)

ball of foot

stepping front punch

Kagizuki

Karate

Kata

Keage

Ken

Kekomi

Keri (or geri)

Ki

Kiai

Kime

Kizamizuki

Koken-uke

Kote

Kumite

Kentsui

kah-gi-zu-ki

kah-rah-teh

kah-tah

keh-ah-geh

kehn

keh-koh-mi

keh-ri

ki

ki-ah-i

ki-meh

ki-zah-mi-zu-ki

koh-kehn-u-keh

koh-teh

ku-mi-teh

kehn-tsu-i

cross punch

empty hand

form

snapping

fist

thrusting

kick

internal power

striking w/ internal power, with yell

focus

jump-in “jab” punch

top wrist block

forearm

meeting techniques / sparring

side thrust hammer fist

Mae

Maegeri

Maware

Mawashi

Mawashigeri

Mawatte

Migi

Mikazukigeri

Morote

Morote-tsuki

Musubidachi

mah-eh

mah-eh-geh-ri

mah-wah-reh

mah-wah-shi

mah-wah-shi-ge-ri

mah-waht’-teh

mi-gi

mi-kah-zki-ge-ri

moh-roh-teh

moh-roh-teh-tski

mu-su-bi-dah-chi

front

front kick

turn

“roundhouse”

roundhouse kick

turn!

right

crescent kick

two handed

punch with both hands

attention stance

Nagashi-zuki

Nagasu

Nakadaka-ippon-ken

Nidangeri

Nihon-nukite

Noru

nah-gah-shi-tski

nah-gah-su

nah-kah-dah-kah-(i)pon-kehn

ni-dan-ge-ri

ni-hohn-nu-ki-teh

noh-ru

Snap punch moving off line of attack

parrying, moving off line of attack

fist w/  knuckle of 2nd finger ext.

double kick

two finger spear hand

riding

Oizuki

Osae

Osaeuke

Otoshi

Oyayubi-ippon-ken

oh-i-zu-ki

oh-sah-eh

oh-sah-eh-u-keh

oh-toh-shi

oh-yah-yu-bi-(i)pon-kehn

Step in front hand “jab”

pressing

pressing block with palm of hand

dropping

thumb knuckle fist

Seiken

Shotei

Shuto

Shuto-uke

Shuto-uchi

Sokuto

Sokutogeri

Soto

Sukui

say-kehn

shoh-teh-i

sh’toh

sh’to-u-keh

sh’to-uch’

soh-k’-toh

soh-k’to-geh-ri

soh-toh

s’ku-i

front fist

palm heel strike

knife hand, edge of hand

block with knife hand

strike with knife hand

outside edge of foot

side kick with edge of foot

outside

scooping

Tate

Tobigeri

Tsuki

tah-teh

toh-bi-geh-ri

ts’ki

vertical

jumping kick

punch, thrust

Uchi

Uchiken

Uchimawashigeri

Ude

Ude-uke

Uke

Uraken

Urazuki

Ushiro

Ushirogeri

uch(i)

u-ch(i)-kehn

uch(i)-mah-wah-shi-geh-ri

u-deh

u-deh-u-keh

u-keh

u-rah-kehn

u-rah-z’ki

u-shi-roh

u-shi-roh-ge-ri

two kanji, can mean inside or strike

uppercut

hook kick

forearm

forearm block, esp. from rev.  hand

block

back fist

uppercut

to the rear

roundhouse kick

Waza

Wakarimasuka

Wakarimasu

wah-zah

wah-kah-ri-mas-ka

wah-kah-ri-mas

technique

Do you understand?

I understand

Yamazuki

Yohan-nukite

Yokogeri

yah-mah-z(u)ki

yoh-hahn-nu-k(i)-teh

yoh-koh-ge-ri

double-punch (throat/groin)

four finger spear hand

side kick

Zazen

Zenkutsudachi

zah-zehn

zehn-ku-ts’-dah-chi

sitting meditation

bent leg front stance


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