Martial Arts – Japanese Terminology

 

Even for experienced martial artist, learning and remembering Japanese terminology can be very confusing. It can also be very difficult to find out the meaning/definition of many words if you don’t know where to look.

 

It is also important to note that the meaning of words can have slight variations between martial arts styles. This page focuses upon terminology and meaning that is relevant to the arts studied by members of Bujutsu Martial Arts and Fitness Centre.

 

So why do we do it? Why don’t we just use English terms?

 

There are two main reasons why it is important to learn the Japanese terminology of the art you are training;

1. You are are not just studying techniques, you are studying an art, its history and way of life. The japanese terminology is a big part of that.

2. I regularly train overseas, in countries all around the world. It doesn’t matter what country I go to, whether it be Japan, an English speaking country or a country that speaks some other language, because I know Japanese terminology I am able to train where ever I go.

 

 

I have put this list of words together that will assist to make your martial journey even easier.

 

 

 

 

 

A

 

AGE

Rising

AGE HIJIATE

Rising elbow strike

AGE UKE

Rising block

​AGO

Chin

 

AIUCHI

Both competitors scored at the same time

AKAOBI

Red belt

 

AKA NO KACHI

Red side winner

ARIGATOU GOZAIMASU

Thank you very much

ASHI

Foot or leg

ATAMA

Head

 

 

B

 

BARAI

A wide swing or sweep

 

BUDO

Martial Arts

 

BUJUTSU

Martial arts for real world or battlefield situations

BUNKAI

Meaning of the technique

BUSHIDO

The way of the warrior

 

C

 

CHI ISHI

Stone weighted training tools for upper body conditioning

 

CHOKU ZUKI

Straight punch

 

CHOTTO

A little

 

CHUDAN

Mid section

CHUDAN SOTO UKE

Middle Outside Block

CHUDAN UCHI UKE

Middle Inside Block

 

 

CHUDAN ZUKI

Middle punch

 

 

D

 

DACHI

Stance

DAN

Black belt rank

DO GI

Uniform

DOJO

Training Hall

 

E

 

EMBU

Demonstration

 

EMBUSEN

Returning to starting position – 1 step allowance

EMPEI

Elbow

 

F

 

 

G

 

GANBATTE

Do your best

 

GEDAN

Lower part of body, groin and below

GEDAN BARAI

Lower block

 

GEDAN KAKIWAKE

Low Wedge Block

​​

GERI

Kick

 

​GO

Number 5

 

GODAN
5th Degree Black Belt

 

GOHON KUMITE

5 step sparring

 

GOSHINGI

Self Defence training

 

 

GYAKU KAITEN

When the hips rotate in the opposite direction to the technique

 

​GYAKU ZUKI

Reverse punch

 

 

H

 

HACHI

Number 8

​​

HACHI DAN

8th Degree Black Belt

 

HAI

Yes

​​

HAITO

Ridge hand

 

HAIWAN

Square Block

 

HAJIME

Start

 

HANMI

Hips are at 45%​

 

​HANSHI

Grand Master – this title can be awarded to the rank of 8th Dan and above

 

HANSOKU

Disqualification

 

HANSOKU CHUI

Warning

 

HANTAI

Change sides

 

HANTEI

Decision

​​

HIEKO DACHI

Feet shoulder width apart

HEISOKU DACHI

Feet together from heels to toes

HIDARI

Left

HIJI

Elbow

 

HIKIWAKE

Draw

 

HITAI

Forehead

HIZA

Knee

 

HIZA GERI

Knee strike

HONBU

Headquarters

 

 

I

 

ICHI

Number 1

IDOU KIHON

Moving Basics

 

IPPON

One point

 

ISHI

A large rock that you can carry around to build strength

 

ISHI SASHI

Stone or concrete hand weights

 

​J

JARI BAKO

Bucket filled with sand to condition fingers and hands

 

JODAN

Facial area

JODAN ZUKI

Punch to face

 

JOGAI CHUI

Out of bounds warning

JYU

Number 10

 

JYU DAN

10th Degree Black Belt

 

JUN KAITEN

When hips rotate in the same direction as the technique

 

JUNZUKI

Lunge punch

 

K

 

KAICHO

The President of an organisation

KAKATO

Heel

KAKIWAKE

Wedge Block

 

KAKATO GERI

Axe kick, back of heel down the face

KAKE UKE

Open hand semi-circular deflecting block

​KAMAE

Guard position

KANCHO

Owner of school

KARATE DO

Empty hand way

KATA

Formal pattern

KATA

Neck

 

KEIKOKU

Caution

 

KEKOMI GERI

Thrust kick

 

KEN
Fist

 

KENTSUI

Hammer fist

KEOTSUKI

Come to attention

KIAI

A sharp sounding yell projecting inner strength

KIBA DACHI

Horse riding stance – feet at 90 degrees

 

KIHON

Basics

KIHON IDO

Moving basics

KIHON IPPON KUMITE

1 step sparring

 

KIKEN

Withdrawal from event

 

KIME

Power and focus

KIN GERI

Groin kick

 

​KOHKOTSU DACHI

Back stance

​​

KOSHI

Hips

 

KUBI

Neck

 

KUMITE

Sparring

KUROBI

Black belt

​​

KYOSHI

Expert teacher 6th and 7th Dan ranks

 

KYU

Number 9

KYU DAN

9th Degree Black Belt

 

M

 

MAAI

Distance

MAE

Front

MAE GERI

Front kick

 

MAKIWARA

A wooden striking post for condition hands and legs

MASSUGU

Forward

 

MAWASHI

Round

MAWASHI GERI

Roundhouse kick

 

​MAWASHI UKE

Circular block

MAWATE

Turn around

ME

Eyes

 

MIGI

Right

MOICHIDO

One more time

MOKUSO

Close your eyes for meditation

MOROTE ZUKI

Double fist punch

MOTTO

More

 

MUBOUBI CHUI

Not defending warning

 

MUNE

Chest

 

N

 

NAGASHI UKE

Deflecting Block

 

NAGE WAZA

Throwing technique

NANA

Number 7

NAORE

Return to attention

NEKO ASHI DACHI

Cat stance

NI

Number 2

NIDAN

2nd Degree Black Belt

 

NIGIRI GAME

Gripping jars used to develop hand strength

 

NUKITE

Spear Hand

 

O

 

OBI

Belt

OI ZUKI

Lunging punch, same as junzuki

OSU

A formal acknowledgement

 

OTAGI NI

Bowing to each other​

 

 

R

 

REI

Bow, show respect

RENGERI

Chudan Maegeri then Jodan Maegeri

 

 

RENSHI

A polished teacher, polished expert or polished master

 

RENZOKU WAZA

Consecutive techniques

 

ROKU

Number 6

ROKU DAN

6th Degree Black Belt

RYU

School or style

 

S

 

SAGI MAKIWARA

Hanging version of Makiwara

 

SAI SHIAI

Rematch

 

SAI SAI SHIAI

Second rematch

 

SAN

Number 3

SANBON

Three of a kind such as 3 punches

 

​SANDAN

3rd Degree Black Belt

 

​​SANGATE

To the rear

​​

SEIKEN

Front two knuckles of fist

 

SEIRETSU

Line up

​​

SEIZA

Sit in kneeling position

​SENPAI

Senior student or assistant instructor

SENSEI

Teacher

 

SENTEI KATA

Intermediate Kata

 

SHIRO NO KACHI

White side winner

 

SHODAN

1st Degree Black Belt

 

SHI

Number 4

SHICHI

Number 7

 

​SHICHIDAN

7th Degree Black Belt

 

SHIHAN

Master teacher, 5th dan rank and above​

 

SHIKKAKU

Absolute disqualification from tournament

 

SHIKO DACHI

Horse riding stance, feet at 45 degrees

 

SHITEI KATA
Basic Kata

 

SHIZEN TAI

Natural Stance

 

​SHOMEN

Forward direction

SHUTO

Knife hand

 

SHUTO UCHI

Knife hand strike

SHUTO UKE

Knife hand block

 

SIERETSU

Line Up

SO

Okay

 

SOHONBU

International Head Quarters

 

SOKUMEN

Side

 

SOKUTO

Outside edge of foot

 

SOTO UKE

Outside Block

 

SUBURITO

a heavy wooden practice sword or bo that is used for building strength

 

SUNDOME

The moment when the attack reaches it’s target but stopping a few mm’s before the target

 

​T

TAI-SABAKI

Moving your body out of the way of an attack in such away that you can counter attack

 

TAKETABA

A bundle of bamboo used for finger strikes

 

TATE

Vertical

 

TE

Hand

 

TEISHO

Palm Heel

TODE

Chinese hand, Karate was originally called Tode

 

TOKUI KATA
Favourite Kata​

 

​TSUKI

Punch

 

 

U

 

UCHI

Strike

UCHIDESHI

Apprentice instructor

UCHI UKE

Inside Block

UDE

Forearm

 

UKE

To receive, block

UNSOKU

Feet movements

URAKEN

Back fist

 

USHIRO

To the rear

 

USHIRO URAKEN

Back fist to the rear

 

 

W

 

WAZA

Technique

 

WAZA ARI

Half a point

 

Y

 

YAKUSOKU KUMITE

Pre-arranged sparring

YAME

Stop

YOl

Get ready​

YOKO

Side

YOKO GERI

Side kick

YOKO GERI KEAGE

Side snap kick

 

YOKO GERI KEKOMI

Side thrust kick

 

 

YOKO URAKENUCHI (yoh koh, oo rah oo chee)

Back fist to the side

YON

Number 4, also Shi

YONDAN

4th Degree Black Belt

 

YORI ASHI

2 feet simultaneously sliding

 

YUBI

Finger

 

YUDANSHA

A black belt

YUKURI

Slowly

 

Z

 

ZANSHIN

Alert, aware, focus

ZENKUTSU DACHI

Forward Stance

 

ZENWAN

Forearm​

 

Zen Ken Ren Iaido Terminology

 

These terms have been taken directly from the Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei 2009 Iai Manual.

 

ASHI SABAKI

Footwork or movement of the feet

 

AYUMI ASHI

Ordinary walking footwork, where both feet move naturally.

 

BOKKEN

A wooden shaped sword usually made from Japanese Oak.

 

BUDO

Term given to generally mean all types of Japanese fighting arts.

 

CHAKUZA

Sitting down from a standing posture.

 

CHUDAN NO KAMAE

One of the 5 postures of holding the sword in the middle position

 

DOJO

A hall or training place where students train in their respective disciplines

 

ENBU

The act of demonstrating Budo normally to an audience

 

ENZAN NO METSUKE

Literally no meaning to gaze at the distant mountains. A term meaning to look at the whole, not something specific

 

FURI OROSHITE

To swing the sword down from above the head

 

GEDAN NO KAMAE

One of the 5 postures where the sword is lowered to the knee level

 

HA

The cutting edge of the sword

 

HAKAMA

Skirt-like pleated trousers worn by practicing Japanese martial arts

 

HANMI

A stance where the body is sideways on to the opponent

 

HASSO NO KAMAE

One of the 5 basic postures of holding the sword near the shoulder

 

HASUJI

The cutting line of the sword blade

 

IAIDO

A form of sword fighting where drawing the blade quickly results in a single motion to defeat the enemy. Founded by Shigenobu Hayashizaki in the latter half of the 16th century. Many schools were formed in the Edo period (1600-1868). In the 1956 the Iaido division was set up in the All Japan Kendo Federation, and in 1969 the All Japan Kendo Federation Iai Kata were established

 

JORDAN NO KAMEA

One of the 5 postures; where the sword is held above the head

 

KAMAE

General word or term given to mean posture or stance

 

KATA

Word given to mean form or set movement of techniques

 

KATANA

Single edged weapon usually given to mean a Japanese sword

 

KATSUNINKON/KATSUJINKEN

Zen Buddhist term given to mean “The Positive Way” of using the sword

 

KEITO SHISEI

Term used in Iaido to refer to the position whereby the sheathed sword is held on the left hip as compared with Kendo which generally uses only Taito Shisei to describe the same position holding a Shinai

 

KI GAMAE

A state where the body is alert and ready to act in a moment

 

KIGURAI

A state of commanding presence derived from confidence after much practice

 

KOIGUCHI

The mouth of opening of the sword sheath or Saya. Given because of the similarity between that of the open mouth of a Japanese Koi carp

 

KURAI

A word given to mean the degree to which character is combined with skill

 

MATSUKE

Correct positioning or looking with the eyes

 

MIZUOCHI

See Suigetsu

 

MOROTE

The action of using both hands to grip or hold the sword

 

MOROTE ZUKI

The act of thrusting the sword using both hands

 

MUNE

The back edge of the Japanese sword. Also called Mine

 

NIHON TO

A general name given to mean a sword manufactured in a Japanese way

 

NOTO

The act of placing the sword in sheath. One of the basic movements in Iai

 

OBI

A long narrow sash worn around the waist to support the sword

 

OKURI ASHI

One of the basic kinds of footwork where the right foot is kept forward

 

REI

Behaviour and conduct showing respect and courtesy to others

 

REI HO

Courtesy or politeness. Etiquette required throughout all Budo

 

RYU HA

Literal meaning school. Usually meant to mean by a founder or originator

 

SAGE TO

The standing posture holding a sword or Bokuto naturally at arms length

 

SEIZA

A way of sitting with the knees in line and the shins and the tops of the feet on the floor. The big toes of both feet should be adjacent or one on top of the other, and the buttocks resting on the heels. This back is straight, and the hands are placed on the upper part of the thighs with the fingers together. A formal way of sitting in Japan

 

SHINKEN

An actual or real sword with a cutting edge

 

SHINOGI

On the blade of the sword, the raised ridge on the flat on the blade which runs from the sword guard to the tip point (Kissaki)

 

SHINZA

The shrine or revered place in a dojo or training hall

 

SHOMEN

A word meaning the front. For example; Shomen E No Rei.

 

SUIGETSU

The depressed area below the sternum that is referred to as the pit of the stomach, solar plexus or Mizo-uchi

 

TACHI

A type of sword that is curved and generally longer than 60cm

 

TAITO

The act of placing the sword in the Obi ( sash or belt) or of placing the hand on the left hip when using a Bukoto

 

TATTEHIZA

Sitting on the left leg with the right knee raised

 

TEITO

See Sageto

 

TENOUCHI

The overall use of the hands when cutting, holding, tightening or loosening the grip of the handle

 

TSUBA

Sword guard; usually ornate, but essentially a piece of metal that is inserted between the hilt and the blade of the sword to protect the hands

 

TSUBA MOTO

The area of a sword blade near or next to the sword guard

 

TSUKA

The hilt of a sword; the area which is usually gripped with the hands

 

TSUKA GASHIRA

The very end bottom of the sword handle (pommel)

 

TSUKU

To thrust at the throat, chest or solar plexus

 

UJENAGASU

To parry the striking opponents sword, deflecting it to the side with the Shinogi of ones sword. The move is found in the third Kata Ukenagashi

 

WAKI GAMAE

One of the 5 postures where the sword is placed to the side of the body, obscuring it from the front opponent’s view

 

WAZA

A motor skill which is gained through long, hard training of cutting movements, and the learning of set techniques or Kata

 

ZANSHIN

The body posture and stand of mind in which, even after cutting one is alert and ready to respond instantly to any counterattack by the opponent. Generally speaking, after cutting, one should always be mindful of the distance between oneself and the opponent

 

ZAREL

A bow made from the formal kneeling position