spacerKarate Glossary
This is a short glossary of Japanese/Okinawan terms used in Karate.

Numbers, a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u, w, y, z


Numbers:

ichi: 1

sho: first (as in shodan)

ni: 2

san: 3

shi: 4

yon: 4 (as in yondan)

go: 5

roku: 6

shichi: 7

nana: 7

hachi: 8

ku: 9

ju: 10

ni ju: 20

san ju: 30

yon ju: 40

go ju: 50

roku ju: 60

shichi ju: 70

nana ju: 70

hachi ju: 80

ku ju: 90

hyaku: 100

sen: 1000

mon: 10,000


Alphabetized List:

age hiji ate: rising elbow strike

arigato: thank you

arigato gozaimasu: thank you very much (more polite)

ashi: foot

ashi sabaki: stepping and sliding

atama: head

atemi: concentrated power


bo: wooden staff, usually about 6 ft. See also "kon."

bojutsu: staff art

bubishi: ancient martial arts text from China

budo: martial way or path. "Bu" literally means to stop a spear. "Do" means way or path.

bunkai: analysis of movements (usually of kata)

bushido: way of the warrior

butoku: principles of warriors


chishi: ancient form of dumbbell

chokuritsu fudo dachi: formal attention stance

chudan: middle level

chudan hasami uke: middle scissors block

chudan shotei ate: middle palm-heel smash

chudan shotei uke: middle palm-heel block

chudan shuto uke: middle knife-hand block

chudan soto mawashi uke: middle sideward round block

chudan soto shuto uke: middle outward knife-hand block

chudan soto uke: middle outward block

chudan uchi uke: middle inner block

chudan uke: middle block

chudan wari uke: middle split block

chudan yoko shuto uke: middle sideward knife-hand block

chudan yoko uke: middle sideward block

chudan zuki: middle punch


dachi: alternative spelling of "tachi," stance

dan: step (as in chudan), or black belt ranking (as in godan)

deshi: student or disciple

do: way or path

dojo: sacred place of the "way" or learning hall

dojo kun: dojo precepts/maxims

domo arigato gozaimasu: thank you very much (most polite)


embusen: ground or performance diagram

enso: Zen circle


fukubu geri: abdomen kick


gamaku: use of hip; koshi

gedan: lower level

gedan barai uke: downward block

gedan haito yoko uke: lower sideward reverse knife-hand block

gedan kosa uke: downward cross block

gedan shotei ate: lower palm-heel smash

gedan shotei uke: lower palm-heel block

gedan shuto uke: lower knife-hand block

gedan shuto yoko barai uke: lower sideward knife-hand slashing block

gedan uke: downward block

gedan yoko barai uke: lower sideward block

gedan zuki: downward punch

geri: alternative spelling of "keri," kick

geta: clogs (usually wooden)

gi: uniform

go: five

godan: fifth degree black belt

Goju Ryu: "Hard/Soft" style founded by Chojun Miyagi

Gorin No Sho: Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi

gyaku zuki: reverse or cross punch


hachi: eight

hachidan: eighth degree black belt

hai: yes

haito uchi: reverse knife-hand strike (Naihanchi I)

haito uke: reverse knife-hand block

hajime: begin

hangetsu barai uke: half-moon foot block

hangetsu zuki: half-moon punch

hanshi: third and highest teaching title

hantai: reverse

hara: lower abdomen

hayashi: forest

hazushi uke: removing block

heisoku dachi: closed foot stance

hidari: left

hidari ashi mae shizentai dachi: left front foot natural stance

hiji: elbow

hiji ate: elbow smash

hiji uke: elbow block

hikari: light

hiza: knee

hiza ate: knee smash

hojo undo: subsidiary exercises

hombu/honbu dojo: main or headquarters dojo

hotoke gamae: Buddha-hand fighting posture

hyaku: one hundred


iaigoshi dachi: kneeling stance

ichi: one

ieku: wooden oar

ippon ashi dachi: one leg stance (Rohai)


jigotai dachi: wide open-leg stance

jiyu kumite: free sparring

jo: short staff

jodan: upper level

jodan kosa uke: upper cross block

jodan shotei ate: upper palm-heel smash

jodan uchi shuto uke: upper inner knife-hand block

jodan uke: upper level block

jodan wari uke: upper split block

jodan zuki: upper level punch

josokutei: ball of the foot

ju: ten

judan: tenth degree black belt

jun shizentai dachi: quasi-natural stance

junbi undo: warm-up exercises


kakushi zuki: hidden fist punch (Wanshu)

kaku zuki: square (corner) punch

kama: hand sickle

kamae: fighting posture

kamaekata: ready stances

kami: heavy earthenware jars

kansetsu geri: joint kick

kara: empty or China, depending upon the character

Karate: empty-hand self-defense art

Karate-Do: the way of Karate

karateka: one who practices Karate

Karate ni sente nashi: there is no first attack in Karate

kata: form

katsu jin ken: fist or sword that gives life

keikoken zuki: forefinger-knuckle punch

ken: fist or sword

kentsui: hammer fist

kentsui uchi: hammer fist strike

Ken Zen Ichinyo: Karate and Zen as One

keri: kick

keri waza: kicking technique

ki: spirit energy

kiai: spirit convergence, often coinciding with a yell

kiba dachi: horse-riding straddle stance

kihon: basics

kihon tanren: basic exercises performed while stationary

kihon undo: basic exercises performed while moving

kinteki: groin

kinteki geri: groin kick

kobudo: ancient weapon arts

kobujutsu: ancient weapon arts

kohai: junior

kokoro: heart, mind or spirit

kokutsu dachi: back-leg bent stance

kokyu: breathing

kon: wooden staff

koshi: hip or pelvic carriage

koshi o ireru: using the hip, twisting hip movement

koteki tae: arm conditioning practice

ku: nine

kudan: ninth degree black belt

kumite: sparring

kyobu: chest

kyobu geri: chest kick

kyobu morote shuto uchi: chest double knife-hand strike

kyoshi: second teaching title

kyu: rank below black belt


ma-ai: distance, spacing

mae: front

mae geri: front kick

mae hiji ate: forward elbow strike

mageru: circle

magetori barai uke: rising upward both-hand knife block

makite uke: winding knife-hand block

makiwara: striking board of various types

manji sai: sai with one prong reversed

mawashi geri: roundhouse kick

mawatte: turn

mazu sono kokoro wo tadase: first purify your mind

migi: right

migi ashi mae shizentai dachi: right foot front natural stance

Miyagi Chojun: founder of Goju Ryu and creator of Fukyugata Ni

mokuso: meditation

morote: double, or both hands

morote barai uke: augmented lower block

morote nuki zuki: double spear-hand thrust

morote soe uke: augmented forearm block

morote zuki: augmented side punch

mudansha: kyu grade level/holders


Naha-Te: Karate developed in the Naha area of Okinawa

Naihanchi: set of three ancient kata characterized by naihanchi dachi

naihanchi dachi: straddle-leg stance (feet parallel)

nana: seven (sometimes used instead of shichi)

naname: slanted

naname zenkutsu dachi: slanted front bent-leg stance

neko ashi dachi: cat stance

ni: two

nidan: second degree black belt

nidan geri: flying front kick

Nihon: Japan

Nippon: Japan

nukite zuki: spear-hand thrust

nunchaku: wooden flailing weapon

nunti sai: manji sai attached to bo


obi: belt

oi zuki: chasing punch

onegaishimasu: please do me a favor

oni waza: demon technique

Osensei: title of respect usually reserved for founder of an art

otera: temple (place)

otoshi uke: downward dropping block


Pinan: set of five kata developed by Anko Itosu in 1907 to be taught in high school, "peace gate"


rei: bow

reigi: etiquette

renshi: first teaching title, qualified instructor

renzoku: without count

rokoji: lay priest (Zen)

roku: six

rokudan: sixth degree black belt

roshi: abbot (Zen)

rotaishi: archbishop (Zen)

ryu: school or system

Ryukyu: Okinawa

ryu no shita no kamae: dragon-tongue fighting posture


sagurite no kamae: searching-hand (or shadow-hand) fighting posture

sagurite uke: searching-hand (or shadow-hand) block

sai: three pronged ancient sword-blocking weapon, usually of iron

saijutsu: sai art

Sakugawa No Kon: ancient bo kata (Sakugawa's)

san: three

sandan: third degree black belt

saru: monkey (Motobu no Saru)

sasae hiji ate: supported elbow smash

sasae uke: supported forearm block

sashi: stone or iron hand-grip

sayu barai uke: double lower side block

sayu zuki: double side punch

seiken: fist

seiken ude uke: forearm block

seiken waza: fist technique

seiza: formal sitting posture

semekata: attacking technique

sempai: senior

sensei: teacher, instructor, elder

shi: four

shichi: seven

shichidan: seventh degree black belt

shigoki: savage training

shikaku: dead angle; taking a location where the opponent is most vulnerable and least able to protect himself or respond with an attack

shin gi tai: mind-technique-body

shin gi tai ichinyo: oneness of mind-technique-body

shin zen bi: truth, honesty and beauty

shiro: white

Shiro Matsu No Kon: white pine bo kata

shizentai dachi: natural stance

shizuka na kokoro: quiet spirit

shi zuki: beak thrust

shodan: first degree black belt

Shorei-Ryu: early Karate school developed around Naha

Shorin: pine forest (Sino-Japanese pronunciation)

Shorin-Ryu: early Karate school developed from Shuri and Tomari

shotei: palm-heel

shotei ate: palm-heel smash

shotei uke: palm-heel block

shugo: line up

shugyo: the practice of mind-body transcendence

Shushi No Kon: bo kata

Shuri-Te: early Karate school developed around Shuri

shuto: knife-hand

shuto uchi: knife-hand strike

shuto uke: knife-hand block

shuto waza: knife-hand technique

sokko: instep of the foot

sokuto: foot-edge

sokuto geri: foot-edge kick

soto hachiji shizentai dachi: open-leg natural stance

suirakan no kamae: drunkard fighting posture

suruchin: chain


tachi: stance

tachikata: stances

tai sabaki: body movement or shifting

tanden: spot two inches below the navel

tate hiji ate: upward elbow smash

te: hand

tegumi: Okinawan form of wrestling; characters for kumite backwards

tekko: metal knuckles

tengu: long-nosed goblin

tengu ni naru: arrogance

tenshin: body and distance shifting

tenshin no kamae: body shifting fighting posture

tetsugeta: iron clogs

Tomari-Te: early Karate school developed around Tomari

tomoe shotei ate: circular palm-heel smash

tomoe zuki: circular block and punch

tonfa: wooden weapon with handles. See "tuifa."

torite uke: grasping-hand block

Tode: Chinese self-defense art

Tote: Chinese self-defense art

tsuki: punch

tsuki waza: punching technique

tsumasaki geri: toe-tip kick

tuifa: wooden weapon with handles. See "tonfa."

Tuite: Chinese self-defense art


uchi: strike

Uchinan: Okinawa

Uchinanchu: Okinawan

uchi waza: striking technique

uke: block

uke kata: blocking techniques

uke waza: blocking technique

ura: back

ura gamae: cheating fighting-posture

ura ken: backfist

ura ken uchi: backfist strike

ushiro: backward

ushiro geri: back kick

ushiro hiji ate: backward elbow smash


wari uke: split block

wari uke zuki: split block punch

waza: technique


yakusoku kumite: "promise" kumite, pre-arranged sparring

yame: stop

yari: spear

yoko: side

yoko geri: side foot-edge kick

yoko hiji ate: side elbow smash

yon: four (yon is often used instead of shi)

yondan: fourth degree black belt

yubi waza: finger technique

yudansha: black belt level/holders


zabuton: large pillow used for zazen

zanshin: The state of mind where one is able to proceed from the end of one movement to the next movement freely

zaru: monkey (Motobu Zaru)

zazen: sitting form of meditation

Zen: A Japanese school of Buddhism in which enlightment is attained through direct intuitive insight

zenkutsu dachi: front bent-leg stance

zuki: alternative spelling of tsuki, punch


The spirit of Karate is the Aloha spirit


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