Terminology

There's no need to be fluent in Japanese, but learning a few key terms will be useful - especially as you move up the grades.

Japanese Terms used in Karate

This page contains the basic terms used in karate. Sensei Grahame will use them a lot, but will also translate and help - especially for lower grades. As you reach the higher grades, you will be expected to become familiar with these terms.

General terms

JapaneseTranslationJapaneseTranslation
DojoTraining HallDojo KunDojo code
SenseiInstructorSeizaKneel
ReiBowYoiReady
MigiRightHidariLeft
Kamae-teMove to ready positionHajimeStart/begin
MawatteTurnYameFinish/stop
GiKarate suitObiBelt
KimeFocus (spirit in)KiaiShout (spirit out)
KihonBasic techniquesKataFormal exercises
KumiteSparringZanshinMartial state of mind
JodanHeadOssRespectful greeting
ChudanMiddle bodyGedanLower body

Counting

JapaneseTranslationJapaneseTranslation
IchOneRokuSix
NiTwoHichiSeven
SanThreeHachiEight
ShiFourKuNine
GoFiveJuTen

Stances (Dachi)

JapaneseTranslationJapaneseTranslation
Heiko dachiNatural stanceHeisoku dachiFeet together stance
Musubi dachiInformal stanceZenkutsu dachiFront stance
Kiba dachiStraddle stanceShiko dachiOpen leg/Sumo stance
Kokutsu dachiBack stance  

Blocks (Uke)

JapaneseTranslationJapaneseTranslation
Gedan BaraiDownward blockAge UkeRising block
Soto UkeOutside blockUchi UkeInside block
Shuto ukeKnife hand blockTate Shuto ukeVertical knife hand block
Nagashi ukeSweeping blockHaishu ukeBack hand block
Empi ukeElbow blockJuji ukeX block
Morote ukeAugmented blockKakewake ukeWedge block

Punches (Tsuki)

JapaneseTranslationJapaneseTranslation
Choku tsukiStraight punchOi tsukiStepping punch
Kizami tsukiFront hand punchGyaku tsukiReverse punch
Kagi tsukiHook punchRen tsukiTwo punch combination
Sanbon tsukiThree punch combination  

Strikes (Uchi)

JapaneseTranslationJapaneseTranslation
Age empi uchiRising elbow strikeYoko empi uchiSide elbow strike
Mawashi empi uchiRound elbow strikeUshiro empi uchiReverse elbow strike
Tate empi uchiDownward elbow strikeShuto uchiKnife hand strike
Uraken uchiBack fist strikeTetsui uchiHammer fist strike
NukiteSpear hand thrustTeisho uchiPalm heel strike
Haito uchiRidge hand strike  

Kicks (Geri)

JapaneseTranslationJapaneseTranslation
Mae geriFront kickYoko geri keageSide snap kick
Yoko geri kekomiSide thrust kickMawashi geriRoundhouse kick
Ushiro geriBack kickHiza geriKnee kick
Ren geriKicking combinations stepping between kicksNidan geriTwo kicks with same leg without step between

Sparring (Kumite)

JapaneseTranslationJapaneseTranslation
Sanbon KumiteThree step sparringGohon KumiteFive step sparring
Kihon Ippon KumiteBasic one-step sparringJiyu Ippon KumiteSemi-free style sparring
Kaishi Ippon KumiteReaction sparringJiyu KumiteFree style sparring

More resources

The Shotokan Way
A useful site dedicated to Shotokan Karate packed with information.