Japanese terms

Glossary of English and Japanese Terms

  • Pronunciation keys of Japanese terms are given in parentheses.
  • How to read Japanese in English alphabet (rōmaji):
    English vowels a=ah, i=ee, u=oo, e=eh and o=oh
  • A macron or a line over a vowel indicates that it is pronounced for twice the length of the vowel without a macron or a line. Sometimes an "h" is added instead, as in Mr. Ohshima's name. The first "o" in Mr. Ono's name, on the other hand, is not lengthened. Ohno and Ono are two different names. However, these sounds are just approximations and there are some exceptions.
  • Please note that the pronunciation keys given here are only approximations and are primarily designed for the members in Canada and the U.S. They may not necessarily be helpful for the members of international affiliates.





ichi (ee-chee)


ni (nee)


san (sahn)


shi (shee)


go (goh)


roku (roh-koo)


shichi (shee-chee)


hachi (hah-chee)


ku (koo) / kyū (kyoo)







Head instructor/Master instructor (of an organization)

shihan (shee-hahn)


sensei (sehn-seh-ee)

Training hall

dōjō (doh-joh)

Training uniform

keiko gi (keh-ee-koh gee)/gi (gee)

Training uniform belt

obi (oh-bee)

Vocal expulsion of air

kiai (kee-ah-ee)

Black Belt rank

dan (dahn)

White/Brown belt rank

kyū (kyoo)


mokusō (moh-koo-soh)


rei (reh-ee)/lei (leh-ee)

Assume stance

kamaete (kah-mah-eh-teh)

Get ready

yōi (yoh-ee)


hajime (hah-jee-meh)

Pivot/assume opposite direction

kaette (kah-eht-teh)


yame (yah-meh)

At ease

yasume (yah-soo-meh)

Basic training

kihon (kee-hohn)

Formal exercise/forms

kata (kah-tah)


kumite (koo-mee-teh)

Escape techniques

torite (toh-ree-teh)

Throwing techniques

nagewaza (nah-geh-wah-zah)

Foot sweep

ashibarai (ah-shee-bah-rah-ee)

Maximum effectiveness/ focus of techniques

kime (kee-meh)

Pulling hand

hikite (hee-kee-teh)

Breathing center in lower abdomen

tanden (tahn-dehn)

Getting into the opponent

irimi (ee-ree-mee)

Elbow Attacks

enpi (ehn-pee)/ empi(ehm-pee)

Jumping-in attack

tobikomi (toh-bee-koh-mee)

Continuous Techniques

renzoku waza (rehn-zoh-koo wah-zah)

Punching board

makiwara (mah-kee-wah-rah)





Standing Forms: Tachikata (tah-chee-kah-tah)
Tachi (tah-chee) changes to dachi (dah-chee) when used after other words.

Front stance

zenkutsu-dachi (zehn-koo-tsoo-dah-chee)

Back stance

kōkutsu-dachi (koh-koo-tsoo-dah-chee)

Horse riding stance

kiba-dachi (kee-bah-dah-chee)

Immovable stance

fudō-dachi (foo-doh-dah-chee)

Cat stance

nekoashi-dachi (neh-koh-ah-shee-dah-chee)

Natural stance

shizentai (shee-zehn-tah-ee)

Close-leg stance

heisoku-dachi (heh-ee-soh-koo-dah-chee)

Half-facing stance

hanmi-dachi (hahn-mee-dah-chee)

Open-leg stance

hachiji-dachi (hah-chee-jee-dah-chee)



Blocks: Uke (oo-keh)
Harai (hah-rah-ee) changes to barai (bah-rah-ee) when used after other words. Harai is one kind of block.

Downward block

gedan-barai (geh-dahn-bah-rah-ee)

Rising block

age-uke (ah-geh-oo-keh)

Forearm block

ude-uke (oo-deh-oo-keh)

Hammer block

tetsui-uke (teh-tsoo-ee-oo-keh)/tettsui-uke (teht-tsoo-ee-oo-keh)

Knife-hand block

shutō-uke (shoo-toh-oo-keh)

Cross-arm block

jūji-uke (joo-jee-oo-keh)

Two-hand block

morote-uke (moh-roh-the-oo-keh)

Palm-heel block

teishō-uke (teh-ee-shoh-oo-keh)



Hand Techniques: Te Waza (teh-wah-zah)
Thrust tsuki (tsoo-kee) changes to zuki (zoo-kee) when used after other words.

Lunge punch

oi-zuki (oh-ee-zoo-kee)

Reverse punch

gyaku-zuki (gyah-koo-zoo-kee)


maete (mah-eh-teh)

Continuous punches alternating hands

bari-bari (bah-ree-bah-ree)

Continuous punching attacks

renzoku-zuki (rehn-zoh-koo-zoo-kee)/ren-zuki (rehn-zoo-kee)

Punching with horse riding stance

kibadachi-zuki (kee-bah-dah-chee-zoo-kee)

Double punch

morote-zuki (moh-roh-teh-zoo-kee)

Hook punch

kagi-zuki (kah-gee-zoo-kee)


teishō (teh-ee-shoh)

Rising punch

age-zuki (ah-geh-zoo-kee)



Striking Techniques: Uchi Waza (oo-chee-wah-zah)

Back-fist strike

uraken-uchi (oo-rah-kehn-oo-chee)

Bottom-fist strike

tetsui-uchi (teh-tsoo-ee-oo-chee)/ tettsui-uchi (teht-tsoo-ee-oo-chee)

Knife-hand strike

shutō-uchi (shoo-toh-oo-chee)


nukite (noo-kee-teh)

Two-finger spear-hand

nihon-nukite (nee-hohn-noo-kee-teh)


seiken (seh-ee-kehn)

Fore-knuckle fist

hiraken (hee-rah-kehn)

One-knuckle fist

ippon-ken (eep-pohn-kehn)

Middle finger/knuckle fist

nakadaka-ken (nah-kah-dah-kah-kehn)


haitō (hah-ee-toh)



Kicks: Keri (keh-ree)
Keri (keh-ree) changes to geri (geh-ree) when used after other words.

Front kick

mae-geri (mah-eh-geh-ree)

Round kick

mawashi-geri (mah-wah-shee-geh-ree)

Side-thrust kick

yokogeri-kekomi (yoh-koh-geh-ree-keh-koh-mee)

Side-up kick

yokogeri-keage (yoh-koh-geh-ree-keh-ah-geh)

Crescent kick

mikazuki-geri (mee-kah-zoo-kee-geh-ree)

Stamping kick

fumikomi (foo-mee-koh-mee)

Rear kick

ushiro-geri (oo-shee-roh-geh-ree)

Double front kick

nidan-geri (nee-dahn-geh-ree)

Flying front kick

tobi-geri (toh-bee-geh-ree)

Flying side-thrust kick

tobi-yokogeri (toh-bee-yoh-koh-geh-ree)

Front kick with front leg

maeashi-geri (mah-eh-ah-shee-geh-ree)

Front-thrust kick

maeashi-kekomi (mah-eh-ah-shee-keh-koh-mee)

Continuous kicks

renzoku-geri (rehn-zoh-koo-geh-ree)

Foot edge

sokutō (soh-koo-toh)


kakato (kah-kah-toh)


hizagashira (hee-zah-gah-shee-rah)



Sparring: Kumite (koo-mee-teh)
Kumite (koo-mee-teh) often becomes gumite (goo-mee-teh) when used after other words.

Basic one-time sparring

kihon ippon gumite (kee-hohn eep-pohn goo-mee-teh)

Free one-time sparring

jiyū-ippon gumite (jee-yoo-eep-pohn goo-mee-teh)

Three-time sparring

sanbon gumite (sahn-bohn goo-mee-teh)

Five-time sparring

gohon gumite (goh-hohn goo-mee-teh)


jiyū kumite (jee-yoo koo-mee-teh)

Upper body

jōdan (joh-dahn)

Middle body

chūdan (choo-dahn)

Lower body

gedan (geh-dahn)

Distance, timing, and other things between opponents

ma (mah)


shiai (shee-ah-ee)


rei (reh-ee) / lei (leh-ee)

One point match

shōbu ippon (shoh-boo eep-pohn)


hajime (hah-jee-meh)


yame (yah-meh)


aiuchi (ah-ee-oo-chee)

I award no point

torimasen (toh-ree-mah-sehn)


tsuzukete (tsoo-zoo-keh-teh)

One more time

mō ichido (moh ee-chee-doh)

End of match

soko made (soh-koh mah-deh) / sore made (soh-reh mah-deh)


waza ari (wah-zah ah-ree)


ippon (eep-pohn)

Two half-points equal one point

waza ari awasete ippon (wah-zah ah-ree ah-wah-seh-teh eep-pohn)


hikiwake (hee-kee-wah-keh)


aka (ah-kah)


shiro (shee-roh)

Red is the winner

aka no kachi (ah-kah noh kah-chee)


shinpan (sheen-pahn) / shimpan (sheem-pahn)



Throwing Techniques: Nagewaza (nah-geh-wah-zah)

(Names of techniques)

Byōbudaoshi (byoh-boo-dah-oh-shee)


Komanage (koh-mah-nah-geh)


Kubiwa (koo-bee-wah)


Katawaguruma (kah-tah-wah-goo-roo-mah)


Tsubamegaeshi (tsoo-bah-meh-gah-eh-shee)


Yaridama (yah-ree-dah-mah)


Taniotoshi (tah-nee-oh-toh-shee)


Udewa (oo-deh-wah)


Sakatsuchi (sah-kah-tsoo-chee)

Performer of the technique

tori (toh-ree)

Receiver of the technique

uke (oo-keh)

Falling techniques

ukemi (oo-keh-mee)



For more information on nagewaza, please refer to Karate-Dō Kyōhan, pages 227-232.




When Shihan or Sensei is used as an honorific or a title, there are a few important things one needs to be aware of:


  • Shihan or Sensei is attached to the end of the person's family name, e.g., Ohshima Shihan (not Shihan Ohshima), Ohshima Sensei (not Sensei Ohshima)
  • According to the Japanese culture, it is not appropriate to call oneself Shihan or Sensei, or introduce oneself with the title Shihan or Sensei, e.g., Instructor John Doe shouldn't call himself Shihan, Sensei, Doe Shihan or Doe Sensei. His students can, but he shouldn't.


The same thing applies to the honorific san (meaning Mr., Mrs., or Miss). Mr. John Smith shouldn't call himself Smith-san or John Smith-san. San can be attached only to the end of others' names.


Adapted from Shotokan Karate of America website