Karate Terminology

List of Important Karate Terms & Commands

Here are many of the key Japanese Karate terms, words & commands. This page will also help you to pronounce these Karate terms and phrases. For the Japanese names of specific Karate techniques (i.e. Ushiro Geri or Neko Dachi), please also visit the sections focused on Karate kicksKarate stancesKarate punchesKarate blocks, etc.

Many of these terms were assimilated into Japanese and not all of them are Japanese in origin. Karate originated from Okinawa which utilized their own indigenous language blended with Chinese and Japanese. An example being that some karate schools use Hiji and others use Empi (both meaning elbow strike but with different origins).

Instructors often use Japanese terminology during kata such as Shotokan KataGoju-Ryu KataKyokushin KataShito-Ryu Kata, etc. For other martial arts words & commands, please visit the main Martial Arts Terminology section.

Wiki – Best Karate Books

Related Sections

  1. Karate Numbers – How to count in Japanese
  2. Karate Kicks – Japanese names for various kicking techniques
  3. Karate – Names of Body Parts – Japanese names for body parts (i.e. strike to the head)
  4. Karate Punches – Japanese names for Karate punches & strikes
  5. Karate Ranks & Titles – Japanese terms for Karate ranks & titles.
  6. Karate Stances – Japanese names for Karate stances

Karate Terms & Commands – English to Japanese

  1. Ankle – Ashi-Kubi
  2. Attention – Kiotsuke (sounds like Key-oh-zoo-kay)
  3. Back – Ushiro (sounds like Oo-she-row)
  4. Basic Techniques – Kihon (sounds like Key-hon)
  5. Begin/Start – Hajime (sounds like Ha-gee-may)
  6. Belt – Obi (sounds like Oh-bee)
  7. Block – Uke (sounds like Oo-kay)
  8. Body Movement – Tai Sabaki
  9. Bow – Rei (sounds like Ray)
  10. Breathing Exercises – Kokyu Ho
  11. Cat – Neko (i.e. Neko Ashi Dachi = Cat Foot Stance or Cat Stance)
  12. Elbow – Empi or Enpi (sounds like En-pee or Em-pee)
  13. Elbow Strike – Empi-Uchi (sounds like Em-pee Oo-chee)
  14. Focus – Kime
  15. Foot – Ashi (sounds like Ah-she)
  16. Form or Pattern – Kata (sounds like Ka-ta)
  17. Form (Kata) Technique Application – Bunkai (sounds like Boon-kay)
  18. Front – Mae
  19. Goodbye – Sayonara (sounds like Sa-yoh-na-rah)
  20. Hand – Te (sound like Tay)
  21. Head – Atama (sounds like Ah-ta-ma)
  22. Heel – Kakato (sounds like Ka-ka-toe)
  23. I (Me) – Watashi (sounds like Wa-ta-she)
  24. Kata Starting Point – Embusen or Enbusen
  25. Kick – Geri or Keri (sounds like Geh-ree or Keh-ree)
  26. Knee – Hiza (sounds like He-zah)
  27. Kneel – Seiza
  28. Kneeling Techniques – Seiza Waza
  29. Knife Hand – Shuto (sounds like Shoe-toe)
  30. Left – Hidari (sounds like Hee-da-ree)
  31. Low (Level) – Gedan (sounds like Geh-dan)
  32. Mat (Practice/Training Mat) – Tatami (sounds like Ta-ta-me)
  33. Meditate – Mokuso
  34. Middle (Level) – Chudan (sounds like Choo-dan)
  35. One More Time – Mo Ichi Do (sounds like Moe E-chee Doe)
  36. No – Iie (sounds like E-ay)
  37. No Mind (State of “No Mind”) – Mushin
  38. Please – Dozo (sounds like Doe-zoh)
  39. Practitioner of Karate – Karateka
  40. Pulling Hand (brining hand back to ready position) – Hikite
  41. Punch – Tsuki or Zuki (sounds like Zoo-key)
  42. Push On Through Difficulties – Oss or Osu. Nevertheless, this term used in many different ways and is often used by non-Japanese Karate students for “Thank you”, “I understand”, etc. Oss (Osu) is a kind of respectful catch-all phrase.
  43. Right – Migi (sounds like Mee-gee)
  44. School (Martial Arts) – Dojo (sounds like Doe-Joe)
  45. Senior Student – Senpai or Sempai (sounds like Sen-pie)
  46. Shout or Yell – Kiai (sounds like Key-eye)
  47. Side – Yoko (sounds like Yoh-koh)
  48. Snap – Keage
  49. Sparring – Kumite (sounds like Coo-meh-tay)
  50. Stance – Dachi (sounds like Dah-chee)
  51. Stop – Yame (sounds like Yah-may)
  52. Strike – Uchi (sounds like Oo-chee)
  53. Sweep – Barai (sounds like Baa-rye)
  54. Teacher/Instructor – Sensei (sounds like Sen-say)
  55. Technique – Waza (sounds like Waa-Zaa)
  56. Thank You (Formal) – Domo Arigato (sounds like Doe-moe Ah-ree-gah-toe)
  57. Thank You (Informal) – Domo (sounds like Doe-moe)
  58. Throat – Nodo (sounds like No-doe)
  59. Throw – Nage
  60. Thrust – Kekomi
  61. Turn Around – Mawatte (sounds like Ma-wa-tay)
  62. Unarmed Combat – Taijutsu
  63. Uniform – Gi (sounds like Ghee)
  64. Upper (Level) – Jodan (sounds like Joe-dan)
  65. Void or State of No Mind – Mushin
  66. Yes – Hai (sounds like Hi)
  67. You – Anata (sounds like Ah-na-ta)

50 Japanese Words

Karate Terms & Commands – Japanese to English

  1. Anata – You
  2. Anza – Sitting position, cross legged
  3. Ashi – Foot
  4. Ashi-Kubi – Ankle
  5. Atama – Head
  6. Barai – Sweep
  7. Bunkai – Kata Technique Application
  8. Chudan – Middle (Level)
  9. Dachi – Stance
  10. Dojo – School (Karate)
  11. Domo – Thank You (Informal)
  12. Domo Arigato – Thank You (Formal)
  13. Dozo – Please
  14. Embusen or Enbusen – This is the term used to refer to the spot where a kata begins. In addition, nearly all kata start and end on exactly the same Embusen point.
  15. Empi or Enpi – Elbow
  16. Empi-Uchi or Enpi-Uchi – Elbow Strike
  17. Gedan – Low (Level)
  18. Geri or Keri – Kick
  19. Gi – Uniform
  20. Hai – Yes
  21. Hajime – Begin/Start
  22. Harau – Sweeping Techniques
  23. Hidari – Left
  24. Hikite – Pulling Hand (bringing hand back to ready position)
  25. Hiza – Knee
  26. Iie – No
  27. Jodan – Upper (Level)
  28. Kakato – Heel
  29. Karateka – Practitioner of Karate
  30. Kata – Form or Pattern
  31. Keage – Snap
  32. Kekomi – Thrust
  33. Keri or Geri – Kick
  34. Ki – Type of intrinsic energy. Known as Qi or Chi in Chinese martial arts.
  35. Kiai – Shout
  36. Kihon – Basic Techniques
  37. Kime – Focus
  38. Kiotsuke – Attention
  39. Kokyu Ho – Breathing exercises
  40. Kumite – Sparring
  41. Mae – Front
  42. Mawatte – Turn Around
  43. Migi – Right
  44. Mo Ichi Do – One More Time
  45. Mokuso – Meditate
  46. Mushin – Void or State of No Mind
  47. Nage – Throw
  48. Neko – Cat (i.e. Neko Ashi Dachi = Cat Foot Stance or Cat Stance)
  49. Nodo – Throat
  50. Obi – Belt
  51. Oss or Osu – Push On Through Difficulties. Nevertheless, this term used in many different ways and is often used by non-Japanese Karate students for “Thank you”, “I understand”, etc. Oss (Osu) is a kind of respectful catch-all phrase.
  52. Rei – Bow
  53. Sayonara – Goodbye
  54. Senpai or Sempai – Senior Student
  55. Sensei – Teacher/Instructor
  56. Seiza – Kneel
  57. Seiza Waza – Kneeling Techniques
  58. Shuto – Knife Hand
  59. Tatami – Practice/Training Mat
  60. Te – Hand
  61. Tsuki or Zuki – Punch
  62. Uke – Block
  63. Ushiro – Back
  64. Watashi – I (Me)
  65. Waza – Technique
  66. Yame – Stop
  67. Yoko – Side
  68. Zuki or Tsuki – Punch

Karate Terminology – Sensei (Teacher)

Karate Terminology

Image provided by Wikimedia Commons

References

  1. Penn State Shotokan Karate-Do, Karate Terminology, http://www.clubs.psu.edu/up/shotokan/terminology.html
  2. JKA South Bassonia Karate, Terminology, http://www.jkasouth.co.za/terminology.html
  3. IMA Karate, Karate Dictionary, http://www.imakarate.com/student-information/karate-dictionary/

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