Shotokan Terminology – Key Terms & Commands

This Shotokan terminology section provides you with essential Japanese terms and commands used in Shotokan Karate. Students need to know these Japanese words in order to pass belt tests, interact with their Sensei, understand Shotokan kata, count in Japanese (i.e. during warm-ups), etc.

Below you will find the Japanese words for many different Shotokan kicks, Shotokan punches, Shotokan stances, Shotokan greetings, Shotokan numbers and much more. If we are missing any essential Shotokan terms or commands, please contact us so we can add them to this page.

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Related Sections

  1. Shotokan Kata
  2. Japanese Numbers
  3. Karate Kicks
  4. Karate Punches
  5. Karate Ranks & Titles

List of Shotokan Terminology

Key Shotokan Terms – English to Japanese

  • Basics – Kihon
  • Begin – Hajime
  • Black Belt Rank – Dan
  • Block – Uke
  • Bow – Rei
  • Color Belt Rank – Kyu
  • Focus – Kime
  • Form (or Pattern) – Kata
    • If you are looking for individual kata names & instructions, please visit the main Shotokan kata section.
    • The application of kata with a partner is called Bunkai in Japanese.
  • Instructor (Martial Arts Teacher) – Sensei
  • Kick – Geri (or Keri)
  • Kneeling Formal Position – Seiza
  • Line Up – Seiretsu
  • Meditate – Mokuso
  • No – Iie
  • Persevere When Pushed (Will Try My Best) – Osu (Oss) – However, be aware that the term Osu can be used for many different things in various dojos.

 

  • Please – Dozo
  • Punch – Zuki (or Tsuki)
  • Punching Board – Makiwara
  • Relax – Yasume
  • School (Martial Arts) – Dojo
  • Senior Student – Sempai
  • Sparring – Kumite
  • Staff (Weapon) – Bo
  • Stance – Dachi
  • Stop – Yame
  • Strike – Uchi
  • Target Levels
    • Upper (Head Level) – Jodan
    • Middle (Stomach Level) – Chudan
    • Lower (Groin or Lower Level) – Gedan
  • Technique – Waza
  • Thank You (Formal – Past Tense) – Domo Arigato Gozaimashita
  • Thank You (Informal) – Arigato
  • Throwing Techniques – Nage Waza
  • Turn Around – Mawatte
  • Uniform – Gi (Gee)
  • Uniform Belt – Obi
  • Yell (Spirit Yell or Battle Shout) – Kiai
  • Yes – Hai (sounds like Hi)

Shotokan Punches & Hand/Arm Strikes

  • Punch – Zuki (or Tsuki)
  • Strike – Uchi
  • Back Fist Strike – Uraken Uchi
  • Double Punch – Morote Zuki
  • Elbow Strike – Empi Uchi
  • Hook Punch – Kage Zuki
  • Jab Punch – Kizami Zuki
  • Knife Hand Strike – Shuto Uchi
  • Lunge Punch – Oi Zuki
  • One Knuckle Strike – Ippon Ken
  • Palm Strike (Palm Heel Strike) – Teisho Uchi
  • Reverse Punch – Gyaku Zuki
  • Ridge Hand Strike – Haito Uchi
  • Rising Punch – Age Zuki
  • Spear Hand Strike – Nukite Zuki
  • Uppercut Punch – Ura Zuki
  • To learn about these punches and many others, please visit Black Belt Wiki’s Punches & Hand Strikes section.

Shotokan Kicks

  • Kick – Geri (or Keri)
  • Axe Kick – Kakato Geri
  • Back Thrust Kick – Ushiro Geri
  • Crescent Kick – Mika Zuki Geri
  • Foot Sweep – Ashi Barai
  • Front Kick – Mae Geri
  • Knee Strike – Hiza Geri
  • Reverse Round Kick – Gyaku Mawashi Geri
  • Round Kick – Mawashi Geri
  • Side Snap Kick – Yoko Geri Keage
  • Side Thrust Kick – Yoko Geri Kekomi
  • Stomp Kick – Fumakomi Geri
  • To learn about these kicks and many others, please visit Black Belt Wiki’s Martial Arts Kicks section.

Shotokan Stances

  • Stance – Dachi
  • Attention Stance (Feet Together) – Heisoku Dachi
  • Attention Stance (Feet in V Shape) – Musubi Dachi
  • Back Stance – Kokutsu Dachi
  • Cat Stance (or Cat Foot Stance) – Neko Ashi Dachi
  • Crossed Feet Stance – Kosa Dachi
  • Front Stance – Zenkutsu Dachi
  • Half Moon Stance – Hangetsu Dachi
  • Horse Riding Stance – Kiba Dachi
  • Hourglass Stance – Sanchin Dachi
  • L Stance – Renoji Dachi
  • Rooted Stance (Immovable Stance) – Fudo Dachi
  • T Stance – Teiji Dachi
  • To learn more about these stances, please visit the main Shotokan stances section.

Shotokan Blocks

  • Block – Uke
  • Down Block – Gedan Barai
  • Inside Forearm Block – Uchi Ude Uke
  • Knife Hand Block – Shuto Uke
  • Outside Forearm Block – Soto Ude Uke
  • Palm Block (Palm Heel Block) – Teisho Uke
  • Reinforced Block (Augmented Block) – Morote Uke
  • Rising Block – Age Uke
  • X Block – Juji Uke

Shotokan – Body Parts (i.e. Target Areas for Strikes)

  • Abdomen (Belly) – Hara
  • Ankle – Ashikubi
  • Arm – Wan
  • Ear – Mimi
  • Elbow – Empi or Enpi (sounds like En-pee or Em-pee)
  • Eye – Me
  • Face – Kao
  • Finger – Yubi
  • Fist – Ken
  • Foot – Ashi (sounds like Ah-she)
  • Groin – Kinteki
  • Hair – Kami
  • Hand – Te (sound like Tay)
  • Head – Atama (sounds like Ah-ta-ma)
  • Heel – Kakato (sounds like Ka-ka-toe)
  • Jaw – Ago
  • Knee – Hiza (sounds like He-zah)
  • Mouth – Kuchi
  • Nose – Hana
  • Palm of Hand – Shute
  • Shoulder – Kata
  • Throat – Nodo (sounds like No-doe)
  • Toe – Tsumasaki
  • Wrist – Tekubi
  • For the Japanese names of other body parts (i.e. collar bone and ribs), please visit Black Belt Wiki’s Japanese – Body Parts section. You can also hear how many of these words are pronounced in Japanese.

Shotokan – Japanese Numbers

  • One – Ichi
  • Two – Ni
  • Three – San
  • Four – Shi
  • Five – Go
  • Six – Roku
  • Seven – Nana
  • Eight – Hachi
  • Nine – Kyu
  • Ten – Juu
  • Eleven – Juu Ichi
  • Twelve – Juu Ni
  • Thirteen – Juu San
  • Fourteen – Juu Shi
  • Fifteen – Juu Go
  • Sixteen – Juu Roku
  • Seventeen – Juu Nana
  • Eighteen – Juu Hachi
  • Nineteen – Juu Kyu
  • Twenty – Ni Juu
  • Thirty – San Juu
  • Forty – Shi Juu
  • Fifty – Go Juu
  • Hundred – Hyaku
  • Two Hundred – Ni Hyaku
  • Thousand – Sen
  • For additional information on Japanese numbers, please visit Black Belt Wiki’s section on How To Count In Japanese. This page also allows you to hear how these numbers are pronounced in Japanese.

Shotokan Kata – The meaning of the names for the 26 Shotokan kata. List is in order and starts with the beginner Shotokan kata and ends with advanced black belt kata. Click on the individual kata below for videos and/or instructions.

  • Heian Shodan – Peaceful mind, Level 1
  • Heian Nidan – Peaceful mind, Level 2
  • Heian Sandan – Peaceful mind, Level 3
  • Heian Yondan – Peaceful mind, Level 4
  • Heian Godan – Peaceful mind, Level 5
  • Tekki Shodan – Iron horse or horse riding, Level 1. Named because the kata uses the Kiba Dachi or Horse Stance.
  • Tekki Nidan – Iron horse or horse riding, Level 2. Named because the kata uses the Kiba Dachi or Horse Stance.
  • Tekki Sandan – Iron horse or horse riding, Level 3. Named because the kata uses the Kiba Dachi or Horse Stance.
  • Bassai Dai – To storm a fortress or castle, Big (dai)
  • Bassai Sho – To storm a fortress or castle, Small (sho)
  • Kanku Dai – To look at or watch the sky, Big (dai)
  • Kanku Sho – To look at or watch the sky, Small (sho)
  • Enpi – Flying swallow
  • Jion – Love and goodness, mercy, etc. Named after the Jion temple in China.
  • Gankaku – Crane on rock
  • Hangetsu – Half moon
  • Jitte – Ten hands
  • Chinte – Amazing or incredible hands
  • Sochin – To maintain or preserve peace
  • Meikyo – Bright mirror, mirror of the soul, etc.
  • Jiin – Love of truth, inverted mercy, etc. Thought to be one of the Jion temple-based kata.
  • Gojushiho Dai – 54 steps, Big (dai)
  • Gojushiho Sho – 54 steps, Small (sho)
  • Nijushiho – 24 steps
  • Wankan – Emperor’s crown, king’s crown, etc.
  • Unsu – Cloud hands, hands in the cloud, etc.

Shotokan Terminology – How to Count in Japanese

Shotokan Terminology – Basic Vocabulary

Shotokan Terminology – Basic Stances

Shotokan Terminology – Basic Blocks

Shotokan Terminology – Stances

Shotokan Terminology