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Karate Terminology

Shido Kan Kanji

We use a lot of Japanese terms in the study of karate. These are the basic terms that you’ll commonly hear and use while training in the dojo. Make it a point to learn the words, their meaning and the correct pronunciation. As a karate student, you will learn many of these basic techniques. They are the foundation of our training.

Basic Stances
Attention stance -- musubi dachi
Natural stance -- hachiji dachi
Basic stance -- kihon dachi
Back stance -- ukiashi dachi
Straddle stance -- shiko dachi
Forward stance -- zenkutsu dachi
Horse riding stance -- kiba dachi

Basic Blocks
High block -- jodan uke
Outside block -- chudan uke
Inside block -- soto uke
Low block -- gedan barai
Circle or Hooking hand block -- kagite uke

Basic Punches & Strikes
High punch -- jodan zuki
Middle punch -- chudan zuki
Knife hand strike -- shuto uchi

Basic Kicks
Front snap kick -- mae geri
Side kick -- yoko geri
Roundhouse kick -- mawashi geri
Back thrust kick -- ushiro geri
Stomping kick -- fumikomi geri

Other Terms

karate-do Way of the empty hand  
sensei Someone who has gone before you who is older and wiser The head of a school is normally called sensei. Our Sensei is Robert Menders, Nanadan. In American culture it is about equivilant to saying Sir.
sempai senior Normally used to indicate the senior student of a teacher, who instructs when sensei is not available and helps with directing the dojo and its members.
kohai junior You will be kohai your first class! We line up in rank order facing the instructor. The senior student will be to the instructors left, you would be all the way to the right.
dohai equal rank Those wearing the same colored obi you do.
dojo place to learn the way We bow as we enter and leave the dojo floor.
rei bow  
yoi ready Usually said to insure everyone is ready to begin a kata. We raise up on our toes and back down so the instructor knows we are ready to start.
hajime begin  
yame stop  
hai yes "Hai, Sensei!" isn't a greeting! It is a respectful answer when taught something new or to indicate you understand what has been shared.
kime focus  
seiza formal seated position You'll be taught this in class.
mokuso meditation  
jodan upper or high area  
chudan middle area  
gedan lower area  
kamae combative posture  
kanji executive secretary The individual assigned as the secretary for the dojo.
kata pre-arranged formal exercise, the root of our training is doing kata There are over twenty kata that we routinely study, along with a few others that are occasionally taught. (See the Requirements page for the listing.)
kumite pre-arranged drill or sparring We learn 16, sometimes called one/two/three step drills in other styles.
bunkai application of kata These introduce some of the techniques the kata represents.
makiwara Flexible punching board A key part of Okinawan Karate, it is used to build strength and insure proper punching.
gi (sometimes dogi) training uniform  
obi The colored belts  
sensei rei Bow to the instructor  
one-gaishi-masu Please help me or Teach me Said as a greeting to your training partner and to the instructor at the beginning of class. The u at the end is almost entirely silent
domo arigato gozaimasu thank you very much Said at the end of class The u at the end is almost entirely silent

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Copyright 2004,
Suggestions for additional phrases and words welcome!