The Japanese terms are used in all Karate dojos all over the world. Here are the meanings of the common terms:
DAN: Black-belt grades.
DOJO: word used for the place of practice of martial arts.
GI (gee): The Karate uniform. In Shotokan Karate a white, cotton gi is worn.
HIKI-TE (hee-kee-tay): The retracting arm of a punching, blocking, or
striking technique. Helps rotate the hips and maintain the stable and precise
delivery of the technique.
KARATE: “Empty Hand".
KARATEKA: The practitioner of Karate.
KATA: Prescribed sequences of techniques performed with specific rhythm and timing
KI (kee): Mind. Spirit. Energy.
KIAI (kee-ai): A short, loud shout accompanying a sharp, strong technique. Helps release air from the lungs and relax the upper body so that the technique is more effective. Also helps focus mental energy and display spirit.
KIHON (kee-hon): Basic techniques.
KIME (kee-may): Focus of power.
KOHAI (ko-hai): A student junior to oneself.
KYU (kee-u): Grades 8 to 1 - all color belts. Any grade below a black belt.
OBI (o-bee): The Karate belt.
OSU (Oss): Indicates respect, acknowledgement, willingness and readiness to
SEIZA: A proper sitting position used for the formal opening and closing of the class, and whenever the instructor asks students to sit on the side to watch a demonstration of techniques or kata.
SENSEI (sen-say): A teacher. A term reserved for the chief instructor of the dojo, and other high-ranking members.
SEMPAI (sem-pai): A senior student
SHIHAN (shee-han): A formal title meaning master instructor or teacher of teachers. Very few people in the world have achieved this ranking.
SHOMEN (show-men): The designated front wall of a Dojo. Often the place where the picture of our founder, Gichin Funakoshi and flags are displayed.
REI (ray): Bow. A sign of respect, trust, and appreciation. May be done while standing, or while kneeling such as at the beginning and end of each class.
Shomen-ni-Rei: bow to the front of the dojo
Sensei-ni-Rei: bow to the teacher
Otagai-ni-Rei: bow to each other
YAME (ya-may): Return to starting position (typically hachiji-dachi)
HAJIME (hajee-may): Begin
KAMAE: Get into position, prepare.
MOKUSO: Close the eyes and meditate.
MATTE (ma-tay): Wait.
MAWATE (mawa-tay): Turn into position
YOI (yoh-ee): Ready (both mentally and physically)
YAME (ya-may): Stop
COUNTING in Japanese:
One: ichi (i-chi)
Two: ni (ni)
Three: san (sa-n)
Four: shi (shi) / yon (yon)
Five: go (go)
Six: roku (ro-ku)
Seven: shichi (shi-chi)
Eight: hachi (ha-chi)
Nine: ku (ku)
Ten: ju (ju-u)
Tsuki (tsu-kee) or zuki (zoo-kee): punching
Uke (ou-kay): blocking
Uchi (oo-chee): strike
Keri (ke-ree) or geri (ge-ree): kicking
TARGET AREAS on opponent's body:
Jodan (joh-dan): upper level, includes face, neck, and head area
Chudan (choo-dan): middle level, includes the chest, side chest and back area
Gedan (gay-dan): lower level, the lower trunk area
EMPI (em-pee): elbow
HIZA (hee-zah): knee
KAISHO (kay-sho): open hand, such as in shuto-uke
KENTSUI (ken-tschuee): hammer fist (also known as TETTSUI)
SOKUTO (sokoo-toh): edge of foot, such as in side thrust kick
URAKEN (oo-raken): back of fist
SHUTO (shoo-to): outer surface of hand alongside the small finger
HAITO (haee-to): inner surface of hand alongside the thumb
JODAN TSUKI: upper level punch
CHUDAN TSUKI: middle level punch
GEDAN TSUKI: lower level punch
CHOKU TSUKI: straight punch
GYAKU TSUKI: reverse punch
KAGI ZUKI: hook punch
HASAMI TSUKI: scissor punch
KIZAMI ZUKI: jab
MAWASHI ZUKI: roundhouse punch
MOROTE ZUKI: U-Punch with both fists simultaneously
TATE ZUKI: punch with fist along vertical plane
URA ZUKI: upper cut punch at close range
YAMA ZUKI: mountain Punch, a U-punch, resembles the character for mountain, thus the name.
AGE UKE (ah-gay oo-kay): rising block
UCHI UKE: inside-out block
SOTO UKE: outside block
GEDAN BARAI: lower level block
SHUTO UKE: knife hand block
MOROTE UKE: reinforced (augmented) block
JUJI UKE (joo-jee): X block
KAKIWAKE UKE: X block
MANJI UKE: double block with one arm in gedan barai and the other in uchi uke.
EMPI UCHI: elbow strike
HAITO UCHI: ridge-hand strike
KENTSUI UCHI: (Or TETTSUI UCHI) hammer fist strike
MAE EMPI: forward elbow strike
MAWASHI EMPI UCHI: roundhouse (circular) elbow strike
OTOSHI EMPI UCHI: dropping elbow strike
TATE EMPI UCHI: rising elbow strike
TATE URAKEN UCHI: vertical back-fist strike
USHIRO EMPI UCHI: elbow strike aiming behind own body
YOKO MAWASHI EMPI UCHI: side elbow strike
NUKITE: stabbing using the extended index finger or both the index and the middle fingers
ASHI BARAI: Foot Sweep
MAE GERI KEAGE: front snap kick
MAE GERI KEKOMI: front thrust kick.
MAE ASHI GERI: front kick with the front leg (KIZAMI GERI)
MAWASHI GERI: roundhouse kick
GYAKU MAWASHI GERI: reverse roundhouse kick
USHIRO MAWASHI GERI: inside-out roundhouse kick
HIZA GERI (hee-za): knee kick
MIKAZUKI GERI (meeka-zooki): crescent kick
TOBI GERI (to-bee): jumping kick
USHIRO GERI (oo-shee-ro): back kick
YOKO GERI KEAGE: side snap kick
YOKO GERI KEKOMI: side thrust kick
YOKO TOBI GERI: flying side kick
FUMIKOMI: stomping kick
DACHI (da-chee): stances
HACHIJI DACHI (ha-chee-jee): natural stance, feet about one shoulder width apart, toes pointing slightly outward
HEISOKU DACHI: informal attention stance. Feet together, toes pointing straight forward
ZENKUTSU DACHI (zen-koo-tsoo): front stance
KIBA DACHI (kee-ba): horse stance
KOKUTSU DACHI (ko-koo-tsoo): back stance
FUDO DACHI (foo-do): immovable stance, a cross between front and back stance (SOCHIN DACHI)
SANCHIN DACHI (san-cheen): hour-glass stance
HANGETSU DACHI (han-gay-tsoo): "half-moon" stance
GANKAKU DACHI (gan-ka-koo): crane stance
KOSA DACHI: crossed-leg stance
SHIKO DACHI (shee-ko): square stance
KUMITE (koumi-tay) Sparring:
GOHON KUMITE: five step basic sparring
SANBON KUMITE: three step basic sparring
IPPON KUMITE: one step basic sparring
JIYU IPPON KUMITE: one step free sparring (semi-free sparring)
JUI KUMITE: free sparing
GO NO SEN: allow the opponent to attack first so as to open up targets for counterattack
INASU: avoid an on-coming attack by removing your body from the line of attack
SEN NO SEN: attack at the exact moment that the opponent attacks
SEN SEN NO SEN: attack before the opponent attacks
TAI SABAKI: shift to remove your body from the line of attack