Hello either: Konnichi wa! And that means again “good day” in Japanese and no, you don't need to know Japanese to practice karate! However, it is useful for some basic concepts know and the names of the main defenses, trap- and punching techniques, as well as the names of the the word in shihō that you learn there.

This page has been set up to quickly familiarize you with the most common karate terms within the dojo (the place where karate is practiced).


Counting in Japanese
For those who like’ on the right are the Japanese Kanji (writtekens) for the numbers 1 t/m 10. However, it is already sufficient to be able to list only the numbers:

Number Japanese Statement
1 Ichi something
2 Ni no
3 San san
4 Shi / A see / jon
5 Go goo
6 Year year
7 Shichi / Nana sietsj / nana
8 Hachi hatsj
9 Kyuu / Ku kjoe / koe
10 Top DJOE

The numbers 4, 7 in 9 have two possible statements. When just it (head)count word ‘loose’ is used, the former is usually used, but if it is combined with a noun, then usually the second is used. For example, "4th dan’ in Japanese ‘Yondan’ and "7th kyū’ ‘Nanakyū’ (in Japanese it is written together!). Incidentally, the spelling and pronunciation can also change. For example, 1st dan’ ‘Shodan’ and ‘1st kyū’ ‘Ikkyū’. In addition to the above row of numbers, Japanese has a second row, commonly used with ordinal numbers. However, it is going too far to mention it. You will be the one in karate (outside of Japan) never hear.

For the lovers a few more Japanese numbers above the 10:

11 Juuichi djoe-eppesj
12 June djoe-no
13 Juusan djoe-san
14 Juushi / juuyon djoe-sjie / djoe-jon
20 Nijuu no-djoe
21 Nijuu ichi no-djoe ietsj
30 Sanjuu San-djoe
40 Yonjuu / Shijuu jon-djoe / sjie-djoe
50 Gojuu goo-djoe
60 Rokujuu rock djoe
70 Nanajuu / Shichijuu nana-djoe / sietsj-djoe
80 Hachijuu hatsj-djoe
90 Kyuujuu kjoe-Djoe
100 Hyaku Giakoe (soft g')
200 Nihyaku No-gjakoe (soft g')
300 Sanbyaku Sam-byakoe
800 Happyaku Hap-pjakoe
1000 Its Seng

Basic concepts
You should know the bold terms as karateka…

Japanese Statement Meaning
Dojo (Dōjō) doo-djoo Classroom, place where martial arts are practiced
Honbu dōjō hom-bu doo-djoo Main dojo
Budo (Budō) bu-doo “The way of the samurai” of “the way of the warrior”. It is a collective name for all Japanese martial arts. Karate is also a budo sport or perhaps better: -art.
Osu! Us! A "typical’ term dieonly within budo world occurs. In the "ordinary’ Japanese it will be not and it actually has no real meaning. Within the budo world it has taken on the meaning of a species greeting. It is also often used in the sense of “and”, of “understood” (although the correct Japanese words for this are actually 'Hai’ in ‘Wakarimasu’). There are quite a few different views on the exact origin of the term… Some people even argue that the term was once introduced to a dojo OUTSIDE of Japan… In any case, it is perhaps the most heard cry within the dojo.
Hai hai And
Sensei sensei Teacher
Senpai sempai Multiple, older
Shihan shi-han Grandmaster (from godan or the 5th dan)
Seiza seh-za Traditional Japanese sitting position on the knees. More about this on the page‘etiquette’.
Mokuso moxa Meditation (literally: "Empty mind"). Is being done, in seiza, with closed eyes at the beginning and end of the lesson.
Mokuso yame mokso jameh Stop meditation
Yame jameh Stop
King deer Greeting (order to greet each other)
Sensei ni rei sensei not reh Greetings to the teacher (the command to greet the teacher, ordered by a sempai who opens the lesson)
Otagai ni rei otagai not reh Greetings to each other (fellow students)
Kiritsu kie-rie-tsu Rise
Yoi Thursday Ready, ready
Hajime ha-ji-meh Begin, start
Naotte on-from-those Ready, the end of (this one) practice! (and so goodbye)
I am still looking for the origin of this word. Presumably it comes from the verb ‘Naoru’ which translates as "(herself) produce'. So ‘Naotte’ can be translated as “fix yourself” (of the exercise) of “back to original position”…
Yasume ja-su-meh Rest on the spot (after greeting!)
Obi o-bie Band
Give, Dōgi gie, doo-gie Karatepak (speak the g out as in English "go")
Kyuu (kyū) kjoe Level, grade (for lower tires, t/m bruin). pay attention: Kyuu can also be the number 9 mean!
And and Grade (higher tires, from black)
Kamae ka-mai Attitude (usually this refers to the combat position, before start of kumite of hand)
Kihon ki-hon Basis, style technical basic training
Kihon kumite ki-hon Style technical basic training with partner (opposite to each other)
Kumite ku-mie-teh Literally "meeting hands", loosely translated it stands for "combat exercise". Kumite is often used as an abbreviation for Jiyu kumite, with which then the free fight (sparring) is meant.
Jiyu Kumite djie-ju ku-mie-teh Free fight. So the "sparring’ with each other. Often times Jiyu left out and they just say Kumite.
Hand hand Training fight, where only light is tapped (usually only the shoulders). I have not yet figured out the literal meaning or origin of the word 'hand’.
Word the word Individual style exercise with a series of defined movements, performed against 4 until 8 imaginary opponents, attacking from different directions. Also see Word.
Shihoo (Shihō) shie-hoo Shi= four, Hoo= direction, so "four directions". In karate, one Shihoo An exercise, performed in four directions.
Mawatte ma-wat-teh Comes from the verb ‘Mawaru’ and means to turn or revolve. With many karate schools used as a command to make students turn 180 ° and continue in the other direction. Actually wrong use of this word, because in Japanese it means a rotation of 360° or multiple turns (such as windmill blades or paddle wheel)!!! Would be more correct: ‘Ushiro’ (see below).
Ushiro! oe-shie-roh! (Commando) Turn around. Literally: “behind”. Presumably this originated as some sort of abbreviation of ‘Ushiro o muite’ which means something like “turn to the back” of “look back” (the latter is of course very important in karate before turning!). In some schools this term is used to describe a particular exercise (kihon) backwards, so without turning around… (also see “Ushiro ….”)
Ushiro …… oe-shie-roh …… (In conjunction with another term:) Backwards. E.g.: ushiro geri = backward kick, ushiro empi uchi = backward elbow strike. (also see “Ushiro!”)
Hantai han-tai Other side, other side. Swap. Used in on-site exercises (sonoba) to change leg or hand.
Goorei (gōrei) goo-king Order, commando. Counting 1 until 10 is also seen as a command, So gōrei.
Ki-ai ki-ai Literally: “Spiritual encounter”, the scream at the moment of a thrust, stair or defense, where all energy (ki) in your body is focused, bundled in place of that punch, stair or defense. Read more about this in this article!
Kent ken-ta-teh Push-up (=tate) on the knuckles (=ken). Gewone push-up is udetate. Special variant: on the fingers: loved.
Sonoba so-no-ba On the spot (e.g. sonoba tsuki = bumping into place)
Zanshin zan-sjin Awareness (‘awareness’) during attack or defense.


The body

Japanese Statement Meaning
Fuck djoo-and High part (from the body, think of: head, neck and shoulders)
Chudan sjoe-dan Middle part (from the body, think of: chest, belly, rug)
Gedan Gee-and Low part (from the body, think of: abdomen, legs, etc.)
Empi em-pie Elbow
Shuto sjoe-to Handsnee pink edge
Nukite noe-kie-tea Spearhand
Nihon-nukite no-hon noe-kie-teh Two-fingered spear hand


Stood (tachi)

Japanese Statement Meaning
Tachi (Dachi) ta-ji (da-ji) Stand (used as a suffix, changes the t in a d, So tachi is going to be dachi)
Zenkutsu-dachi zen-cow-tsu da-ji Forward position, literally: "Front-knee-bent stance". Front knee bends so far that you just can't see your toes (body straight!), back leg straight, feet at an angle of 45 ° and at shoulder width’ apart ("Two lines").
Kiba-dachi kie-ba da-ji
Sideways position, also called "equestrian position."’ mentioned.
(The one shown here Kiba-dachi is performed with Kage-tsuki)


ko-ku-tsu da-ji
Backward position, literally: "Back-knee-bent stance". 70% of the weight on the back leg, 30% on the front. Heels aligned, feet at an angle of 90 °, knee of back leg pushed out.
(The one shown here Kokutsu-dachi is performed with Shuto-uke )


nee-ko-ashie da-tsji
‘Katstand’ (Someone=kat). Short stand, weight carried almost entirely by rear leg, with the tension of the knee directed inward. The front foot is only on the ground with the ball of the foot, the rear is rotated about 45 °.
Heisoku-dachi hei-so-koe da-tsji "Attention Attitude", feet next to each other, closed.
Musubi-dachi moe-soe-bi da-tsji "Attention attitude / starting position ", feet are at an angle of 90 ° to. each other, heels together.
Hachiji-dachi ha-chiets da-chi Also ‘Yoi-dachi’ mentioned. "Natural position’ (literally: ‘8-stand’), feet shoulder width apart, heels on a line, toes point out slightly (feet make an angle of 20-30 °)’. Running at a 45 ° angle also exists (this is called Uchi-hachiji-dachi).
Heiko-dachi hei-ko da-tsji ‘Parallelstand’, feet shoulder-width apart and parallel, knees slightly bent.
Yoi-dachi Yoi da-ji See ‘Hachiji-dachi’.


Defense techniques (Week)
Coming soon!



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