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Japanese Terminology

(Used In The Art of Karate-do)

The Japanese language is very difficult to learn partly due to the kanji symbolism used. Nevertheless, it is advantageous to try and learn some of the terminology used in Karate. It will assist you understanding literature on Karate and to converse with fellow karateka and Sensei's from visiting association members. An understanding of the Karate terms is regarded as good etiquette.

This extract below is split into relevant sections and is taken from the SSU Student Handbook available from your instructor.

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Counting

Japanese:

Ichi (一)
Ni (二)
San (三)
Shi/Yon (四)
Go (五)
Roku (六)
Shichi/Nana (七)
Hachi (八)
Ku (九)
Ju (十)

 

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English:

One
Two
Three
Four
Five
Six
Seven
Eight
Nine
Ten

Japanese:

Ju ichi (十一)
Ju ni (十二)
Ju san (十三)
Ju yon (十四)
Ju go (十五)
Ju roku (十六)
Ju shichi (十七)
Ju hachi (十八)
Ju ku (十九)
Ni ju (二十)

 

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English:

Eleven
Twelve
Thirteen
Fourteen
Fifteen
Sixteen
Seventeen
Eighteen
Nineteen
Twenty

Japanese:

Ju (十)
Niju (二十)
San ju (三十)
Yon ju (四十)
Go ju (五十)
Roku ju (六十)
Nana ju (七十)
Hachi ju (八十)
Kuju (九十)
Hyaku (百)

 

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English:

Ten
Twenty
Thirty
Forty
Fifty
Sixty
Seventy
Eighty
Ninety
One hundred

Ichi
Ni
San
Shi
Go
Roku
Shichi/Nana (Seven)
Shichi
Hachi
Kyuu
Juu
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Stances

Karate has many different stances, each used for different types of power and movement. In Japanese the general term is tachi (立ち), changing to dachi when used as a suffix. Some stances focus more on mobility than stability, and vice versa. These are the most common stances in karate.

Heisoku Dachi
Musubi Dachi
Heiko Dachi
Moto Dachi
Han-Zenkutsu Dachi

Zenkutsu Dachi
Kosa Dachi
Neko Ashi Dachi
Shiko Dachi
Sanchin Dachi
Kokutsu Dachi
Kiba Dachi
Naihanchi Dachi
Tsuru Ashi-Dachi

Closed foot stance (feet together stance)
Formal attention stance (heels together, feet at a 45 degree angle)
Parallel stance (feet shoulder width apart, feet parallel or slightly turned in)
Short front stance
Half front stance
Front stance
Crossing stance (Back knee tucked in behind front knee)
Cat foot stance
Straddle leg stance (Horse stance)
Hourglass stance (Three Battles stance)
Back long stance
Horse riding stance
Kiba Dachi with the heels out and toes turned in
Heron foot stance

閉足立
結び立
平行立
基立
半前屈立
前屈立
交差立
猫足立
四股立
三戦立
後屈立
騎馬立
ナイハンチ立ち
鶴足立

 

(Other Stances)

Migi Heiko Dachi
Hachiji Dachi
Uchi Hachiji Dachi
Naname Shiko Dachi
Fudo Dachi
Renoji Dachi
Sesan Dachi
Sagiashi Dachi
Bensoku Dachi

 

Right foot forward Heiko Dahchi
Natural stance (feet shoulder width apart, toes pointed slightly outward)
Natural stance with with heels out and toes in
Diagonal straddle leg stance
Free stance
The letter "Re" stance (or "L" stance)
Side facing straddle stance
Heron stance
Cross-legged stance (also known as female horse stance or Kosa Dachi)

 

右平行立

八字立
内八字立


不動立

レの字立
十三立

Heisoku Dachi
Musubi Dachi
Heiko Dachi
Sanchin Dachi
Moto Dachi
Han Zenkutsu Dachi
Zenkutsu Dachi
Kokutsu Dachi
Neko Ashi Dachi
Kosa Dachi
Tsuru Ashi Dachi
Shiko Dachi
Naihanchi Dachi
Kiba Dachi

In "Heiko Dachi" stance, rather than having your feet parallel, it is more beneficial to have the feet turned in slightly (maybe 20°), this allows a better grip of the floor and increases tension in the leg muscles, and so affords more traction when moving.

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Hand Techniques (Strikes & Punches)

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Foot Techniques (Kicks & Sweeps)

Seiken Tsuki
Oi Tsuki
Gyaku Tsuki
Age Tsuki
Nihon Tsuki
Sanbon Tsuki
Kagi Tsuki
Yama Tsuki
Awase Tsuki
Heiko Tsuki
Hasami Tsuki
Nagashi Tsuki
Nakadaka Tsuki
Ko Uchi
Kote Uchi
Kama-De
Washi-De
Empi
Choku Tsuki
Ura Tsuki
Uraken Uchi
Shuto Uchi
Haito Uchi
Hiji Uchi
Tettsui Uchi
Nukite Tsuki
Shotei Uchi
Shotei Tsuki
Keikoken Tsuki
Kaikoken Tsuki
Boshiken Tsuki
Furi Tsuki
Mawashi Tsuki
Tate Tsuki
Meaken Tsuki
Kizami Tsuki

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Fore fist strike
Lunge punch
Reverse punch
Rising punch
Double punch
Triple punch
Hook punch
Mountain punch
U-punch
Parallel punch
Scissors punch
Flowing punch
Middle finger knuckle punch
Bent wrist strike
Forearm strike
Bear hand
Eagle hand
Elbow strike
Straight punch
Short punch (palm side eup)
Back fist strike
Knife hand strike
Ridge hand strike
Elbow strike
Bottom fist strike (or hammer fist strike)
Finger thrust
Palm heel strike
Palm heel thrust
One knuckle fist
Crab shell fist
Thumb fist
Circular punch
Round hook punch
Vertical punch
Leading punch, or jab
Leading punch, or jab

Mae Geri Keage
Mae Geri Kekomi
Yoko Geri Keage
Yoko Geri Kekomi
Mawashi Geri
Ushiro Mawashi Geri
Gyaku Mawashi Geri
Ushiro Geri
Kanketsu Geri
Hiza Geri
Nidan Geri
Ren Geri
Ashi Geri
Mae Tobi Geri
Tobi Nidan geri
Yoko Tobi Geri
Kakato Geri
Fumikomi Geri
Tsumasaki Geri
Haisoku Geri
Sokuto Geri

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Front snap kick
Front thrust kick
Side snap kick
Side thrust kick
Round house kick
Round house to the rear kick
Reverse round house kick

Back thrust kick
Stamping kick, joint kick
Knee kick (also called Hiza Ate)
Double front snap kick (back leg first)
Double front snap kick (front leg first)
Foot sweep
Jumping front kick
Jumping double kick
Jumping side thrust kick
Heel kick
Stamping kick
Kicking with the tips of the toes
Kicking with the instep
Kicking with the foot edge

China hand (To De)
Karate-do (Empty Hand Way)
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Blocks

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Miscellaneous

In Karate, we traditionally refer to blocks as "Uke". However, the literal translation of the Japanese word Uke - which is a conjugation of the word "Ukeru"- actually means"to receive".

So, blocks are all about receiving your opponents attack and energy. Below, are some of the most common ones used in Shito-ryu and of course other styles of Karate.

Below are some more terms used in Karate and Martial Arts in general.

Gedan Barai
Uchi Uke
Soto Uke
Chudan Uke
Jodan Uke
Age Uke
Shuto Uke
Shotei Uke
Shotei Otoshi Uke
Yoko Uke
Hiki Uke
Ko Uke
Gedan Uchi Barai
Ura Uke
Mawashi Uke
Morote Uke
Sukui Uke
Nagashi Uke
Kosa Uke
Hiza Uke
Sokutei Osae Uke
Sokutei Harai Uke
Haisoku Barai

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Downward block
Inside forearm block
Outside forearm block
Inside circular block
Upward block
Rising block
Knife hand block
Palm heel block
Open hand dropping block
Circular block
Pulling/grasping block
Wrist block
Outside downward block (open hand)
Back hand block
Elbow block
Round house block
Augmented block
Sweeping block
Cross block
Knee block
Pressing block with the sole of the foot
Sole of the foot block
Instep block

Shukokai
Shukokai (Working together)

Karate-do
To-De
Do-jo
Kata
Hajime
Yame
Hidari
Migi
Kamae
Yoi
Kime
Kumite
Kihon Ippon-Kumite
Jiyu Ippon Kumite
Jiyu Kumite
Randori
Kihon
Zanshin
Budo
Maai
Ki
Kiai
Bunkai
Mushin
Seiza
Mokuso
Mokuso Yame
Kiritsu
Rei

Shomen ni rei
Sensei ni rei
Otagai ni rei
Onegaishimasu
Arigato Gozaimashita

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Empty-Hand-Way
China hand
Training hall (way place)
Form
Begin
Stop
Left
Right
Ready to start
Ready
Focus
Sparring
Basic one-step sparring
Semi-free sparring
Free sparring
Co-operative sparring
Basic technique
Alertness of remaining spirit
Way of the warrior
Distance
Life force
Projecting spirit
Application of Kata
Empty mind
Kneel
Quiet meditation
End meditation
Stand up
Formal bow
Bow to the front
Bow to the instructor
Bow to fellow students
"Teach me, I beg of you"
"Thank you for teaching me"

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Karate Grades and Levels

In Karate there are many levels and grades that you will strive to attain as you train and gain knowledge of techniques, etiquette, history and the customs involved in studying Karate and being a "Karate-ka - 空手家" (a practitioner of Karate).

Kyu Grades (級)

"Kyu" is a Japanese term that is used in modern Karate to designate various grades, levels or degrees of proficiency or experience.

In modern Japanese martial arts, Kyu-level practitioners hold the ranks below Dan or black belt. The Kyu ranking system varies from style to style. In Shito-ryu Karate all the Kyu-level practitioners wear white belts when they first begin Karate. The White colour belt signifies purity and the lack knowledge.

If a Karate-ka trains regularly (at least twice every week) they can be graded up to the next level in the system. All clubs hold a "Grading" every few months and the students grade as a group. Below is a list of the levels and colours associated with them.

Dan Grades (段)

Once a Karate-ka has achieved all Kyu grades, they can then be invited to be graded to a Dan grade.

Dan-ranked practitioners of a style are usually recognised as a martial artist who has surpassed the kyu, or basic, ranks. They may also become a licensed instructor in their art. In many styles, however, achieving a Dan rank means that, while one is no longer considered a beginner, one is not yet necessarily an expert. Rather, it indicates a high degree of competence across a reasonable range of techniques.

Kyu Grades:

Ungraded
8th Kyu

7th Kyu
6th Kyu
5th Kyu
4th Kyu
3rd Kyu
2nd Kyu
1st Kyu

Title:

Mukyu
Hachikyu
Nanakyu
Rokkyu
Gokyu
Yonkyu
Sankyu
Nikyu
Ikkyu

 

Kanji:

無級
八級
七級
六級
五級
四級
三級
二級
一級

Belt Colour:

White
Yellow
Orange
Green
Blue
Purple
Brown
Brown
Brown

Dan Grades:

1st Dan
2nd Dan
3rd Dan
4th Dan
5th Dan
6th Dan
7th Dan
8th Dan
9th Dan
10th Dan

Title:

Shodan
Nidan
Sandan
Yondan
Godan
Rokudan
Shichidan
Hachidan
Kudan
Judan

Kanji:

初段
二段
三段
四段
五段
六段
七段
八段
九段
十段

Belt Colour:

Black (1 red stripe)
Black (2 red stripes)
Black (3 red stripes)
Black (4 red stripes)
Black (5 red stripes)
Black (6 red stripes)
Black (7 red stripes)
Black (8 red stripes)
Black (9 red stripes)
Black (10 red stripes)

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When 3rd Kyu (Brown belt) is reached, one Black stripe is added to one end of the belt.

When 2nd Kyu (Brown belt) is reached, a further black stripe is added to one end of the belt (2 in all).

When 1st Kyu (Brown belt) is reached, a further black stripe is added to one end of the belt (3 in all).

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Shodan (初段) means "beginning grade". Ichidan (一段) is "first grade" but this is less commonly used.

Although the official presentation of 10th Dan is 10 red stripes, many if not all traditional Karate-ka of that level very rarely demonstrate their level via red stripes. In line with Japanese culture and the sense of humility, showing 10 red stripes for instance is very self indulgent and isn't seen as appropriate.

 

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