List of Important Karate Words, Terms & Commands
Here are some of the key Japanese words, commands and terminology used in Karate. This page will also help you to pronounce these Karate terms and phrases. For the Japanese names of specific Karate techniques (i.e. Ushiro Geri or Neko Dachi), please also visit the sections focused on Karate kicks, Karate stances, Karate punches, Karate blocks, etc.
Many of these terms were assimilated into Japanese and not all of them are Japanese in origin. Karate originated from Okinawa which utilized their own indigenous language blended with Chinese and Japanese. An example being that some karate schools use Hiji and some Empi (both meaning elbow strike but with different origins).
For other martial arts words & commands, please visit the main Martial Arts Terminology section.
Section supported by Karate books
- Karate Numbers - How to count in Japanese
- Karate Kicks - Japanese names for various kicking techniques
- Karate - Names of Body Parts - Japanese names for body parts (i.e. strike to the head)
- Karate Punches - Japanese names for Karate punches & strikes.
- Karate Stances - Japanese names for Karate stances.
Karate Terms & Commands - English to Japanese
- Attention - Kiotsuke (sounds like Key-oh-zoo-kay)
- Back - Ushiro (sounds like Oo-she-row)
- Basic - Kihon (sounds like Key-hon)
- Begin/Start - Hajime (sounds like Ha-gee-may)
- Belt - Obi (sounds like Oh-bee)
- Block - Uke (sounds like Oo-kay)
- Body Movement - Tai Sabaki
- Bow - Rei (sounds like Ray)
- Breathing Exercises - Kokyu Ho
- Elbow - Empi or Enpi (sounds like En-pee or Em-pee)
- Elbow Strike - Empi-Uchi (sounds like Em-pee Oo-chee)
- Foot - Ashi (sounds like Ah-she)
- Form or Pattern - Kata (sounds like Ka-ta)
- Form (Kata) Technique Application - Bunkai (sounds like Boon-kay)
- Goodbye - Sayonara (sounds like Sa-yoh-na-rah)
- Hand - Te (sound like Tay)
- Head - Atama (sounds like Ah-ta-ma)
- Heel - Kakato (sounds like Ka-ka-toe)
- I (Me) - Watashi (sounds like Wa-ta-she)
- Kick - Geri or Keri (sounds like Geh-ree or Keh-ree)
- Knee - Hiza (sounds like He-zah)
- Knife Hand - Shuto (sounds like Shoe-toe)
- Left - Hidari (sounds like Hee-da-ree)
- Low (Level) - Gedan (sounds like Geh-dan)
- Mat (Practice/Training Mat) - Tatami (sounds like Ta-ta-me)
- Middle (Level) - Chudan (sounds like Choo-dan)
- One More Time - Mo Ichi Do (sounds like Moe E-chee Doe)
- No - Iie (sounds like E-ay)
- No Mind (State of "No Mind") - Mushin
- Please - Dozo (sounds like Doe-zoh)
- Punch - Tsuki or Zuki (sounds like Zoo-key)
- Push On Through Difficulties - Oss or Osu. Nevertheless, this term used in many different ways and is often used by non-Japanese Karate students for "Thank you", "I understand", etc. Oss (Osu) is a kind of respectful catch-all phrase.
- Right - Migi (sounds like Mee-gee)
- Senior Student - Senpai or Sempai (sounds like Sen-pie)
- School (Martial Arts) - Dojo (sounds like Doe-Joe)
- Side - Yoko (sounds like Yoh-koh)
- Shout or Yell - Kiai (sounds like Key-eye)
- Sparring - Kumite (sounds like Coo-meh-tay)
- Stance - Dachi (sounds like Dah-chee)
- Stop - Yame (sounds like Yah-may)
- Strike - Uchi (sounds like Oo-chee)
- Sweep - Barai (sounds like Baa-rye)
- Teacher/Instructor - Sensei (sounds like Sen-say)
- Technique - Waza (sounds like Waa-Zaa)
- Thank You (Formal) - Domo Arigato (sounds like Doe-moe Ah-ree-gah-toe)
- Thank You (Informal) - Domo (sounds like Doe-moe)
- Throat - Nodo (sounds like No-doe)
- Turn Around - Mawatte (sounds like Ma-wa-tay)
- Unarmed Combat - Taijutsu
- Uniform - Gi (sounds like Ghee)
- Upper (Level) - Jodan (sounds like Joe-dan)
- Void or State of No Mind - Mushin
- Yes - Hai (sounds like Hi)
- You - Anata (sounds like Ah-na-ta)
Karate Terms & Commands - Japanese to English
- Anata - You
- Anza - Sitting position, cross leged
- Ashi - Foot
- Atama - Head
- Barai - Sweep
- Bunkai - Kata Technique Application
- Chudan - Middle (Level)
- Dachi - Stance
- Dojo - School (Karate)
- Domo - Thank You (Informal)
- Domo Arigato - Thank You (Formal)
- Dozo - Please
- Empi or Enpi - Elbow
- Empi-Uchi or Enpi-Uchi - Elbow Strike
- Gedan - Low (Level)
- Geri or Keri - Kick
- Gi - Uniform
- Hai - Yes
- Hajime - Begin/Start
- Harau - Sweeping Techniques
- Hidari - Left
- Hiza - Knee
- Iie - No
- Jodan - Upper (Level)
- Kakato - Heel
- Kata - Form or Pattern
- Kiotsuke - Attention
- Keri or Geri - Kick
- Ki - Type of intrinsic energy. Known as Qi or Chi in Chinese martial arts.
- Kiai - Shout
- Kihon - Basic
- Kokyu Ho - Breathing exercises
- Kumite - Sparring
- Mawatte - Turn Around
- Migi - Right
- Mo Ichi Do - One More Time
- Mushin - Void or State of No Mind
- Nodo - Throat
- Obi - Belt
- Oss or Osu - Push On Through Difficulties. Nevertheless, this term used in many different ways and is often used by non-Japanese Karate students for "Thank you", "I understand", etc. Oss (Osu) is a kind of respectful catch-all phrase.
- Rei - Bow
- Sayonara - Goodbye
- Senpai or Sempai - Senior Student
- Sensei - Teacher/Instructor
- Seisa - Sitting position on heels
- Shuto - Knife Hand
- Tatami - Practice/Training Mat
- Te - Hand
- Tsuki or Zuki - Punch
- Uke - Block
- Ushiro - Back
- Watashi - I (Me)
- Waza - Technique
- Yame - Stop
- Yoko - Side
- Zuki or Tsuki - Punch
- Members - If you add a Karate term or command, please add the word to both sections (English to Japanese and Japanese to English). Thanks.
- Penn State Shotokan Karate-Do, Karate Terminology, http://www.clubs.psu.edu/up/shotokan/terminology.html, Added - 6/6/13
- JKA South Bassonia Karate, Terminology, http://www.jkasouth.co.za/terminology.html, Added - 06/05/14
- IMA Karate, Karate Dictionary, http://www.imakarate.com/student-information/karate-dictionary/, Added - 08/07/14
- The Karate Curriculum, http://www.amazon.com/The-Karate-Curriculum-Joe-Salazar/dp/1484023439, Added - 12/02/14
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