List of Important Karate Words, Terms & Commands

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Wiki Revision Date - 31 May 2017 12:12

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.

Books on Karate Techniques

Related Sections

  1. Karate Numbers - How to count in Japanese
  2. Karate Kicks - Japanese names for various kicking techniques
  3. Karate - Names of Body Parts - Japanese names for body parts (i.e. strike to the head)
  4. Karate Punches - Japanese names for Karate punches & strikes.
  5. Karate Stances - Japanese names for Karate stances.

Karate Terms & Commands - English to Japanese

  1. Attention - Kiotsuke (sounds like Key-oh-zoo-kay)
  2. Back - Ushiro (sounds like Oo-she-row)
  3. Basic - Kihon (sounds like Key-hon)
  4. Begin/Start - Hajime (sounds like Ha-gee-may)
  5. Belt - Obi (sounds like Oh-bee)
  6. Block - Uke (sounds like Oo-kay)
  7. Body Movement - Tai Sabaki
  8. Bow - Rei (sounds like Ray)
  9. Breathing Exercises - Kokyu Ho
  10. Elbow - Empi or Enpi (sounds like En-pee or Em-pee)
  11. Elbow Strike - Empi-Uchi (sounds like Em-pee Oo-chee)
  12. Foot - Ashi (sounds like Ah-she)
  13. Form or Pattern - Kata (sounds like Ka-ta)
  14. Form (Kata) Technique Application - Bunkai (sounds like Boon-kay)
  15. Goodbye - Sayonara (sounds like Sa-yoh-na-rah)
  16. Hand - Te (sound like Tay)
  17. Head - Atama (sounds like Ah-ta-ma)
  18. Heel - Kakato (sounds like Ka-ka-toe)
  19. I (Me) - Watashi (sounds like Wa-ta-she)
  20. Kick - Geri or Keri (sounds like Geh-ree or Keh-ree)
  21. Knee - Hiza (sounds like He-zah)
  22. Knife Hand - Shuto (sounds like Shoe-toe)
  23. Left - Hidari (sounds like Hee-da-ree)
  24. Low (Level) - Gedan (sounds like Geh-dan)
  25. Mat (Practice/Training Mat) - Tatami (sounds like Ta-ta-me)
  26. Middle (Level) - Chudan (sounds like Choo-dan)
  27. One More Time - Mo Ichi Do (sounds like Moe E-chee Doe)
  28. No - Iie (sounds like E-ay)
  29. No Mind (State of "No Mind") - Mushin
  30. Please - Dozo (sounds like Doe-zoh)
  31. Pulling Hand (brining hand back to ready position) - Hikite
  32. Punch - Tsuki or Zuki (sounds like Zoo-key)
  33. 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.
  34. Right - Migi (sounds like Mee-gee)
  35. Senior Student - Senpai or Sempai (sounds like Sen-pie)
  36. School (Martial Arts) - Dojo (sounds like Doe-Joe)
  37. Side - Yoko (sounds like Yoh-koh)
  38. Shout or Yell - Kiai (sounds like Key-eye)
  39. Sparring - Kumite (sounds like Coo-meh-tay)
  40. Stance - Dachi (sounds like Dah-chee)
  41. Stop - Yame (sounds like Yah-may)
  42. Strike - Uchi (sounds like Oo-chee)
  43. Sweep - Barai (sounds like Baa-rye)
  44. Teacher/Instructor - Sensei (sounds like Sen-say)
  45. Technique - Waza (sounds like Waa-Zaa)
  46. Thank You (Formal) - Domo Arigato (sounds like Doe-moe Ah-ree-gah-toe)
  47. Thank You (Informal) - Domo (sounds like Doe-moe)
  48. Throat - Nodo (sounds like No-doe)
  49. Turn Around - Mawatte (sounds like Ma-wa-tay)
  50. Unarmed Combat - Taijutsu
  51. Uniform - Gi (sounds like Ghee)
  52. Upper (Level) - Jodan (sounds like Joe-dan)
  53. Void or State of No Mind - Mushin
  54. Yes - Hai (sounds like Hi)
  55. You - Anata (sounds like Ah-na-ta)

Karate Terms & Commands - Japanese to English

  1. Anata - You
  2. Anza - Sitting position, cross leged
  3. Ashi - Foot
  4. Atama - Head
  5. Barai - Sweep
  6. Bunkai - Kata Technique Application
  7. Chudan - Middle (Level)
  8. Dachi - Stance
  9. Dojo - School (Karate)
  10. Domo - Thank You (Informal)
  11. Domo Arigato - Thank You (Formal)
  12. Dozo - Please
  13. Empi or Enpi - Elbow
  14. Empi-Uchi or Enpi-Uchi - Elbow Strike
  15. Gedan - Low (Level)
  16. Geri or Keri - Kick
  17. Gi - Uniform
  18. Hai - Yes
  19. Hajime - Begin/Start
  20. Harau - Sweeping Techniques
  21. Hidari - Left
  22. Hikite - Pulling Hand (brining hand back to ready position)
  23. Hiza - Knee
  24. Iie - No
  25. Jodan - Upper (Level)
  26. Kakato - Heel
  27. Kata - Form or Pattern
  28. Kiotsuke - Attention
  29. Keri or Geri - Kick
  30. Ki - Type of intrinsic energy. Known as Qi or Chi in Chinese martial arts.
  31. Kiai - Shout
  32. Kihon - Basic
  33. Kokyu Ho - Breathing exercises
  34. Kumite - Sparring
  35. Mawatte - Turn Around
  36. Migi - Right
  37. Mo Ichi Do - One More Time
  38. Mushin - Void or State of No Mind
  39. Nodo - Throat
  40. Obi - Belt
  41. 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.
  42. Rei - Bow
  43. Sayonara - Goodbye
  44. Senpai or Sempai - Senior Student
  45. Sensei - Teacher/Instructor
  46. Seisa - Sitting position on heels
  47. Shuto - Knife Hand
  48. Tatami - Practice/Training Mat
  49. Te - Hand
  50. Tsuki or Zuki - Punch
  51. Uke - Block
  52. Ushiro - Back
  53. Watashi - I (Me)
  54. Waza - Technique
  55. Yame - Stop
  56. Yoko - Side
  57. 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.


  1. Penn State Shotokan Karate-Do, Karate Terminology,, Added - 6/6/13
  2. JKA South Bassonia Karate, Terminology,, Added - 06/05/14
  3. IMA Karate, Karate Dictionary,, Added - 08/07/14
  4. The Karate Curriculum,, Added - 12/02/14

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