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Depending on your Sensei, you will hear varying amounts of Japanese when training, usually paired with explanations or demonstrations of the techniques being referred to.  Students will find that they quickly learn the terminology most commonly used.

Numbers & counting

You will find it beneficial to learn to count to 10 in Japanese.  Numbers will be encountered  in "kata" names, names of techniques, student/instructors ranks and when counting exercise repetitions, etc.


Pronunciation: "A" is like in "​afternoon"; "U" is like in "sumo"; "R" is pronounced more like an "L".

1 = ICHI (like "itchy")

2 = NI (like "knee")

3 = SAN (like "sun")

4 = SHI / YON (like "she")

5 = GO (like in the name "Gordon")

6 = ROKU (like "lock" and "sumo")

7 = SHICHI / NANA (like in "shin" and "chin")

8 = HACHI (like in "hut" and "chin")

9 = KYU (like "queue")

10 = JYU (like in "June")

20 = NIJYU (like "knee" and "June")

50 = GOJYU (like in "Gordon" and "June")


When counting, you use the word, "SHI" for 4 and "SHICHI" for 7.  The alternative forms, "YON" and "NANA", are used in most other instances such as for kata names and grades, e.g. the kata name "Heian-​yon​dan" and grade "​nana​-kyu" for 7th Kyu.

Terminology by grade

The following terminology have been listed according to the order in which you will start hearing them.  You will see that there are many at the outset, however these actually form the main part of the terms used in karate even as you progress to higher ranks.  There should be no anxiety to learn these by rote, as your instructor will usually remind when demonstrating the technique or action.  Students wanting to get ahead may use this section to help learn and test their knowledge.  Names of advanced techniques shown ​in blue​ are not expected to be memorised though students will find that they will gradually become familiar with them in time.  A full alphabetical glossary listing of all terminology can be found at the bottom of this page.

10th Kyu White Belt

SENSEI, Instructor / teacher

SENPAI, Senior (student)

"OSS!", said in respectful greeting or acknowledgement

"REI", bow

"SENSEI NI REI!",  "bow to the (lead) instructor!"

"YOI", "get ready!", get into yoi stance, uchi-hachiji-dachi

"HAJIME", "begin!"

"YAME", "stop!"

"MAWATTE", "turn around"

GERI, kick

ZUKI, punch

UKE, block

UCHI-HACHIJI-DACHI, "ready" stance, same as yoi-dachi

SHIZENTAI, resting stance, hachiji-dachi

ZENKUTSU-DACHI, front stance

KOKUTSU-DACHI, back stance

KIBA-DACHI, horse-riding stance

OI-ZUKI CHUDAN, lunge punch to the body
OI-ZUKI JODAN, lunge punch to the head

GYAKU-ZUKI CHUDAN, reverse punch to the body

GYAKU-ZUKI JODAN, reverse punch to the head
AGE-UKE, upper rising block
SOTO-UKE, outside block
UCHI-UKE, inside block
GEDAN-BARAI, lower sweeping block
SHUTO-UKE, knife hand block
MAE-GERI CHUDAN, front kick to the body
MAE-GERI JODAN, front kick to the head
YOKO-GERI-KEAGE, side snap kick

GOHON-KUMITE, 5 step sparring

9th Kyu Orange Belt

YOKO-GERI-KEKOMI, side thrust kick​

TETSUI-OTOSHI-UKE, dropping hammerfist

8th Kyu Red Belt

MOROTE-UKE, reinforced inside block

NUKITE, spear hand strike

TETSUI, hammer-fist strike

URAKEN, backfist strike

KOSHI-GAMAE, fists together on hip ('cup & saucer')

IPPON-KUMITE, one step sparring

7th Kyu Yellow Belt

KOSA-UKE, double arm block​ to the front

ENPI, elbow strike / block

SANBON-ZUKI, triple punch

CHOKU-ZUKI, straight punch (same side as leading leg without moving forward)

MAWASHI-GERI, roundhouse kick


REN-GERI, 2-step alternate leg kicking

KIZAMI​-GERI, front kick with leading leg

​HIJI-ATE, elbow strike/block (same as "enpi")

HAIWAN-UKE, back of arm double block

​SHUTO, knife hand strike

AGE-EMPI, rising elbow strike

UDE-BARAI, sweeping forearm block

GEDAN-JUJI-UKE, lower cross block

SHUTO-JUJI-UCHI, knife hand cross strike

6th Kyu Green Belt

KIZAMI-ZUKI, jab or snap punch to the head

HIZA-GERI, knee kick

USHIRO-GERI, back kick

TEISHO-BARAI, low palm block

KAKIWAKE-UKE, double wedge block

5th Kyu Purple Belt

KOSA-DACHI, cross-legged stance

OSAE-UKE, palm block

KAISHO-JUJI-UKE, open palm cross block

KAGI-ZUKI, hook punch

TATE-SHUTO-UKE, ridge hand block

MIKAZUKI-GERI, crescent kick

HAISHU-UKE, back hand block

​GEDAN-SHUTO-UCHI, lower knife hand strike

MANJI-GAMAE / MANJI-UKE, double arm block to the sides

4th Kyu Purple White stripe Belt

JIYU-IPPON-KUMITE, semi-free sparring​

JIYU-KUMITE, free-sparring (freestyle)

NAGASHI-UKE, sweeping block

URA-ZUKI, close punch

NAMI-ASHI, inside leg block

SOKUMEN-UKE, side block

Terminology - Alphabetical

AGE UKE , upper rising block

AGE ZUKI (TSUKI), rising punch. Seen in the kata Enpi

ASHI BARAI, foot/leg sweep

BUDO, martial arts

BUNKAI, an analysis of the techniques and application of kata

BUSHIDO, way of the warrior

CHUDAN, mid body level

CHOKU ZUKI, straight punch

CHUSOKU, ball of the foot

DOJO, place of the way, the place where martial art is practised

EMBUSEN , performance line of a given kata

ENPI, elbow

ENPI UCHI, elbow strike also called hiji ate

GEDAN BARAI, lower level sweep

GEDAN, lower section of body

GEDAN ZUKI, a punch to the lower section

GERI /KERI, kick.

GOHON KUMITE, five steps basic sparring.

GYAKU ZUKI, reverse punch

HACHIJI DACHI, open leg stance. The feet are positioned about one shoulder width apart and pointed outwards at 45 degrees

HAJIME, begin!

HANGETSU DACHI, half-moon stance

HARA, abdomen

HEIKO DACHI, feet parallel stance (shoulder width apart

HEISOKU DACHI, feet together attention stance

HIDARI, left (left side)

HIKITE, pulling back your fist or palm back tight against your hip

HOMBU DOJO, the main or central dojo

IPPON KUMITE, basic one-step sparring

JIYU IPPON KUMITE, one step free sparring. The participants can attack with any technique, whenever ready

JIYU KUMITE, free sparring

JODAN UKE, same as 'age-uke'

JODAN, upper level, neck and above

JUJI UKE, X-block

KAGI ZUKI, hook punch

KAKE GERI, hook kick

KAMAETE!, command to get into stance/position

KARATE-DO, Way of Karate, not only the physical aspect of karate

KARATE-KA, a practitioner of karate

KEAGE, kick up, snapping kick

KEKOMI, thrust kick (literally, kick into/straight)

TETSUI UCHI , hammer fist strike

KIAI, spirit focus a focusing yell

KIBA DACHI, horse riding stance, side stance

KIHON, fundamental, basic techniques

KIME , focus of power, decisive technique

KIZAMI ZUKI, jabbing punch

KOKUTSU DACHI, back stance

KOSA DACHI, crossed leg stance

KOSA UKE, crossed block to the front

KUMITE, sparring

MAE GERI, front kick

MA-AI, combat distance from your opponent

MAWASHI GERI, roundhouse kick

MAWATTE, turn! A command given to turn around

MIGI, right (right side)

MIKAZUKI GERI, crescent kick

MOGORE, without count (when performing kata)

MOKUSO, meditation

MOROTE UKE, assisted block. One arm and fist supports the other arm

MOROTE ZUKI / AWASE ZUKI, U-punch, punching with both fists simultaneously

MUSUBI DACHI, attention stance, heels placed together, each foot turned out 45 degrees

NEKO-ASHI DACHI, cat's foot stance, or as commonly called, "cat stance"

NUKITE, spear hand, straight thrust
OI ZUKI, lunge punch

OTOSHI ENPI, dropping elbow strike
REI, bow

REN GERI, consecutive alternate leg kicking

RITSU REI, standing bow

SANBON KUMITE, three step sparring

SANBON ZUKI, A series of three punches

SANCHIN DACHI, hour-glass stance

SEIKEN, the strong knuckles of the index finger and the middle finger

SEN NO SEN , attacking at the exact moment when the opponent attacks

SEN SEN NO SEN, attacking before the opponent attacks – pre-emptive attack

SHIHON NUKITE, four finger strike

SHIKO DACHI, sumo stance

SHITA ZUKI, inverted fist punch to the belly

SHIZEN DACHI, natural stance, body relaxed but alert

SHUTO UCHI , knife hand strike

SHUTO UKE, knife-hand block

SOKUTO, the 'sword' or outside edge of the foot

​SOTO UKE, outside block, normally a shortened version of soto ude uke

TATE ZUKI, upright fist punch

TETSUI UCHI hammer fist strike

UCHI HACHIJI DACHI / YOI DACHI, ready stance, feet shoulder width apart slightly turned inward.

UCHI UKE, inside block

​URAKEN, back knuckle; back-fist

URAKEN UCHI, back fist strike

URAKEN UKE, back fist block


​USHIRO GERI, back kick

USHIRO MAWASHI GERI, spinning hook kick

YAMA ZUKI, mountain punch

YAME!, stop! cease!

YOI, ready

YOKO EMPI UCHI, side elbow strike

YOKO GERI KEAGE, side snap kick.

YOKO GERI KEKOMI, side thrust kick

YORI ASHI, sliding the feet forward by pushing with back foot, moving both feet at the same time.

ZANSHIN, remaining in a balanced and aware state after a technique has been completed

ZENKUTSU DACHI, front stance. The actual translation means front knee bent stance

ZUKI / TSUKI, punching

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