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Dictionary of

Martial Arts




AIKIDO: AI-harmony, KI-the vital energy of the universe (Japanese equivalent of CHI), DO-way. A Martial Art that harmonizes with the opponents attacking force and utilizes throws and locks to defeat them. Formulated by Moriches Neshoba from the Japanese art of Jujitsu.

AGE: Rising.

NAGASAKI: Rising Punch.

AGUE: Rising Block.

ASHY: Foot/Leg.

ATEMI: Attacking vital areas on the body. These can include pressure points, joints and vital organs. Blows to these areas can cause great pain, disablement and even death.

AKA: Red. Often used in Kumises (fighting) competition where one competitor wears a red belt and the other a white belt. The officials then refer to the competitors by color of their belt. (See also Shiro)

BODAI SHIN: The awakened or illuminated mind/spirit; satori.

BO: A staff. Usually about 6 feet in length. Used in many Japanese Martial Arts.

BODDHIDHARMA: A Buddhist monk who traveled from India to China in the sixth Century. He settled in the Shaolin temple and formulated the beginnings of Kung Fu and Zen Buddhism. It is uncertain whether Bodhidarma is a real or legendary figure.

BOKKEN or BOKTO: A wooden sword. Used predominantly in Iaido and Aikido.

BUDO: The way of combat. A Japanese term for arts that use peaceful combat as a way of mastering the self. The ideogram for bu also means to stop the combat; there is an implication of containment of military power and prohibition of abuse.

BUSHIDO: The Way Of The Warrior. A code of ethics that all warriors were meant to follow. This code included loyalty to one's Lord, respect to others, Justice and honesty.

BUNKAI: The (Study Of) application to Kata. Practicing the movements, sometimes with partners, paying attention to what the move is doing and how it could be used against an attacker.

CHADO: The (way of the) tea ceremony.

CHOKUTSUKI: Straight Punch.

CHI: It is believed that a form of energy circulates through the Universe. On its path it travels through everything, including people. Many Martial Arts believe that if this power can be directed, it can be used to put power into techniques. It is also believed that if this energy's path through the body is blocked, illness will follow. The arts of Acupressure and Acupuncture attempt to remove blockings from the meridians (pathways the energy uses to travel through the body) to ensure good health.

The Japanese term for Chi is Ki.

CHUDAN: Stomach level as a target - eg Junzuki Cudan. Proper target is to aim for the Solar Plexus, a nerve center in the stomach that causes malfunction or cessation of the Autonomic breathing action.

DAN: Level. Prefixed by another word to say what level. Examples: Chudan-Stomach Level; Jodan-Head Level; Shodan-First Level etc.

DACHI: Pronounced Datch. Stance.

DO: The Way.

DOJO: Japanese term for where the Arts are taught.

DOKAN: The ring of the way; repetition, constant practice.

ETIQUETTE: An important element of Martial Art training. Properly observed etiquette allows us to maintain focus on what we are trying to achieve, lets us release our egos and concentrate on learning and becoming better people.

EMPI: Elbow.

FUNAKOSHI GICHIN (1869-1957): The founder and inventor of the Shotokan style of Karate. Considered by many to be the father of all Karate as he introduced it into Japan in the early 1920's.

FUNAKOSHI YOSHITAKA: The son of Funakoshi Gichin. Funakoshi Yoshitaka taught students to pull kicks and punches rather than using full force. this enabled them to compete in competitions. He also formulated rules for competitions. He is acclaimed to have turned Karate-Jutsu into Karate-Do.

FUMIKOMI: Stamping Kick.

GENDAN BARAI: Lower Level Sweep. A defensive action whereby the arm is swept across the body to defend against chudan or godan attacks. The purpose is to redirect an incoming attack and upset the attackers balance and stability to make an opening for your own counter attack.


GERI: Kick.

GI: Japanese term for Martial Arts uniform.

GIRI: Often wrongly interpreted to mean "Loyalty", Giri means Obligation. This is far stronger than a mere loyalty. This is when you promise something to such an extent that the thought of not fulfilling the promise just does not cross your mind. This is the attitude that you should have towards your training. The technique is the technique. It can't be any less because today you have a headache, or you have a stomachache. Right is Right and you must always strive to make each and every technique the right technique.

GO: Five.

GOKOKU: A resuscitation point in the fleshy area between the thumb and index finger.

GO NO SEN: Waiting for your opponent to attack and counter attacking the opening they leave. "You are at your weakest at the moment of attack" relies on the fact that attackers mind becomes focused on the attack, thus the defender has more chance of a successful counter attack.

GO RIN NO SHO: The Book Of Five Rings. A book on strategy and technique written by Miyamoto Mushashi, an incredible swordsman of the 17th. Century. The book is still studied by students of Kendo and by Japanese businessmen who adopt the strategies to everyday business life.

GYAKU: Reverse or back. Often used before a technique (eg gyakuzuki-reverse punch) to specify how that technique is to be preformed.

GYAKUZUKI: Reverse Punch or Back Hand Punch. the punch is delivered with the opposing hand to the leading foot; ie if you have the left foot forward, you punch with the right hand.

GYAKUZUKI NO TSUKKOMI: Reverse Leading Punch to Groin.

HARA: The Japanese term for the abdomen. The center of the Ki or universal vital energy within the body.

HACHI: Eight.

HARIKIRI: Ritual Suicide. See Sepukku.

HAITTO: Ridge Hand.


HIDARI: Left. As in Hidari Gamae which means left guard.

HIRONORA OHTSUKA (1892-1982): The founder and inventor of the Wado Ryu style of Karate. Hironora Ohtsuka had studied both Japanese Jujitsu and Karate. The Wado Ryu style of Karate utilises aspects of both forms of these Martial Arts.

HARA: Intestines; the center and source of physical energy, in the lower abdomen.

HISHIRYO: Think without thinking; consciousness beyond thought.

HONBU: The dojo or training hall of the cheif instructor. the main dojo for an association or group of clubs. Often where the teachers go to learn.

IAIDO: The Japanese art of drawing the sword. The sword is drawn directly into an attacking movement then returned to the scabbard.

IRIMI: To enter your opponents incoming technique allowing a counter attack. Instead of stepping away from your opponent, use angled to avoid the income attack and simultaneously take you closer to them. The last two moves in Pinan Godan are a good example of this.

ICHI or SHO: One.

IPPON: Full point in Contest.

IPPON KEN: Single Knuckle Strike.

IPPON KUMITE: One step sparring.

JEET KUNE DO: The Way Of The Intercepting Fist. A style of Kung Fu formulated by Bruce Lee, based on the Wing Chun style of Kung Fu.

JIJU KUMITE: Free sparring.

JO: Short Staff.

JODAN: Head.

JODAN JUJI UKE: X Block above head.

JODAN UKE: A head level defense. The defending arm is brought across the face in a twisting motion (Similar to punching diagonally above the head) to redirect an incoming,jodan attack.

JU: Ten.

JUJITSU: The Mother Art of All Martial Arts. The first dated mention of Jujitsu was during the period 772-481 B.C. when open-hand techniques were used during the Choon Chu era of China. In A.D. 525 Boddhidharma, a Zen buddist monk, traveled from India to China visiting the Shaolin monetary. He soon combined Chinese Kempo (Kenpo in Japanese) with Yoga breathing to form Shaolin chuan fa (Shorinji Kenpo in Japanese). As legend has it, Boddhidharma eventually developed the system further into what became Go-Shin-Jutsu-Karate (self defense art of open hand). In 230 B.C. the wrestling sport of Chikura Kurabe developed in Japan and was integrated into Jujitsu training. Approximately 2,000 years ago there is also mention of the development of wrestling and related techniques that served as the base of Jujitsu.

JUJITSUKA: A student in the art of Jujitsu.

JUDO: A Japanese art developed by Kano Jigoro (1860-1938) in 1882. Kano a Jujitsu master took the less dangerous techniques of Jujitsu to develop the sport of Judo.

JUDOKA: A student of the art of Judo.


JUJI: Cross.


JUNZUKI: A front punch. Sometimes referred to as a lunge punch but this can suggest a lack of balance when performing the technique.

KADO: (The way of) flower arranging, or ikebana.

KAGI TSUKI: Hook Punch.


KANO JIGORO (1860-1938): The founder of Judo.

KARA: Empty.

KAMAE: Attitude, Posture. Preforming a technique rather than "Going Through The Motions".

KANJI: Chinese writing adopted by Japan.

KARATE: The literal translation means Empty Hand. Karate is a number of different styles for unarmed self defense. Karate-Jutsu is concerned with using unarmed combat in real situations with the aim being towin in a fight. Karate-Do is concerned with using the art of Karate to master oneself.

KARATEKA: A student of the art of Karate.

KATA: A preset series of movements that show the principles of the style under which they were formulated. To really "Master" a kata takes years of diligent practice. Kata is also the Highest Level of Moving Zen and allows the student to block out all the daily troubles and woes and to become at one with their existence.

KATACHI: Form. This is form as a noun (as opposed to Kata which is form as a verb). This means the shape, stance etc.

KATANA: The Japanese sword used by the Samurai. The blade of the sword is slightly curved.

KATSU: 1 To win. 2 Particular kind of loud cry or shout, same as Kiai. 3 A technique of resuscitation or stimulation of energy.

KERI: To Kick. Often prefixed by another word to show what type of kick. When prefixed with another word Keri becomes Geri. Example Ushiro means backward or behind, Ushirogeri means a back kick.

KERI WAZA: Kicking technique.

KI: The Japanese term for Chi.

KI KEN TAI NO ICHI: Spirit (Ki) Technique (Ken) and Body (Tai) AS On (No Ichi).

KIAI: This is the "Shout" given out to reinforce certain moves. It should be preformed by tensioning the stomach muscles rather than just shouting. It can be thought of as the joining of the spiritual and the physical.

Whilst many people do not believe that Kiai actually means anything. I heard it translated as "Bringing spirit and body into Harmony". Certainly this is a good thought to hold whilst uttering the Kiai. Ki means Universal Energy and Ai means Harmony. the act of uttering the Kiai should be to attempt to bring your physical and spiritual being in line with the universal energy, thus making you undefeatable.

KIBA DACHI: Horse Riding Stance.

KIHON: A basic technique. See Waza.

KIKAI: "The ocean of energy" (lower abdomen); also Kikaitanden.

KIME: Focus. In performing basic techniques without a partner, each technique must be focused. It is necessary to imagine where the opponent would be and the technique should finish at that point. All too frequently peoples techniques end when their arm is straight, ie when the physical limits of the body have been reached, rather than at a predefined point in space.

KOAN: Initially, a law, principle of government; later the riddles, questions, etc., used by Zen masters to educate their disciples.

KOBO ICHI: Attack and defense as one. In Wado Ryu there is no attack, there is no defense. The two are simultaneous.

KOKUTSU DACHI: Any stance where the weight is predominantly over the rear leg. According to styles and schools this can include stances such as Neko Ashi Dachi, Mahanmi Neko Ashi Dachi etc,. The opposite of Zenkutsu Dachi.

KOKYU: Breathing. Correct breathing is important to unsure that you do not run out of breath during long combinations or kata.

KU: Nine.

KUMITE: To spar or partner work. Can be preset partner work where both attacker and defender have prearranged moves Ippon Kumite, Ohyo Kumite Kihon Kumite) or free sparring (Jiyu Kumite).

KYOSAKU: A Long, flat stick used by a Zen master or person in charge of a dojo or zazen, to arouse or calm disciples having difficulty with their posture.

KYU: Belt Grade.

KYUDO: (The way of) archery.

KYUSHO: A pressure point in the body. The art of Kyusho-Jutsu looks to attacking the pressure points on the body to cause maximum damage from the minimum effort.

LEARN: Something you must strive to do. Admit that you don't know everything and release your ego. Failure to do so will result in a stagnation of mind and body and a failure to reach your true potential.

MA-AI: Proper distance or timing with regard to your opponent.

MAE GERI: Front Kick.

MAE TOBI GERI: Jump Front Kick.

MAWASHI: Round or circular as in Mawashigeri (roundhouse kick) or Mawashizuki (roundhouse punch).

MIGI: Right. As in Migi Gamae which means Right Guard.

MIKAZUKI: Crescent as in kick.

MOKUSO: Meditation. Emptying or clearing the mind. Can be done prior to and after training.

MOROTE: Two arm or Hand.

MUSHIN: "Empty Mind". A state that allows you to be receptive to anything that is happening around you.

MUSO: Not-posture; unselfconscious, unelaborated posture.

NAGARE: Flow. In combinations (renraku) each technique (waza) should flow into the next. It is not sufficient to perform one technique after another staccato style as this leads to a "dead time" between each technique. It also means that the kinetic energy that you have built up (by moving the body) is dissipated and needs to be restarted.

NAGASHI: To sweep away.

NAGASHIZUKI: Evading jumping front hand punch. The body weight is propelled forward while punching without stepping or changing stance (similar to tobikomizuki). However, at the same time the body angle is changed by turning the hips, to avoid any incoming attack.


NEKO ashi DACHI: Cat stance.

NI: Two.

NIDAN GERI: Double Kick with Jump.

NIHON NUKITE: Two finger strike.

NUKITE: Spear Hand.

NUNCHUKA: Two rods joined with rope or chain (weapon).

OBI: Belt.

OITSUKI: Forward lunge punch.

OTOSU (OTOSHI): To drop. As in Otosu Empi-a strike by dropping the elbow or Otosu Uke-a defense by dropping the hand down.

PERSEVERE: To persist, To maintain an effort, not to give in. Something all Martial Artists do. If you don't do it you won't succeed.

REI: To show respect. The showing of respect is normally done by bowing, consequently all students normally bow on the command Rei.

RINZAI: A Ch'an master and founder of a school; known in Chinese as Lin Tsi. In Rinzai Zen more formal use is made of koans; and zazen, which is practiced facing the center of the room, tends to be seen as a means of obtaining Satori.

RENRAKU WAZA: Combination Techniques. Multiple attacks and defenses performed in succession.

ROSHI: A Master.

ROKU: Six.

RYU: School or Style.

SAMADHI: Perfect, total concentration.

SAN: Three.

SANRAN: In Zazen, a state of excessive tension or agitation. Satori awakening to the truth of the cosmos.

SENKAKU: Accuracy. A jodan technique should be performed at head level. It should not be "waved about in the air".

SEN NO SEN: To counter attack or attack at the precise moment your opponent attacks.

SEIZA: Formal seating posture. Kneeling position.

SEMPAI: Senior Black Belt up to 2nd. dan.

SENSEI: Teacher, Instructor.

SHI: Four.

SHICHI: Seven.

SEPUKKU: Japanese ritual suicide. The person comitting Sepukku (or Harikiri) would use a small sword in a kneeling position to disembowel themselves. They would have a friend standing by their side who would complete the suicide by cutting off the head with a sword.

SHIRO: White. Often used in Kumite (fighting) competition where one competitor wears a red belt the other a white belt. The officials then refer by the color of their belt. See also Aka.

SHODO: (The way of) calligraphy.

SHIHAN: One who is 4th. Dan or Higher.

SHIZEN TAI: Natural stance.

SHUTO: Knife Hand.

SOKUDO: Speed.

SOTO: The school of Zen founded by Dogen. It differs from Rinzai in that Zazen is practiced facing the wall, less systematic use is made of the koan, and Zazen, rather than a means of obtaining Satori, is Satori.

SOTO UKE: Outer Block.

TAI SABAKI: Body Movement. A method of moving the body to avoid incoming attacks whilst still remaining in distance with your opponent. In this way, a counter attack can be delivered simultaneously with your defense.

TATAME: Thick mats made of rice straw. They form the flooring of traditional Japanese rooms and used underfoot in many Dojos practicing the Martial Arts.

TATESUKI: Upper cut punch.

TE: Hand.

TEISHO: Palm Heel.

TETTSUI: Hammer Fist.

TOBIKOMIZUKI: Jumping front hand punch. the body is propelled forward while punching without stepping or changing stance.

TORI: An attacker.

TSUKI: To punch. Often prefixed by another word to show the type of punch. When prefixed with another word Tsuki becomes Zuki. Example Gyaku means reverse, Gyakuzuki means a reverse, or back hand, punch.

UCHI: To strike. this term is normally used for strikes that can not be classed as kicks or punches. For example Uraken, Tettsui etc..

UCHI UKE: Inner forearm block.

UKE: A defense or a defender. Sometimes translated as a block, we try to advoid this translation as we do not perform "blocks", we guide, parry or redirect incoming attacks.

URA: Back or flipside (mirror image).

URAKEN: Back fist.



WADO RYU: The School of the way of harmony. So called because practitioners of the style try to harmonize with their opponents on a physical and mental plane.

WAZA: A single technique; the individual building blocks of the Martial Arts.

WING CHUN: A style of Kung Fu formulated by a Buddhist nun. As it was originally intended for women, the style puts greater emphasis on technique than brute strength. the style aims at defending the center line of the body (thus protecting the vital internal organs) and utilizes fast punches and few kicks. Kicking techniques are limited to attacking the lower part of the body.

The style was originally studied by Bruce Lee who created the style of Jeet Kune Do around the principles of Wing Chun.

WU SHU: Another term for Kung Fu. Kung Fu is the Cantonese term for Wu Shu. Cantonese is the dialect spoken in Hong Kong. Because Kung Fu was mand popular in the west by the Bruce Lee films made in Hong Kong, this is the term more frequently used in the west.

YOI: Ready.

YOKO: Side.

YOKOGERI: Side Kick.

YUDANSHA: The collective noun for all Dan grades present.

ZAFU: The round cushion on which one sits to practice Zazen.

ZANSHIN: Awareness. To be passively aware of things that are happening as opposed to actively concentrating on them. In this state of mind we are able to react to anything that happens around us. The physical aspects of the Martial Arts allow us to practice and perfect moves for fighting. The ability to achieve an empty mind and Zanshin allows us not to be preoccupied by anything happening around us. The combination of physical skill and mental control should allow any student to become proficient at self defense.

ZAZEN: The practice of Zen; sitting meditation.

ZEN: True, profound silence. Commonly translated as objectless concentration or meditation; or, the original, pure human spirit.