Shotokan Terminology

This page provides you with essential Japanese terms and commands used in Shotokan Karate. Students need to know these Japanese words in order to pass belt tests, interact with their Sensei, understand Shotokan kata, count in Japanese (i.e. during warm-ups), etc. Below you will find the Japanese words for many different Shotokan kicks, Shotokan punches, Shotokan stances, Shotokan greetings, Shotokan numbers and much more.

General Terms

Arigato - Thank You (Informal)
Arigato gozaimasu - Thank You (Formal)
- Staff (Weapon)
- The application of kata with a partner
Chudan - Middle (Stomach Level)
Dachi - Stance
- Black Belt Rank
Dojo - School (Martial Arts)
Dojo Kun (Five Rules for Behaviour) - Training Hall Rules
Dozo - Please
Embusen - Line of movement
Gedan - Lower (Groin or Lower Level)
Geri (or Keri) - Kick
Gi (Gee) - Uniform
Hai (sounds like Hi) - Yes
- Begin
Jodan - Upper (Head Level)
- Form (or Pattern)
Kiai - Yell (Spirit Yell or Battle Shout)
Kihon - Basics
Kumite - Sparring
Kime - Focus
Kyu - Colour Belt Rank
- No (false)
Maai - Distancing (The correct distance between two opponents)


Makiwara - Punching Board
- Meditate
Nage Waza - Throwing Techniques
Mawatte - Turn Around
Obi - Uniform Belt
Osu (Oss)- Persevere When Pushed (Will Try My Best) However, be aware that the term Osu can be used for many different things in various dojos.
Rei - Bow
Seiretsu - Line Up
Seiken - Forefist
Seiza - Kneeling Formal Position
Sempai - Senior Student
Sensei - Instructor (Martial Arts Teacher)
Sensei ni rei - bow to the Teacher
Shomen ni rei - Bow to the front
Tori - Attacker
Uchi - Strike
Uke - Block (or the Defender)
Yame - Stop
Yasume - Relax
Yoko - side, sideways
Yoi - Ready, prepare
Waza - Technique
Zuki (or Tsuki) - Punch

Japanese Numbers

One – Ichi
Two – Ni
Three – San
Four – Shi
Five – Go
Six – Roku
Seven – Shichi
Eight – Hachi
Nine – Kyu
Ten – Juu
Eleven – Juu Ichi
Twelve – Juu Ni
Thirteen – Juu San

Fourteen – Juu Shi
Fifteen – Juu Go
Sixteen – Juu Roku
Seventeen – Juu Shichi
Eighteen – Juu Hachi
Nineteen – Juu Kyu
Twenty – Ni Juu
Thirty – San Juu
Forty – Shi Juu
Fifty – Go Juu
Hundred – Hyaku
Two Hundred – Ni Hyaku
Thousand – Sen

Punches & Hand/Arm Strikes (Zuki Waza)

Zuki (or Tsuki) - Punch
Uchi - Strike
Age Zuki - Rising Punch
Choku Zuki
- Straight punch
Gyaku Zuki
- Reverse Punch
Empi Uchi - Elbow Strike
Haito Uchi - Ridge Hand Strike
Ippon Ken - One Knuckle Strike
Kage Zuki - Hook Punch
Kizami Zuki - Jab Punch
Mawashi Zuki - Roundhouse Punch

Morote Zuki - Double Punch
Nukite Zuki - Spear Hand Strike
Nihon Nukite – Two Finger Spear
Oi Zuki - Lunge Punch
Sanbon Zuki - Triple Punch
Shotei Uchi - Palm Heel Strike
Shuto Uchi - Knife Hand Strike
Tetsui Uchi - Hammer Fist Strike
Ura Zuki - Uppercut Punch
Uraken Uchi - Back Fist Strike
Yama Zuki - Two-Level Double Punch or Mountain Punch

Kicks (Geri Waza)

Ashi Barai - Foot Sweep
Fumakomi Geri - Stomp Kick
Geri (or Keri) - Kick
Gyaku Mawashi Geri - Reverse Round Kick
Hiza Geri - Knee Strike
Kakato Geri - Axe Kick
Mae Geri - Front Kick

Mae Tobi Geri - Front Jump Kick (Back Lg First)
Mawashi Geri - Round Kick
Mika Zuki Geri - Crescent Kick
Ushiro Geri - Back Thrust Kick
Ushiro Mawashi Geri - Spinning Back Roundhouse Kick
Yoko Geri Keage - Side Snap Kick
Yoko Geri Kekomi - Side Thrust Kick


Dachi - Stance
Fudo Dachi - Rooted Stance (Immovable Stance)
Han Zenkutsu Dachi - Fighting Stance (Shortened or Half Zenkutsu)
Hachiji Dachi - Open Leg Stance / Natural Stance
Heiko Dachi - Parallel Stance
Hangetsu Dachi -Half Moon Stance
Heisoku Dachi - Closed Leg Stance (Attention Stance - Feet Together)
Kiba Dachi - Horse Riding Stance
Kokutsu Dachi - Back Stance

Kosa Dachi - Crossed Feet Stance
Musubi Dachi
- Attention Stance (Feet in V Shape)
Neko Ashi Dachi
- Cat Stance (or Cat Foot Stance)
Renoji Dachi
- L Stance
Sanchin Dachi - Hourglass Stance
Shiko Dachi - Sumo Stance
Teiji Dachi - T Stance
Zenkutsu Dachi - Front Stance

Blocks (Uke Waza)

Uke - Block

Age Uke - Rising Block
Gedan Barai 
- Down Block
Jiji Uke - Elblow block
Juji Uke - X Block
Kake Uke - Hook Block
Morote Uke - Reinforced Block (Augmented Block)

Nagashi Uke - Sweeping Block
Osae Uke - Pressing Block
Shuto Uke - Knife Hand Block
Soto Uke - Outside Forearm Block
Teisho Uke - Palm Block (Palm Heel Block)
Uchi Uke –Inside Forearm Block

Sparring (Kumite)

Go-hon Kumite - 5 step Sparring
San-bon Kumite - 3 step Sparring
Kihon-ippon Kumite - Basic 1 step Sparring
Kaeshi-ippon - Return 1 step Sparring

Jiyu-ippon Kumite - Semi-freestyle Sparring
Okuri Jiyu-ippo Kumite
- 2 step semi-freestyle sparring
Jiyu Kumite - Freestyle Sparring

Body Parts (i.e. Target Areas for Strikes)

Abdomen (Belly) – Hara
Ankle – Ashikubi
Arm – Wan
Ear – Mimi
Elbow – Empi or Enpi (sounds like En-pee or Em-pee)
Eye – Me
Face – Kao
Finger – Yubi
Fist – Ken
Foot – Ashi
Groin – Kinteki
Hair – Kami

Hand – Te
Head – Atama (sounds like Ah-ta-ma)
Heel – Kakato (sounds like Ka-ka-toe)
Jaw – Ago
Knee – Hiza (sounds like He-zah)
Mouth – Kuchi
Nose – Hana
Palm of Hand – Shute
Shoulder – Kata
Throat – Nodo (sounds like No-doe)
Toe – Tsumasaki
Wrist – Tekubi


Allow opponent to attack first – Go No Sen
Attack at the exact moment the opponent attacks – Sen No Sen
Fighting stance - Hanmi Gamae
Square facing - Shomen
Side facing - Hanmi
Shift body out of line of attack – Tai Sabaki
Sliding your feet – Suri Ashi
Step-up with the back foot and then advance the front foot – Tsugi Ashi
Slide in closer with your front foot first, then slide up your back foot – Yori Ashi
Distancing, timing and attitude respective to your opponent - Maai