Karate Terminology

As karate originated from Okinawa and spread to Japan, many styles across the world seek to maintain this inherent heritage by continuing to teach karate using the original Japanese names for the various techniques being taught. Secondly, as karate now finds itself very much an international phenomenon, training with Japanese terminology is proving invaluable in allowing for people from different nationalities and cultures to train with one another, without suffering from any major translation problems. It is thus a good idea that you as a karateka learn this basic terminology in order to better understand what is going on in your classes.

Basic Technique Terminology

  • age-uke — rising block
  • ashi-barai — ankle sweep
  • empi — elbow
  • empi-uchi — elbow strike
  • chudan — stomach level
  • gedan-barai — downward block
  • gyaku-zuki — reverse punch
  • hajime — Begin!
  • hiraken — fore-knuckle fist
  • ippon — one point
  • jiju-ippon-kumite — semi free one-blow sparring
  • jodan — face level
  • kata — forms
  • kiba-dachi — straddle-leg stance
  • kime — focus
  • kokutsu-datchi — back stance
  • kamae — fighting stance
  • kumite — sparring
  • mae-geri — front kick
  • mae-geri-keage — front snap kick
  • mae-geri-kekomi — front thrust kick
  • mae-tobi-geri — flying front kick
  • mawashi-geri — roundhouse kick
  • mawashi-zuki — roundhouse punch
  • mawate — Turn!
  • makiwara — punching board
  • oi-zuki — lunge punch
  • riken — back fist
  • shuto — knife hand
  • uchi-uke — inside forearm block
  • ude-uke — outside forearm block
  • ushiro-geri — back kick
  • ushiro-geri-keage — back snap kick
  • ushiro-geri-kekomi — back thrust kick
  • uraken-uchi — back fist strike
  • yame — Stop!
  • yoi — Ready!
  • yoko-geri — side kick
  • yoko-geri-keage — side snap kick
  • yoko-geri-kekomi — side thrust kick
  • yoko-tobi-geri — flying side thrust kick

Japanese Count Sequence

  1. Ichi
  2. Ni
  3. San
  4. Shi
  5. Go
  6. Roku
  7. Shichi
  8. Hachi
  9. Ku
  10. Jiu

Black Belt Dans (Ranked from Lowest to Highest)

  1. Shodan
  2. Nidan
  3. Sandan
  4. Yondan
  5. Godan
  6. Rokudan
  7. Shichidan
  8. Hachidan
  9. Kudan
  10. Jiudan