Karate Terminology & Vital Points

Inside your Dojo, your Sensei will use various Japanese terminology referring to techniques, terms and vital points used in traditional Karate. Although they are explained in English also, this page helps as a guide for you to improve your knowledge and vocabulary.

Terminology Introduction

A real traditional emphasis.

In all of our classes, our Dojo instructor use the correct Japanese names and terms for a majority of the techniques. We run traditional Okinawan Dojo's and as such we observed traditional Okinawan practices by using the correct terms and etiquette. Your instructor and senior members of you club will assist you in developing your terminology knowledge.

Arriving or Leaving the Dojo

What to say and when.

Arriving at the Dojo, you should bow as you enter the door and in a loud and clear voice say:

Onegaishimasu - Please teach me.

When leaving the Dojo at the end of class or for the day, you should bow once again and say:

Arigato Gozaimashita - Thank you very much.


Sayonara - Goodbye.

Class opening ceremony

Performed at the beginning of every class.

Shugo Line up (phonetically ‘shho-go’)

Ki o tsukeStand to attention (phonetically ‘kee-ut-skay’)

Seiza Kneel (phonetically ‘say-zah’)

Mokuso Meditate (phonetically ‘mok-so’)

Mokuso yame Finish meditating

Shomen ni Face the front of the dojo (phonetically ‘sho-men nee’)

Rei Bow (phonetically ‘ray’)

Sensei ni Face your teacher

Rei Bow and say aloud Onegaishimasu meaning please teach me (phonetically ‘on-ee-guy-shim-ass’)

Shomen ni Face the front of the dojo

Kiritsu Stand up (phonetically ‘kee-ree-tsoo’) 

Class closing ceremony

Performed at the conclusion of each class.

Shugo Line up

Ki o tsuke Stand to attention

Seiza Kneel

Mokuso Meditate

Mokuso yame Finish meditating

Shomen ni Face the front of the dojo

Rei Bow

Sensei ni Face your teacher

Rei Bow and say aloud Arigato Gozaimashita meaning thank you (phonetically ‘ary-gato goz-aye-mahsh-tah’)

Otagai ni Face your partner

Rei Bow and say aloud Arigato Gozaimashita

Shomen ni Face the front of the dojo

Kiritsu Stand up and bow.

When leaving the dojo at the end of a lesson, it is not necessary to wait and leave the dojo in order of rank. But if you do meet at the exit, it is just a matter of courtesy to allow the senior to go first.

Japanese Grammar: You will sometimes hear people say ‘arigato gozaimashita’ (with a ‘tah’ at the end) or ‘arigato gozaimasu’ (without the ‘tah’). It is just a case of thanking someone in the future or past tense. ‘Arigato gozaimashita’ is used at the end of the lesson to thank the Sensei for the lesson just given. ‘Arigato gozaimasu’ would be used at the start of the lesson to thank the Sensei for the lesson they are about to give. 


How we count in Japanese

Ichi One

Ni Two

San Three

Shi Four

Go Five

Roku Six

Shichi Seven

Hachi Eight

Ku Nine

Ju Ten 

Blocking technique names

Blocking techniques are know as 'Uke Waza'

Jodan Age uke Head level rising block.

Chudan Yoko uke Middle level side block.

Gedan harai Lower level sweep block.

Hiki uke Pulling/grasping block.

Ko uke Wrist block

Shotei barai Palm heel sweep

Shotei uke Palm heel block

Uchi uke Forearm block (block from outside moving inward to the centre line of the body)

Sukui uke Scooping block

Tora guchi Tiger mouth block

Punches & Striking technique names

Punching techniques are known as 'Tsuki Waza' & strikes 'Uchi Waza'

Jodan tsuki Punch to the face

Chudan tsuki Punch to the chest

Gedan tsuki Punch to the groin

Age tsuki Rising punch (upper cut)

Furi tsuki Circular punch (hook)

Gyaku tsuki Reverse punch

Kizami Tsuki Jab Punch

Oi tsuki Lunge punch

Seiken Tsuki Forefist punch (standard punch)

Ura tsuki Close range punch 

Uraken uchi Back fist strike

Hijiate Elbow strike

Haito uchi Ridge hand strike

Heiken uchi Fore knuckle fist strike

Koken Wrist strike

Nukite uchi Spear hand strike

Shuto uchi Knife-edge hand strike

Sokuto uchi Knife-edge foot strike

Teisho uchi Palm heel strike (sometimes called shotei uchi)

Tetsui uchi Hammer fist strike 

Kicking technique names

Kicking techniques are known as 'Geri Waza'

Mae geri Front kick

Mawashi geri Roundhouse kick

Yoko geri Side kick

Ushiro geri Back kick

Hiza geri Knee kick

Kansetsu geri Stamping kick, joint kick

Fumikomi geri Heel Kick

Mae ashi geri Front leg kick

Tobi geri Jumping kick 

Ashi Barai Foot sweep

Training equipment & Partner drills

Training equipment is know as Hojo Undo & partner drills as Kumite.

Chi ishi Lever weighted stone

Ishi sashi Stone padlocks

Kongo ken Iron ring

Makiwara Striking board

Nigiri game Gripping jars

Tan Barbells 

Kumite sparring

Ippon kumite one step sparring (block and counter)

San dan gi Basic three step sparring

Randori kumite Slow and soft free style sparring with emphasis on technique

Yakusoku kumite Prearranged sparring

Bunkai Applications for the Kata

Kakie Close quarters push hands exercise

Iri kumi Ju Soft, fast but controlled continuous free style sparring

Iri kumi Go Full contact sparring 

General terms

Everyday words you hear in class

Gi Uniform 

Obi Belt

Budo Martial Way; Martial arts

Chudan Middle level

Dan Level

Do Way; Path

Dojo Training place

Dojo kun Dojo rules

Gasshuku Special karate training camp

Gedan Lower level

Go Hard, unyielding

Goju-Ryu Karate Do Hard/Soft style, empty handed way

Hai Yes

Hajime Begin

Heishugata ‘Closed Fist’ kata (Sanchin and Tensho)

Hidari Left

Honbu dojo Head dojo of an organisation

Jodan Upper level

Ju Soft, flexible

Junbi undo Warm up exercises

Kaishugata ‘Open fist’ kata (Gekisai, Saifa, etc.)

Kamae Combative posture

Kata Forms

Keage Snap action

Kenkon The symbol of the IOGKF – Literally ‘Heaven and Earth’

Kiai Energy shout

Kihon Basics

Kime Focus point

Mawatte Turn around

Migi Right

Muchimi Heavy, sticky action

Semete Attacking partner

Sensei Teacher or one who has gone before

Senpai Senior student

Shihan Master or professor

Shime Sanchin testing

Suri ashi Sliding step

Tai sabaki Moving the body to avoid contact

Tanden The body´s power centre

Te Hand

Ude Forearm

Ude tanren Forearm conditioning

Zanshin Awareness 

Vital Points Chart