Technical karate terms


Japanese Karate Terms

In all our training, we use a lot of Japanese karate terms together with the English translation. Everyone becomes familiar with the terms very quickly so that there’s a common understanding when training with different instructors.

Here’s an A-Z list of the more commonly used ones:

Age zukRising punch to head

Age uke  Rising block to head

Aka  Red

Aka no kachi  Victory for Red

Ashi  Foot/leg

Ashi barai  Foot sweep

Bassai uke  Block (first block in Bassai Dai)

Bassai-Dai Kata Meaning to penetrate a (large) fortress

Bassai-Sho Kata Meaning to penetrate a (small) fortress

Bunkai Formal application of kata technique

Chinte Kata Meaning rare hand

Choku zuki Punch (straight)

Chudan Middle part of the body (eg stomach)

Dachi Stance

Dan Senior black belt grades starting with Shodan


Do Way

Dojo School or training hall

Empi Kata Meaning flying swallow

Empi Elbow

Empi uchi  Elbow strike

Fudo dachi Stance (diagonally placed feet)

Fumidashi Step forward

Fuse haito uchi  Strike with turndown ridge of hand

Fuse shuto uchi Strike with turndown sword/knife hand

Gankaku Kata Meaning crane on a rock

Gedan Lower part of the body (eg groin)

Gedan barai  Downward block

Gedan kake uke  Downward hooking block

Gedan nagashi uke Downward sweeping block

Gi  Uniform (eg karate suit)

Go Number five

Go ju Number fifty

Goju Sho Ho Dai Kata Meaning fifty-four (big) steps

Goju Sho Ho Sho Kata Meaning fifty-four (small) steps

Goshin  Self-defence

Gyaku hanmi Body position with upper body and legs facing opposite ways

Gyaku mawashi geri Reverse roundhouse kick

Gyaku zuki  Reverse punch

Hachi Number eight

Haishu Back of hand

Haishu haito uchi Back of hand rising strike

Haishu uchi Back of hand strike

Haishu uke Back of hand block

Haisoku ashi barai Foot sweep with the instep

Haito Ridge of hand

Haito uchi Ridge of hand strike

Haito uke Ridge of hand block

Haiwan nagashi uke Back of forearm sweeping block as used in Tekki Katas

Hajime Begin/start

Hana Nose

Hangetsu Kata meaning half-moon

Hanmi Body position (hips are at 45 degree angle)

Hasami uchi Strike (scissors)

Hasami uke Block (scissors)

Hasami zuki Punch (scissors – fists converging, facing each other)

Heian Katas Series of five (peaceful mind) katas

Hidari Left

Hira haito uchi Strike (flat ridge of hand)

Hira shuto uchi Strike (flat turndown sword/knife)

Hirate barai Block (flat hand) sweep

Hirate nagashi uke Block (flowing flat hand)

Hitai Forehead

Hiza Knee

Hyaku One hundred


Ichi Number one

Ippon Score (full point)


Jion Kata Meaning love and goodness

Jitte Kata Meaning ten hands

Jiyu gamae Guard up (freestyle position)

Jiyu ippon kumite One attack sparring

Jiyu kumite  Free style sparring

Jo zukami Grasp (eg a cane)

Jodan Face level

Jodan shuto juji uchi Upper level crossed wrist strike

Jôgai Warning: out of match area

Ju Number ten

Ju ichi Number eleven

Ju ni Number twelve

Juji uke Crossed arms block


Kagi zuki Hook punch

Kakato Heel

Kake uke Hook block

Kanku Dai Kata Meaning to view the heavens (big)

Kanku Sho Kata Meaning to view the (small)

Keage Snap kick

Kekomi Thrust kick

Ken Fist

Kiai Spirited yell

Kiba dachi Straddle / horse riding stance

Kihon gohon kumite Basic five step sparring

Kihon ippon kumite Basic one step sparring

Kihon sanbon kumite Basic three step sparring

Kime Focus

Kizami gyaku zuki Reverse punch (reverse leading hand)

Kizami mae geri Forward kick (leading-leg)

Kizami mawashi geri Roundhouse kick (leading-leg)

Kizami zuki Leading-hand punch

Koko Tiger mouth block

Kokutsu dachi Back stance

Kosa uke Crossing block (simultaneous uchi uke and gedan barai)

Koshi  Hips / waist

Koshi kamae Fists to hips

Ku Number nine

Kumite Sparring

Kyu Rank / grade (student level)


Mae geri Front kick

Mae geri keage  Snap kick (from the front)

Mae geri kekomi Thrust kick (from the front)

Makiwara Punching board / post

Mawashi empi uchi  Roundhouse elbow strike

Mawashi geri Roundhouse kick

Migi Right

Mikazuki geri Crescent kick

Mokuso Meditation

Mokuso yame End of meditation

Morote uke Augmented forearm block

Moto no ichBack to the original position


Nagashi uke Sweeping / flowing block

Neko ashi dachi Cat stance

Ni Number two

Ni ju Number twenty

Nidan tobi geri Double (jump) kick

Nihon ren zuki Two consecutive punches

Niren geri  Double kick

Nukite Spear hand


Obi Belt

Oi zuki Stepping punch

Oss I understand or I follow (also used to show respect as you bow and enter the dojo)

Otagai ni rei Bow to one another (usually in class)

Otoshi Downward

Otoshi empi uchi  Downward elbow strike

Otoshi uchi Dropping strike

Otoshi uke Dropping fist block with horizontal elbow

Otoshi zuki Dropping punch


Rei Bow

Ren geri Kick alternate legs

Ren zuki Punch alternate fists

Roku Number six

Ryo ken ryo koshi gamae Both fists at both hips

Ryo yoko gedan barai gamae  Double sided lower level block

Ryoken juji uke Double fisted ‘X’ block


San Number three

San ju Number thirty

Sanbon ren zuki Three consecutive punches

Sanbon zuki Triple punch 

Sanchin dachi Hourglass stance

Sasae uchi uke Supported block (first move in Bassai Dai kata

Sasae uraken gamae Elbow supported by back of fist of other hand

Seiza Formal upright kneeling position

Sen Number one thousand

Sensei Instructor / master (someone who shows the way)

Sensei ni rei Bow to the instructor

Shi / Yon Number four

Shichi / Nana Number seven

Shihan Master instructor (6th Dan or higher)

Shiro White

Shiro no kachi Victory for white

Shizentai Natural position

Sho Palm

Shomen ni rei Bow to the front of the dojo

Shuto uchi Sword / knife hand strike

Shuto uke Sword / knife hand block

Shutsui Hammer hand

Sochin Kata Meaning strength and calm

Sochin dachi Straddle leg stance (diagonal feet)

Soto ude uke Outside of forearm block

Sukui uke Scooping block

Suri ashi Gliding step


Tameshiwari Breaking of wood / tiles, etc

Tate empi uchi Vertical elbow strike

Tate zuki Vertical punch

Te Hand

Te nagashi uke Flowing hand block

Teisho age uke Lower palm heel rising block

Teisho uke Lower palm heel block

Teisho zuki Palm heel punch

Tekki Sho-Dan, Ni-Dan & San-Dan Kata Iron Knight series I, II & III

Tekubi Wrist

Tettsui Hammer fist

Tsukami uke Grasping block

Tsukami Yose Grasping and pulling (as in Bassai-Dai / Sho Katas)

Tsuki te Punching hand

Tsuru ashi dachi Crane foot stance


Uke Block

Unsu Kata Meaning hands in the clouds

Ura mawashi geri Reverse roundhouse kick

Uraken uchi Back fist strike

Ushiro geri Back kick


Waki Side

Wankan Kata Meaning king and crown

Waza ari Score (almost a full point)


Yame Finish / stop

Yasume Relax and bow

Yoi Ready / attention

Yoko empi uchi Sideways elbow strike

Yoko gamae Sideways guard up

Yoko geri keage Side snap kick

Yoko geri kekomi Side thrust kick

Yoko uraken uchi Side back fist strike

Yon ju Number forty


Zanshin Awareness

Zen Meditation / life philosophy

Zenkutsu dachi  Front stance

You’ll understand karate so much better if you come and see us train!

Email or call 07496 276278.

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