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Karate Terminology

Below is a fairly complete list of Japanese terms and their approximate English translation. This list is intended to give new students a quick guide to terms that may be used in class and a close estimate of the pronunciation.

NOTE: This is by no means a complete list of karate terms in Japanese, nor is it a precise translation or pronunciation list. Japanese-English translation is a complicated process that can yield several interpretations for the same phrase, and proper Japanese pronunciation is only achieved with well-informed practice and feedback from someone with good understanding of the Japanese language. Fortunately, perfect pronunciation and translation skills are not necessary for practicing karate.

English Japanese Pronunciation
Stances Tachikata tah-chee-kah-tah
A. Natural Stance Shizen-Tai she-zen-tie
B. Feet-together stance Heisoku-dachi hi-so-ku da-chee
C. Informal attention Stance Musubi-dachi mu-su-be da-chee
D. Straddle leg Stance
(Horse Stance)
Kiba-dachi key-ba da-chee
E. Front Stance Zenkutsu-dachi zen-koot-su da-chee
F. Back Stance Kokutsu-dachi ko-koot-su da-chee
G. Diagonal Horse Stance Sochin-dachi so-chin da-chee
H. Square Stance Shiko-dachi she-ko da-chee
I. Cross leg Stance Kosa-dachi ko-sa da-chee
J. Half moon Stance Hangetsu-dachi han-get-su da-chee
K. Hour glass Stance Sanchin-dachi san-chin da-chee
L. Cat leg Stance Neko ashi dachi neh-ko a-she da-chee
M. One legged Stance Sagi ashi-dachi sa-gee a-she da-chee
N. Kneel Seiza say-zah
O. Fighting Position Kamae kah-my
Punching Tsuki-Waza t-sue-key wa-za
A. Straight Punch Choko-zuki cho-ko zoo-key
B. Vertical fist Punch Tate-zuki ta-tay zoo-key
C. Thrust Punch Kizami-zuki key-za-me zoo-key
D. Rising Punch Age-zuki a-gay zoo-key
E. Roundhouse Punch Mawashi-zuki muh-wa-she zoo-key
F. Hook Punch Kage-zuki ka-gay zoo-key
G. Close Punch Ura-zuki oo-ra zoo-key
H. Lunge Punch Oi-zuki oi zoo-key
I. Reverse Punch Guyaku-zuki Ga-ya-koo zoo-key
       
J. Two-handed punches Morote-zuki more-oh-tay zoo-key
K. Wide U Punch Yama-zuki yah-ma zoo-key
L. U Punch Awase-zuki ah-wa-say zoo-key
M. Parallel Punch Heiko-zuki hay-koh zoo-key
N. Scissors Punch Hasami-zuki ha-sa-me zoo-key
Striking* Uchi Waza oo-chee wah-zah
A.Knife hand Strike Shuto-uchi shoe-toe oo-chee
B.Ridge hand Strike Haito-uchi hi-toe oo-chee
C.Elbow Strike Empi-uchi em-pee oo-chee
D.Back-fist Strike Uraken-uchi oo-rah-ken oo-chee
E.Palm heel Strike Taisho-uchi tie-show oo-chee
Kicking* Keri Waza kay-ree wah-zah
A.Front Kick Mae-geri my gay-ree
1.Front Snap Kick Mae-geri-keage my gay-ree kay-ah-gay
2.Front Thrust Kick Mae-geri-kekomi my gay-ree kay-koh-mee
       
B.Side Kick Yoko-geri yoh-ko gay-ree
1.Side Snap Kick Yoko-geri-keage yoh-koh gay-ree kay-ah-gay
2.Side Thrust Kick Yoko-geri-kekomi yoh-koh geh-ree kay-koh-mee
       
C.Back Kick Ushiro-geri oo-shee-roh gay-ree
1.Back Snap Kick Ushiro-geri-keage oo-shee-roh gay-ree kay-ah-gay
2.Back Thrust Kick Ushiro-geri-kekomi oo-shee-roh gay-ree kay-koh-mee
       
D.Roundhouse Kick Mawashi-geri mah-wah-she gay-ree
E.Crescent Kick Migazuki-geri me-ka-zoo-kee gay-ree
F.Stomping Kick Fumikomi foo-me-koh-me
1.Side Stomping Kick Yoko-Fumikomi yoh-koh foo-me-koh-me
       
G.Inside Snapping Kick Namigaeshi nah-me-guy-she
H.Knee Kick Hiza-geri he-zah geh-ree
I.Flying Side Kick Yoko-tobi-geri yoh-koh toe-be gay-ree
J.Front Instep Kick Kin-geri kin gay-ree
Blocking* Uke Waza oo-kay wah-zah
A.Downward Block Gedan-barai gay-don ba-rye
B.Forearm Block Soto-ude-uke so-toe oo-day oo-kay
C.Rising Block Age-uke ah-gay oo-kay
D.Dropping Block Otoshi-uke oh-toe-she oo-kay
E.Inward Block Uchi-uke oo-chee oo-kay
F.Knife hand Block Shuto-uke shoe-toh oo-kay
G.Upside-down Forearm
Block
Osai-uke oh-sigh oo-kay
H.X-Block Juji-uke joo-jee oo-kay
I.Scooping Block Tsukui-uke t-sue-kwee oo-kay


*Due to the large amount of striking, kicking, and blocking techniques only the fundamental ones are listed here.

General Terms

English Japanese Pronunciation
A.Left Hidari he-dah-ree
B.Right Migi mee-gee
C.Forms Kata kah-tah
D.Sparring Kumite koo-me-tay
E.Fundamentals(basics) Kihon key-hone
F.Lower Level Gedan gay-don
G.Middle Level Chudan choo-don
H.Upper Level Jodan joe-don
I.Reverse Gyaku ga-yah-koo
J.Forward Lunge Oi oi
K.Focusing Kime kee-may
L.Begin Hajime ha-jee-may
M.Backward Ushiro oo-shee-roh
N.Assume natural stance
(Shizen-tai)
Yoi or (yame) yoi (yah-may)
O.Do you understand? Wakarimasu? Wah-kah-ree-ma-suh
P.Eyes Closed Mokoso moh-kuh-so
Q.Eyes Open Mokoso-yame moh-kuh-so yah-may
R.Bow Rei ray
S.Excuse Me Shitsu rei shimasu she-t-soo ray she-ma-suh
T.Teacher Sensei sen-say
U.Senior Senpai sen-pie
V.Thank You (Formal) Arigato Gozaimasuta ah-ree-gah-toe go-zai-ma-shuh-tah
W.Yes-Get up Hai-tate hi tah-tay
X.Uniform Do-Gi doh-gee
Y.Place where karate
Is practieced
Dojo doh-joe
Z.Belt Obi oh-be
AA.Yell! Kiai kee-eye
BB.Remaining Spirit Zanshin zahn-shin
CC.Deep Breathing(Relax) Shin Ko Kyu shin-koh-key-you
DD.Front two knuckles Seiken say-ken
EE.Ball of the foot Koshi koh-she
FF.Edge of foot Sokuto soh-kuh-toe
GG.Heel of foot Kokuto koh-kuh-toe
HH.Yes! Oss oh-ss
II.Turn (180 degrees) Mawate mah-wah-tay
JJ.Turn (90 degrees) Hontai hohn-tai
KK.Empty Kara kah-rah
LL.Free Jiyu jee-you
MM.Hips Back Hanmi han-mee
NN.Hips Forward Zemi zeh-mee
OO.Center(movement) Tanden tahn-den

Numbers

English Japanese Pronunciation
A.One Ichi ee-chee
B.Two Ni nee
C.Three San sahn
D.Four Shi shee
E.Five Go goh
F.Six Roku roh-koo
G.Seven Shichi shee-chee
H.Eight Hachi hah-chee
I.Nine Ku koo
J.Ten Ju joo
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