Dojo Terms

In Shotokan Dojo’s across the world, Japanese is frequently used in naming techniques, katas and perhaps counting. However, no knowledge of Japanese is needed prior to stating Karate, we at Aaisatsu don’t teach all in Japanese. Terms will be introduced slowly and always followed by English and perhaps a demonstration for clarification.

This page is full of pretty much all the Japanese terms you will ever need at Aaisatsu. The English translations are shown in the right hand column. Don’t worry about learning them all; that will come in time.

On this page the Japanese Kanji is also displayed where possible, in brackets next to the term. (Please note Kanji will only be displayed if installed on your computer).

Common Terms

Karate (空手) Kara – empty, te – hand
Shotokan (松涛館) Shoto – pine leaves, Kan – House
Dojo (道場) Training Hall, lit. place of the way
Sensei (先生) Teacher
Gi (衣 or 着) Karate suit or Uniform.
Kyu (級) Levels below black belt (Coloured belts)
Dan (段) The black belt levels
Kohai (後輩) Junior grade
Senpai (先輩) Senior grade
Yūdansha (有段者) Black belts

Instructions in the Dojo

Osu/Oss (押忍) Acknowledgement between karate-ka
Rei (礼) Bow
Yoi (用意) Ready position
Hajime (始め) Start.
Yame (止め) Finish
Matte (待って) Stop immediately!
Mawatte (回って) Turn
Chūdan (中段) Stomach level
Jōdan (上段) Head level
Gedan (下段) Groin level
Kamaete (構えて) Take stance
Kamae (構え) Stance lit. posture
Seiza (正座) Kneeling position lit. correct sitting
Otagi ni Rei Bow to each other
Sensei ni Rei Bow to the Sensei said by the Senpai
Mokuso (黙想) Meditation
Hidari (左) Left
Migi (右) Right


On some occasions the Sensei may count in Japanese. Counting in Japanese is fairly simple and normally in Karate you only need to know how to count to ten!

Ichi (一) One
Ni (二) Two
San (三) Three
Shi (四) Four
Go (五) Five
Roku (六) Six
Shichi (七) Seven
Hachi (八) Eight
Kyu (九) Nine
Ju (十) Ten


Kihon (基本) fundamentals or basics
Kata (型 or 形) form or pattern
Kumite (組手) lit. the meeting of hands, sparing/fighting


Gedan Barai (下段払い) Downward block
Age Uke (上げ受け) Rising block.
Uchi Uke (内受け) Middle inside block
Soto Uke (外受け) Middle outside clock
Shuto Uke (手刀受) Knifehand block
Nagashi Uke (流受) Sweeping block
Tate Shuto Uke Straight armed knifehand block
Ju Ji Uke (十字受) X Block
Morote Uke (諸手受) Support hand block


Tsuki Punch
Oi Tsuki (追い突き) Stepping punch
Gyaku Tsuki (逆突き) Reverse punch
Kizami Tsuki (刻突) Front hand snap punch
Sanbon Tsuki 3 punches
Maewashi Tsuki (回し突き) Roundhouse punch
Age Tsuki (上げ突き) Rising punch
Yama Tsuki(山突き) U shaped double fist punch
Uchi Strikes
Empi (猿臂) Elbow strike
Age Empi Rising elbow strike
Maewashi Empi Roundhouse elbow strike
Uraken (裏拳) Back hand strike
Nukite Spear hand strike
Taesho (底掌) Palm heel strike.
Shuto (手刀) Knife hand strike
Haito Ridge hand strike.
Tetsui Hammer fist strike
Geri Kick
Mae Geri (前蹴) Front kick
Yoko Geri (横蹴り) Side kick
Yoko Geri Keikomi (後蹴り) Side thrust kick
Yoko Geri Keage (横蹴込み) Side snap kick
Maewashi Geri (廻し蹴り) Roundhouse kick
Ushiro Geri (後蹴り) Back kick
Fumikomi (踏み込み) Stamp
Mikazuki Geri (三日月蹴り) Crescent kick
Ren Geri Combination kicks
Kakato Geri Axe kick
Ushiro Maewashi Geri Reverse Roundhouse
Tobi Geri Flying kick
Hiza Geri (膝蹴り) Knee Kick
Ashi Waza Leg techniques
Ashi Barai (払) Sweep
Yori Ashi Sliding motion, feet do not cross
Nami Ashi Block using the leg, as in Tekki Shodan


Zenkutsu Dachi (前屈立ち) Front stance
Kokutsu Dachi (後屈立ち) Back stance
Kiba Dachi (騎馬立ち) Horse Riding stance
Shiko Dachi (四股立ち) Horse Riding stance with feet pointed outward
Neikoashi Dachi (猫足立ち) Cat stance
Fudo Dachi (不動立ち) Rooted stance
Hangetsu Dachi (半月立ち) Half moon stance
Sochin Dachi (壯鎭立ち) Hour Glass stance
Kirkikaeshi Switch legs on the spot.
Musubi Dachi (結び立ち) Informal stance, heels together, feet at 45 degrees.
Tsuru Ashi Dachi (鶴足立ち) Crane Stance – One leg stance used in Gankaku.


Kime (決め) Focus, or the ability to make the whole body stop at the end of a technique. Breathing is an important part in Kime, however the exhalation should not be forced or make a sound similar to a kiai.
Hikate The resting position of the opposite hand to a punch, just above the hip.
Kiai (気合) A ferocious release of energy expressed as a loud shout, one should not say “kiai”, but make an individual expression.
© Liam Dean 2019