This is the sixth post in a series of posts on karate terms which covers many general terms used in the dojo during training.

There are also a couple of videos after the list that cover many karate terms for beginners.

For previous posts in this series, please click the links below:


  1. General karate terms
  2. Basic karate term videos

General karate terms

Age: rising, upwards

Budo: the way of martial arts             

Chudan: chest area, approximately from neck to belly button

Dan: level

De-ai: the concept of using opponent’s momentum to increase the effectiveness of counterattack

Do: way, path

Dojo kun: martial arts ethics, martial arts code

Dojo: training place

Embusen: set line pattern for kata

Empi: elbow

Gasshuku: special karate training camp

Gedan: lower area of body

Gi: karate uniform

Go: hard, unyielding

Gohon kumite: five-step sparring technique

Goju ryu karatedo: the hard and soft style of karate

Hai: acknowledgement, yes

Haishu: back hand

Haito: ridge hand

Haiwan: back arm

Hajime: begin

Hanmi: half-front (45 degree) facing position

Happo kumite: sparring exercise with 8 opponents

Heian: peaceful mind

Hidari: left

Hiji: elbow

Honbu dojo: head dojo of an organisation

Jodan: face/head area

Ju: soft, flexible

Junbi undo: warming up exercises

Jyu ippon kumite: one-step free style sparring

Jyu kumite: free style sparring

Jyu sanbon kumite: sequence of 3 flowing jyu ippon kumite exercises by opponents

Kaishugata: open fist kata (e.g. Gekisai and Saifa)

Kakato: heel

Kamae te: ready hands

Kamae: ready stance, posture

Kata: forms

Keage: snap action

Keito: chicken-head wrist

Kekomi: thrusting action

Keri: kick

Kiai: a shout of spirit and determination

Kihon: basic exercises

Kime: focus point, a decisive finish

Kumite: sparring

Ma-ai: distancing between opponents

Makiwara: punching post

Mawatte: turn around

Migi: right

Mokkuso: close eyes

Mubobi: lack of defensive attitude

Muchimi: heavy, sticky action

Nidan: two

Obi: belt

Oos: a shout of respect, acknowledgement, understanding, courtesy

Otagai-ni: toward each other (otagai-ni rei means bowing toward each other)

Rei: respect, bow

Seiza: kneeling position

Semete: attacking partner

Sempai: senior student

Senpai: senior student

Sensei: the one who comes before, teacher, instructor, master

Sentei kata: student’s preferred grading kata

Shiai: competition

Shihan: master or professor

Shime: sanchin testing

Shitei kata: mandatory grading kata

Shomen: front of the dojo

Sokuto: food edge

Suri ashi: sliding step

Tai sabaki: evasion, moving body to avoid an opponent

Tanden: elixir field, sea of qi, energy center or the body’s power center

Te: hand

Teisho: palm hand

Tokoi kata: favourite kata

Tori: person throwing

Tsuki ashi: sliding

Ude tanren: forearm conditioning

Ude: forearm

Yame: cease activity

Yoi: ready position

Zanshin: state of being aware and ready

Basic karate term videos

Here is a 10-minute video that covers 24 commonly used words in a karate dojo.

You will do very well if you remember and understand the meanings of these 24 words at around the time you get your yellow or orange belt.

This video covers 50 Japanese words commonly used in Japanese martial arts.

This video is 23 minutes long but it covers many karate terms for beginners, including general terms and basic technique terms.


Karate Japanese Terms – Yale Karate Club

Karate terminology

Karate terminology