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Japanese Glossary


Zen Budokai
Stanford Jujitsu Club

The glossary on this page serves as a quick reference to almost all of the Japanese terms used in the Club. Links to other glossaries can be found in the Glossaries and Dictionaries section of our Links page.

Numerals | Belt ranks | Notes


age zukirising punch
age ukerising block
aiharmony; join; fit
aikialigning one's ki with that of an opponent1; literally, "harmonized inner energy"
aikidomartial art derived from aiki jujitsu but which places more emphasis on spiritual development; founded by Morihei Ueshiba in the early 20th century
aiki jujitsustyle of juijtsu which places emphasis on aiki
ashifoot; leg; synonmous with soku
ashi gurumaleg wheel; throw in judo
ashi gyakulegscrew; literally, "leg torutre"
ashi hishigileg crush
ashi kubiankle; literally, "neck of the leg"
ashi kubi hishigiankle crush
ashi wazafoot and leg techniques
atemistriking the body
atemi wazabody-striking techniques



bajitsuhorsemanship; literally, "horse techniques"
baraispelling of harai when following another word
basamispelling of hasami when following another word
bolong staff
bojitsuart of the long staff
bokkenwooden sword used in kendo and kenjitsu
bumilitary; martial
budomartial arts of late medieval and post-medieval Japan emphasizing spiritual, health, and sport aspects over combat and self-defense; literally, "martial way"; compare to bujitsu
budokaimartial way organization
bunkaiapplication of form
bushiwarrior class of medieval Japan; also, a member of this class (synonymous with samurai2)
bushidounwritten moral and ethical code of conduct practiced by the bushi; similar to European chilavry; literally, "way of the warrior"
bujitsu fighting arts of the warrior class of medieval Japan; literally, "martial techniques" or "martial arts"; compare to budo



choku zukistraight punch
chuan fa(Chinese) fist way; kung fu; synonymous with kempo
chudanmiddle (of body); torso level



dachispelling of tachi when following another word
dandegree or step; in Japanese martial arts, used for black belt ranks (see belt ranks)
daishothe two swords worn by the samurai: the katana and wakizashi; literally, "long and short"
deadvanced; forward
de ashi baraiforward foot sweep; throw in judo
denzookno count
deshistudent; disciple
dojoexercise hall; the place where one practices the martial arts
dorispelling of tori when following another word



ebilobster; shrimp; prawn
ebi jimelobster choke
eku oar, used as a weapon in Okinawan karate
empielbow; literally, "monkey arm", but considered synonymous with hiji in Japanese martial arts
empi uchielbow strike
erilapel; collar



fudo dachirooted stance
fumistep on; tread on
fumikomistepping into; stomping
fumikomi geristomping kick
Funakoshi, Gichin father of Japanese karate, in particular, Shotokan



gakespelling of kake when following another word
ganmen shutoface-level knife-hand
ganmen shuto uchiface-level knife-hand strike
garamispelling of karami when following another word
garireap; reaping
gatamespelling of katame when following another word
gaeshispelling of kaeshi when following another word
gedanlower; waist-level or below
gedan barai ukelow sweeping block
gedan haittolower ridge-hand
gedan juji ukelower X-block
gedan shuto ukelower knife-hand block
gerispelling of keri when following another word
giuniform for practicing martial arts
gofive (see numerals)
godanfifth degree; fifth degree black belt (see belt ranks)
gohonfive long cylindrical objects
gohon nukitefive-finger spear-hand strike
gokyufifth class (see belt ranks)
goshispelling of koshi when following another word
gurumaspelling of kuruma when following another word
gyaku1. reverse; opposite; synonymous with saka; e.g., gyaku zuki
2. torture; tyranny; cruelty; oppression; e.g., ashi gyaku
gyaku zuki reverse punch (opposite-side hand and leg)
gyaku juji jimereverse cross choke



ha1. edge (of a sword)
2. wing; e.g., kataha jime
hachi eight (see numerals)
hachidaneigth degree; eigth degree black belt (see belt ranks)
hachijithe kanji hachi
hachiji dachiopen leg stance; literally, the stance where the feet are in the shape of the kanji hachi
hachimachitowel used as a headband
hadakanaked; nude; bare
hadaka jimenaked choke
hadarileft (side)
hai1. yes
2. back; behind; e.g., haito
haishuback of the hand
haishu uchiback hand strike
haisokuinstep; literally, "back of foot"
haisoku geriinstep kick
haito ridge-hand (thumb side of hand); literally, "back knife"
haito uchiridge-hand strike
hanespringing or bouncing
hane goshispringing hip; throw in judo
hane makikomispringing wrap-around; throw in judo
hangetsu dachihourglass stance
hanshihonorific title given in recognition of one's character, not just technical ability in a given martial art
hantaireverse; opposite
hantai gatamereverse hold
harastomach; belly; abdomen
hara gatamearmlock applied via the stomach in judo
harai (barai)sweep; sweeping
harai goshisweeping hip; throw in judo
harai tsurikomi ashi lifting pulling foot sweep; throw in judo
hasami (basami)scissors; pincers of a crab
heisoku dachiattention stance
hidarileft (side)
hijielbow; often used synonymously with empi in Japanese martial arts
hiraganacursive phonetic script used for writing Japanese in combination with kanji
hishigicrush; break; sprain
hittsuiincorrect spelling of shittsui
hiza geriknee kick
hiza gurumaknee wheel; throw in judo
hodirection; side; way; e.g., shiho
honcounter for long cylindrical objects; e.g., gohon
hombuheadquarters; also spelled honbu
honbualternative spelling of hombu



ichione (see numerals)
ikkyufirst class (see belt ranks)
ipponone long cylindrical object; one full point in a judo contest
ippon kenone-knuckle fist
ippon kumiteone-step sparring
ippon seoi one-armed shoulder; throw in judo
irimi waza entering techniques



jicharacter; letter; word; handwriting; e.g., kanji
jigo-taidefensive posture
jimespelling of shime when following another word
jitsutechnique; art; e.g. jujitsu, bujitsu; should technically be spelled jutsu3
jiyufreedom; liberty
jiyu kumitefree sparring
joshort staff
jodanupper; shoulder-level or above
jodan juji ukehigh X-block
jojitsushort staff techniques
josekeupper seat
ju1. ten (see numerals)
2. gentle; soft; pliant; synonymous with yawara
judantenth degree; tenth degree black belt (see belt ranks)
judosport martial art featuring throwing; founded by Jigoro Kano in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; literally, "gentle way"
judokapractitioner of judo
jujicross; literally, "the kanji ju" (whose shape is that of a cross)
juji gatamecross lock
jujitsuself-defense martial art based on grappling and throwing; literally, "gentle technique"
jujitsukapractitioner of jujitsu
juji ukex-block; literally, "cross block"
jutsualternative (and technically correct3) spelling of jitsu



kaeshi (gaeshi)counter; reversal; return; answer
kagi zukihook punch
kakato geriheel kick
kake (gake)hooking or clipping action
kakiwakepushing one's way through
kakiwake ukepushing through block
kakutocrane head
kakuto ukebent wrist block; literally, "crane head block"
kamasickle, used in pairs in Okinawan karate
kami1. god; spirit; divine
2. upper body; top
kami shiho gatameupper four-direction hold
kanathe Japanese phoenetic alphabets, i.e., hiragana and katakana
kani sutecrab sacrifice; another name for kani basami
kani basamicrab scissors; flying scissors throw of judo which is sometimes also called kani sute
kanjiJapanese system of writing utilizing characters from Chinese writing; a single character in this system; literally, "the character kan"
Kano, Jigorofounder of judo
kansetsuknuckle or joint
kansetsu wazajoint-locking techniques in judo
kara1. empty; emptiness
2. China; literally, "T'ang", as in the T'ang dynasty of China
karami (garami) entanglement; entwined
karate martial art emphasizing striking; literally, "empty hand" or "Chinese hand" (see kara)
kata 1. stylized form; pre-arranged techniques used to practice many martial arts
2. shoulder; e.g., kata guruma
3. one-sided; one (of two); e.g., kataha jime
kata gatameshoulder hold
kata gurumashoulder wheel; throw in judo
kata juji jimehalf cross choke
katahasingle edge; single wing
kataha jimesingle wing choke
katakanaangular phonetic script used mainly for writing foreign words in Japanese
katame (gatame)hardening; fortifying; tightening; used in judo to mean grappling or a hold or lock
katame waza grappling techniques of judo; often used interchangeably with ne waza4
katanalong sword of the daisho; the primary sword of the samurai worn tucked into the belt with its curved blade facing upward; successor of the tachi; synonymous with to
katateone hand; single hand
katate dorione hand pull
katsurevival techniques
keageupwards kick
kekomithrusting kick
kempo (kenpo)fist way; Japanese word for (and hence synonymous with) chuan fa
ken1. fist; e.g., kenpo
2. any generic straight-bladed sword; e.g., kendo
kendomodern Japanese sport martial art of fencing; literally, "way of the sword"; descendant of kenjitsu
kenjitsucombat swordfighting practiced by the bushi; literally, "art of the sword"; predecessor of kendo
kenpoalternative spelling of kempo
keri (geri)kick
keri wazakicking techniques
kesascarf; in particular, the scarf of a Buddhist monk
kesa gatamescarf hold
kiinner energy; spirit
kiailoud shout or yell which focuses one's ki when striking hard1; literally, "harmonized inner energy"
kiba dachihorse stance; literally, "horse-riding stance"
kiotsuketo command someone to pay attention
ko1. minor; compare to o; e.g., kosoto gari
2. old; ancient; e.g., koryu
3. behind; back; backwards; e.g., kokutsu
Kodokan headquarters of judo in Japan; iterally, "school for studying the way"; also used when referring to judo, as in Kodokan Judo.
koko uchitiger mouth strike
kokutsubackward leaning
kokutsu dachiback stance; literally, "backward leaning stance"
komito be inserted, crowded, or mixed
koryutraditional schools of Japanese martial arts; literally, "ancient or old stream"
koshi (goshi) 1. hip; waist; loin
2. ball of the foot
koshi gurumahip wheel; throw in judo
koshi jimehip choke
koshi wazahip techniques
kosoto gakeminor outer clip; throw in judo
kosoto gariminor outer reap; throw in judo
kouchi gariminor inner reap; throw in judo
ku nine (see numerals)
kuchikia decayed/dead tree
kuchiki taoshito fell or knock down a decayed/dead tree; throw in judo
kudanninth degree; ninth degree black belt (see belt ranks)
kumikatamethods of holding
kuruma (guruma)wheel
kusarigama sickle with a rope or chain attached
kutsulean; stoop; bend
kuzurebroken; collapsed
kuzure kesa gatamebroken scarf hold
kuzushiunbalancing (in judo, there are eight directions of unbalancing, corresponding to the eight directions of the compass)
kyuclass; grade; rank; in Japanese martial arts, used for ranks under black belt (see belt ranks)
kyushovital or pressure points
kyusho jitsuthe art of striking the vital points of the body



mae gerifront kick
mae geri keagefront snap kick; technically, this is redundant and should be simply mae keage
mae geri kekomifront thrust kick; technically, this is redundant and should be simply mae kekomi
mae keagefront snap kick; also referred to as mae geri keage
mae kekomifront thrust kick; also referred to as mae geri kekomi
mae tobi gerifront jump kick
makivolume; scroll; reel; roll
maki gaeshiwrapping reversal
makikomito wrap around, enfold, wind up, or roll up in a whirlpool- or windmill-like movement
makikomi haraiwrap-around sweep
makiwarapunching board
mawashiturning; rotating
mawashi geriroundhouse kick
mawashi zukiroundhouse punch
mi1. the body; one's self; e.g., sutemi
2. eyebrow
migiright (side)
mikazukicrescent moon; new moon; literally, "three day moon"
mikazuki gericrescent kick
mikazuki geri ukecrescent kick block
moropair; several
morotetwo hands; both hands
morote seoi nagetwo-handed shoulder throw; throw in judo
morote zukitwo-handed punch
morote uketwo-handed block
moro yubi toritwo-finger pull
mudanshanon-black belt holder
mune gatamechest hold
mushinmind of no mind; state of being without thought



nagashi ukeflowing block; parry
nage wazathrowing techniques in judo
nage no kataformalized throws
nagimakihalberd-like weapon similar to the naginata but designed for mounted use
naginatahalberd-like weapon used by the samurai in medieval Japan
naginata jutsuart of the naginata
nami juji jimenormal cross choke
nanaseven (see numerals)
nanadanseventh degree; seventh degree black belt; also called shichidan (see belt ranks)
neground; root; base
ne wazaground techniques or matwork in judo; often used interchangeably with katame waza4
neko ashi dachicat stance; literally, "cat-leg stance"
nitwo (see numerals)
nidansecond degree; second degree black belt (see belt ranks)
nidan geritwo step or double jump kick
nihon nukite zukitwo finger spear-hand thrust
nikyusecond class (see belt ranks)
noarchaic possesive particle; e.g., nage no kata
nukidraw; pull out
nukitespear-hand; literally, "(sword) drawing hand"
nukite zukispear-hand thrust
nunchaku flail-like weapon of two rods joined by rope or chain



omajor; compare to ko; e.g., ogoshi
ogoshimajor hip; throw in judo
ogurumamajor wheel; throw in judo
outenbarrel roll; turning sideways
outen gatamebarrel roll hold
oilunge; chase; pursue
oi zukilunging punch (same-side hand and leg)
okurichasing; sliding
okuri ashi baraisliding foot sweep; throw in judo
okuri eri jimesliding collar choke
osae komipressing; holding-down; pinning; immobilizing
osae komi wazapinning techniques of judo
osoto garimajor outer reap; throw in judo
osoto gurumamajor outer wheel; throw in judo
ouchi garimajor inner reap; throw in judo



randorifree practice or sparring in judo
rokkyusixth class (see belt ranks); also spelled rokyu or rokukyu
rokusix (see numerals)
rokudansixth degree; sixth degree black belt (see belt ranks)
rokukyualternative spelling of rokkyu
rokyualternative spelling of rokkyu
romajiromanization of Japanese kanji
ryua style of school in Japanese martial arts; literally, "stream"
Ryukyuthe Ryukyu islands, the southernmost island group of Japan; includes Okinawa



saithree-pronged metal weapon
sakaalternative pronunciation of the kanji which is also read gyaku (first definition)
saka nukireverse pull-out
sakotsu shutocollarbone knife-hand
sakotsu shuto uchicollarbone knife-hand strike
samuraiwarrior class of medieval Japan; literally, "one who serves"; synonymous with bushi2
santhree (see numerals)
sanchin dachi hourglass stance (derived from Sanchin kata)
sandanthird degree; third degree black belt (see belt ranks)
sankyuthird class (see belt ranks)
sasaepropping; supporting
sasae tsurikomi ashipropping lifting pulling foot; throw in judo
seizatraditional Japanese sitting position (on knees)
seoi goshishoulder hip
shi21. four (see numerals)
2. death
3. teacher; master; expert; mentor; e.g., shihan
shichi2seven (see numerals)
shichidanseventh degree; seventh degree black belt; also called nanadan (see belt ranks)
shihanmaster or senior instructor
shihoevery direction; literally, "four directions"
shiho nagefour-direction throw; throw in aikido
shime (jime)choke; strangle
shime wazachoking or strangling techniques of judo
shittsui geriknee-hammer kick
shizen-tainatural posture
shodanbeginning degree or step; in Japanese martial arts, used as the rank of 1st degree black belt (see belt ranks)
shoteipalm-heel; literally, "bottom of hand"; same as teisho
shotei uchipalm-heel strike; same as teisho uchi
shotei ukepalm-heel block; same as teisho uke
shuhand; e.g., shuto uchi
shutoknife-hand (little-finger side of palm); literally, "hand knife"
shuto uchiknife-hand strike; karate chop
shuto ukeknife-hand block
sode tsurikomi goshisleeve lifting pulling hip; throw in judo
sokehead of family; in Japanese martial arts, the headmaster of a martial arts system
sokualternative pronunciation of the kanji which is also read ashi; e.g., haisoku
sotooutside; outer
soto age ukeouter upper block
soto makikomiouter wrap-around; throw in judo
soto mikazuki geriouter crescent kick
soto shuto ukeoutside knife-hand block
soto ude ukeoutside forearm block
sukuito scoop up
sukui nagescooping throw; throw in judo
sumi gaeshicorner reversal; throw in judo
sumi otoshicorner drop; throw in judo
sutemisacrificing one's self
sutemi wazaself-sacrificing techniques



tachi (dachi)1. stance; standing
2. curved sword worn hung from the belt with the blade down; predecessor of the katana
tachi wazastanding techniques (techniques done from the standing position)
taithe body
tai otoshibody drop; throw in judo
tamaball; sphere
tameshiwaribreaking demonstration
tandenpoint just below the navel
tani otoshivalley drop; throw in judo
taoshito fell or knock down
tatamia rice straw mat commonly used in traditional Japanese homes to soften the hard wooden floors; also used in some Japanese martial arts to provide a relatively soft surface to take hard falls
tate zukiboxer's jab; literally, "vertical punch"
tatsu1. dragon
2. standing; rising up
tatsumakitornado; whirlwind; literally, "dragon roll"
tatsumaki jimedragon choke; literally, "dragon roll choke"
tawarastraw rice bag; bale
tawara gaeshirice bag reversal; throw in judo
te wazahand techniques
tei1. street; ward; town
2. bottom; e.g., shotei
teijithe letter "T"; literally, "the kanji tei" (whose shape is that of the roman letter "T")
teiji dachiT-stance
teishosame as shotei
teisho uchisame as shotei uchi
teisho ukesame as shotei uke
tekubiwrist; literally, "neck of the hand"
tekubi toriwrist pull
tenshorolling hand; fluid hand
tettsuiiron hammer
tettsui uchihammer-fist strike; literally, "iron hammer strike"
toalternative pronunciation of the kanji which is also read katana; e.g., haito
tomoecomma-like design or shape
tomoe nagecircular throw; literally, "comma-like throw"; throw in judo
tonfa wooden rod with handle at right angle, used in pairs
tora nagetiger throw
tori (dori) pull; grab; grasp; take; take away; in Japanese martial arts, the one who performs or demonstrates ("takes") a technique; compare to uke
tsuki (zuki) 1. thrust; punch; e.g., kagi zuki
2. moon; month; e.g., mikazuki
tsuki wazathrusting techniques
tsukuristepping into the throw
tsurifishing; to lift up (as when hooking a fish)
tsuri goshilifting hip; throw in judo
tsurikomilifting and pulling up in a circular motion (as when hooking a fish); taking in
tsurikomi goshilifting pulling hip; throw in judo



uchi1. inner; inside; e.g., ouchi gari
2. strike; e.g., shotei uchi
uchi makikomiinner wrap-around; throw in judo
uchi matainner thigh; throw in judo
uchi wazastriking techniques
uchi deshispecial disciple; literally, "inner student"
uchi komi repeated practice of throwing techniques
udearm or forearm
ude garamiforearm entanglement
ude gatameforearm lock
ude toriforearm pull
ude ukeforearm block
Ueshiba, Moriheifounder of aikido
ukereceiving; in Japanese martial arts, the one who "receives" a technique; also in Japanese martial arts, a block (to "receive" a strike); compare to tori
ukemibreakfalling; literally, "receiving with the body"
ukemi wazabreakfalling techniques
uki goshifloating hip; throw in judo
uki otoshifloating drop; throw in judo
uki wazafloating throw; throw in judo
urareverse side; back; rear
ura nageback throw; suplex; throw in judo
ura zukireverse side punch
urakenback of the fist
uraken uchiback fist strike
ushiroback; behind; rear
ushiro geriback kick
ushiro goshiback hip; throw in judo
utsurishift; switch; transition; change
utsuri goshiswitching hip; throw in judo



wakizashishorter sword of the daisho



yama bushimountain warriors
yama zukiU-punch; literally, "mountain punch"
yawarasoft; gentle; pliant; synonymous with second definition of ju
yoko gakeside clip; throw in judo
yoko geriside kick
yoko geri keageside snap kick; technically, this is redundant and should be simply yoko keage
yoko geri kekomiside thrust kick; technically, this is redundant and should be simply yoko kekomi
yoko gurumaside wheel; throw in judo
yoko haittoside ridge-hand
yoko haitto uchiside ridge-hand strike
yoko keageside snap kick; also referred to as yoko geri keage
yoko kekomiside thrust kick; also referred to as yoko geri kekomi
yoko otoshiside drop; throw in judo
yoko shiho gatameside four-direction hold
yoko shutoside knife-hand
yoko shuto uchiside knife-hand strike
yoko tobi geriside jump kick
yoko wakareside separation; throw in judo
yonfour (see numerals)
yondanfourth degree; fourth degree black belt (see belt ranks)
yonkyufourth class (see belt ranks)
yubi torifinger pull
yudanshaone who is a black belt



zen1. Japanese sect of Buddhism which places heavy emphasis on meditation and which significantly influenced the Japanese martial arts
2. in front; before; forwards; e.g., zenkutsu
zenkutsuforward leaning
zenkutsu dachifront stance; literally, "forward leaning stance"
zukispelling of tsuki when following another word



4yon, shi5
7nana, shichi5
14ju-yon, ju-shi5
17ju-nana, ju-shichi5
40yon-ju, shi-ju5


Belt ranks (lowest to highest)

rokkyu6th kyu
gokyu5th kyu
yonkyu4th kyu
sankyu3rd kyu
nikyu2nd kyu
ikkyu1st kyu
shodan1st dan
nidan2nd dan
sandan3rd dan
yondan4th dan
godan5th dan
rokudan6th dan
shichidan, nanadan7th dan
hachidan8th dan
kudan9th dan
judan10th dan



1 Aiki and kiai are reverse arrangments of the same two kanji, ki and ai. Therefore, it is not unexpected that they should have similar meanings. In fact, both aiki and kiai can be considered different manifestations of the same concept--the former a mental or static manifestation and the latter a vocal or dynamic manifestation. Needless to say, these definitions are intended only to be guidelines as they are very open to interpretation.

2 Some experts in Japanese medieval history differentiate between bushi and samurai, considering the latter to be a subset of the former. However, this is not clear and invovles a detailed understanding of Japanese history and culture. Thus, most consider the two words to be synonymous.

3 Technically, jitsu should be spelled jutsu according to the most recent (post-World War II) standards for converting kanji into romaji. The reasons for the variations in its spelling are due to the fact that when the word was first used in the West by Japanese immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there was no standard for romaji. Further, even if there was, those who heard Japanese usually had no understanding of the Japanese language and were not aware of any standard and simply tried to transliterate what they heard the best they could. Thus, many modern Japanese jujitsu clubs which were established in the West in the 20th century, like the Stanford Jujitsu Club, have inherited a name for their art that is technically incorrect. However, since the usage of jitsu is so widespread, it is usually accepted as legitimate and actually serves to identify modern styles of jujitsu from more traditional styles. Hence, the Stanford Jujitsu Club has chosen to retain the spelling jitsu while recognizing it is technically incorrect.

4 In the traditional judo curriculum, katame waza consists of three sub-categories: joint-locking techniques (kansetsu waza), strangling/choking techniques (shime waza), and pinning techniques (osae komi waza). Except for the pinning techniques (which are by definition done on the ground), the other two waza can be done either on the ground or standing. Ne waza (ground techniques), however, refers solely to techniques performed on the ground. Hence, some katame waza (e.g., an armbar from the standing position) are not ne waza and katame waza and ne waza should technically be considered distinct. However, since most katame waza are in fact done from the ground, it has become acceptable to use katame waza and ne waza interchangeably.

5 The Japanese word shi also translates as "death". Hence both shi and shichi (a combination of shi and chi) and all numbers which use them are sometimes avoided for superstitious reasons. However, there is no steadfast rule and both spellings can usually be used. Check out Wikipedia's entry on Japanese numerals to see this more clearly (and obtain more info on Japanese numerals).

6 The original kyu/dan belt ranking system created by Jigoro Kano, founder of judo, in the early 20th century only had 6 kyu ranks. Some systems use more.


Page updated: Jan 21, 2011
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