top of page

Japanese Terminology


By convention, Japanese has emerged as the international language of Karate. All traditional clubs teach Karate techniques in Japanese. Competitions, courses, and grading examinations are also carried out in Japanese. This means that no matter where in the world you may train, the instructors and students speak the same language in class.

Though this can be daunting to a beginner, there are only a few words and phrases with which a karate-ka needs to be familiar. The translations provided here are a guide... not a Japanese dictionary.

Memorising the following words below is fine, but a better way to learn them is to use them in your regular training. Try not to think of a yoko geri kekomi as a side thrusting kick, but associate the phrase yoko geri kekomi with the specific kicking movement, much like you associate Coca-Cola with a specific type of soft drink. This way you will not have to take the time in class to mentally translate each word, and you will simply perform the expected technique. The more exposure you have to thse words, individually and in combinations, the more you will understand their meanings, and it won't be long before "migi shizen dachi jodan uke, yoi!" spurs you into action without having to stop and translate each word in your head.


A note about spelling

Frequently, in non-Japanese sites, words like bud? (which has a long vowel sound at the end) will be shortened to their closest western phonetic equivalent -- in this case, budo. In reality, this changes the meaning of the word. 

Where the special characters (in this case, ?) are not available through typing, the correct spelling involves additional characters:


                            is correctly written as aa


                            is correctly written as ei


                            is correctly written as ii (not ee)


                            is correctly written as ou (not oo)


                            is correctly written as uu



For the sake of familiarity, we will include the common western spellings on this page, even while acknowledging that they are incorrect. However to better educate our readers, the correct spelling will always be listed first throughout this page, and any incorrect spelling will be listed in brackets.

bottom of page