The most common phrases you will encounter when you start training.
This guide provides a Karate related vocabulary for the student's use in the Dôjô. Do not feel overwhelmed at having to learn these terms; they will become familiar through constant usage in the Dôjô. The serious student of Karate will find that knowledge of the language; history and culture of Okinawa are invaluable to further study. Many Japanese words do not have a word for word translation; therefore, more than one translation may be given. For example, the word kokoro; can be defined as spirit; heart; will; mood; and intention. After each Japanese word (written in bold) a kind of simple phonetic spelling is included so you know what the word should sound like. This is followed by the meaning of the word as we use it in karate.
General Words and Commands
➣  karate /kahrah-tay/ - "Empty hand" or weaponless art of defense.
➣  dojo /doe-joe/ - Literally "way-place," or "place for learning the way," name for karate school/training room.
➣  obi /oh-bee/ - Belt
➣  gi /ghee/ - Karate uniform (or dogi /doe-ghee/).
➣  sensei /sen-say/ - Instructor
➣  sempai /sem-pie/ - Senior student
➣  hajime /hah-jee-may/ - Begin at your own speed, continue to your own count, as in free sparring or kata.
➣  yame /yah-may/ - Stop.
➣  migi /me-ghee/ - Right side
➣  hidari /he-dah-ree/ - Left side
➣  mokuso /mohk-so/ - Meditation (eye's closed)
➣  yoi /yoy/ - Ready position (for kata etc.), in musubi dachi stance, hands one fist in front of belt,crossed left over right, palms down.
➣  ashi o kaete /ah-she oh kie-tay/ - Change stance, as from left foot to right (ashi means foot/feet)
➣  te o kaete /tay oh kie-tay/ - Change hands, used for all hand techniques (te means hand/hands)
➣  mawatte /mah-wah-tay/ - Turn around/other way
Directions (to strike, etc.)
➣  mae /my/ or /may/ - Front
➣  yoko /yoe-koe/ - Side
➣  mawashi /mah-wah-she/ - Around, eg round-house
➣  ushiro /oo-she-roe/ - Back
Areas (to strike, etc.)
➣  jodan /joe-dahn/ - Upper level, collar and up (e.g. face, head, throat)
➣  chudan /choo-dahn/ - Middle level, belt up to collar (e.g. stomach)
➣  gedan /gay-dahn/ - Lower level, "below the belt" (e.g. abdomen, groin, legs)

For example, a jodan mawashi geri would be a round-house kick at head height, whereas a gedan mawashi geri would be a round-house kick to the leg. A chudan mae geri is a front kick at stomach/chest height, and so on.
Stances (-dachi or -tachi)
➣  heisoku dachi (ready stance) - Feet together, legs straight and relaxed.
➣  musubi dachi (ready stance) - Heels together, with each foot pointing outwards 45º (forming a right angle between the feet).
➣  heiko dachi (natural stance) - Feet parallel, shoulder-width apart.
➣  soto hachiji dachi or just hachiji dachi (natural stance) - Feet shoulder-width apart, feet both pointing outwards at 45º.
➣  uchi hachiji dachi (natural stance) - As for soto-hachiji-dachi but feet pointing slightly inwards.
➣  zenkutsu dachi (front stance) - Forward leg bent at the knee with 60% of weight on front leg and 40% on rear leg. Knee of rear leg locked and extended approximately two shoulder-widths behind lead foot. Torso erect. Feet facing outwards at 45º.
➣  han zenkutsu dachi (half front stance) - As for zenkutsu-dachi, but feet only one shoulder-width apart. Weight is distributed evenly. Front knee is bent so that toes are obscured.
➣  sanchin dachi (tension stance) - Feet shoulder-width apart, weight distributed evenly over both legs. Kneeds tensed and pulled inwards.
➣  Forward foot slightly ahead of rear foot, so that back of front foot aligns with the front of the rear foot. Toes pointed slightly inward.
➣  Back straight and hips tensed, with pelvis pulled forwards and upwards.
➣  gyaku zenkutsu dachi (rear defense stance) - As in zenkutsu-dachi but turned around so straight leg points forward. Head and torso turned to face forward, leaning to the rear.
➣  neko ashi dachi (cat stance) - Rear knee bent, with foot flat on ground, and toes facing to the outside. Resting lightly (10%) on the front leg, approximately one shoulder-width from the rear leg. Toes of front foot facing forwards, flat on ground with heel of foot raised. Crouching slightly, with front leg in centre of body, bent a little at the knee. Torso erect.
➣  kokutsu dachi (back stance) - Rear knee bent, with foot facing to the outside. Forward leg approximately two shoulder-widths in front of and perpendicular to rear foot (i.e. facing forwards). 70% of weight on rear leg, 30% on foward leg.
➣  hanmi kokutsu dachi - as for kokutsu dachi, but rear leg is placed slightly to the side. Rear foot points directly sideways with back of foot aligned with big toe of front foot.
➣  kiba dachi or naifanchi dachi (horse stance) - Feet roughly two shoulder-widths apart, parallel, toes pointed forwards.
➣  shiko dachi (straddle stance) - Feet spread approximately two shoulder-widths apart, toes pointed outward at 45º. Weight distributed evenly over both legs. Knees bent deeply and pulled back as far as possible. Torso erect. Lower legs/shins approximately vertical.
➣  naname shiko dachi (diagonal straddle stance) - as for shiko dachi but at a 45º angle.
➣  yokomuki shiko dachi (sideways straddle stance) - As for shiko-dachi, but looking directly to the side.
➣  sesan dachi (side facing straddle stance) - Similar to yokomuki shiko dachi, but leading foot points directly forward and rear foot points directly outwards.
➣  moto dachi - Similar to naname shiko dachi, but leading foot points directly forward and rear foot points directly outwards.
➣  shirasagiashi dachi or sagiashi dachi (one-legged or crane stance) - Leg raised and tucked behind knee of supporting leg. Supporting leg bent at knee and foot turned outward, weight shifted back above supporting leg.
➣  renoji dachi (Japanese character Re stance) - Feet one shoulder width apart, front leg in centre of body pointing directly forwards. Rear leg pointing outwards 45º. Legs relaxed and straight.
➣  kosa dachi (crossed-leg stance) - One leg crossed over the other with both knees bent. Front foot flat on ground. Rear leg supported on ball of foot. Front foot facing to outside at 45º.
➣  bensoku dachi - similar to kosa dachi but both feet flat on ground.
➣  naihanchi dachi - as for sanchin dachi but feet even (neither is further forward than the other).
➣  fudo dachi or sochin dachi (free/immovable stance)
Blocks (uke waza)
➣  uke - block
➣  barai - parry
➣  age uke - rising block (particularly to jodan, jodan age uke)
➣  yoko uke - side block (particularly to mid height, chudan yoko uke). Palm up, blocking with thumb side of forearm, to the ouside. Also called soto ude uke, soto yoko uke, and ude uke.
➣  gedan barai - downward circular block
➣  hiki uke - pulling/grasping block
➣  uchi yoko uke - inside forearm block
➣  sukui uke - scoop block
➣  nagashi uke - sweeping block
➣  kake uke - hook block
➣  ko uke - wrist block, wrist bent inwards, middle finger touching thumb. Block with end of forearm (particularly jodan ko uke). Also called koken uke.
➣  kosa uke (cross block) - arms crossed at wrist, with backs of hands facing downwards and inwards towards each other.
➣  shuto uke - knife hand block
➣  shotei uke - palm heel block, particularly to gedan, also called shotei gedan barai.
➣  tetsui uke - hammerfist block
➣  hiza uke - knee block. hiza uchi uke (knee block from outside to inside) and hiza soto uke (knee block from inside to outside).
➣  osae uke - pressing block
➣  otoshi uke - descending block, eg shotei otoshi uke (palm-heel descending block)
➣  kuri uka - circular elbow block
➣  sokutei osae uke - pressing block with sole of the foot. Pressing down hard against the attacker's ankle, as in a yoko geri.
➣  sokutei harai uke - block with the sole of the foot. Foot swung from outside to inside.
➣  haisoku barai - instep block. Foot swung from inside to outside.
➣  tora guchi - highly circular block simultaneously to both gedan and jodan, ending with a push forward (characteristic of Goju Ryu).
Hand/arm Techniques
Note: zuki is often pronounced more like the word ski. -zuki techniques are punches or thrusts. –uchi techniques are other strikes.

➣  tzuki (-zuki) - punch
➣  -uchi - strike
➣  ate - joint strike
➣  seiken zuki or choku zuki - basic punch with closed fist, striking with front two knuckles.
➣  oi zuki - lunge punch
➣  kizami zuki - leading punch, jab
➣  gyaku zuki - reverse (rear) punch, delivered with twist of hips.
➣  age zuki - rising punch
➣  kagi zuki - hook punch
➣  ura zuki - short punch (palm side up)
➣  ura ken uchi - back fist strike, snapping wrist, striking with top of knuckles.
➣  mawashi zuki - round hook punch, with top of hand facing outwards/upwards.
➣  furi zuki - circular punch. Delivered in large circular path with swing of hips, top of hand facing inwards.
➣  awase zuki - U punch. Double fist punch consisting of seiken zuki and ura zuki executed simultaneously.
➣  heiko zuki - Parallel punch. Double fist punch consisting of simultaneous left and right seiken zuki punch.
➣  yama zuki (mountain punch) - Double punch as in awase zuki, but seiken zuki is higher and is delivered in a circular over-arm fashion and ura zuki is lower and rises slightly.
➣  hiji uchi or hiji ate - elbow strike
➣  tateken zuki - vertical fist punch. Top of hand faces out to the side.
➣  nukite zuki - finger thrust/spear hand. Straight hand, middle finger slightly bent so
first three fingers are roughly even in length. Thumb bent and held tightly against palm.
➣  shuto uchi - knife-hand strike, eg shuto hasami uchi (knife-hand strike to neck).
➣  tettsui uchi - bottom fist strike. Closed fist, strike with bottom of fist.
➣  shotei zuki - palm-heel thrust. Hand is open as in nukite, wrist bent back. Strike made with bottom of hand, as in tettsui (also called teisho zuki).
➣  haito uchi - ridge-hand strike. Hand held as in nukite but strike is made with inside of hand, a little below the index finger.
➣  keiko-ken zuki - one knuckle fist. Index finger joint protrudes slightly and is held firmly in place by thumb.
➣  nakadaka ippon-ken zuki or just nakadaka zuki - middle knuckle punch. Similar to keiko-ken zuki, but using second finger. Thumb and index finger press firmly against middle finger to hold it in place.
➣  kaiko-ken zuki - crab shell fist. Thumb bent and pressed against palm. First knuckles straighted and fingers curled inwards to touch edge of plam. Strike is made with middle bone of the fingers.
➣  boshiken zuki - similar to seiken zuki but thumb presses firmly against the bent side of the index finger.
➣  Thumb is used to strike.
➣  ko uchi - bent wrist strike, similar to ura ken uchi with open hand (wrist is initially bent, but snaps out).
➣  kote uchi - forearm strike.
➣  zu zuki - headbutt.
Foot/leg Techniques
➣  keri (-geri) - kick
➣  mae geri - front kick. mae geri keage is a snap front kick, and mae geri kekomi is a thrust front kick.
➣  The strike is made with the ball of the foot (josokutei), and with the toes pulled up and back. mae kakato
➣  geri is a kick that strikes with the heel.
➣  kin geri - Gedan kick using kasokutei (top of foot ).
➣  mawashi geri - roundhouse kick
➣  ushiro geri - back thrust kick
➣  yoko geri - side kick. yoko geri keage is a snap side kick, and yoko geri kekomi is a thrust side kick.
➣  The strike is with sokuto, the outside edge of the foot.
➣  kansetsu geri - stamping kick, joint kick
➣  kake geri - hook kick
➣  ashi barai - foot sweep. Either a hooking sweep using the inside/instep of the foot (sokko) or a larger sweeping of the leg.
➣  mae tobi geri - jumping front kick
➣  yoko tobi geri - jumping side thrust kick
➣  hiza geri or hiza ate - knee kick
➣  tobi geri - jumping kick
➣  tobi nidan geri - jumping double kick
➣  ushiro tobi geri - jumping back kick
➣  yoko tobi geri - jumping side kick
➣  ura yoko geri - spinning side kick
➣  ura yoko tobi geri - spinning jumping side kick
➣  ura ushiro tobi geri - spinning jumping back kick
ura mawashi geri - spinning roudhouse kick
➣  kakatoto oshi - heel kick/heel drop
➣  fumikomi geri - stamping kick, strike is made by stamping inwards (the kansetsu geri is similar but towards the outside).
➣  gyaku mawashi geri - reverse roundhouse kick. Delivered from inside to outside of body.
➣  mikazuki geri - crescent kick (inside to outside). Also called soto mikazuki geri.
➣  kakato geri - inside crescent kick (outside to inside). Also called uchi mikazuki geri.
➣  ura mikazuki tobi geri - spinning jumping crescent kick
➣  otoshi geri - descending kick, or axe kick (also otoshi kake geri)
➣  sabaki - general term for body moving/shifting techniques
➣  tai sabaki - body movement
➣  te sabaki - hand movement
➣  ashi sabaki - foot movement
➣  suri ashi - sliding step
➣  tsugi ashi - shuffling step
➣  tenkai ashi - pivot
➣  kaiten ashi - forward step pivot
➣  tenkan ashi - pivot backstep
➣  ayumi ashi - natural stepping/walking
➣  yori ashi - dragging step
➣  keri ashi - kicking foot
➣  tenshin - moving, shifting
➣  chakuchi - replacing
➣  kumite - sparring
➣  san dan gi - basic three step/three level sparring
➣  sanbon kumite - three step sparring
➣  ippon kumite - one step sparring (block and counter)
➣  suri ashi - sliding step
➣  tsugi ashi - shuffling step
➣  tenkai ashi - pivot
➣  kaiten ashi - forward step pivot
➣  tenkan ashi - pivot backstep
➣  ayumi ashi - natural stepping/walking
➣  yori ashi - dragging step
➣  keri ashi - kicking foot
➣  tenshin - moving, shifting
➣  chakuchi - replacing
Supplementary Training (Hojo undo)
➣  chishi - stone lever weight. Flat stone or concrete weight with a straight handle (typically 3-6kg). Originally an Okinawan tool for packing soil.
➣  nigiri-game - gripping jar
➣  makiwara - striking post. A post with the striking area wrapped in rope (hence the name) or leather.
➣  temochi-shiki makiwara - hanging striking post
➣  ishisashi - stone padlock, with uses similar to a dumbell.
➣  tan - barbell. Originally the wheels of a trolley.
➣  tou - cane or bamboo bundle
➣  jari bako - sand-box
➣  tetsu geta - iron clogs
➣  kongoken - oval metal weight (invented by Chojun Miyagi, typically 30-40kg)
➣  sashi-ishi - natural stone weights
➣  makiage kigu - wrist roller
➣  tetsuarei - dumbell
Other Terms
➣  age - upper/rising
➣  ashi tanren - leg conditioning
➣  bunkai - techniques and applications of a kata
➣  gasshuku - training camp
➣  gyaku - reverse
➣  hara - centre, centre of mass
➣  hoju undo - supplementary exercises utilising aids to develop strength, stamina, speed and coordination (see above)
➣  honbu dojo - central dojo of an organisation/region
➣  junbi undo - warmup and preliminary exercises
➣  junbi owarimasu - end of warmups
➣  kakie - a type of hand/arm exercise and associated applications used mostly for close combat. Also for improving strength, control and muchimi.
➣  kamae - stance and distancing as assumed for sparring
➣  karate-do - the way of karate. do means way or path (from the chinese tao).
➣  karateka - a karate practioner
➣  kata - a sequence of pre-arranged movements and techniques
➣  ki - spirit and energy (similar to chi)
➣  kiai - shout given as techniques are delivered to focus energy
➣  kihon - basics
➣  kime - focus
➣  ma-ai - correct distancing or timing with respect to one's partner
➣  morote - both hands simultaneously
➣  muchimi - heavy/sticky but still flowing (a desirable feature of many techniques)
➣  mushin - to do something automatically or without having to think about it.
➣  ritsurei - standing bow
➣  seiken - normal fist (front two knuckles)
➣  seiza - kneeling
➣  shihan - chief/master instructor. For IOGKF Goju Ryu this is Morio Higaonna.
➣  shime - testing of sanchin kata
➣  soto - outside (inside to outside)
➣  tako ashi - gripping the floor with spread toes.
➣  uchi - inside (outside to inside) or strike
➣  ude tanren - forearm conditioning
➣  zarei - sitting bow