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Japanese Terms used in Daily Aikido Practice

The following terms are commonly used in Aikido training, and in the standard techniques tested during Aikikai examinations for a higher rank. The names of Aikido techniques (waza) consist of two parts: Examples:
  • mune tsuki + ikkyo
  • katate tori + shiho nage
  • shomen uchi + irimi nage

    Thus the first two parts of the table are Attacks and Throws. Any attack combines with any throw to become a waza: For example, a partner can attack with mune tsuki and be thrown with ikkyo, shiho nage, kote gaeshi, irimi nage or one of many kokyu nage.

    Aikido Term
    Romaji 日本語 Definition Examples or Description
    1. ATTACKS 打ち方  
    hanmi handachi 半身半立ち half sitting, half standing Standing uke(受け) attacks seated nage(投げ)
    kata tori 肩手とり shoulder grab Ex. kata tori ikkyo, ushiro kata tori sankyo
    katate tori 方手取り one hand grab (same side, as in left hand grabs partner's right wrist) katate tori shiho nage
    katate kosa tori 方手取交取り one hand grab (opposite side) As in, left hand grab of partner's left wrist
    katatetori ryotemochi 方手取り両手持ち grab one wrist with both hands Ex. katate tori ryote mochi kokyu nage
    mune tsuki 胸突き punch or thrust to the chest Ex. munetsuki kotegaeshi
    ryote tori 両手取り grab both hands Ex. ryote tori tenchi nage
    shomen uchi 正面打ち direct strike to the face or front of the head Ex. shomen uchi ikkyo
    ushiro ( ryo )~kata tori 後ろ両肩取り grab (both) shoulder(s) from behind Ex. ushiro kata tori sankyo
    ushiro tekubi / hiji / kata tori 後ろ手首/肘・肩取り grab wrists / elbows / shoulders from behind Ex. ushiro tekubi tori kotegaeshi, ushiro hiji tori, ushiro kata tori
    yokomen uchi 横面打ち strike to the side of the face or head Ex. yokomen uchi shiho nage
    2. THROWS 投げ方  
    ikkyo ( omote and ura ) 一挙(表・裏) first "form" throw also, nikyo, sankyo, yonkyo, gokyo(二挙・三挙・四挙・ 五挙)for second through fifth form, resp.
    irimi nage 入り身投げ "entering" throw  
    jo nage ( or jo tori ) 杖投げ・杖取り throwing with, or taking away, the jo (wooden staff) Set of throwing ( sandan) and takeaway ( yondan) techniques with a jo, generally a black belt exam requirement
    jiyu waza 自由技 "free" style Basic: perform any throw against ryotetori (two-hand grab) attack;
    Advanced: any throw against any attack
    kaeshi waza 返し技 "reversal" throw Techniques for countering nage's throw
    kaiten nage ( omote and ura ) 回転投げ(表・裏) "revolution" throw Turn of the wheel "revolution", not overthrowing governments
    kokyu nage 呼吸投げ "breath" throw Throws that rely on nage's ki(気), timing, body movement and attacker's speed and strength, rather than joint locks
    kote gaeshi 小手返し wrist turn throw  
    randori 乱取り attack by multiple, usually 4, uke Lit., "manage (or handle) chaos", a black belt exam requirement
    shiho nage ( omote and ura ) 四方投げ(表・裏) four directions throw  
    sumi otoshi ( omote and ura ) 隅落とし((表・裏) "corner" throw  
    tachidori ( bokken tori ) 太刀取り・木剣取り sword takeaway waza Deal with (wooden) sword attacks, generally a nidan exam requirement
    tanto tori 短刀取り Samurai knife takeaway waza Deal with (wooden) knife attacks, generally a shodan exam requirement
    suwari waza 座り技 seated techniques Waza executed while kneeling and moving on one's knees
    tenchi nage ( omote and ura ) 天地投げ(表・裏) heaven-earth throw  
    udekime nage ( omote and ura )
    腕決め投げ(表・裏) armpit / upper-arm throw  
    3. EXERCISES 運動  
    fune kogi undo 船漕ぎ運動 rowing exercise Fundamental body motion that's the basis for throwing from the hips (koshi) rather than upper body
    hojo walk 法城 posture, moving and breathing exercise during warmups Zen Buddhist term meaning (very approximately) "Buddha's Way"
    koho tento 後方転倒 back roll practice  
    kokyu ho ( kokyu dosa ) 呼吸方・呼吸動さ breath exercise Done in a kneeling position (seiza) at the end of class
    misogi ( okinaga ) 禊 (御気長) purification breathing Breathing exercise at the end of classes
    sayu undo 左右運動 left-to-right exercise Preparation for one kokyu nage
    shikko 執行 "samurai", or knee, walking Preparation for suwari waza
    tai no henko 体の変更 turning exercise, with or without a partner Turning the body while staying on balance and keeping one or both arms extended in front of the body
    4. Japanese Words + Phrases used in Day-to-Day Practice
    arigato ありがとう thank you Two versions:
  • arigato gozaimasu (present tense) - Thanks for something right now
  • arigato gozaimashita - Thanks for something completed or finished, like thank Sensei when bowing out
  • ashi hakobi 足運び move the feet Martial way of walking by sliding the feet to keep contact with the earth, rather than stepping
    ashi sabaki 裁き moving the feet, forwards or backwards
  • okuri ashi - leading foot moves first(送り足)
  • tsugi ashi - trailing foot moves first(次足)
  • suri ashi - slide the feet(摺足)
  • bokken 木剣 wooden sword ken, tachi or katana, generic name for a (real, forged Japanese) sword
    hanmi 半身 stance Lit., half body, as in facing forward with left or right foot forward, in left or right hanmi, respectively
    hanmi handachi 半身半立ち half standing techniques with standing uke attacking a kneeling nage
    happo giri 八方切り eight directions cut, also shiho giri: 4 directions cut Cutting & parrying practice with the bokken
    hara center of the body, just below the navel  
    jiyu waza 自由技 freestyle throwing Usually rytotetori kokyunage techniques, but optimally practiced with all types of attacks
    jo wooden staff Originally an armpit-high, thrusting spear (yari(槍) with a 2-foot blade
    kaiten 回転 pivot 180o in place Turn 180o without moving the feet, e.g. munetsuki kaiten nage
    kamae 構え stance Formal posture for attacking or awaiting attack, e.g. chudan kamae
    kata Solitary practice or exercise jo / bokken kata
    katana, tachi, ken 刀、太刀、剣 ( Japanese ) sword ken, tachi or katana, names for a (real, forged Japanese) sword
    keiko 稽古 training, practice Implies martial arts or physical (sports) training
    kiai 気合 energy Both physical and psychic energy for dealing with life
    kiru 切る kill, cut with a sword shiho giri, happo giri
    kohai 後輩 junior student, i.e. one having less experience than a senpai See also senpai
    kokyu 呼吸 breath or breathing, putting out ki kokyu nage, kokyu ho
    koshi hip or buttocks Throwing with the koshi instead of arm and upper body muscles
    kumi~ Paired ( weapons practice or exercises ) kumijo, kumitachi(組杖・組太刀)
    kyu & dan 級・段 rank, level or grade in martial arts: kyu - colored belts, 6th or 5th through 1st kyu (descending)
    dan - black belts, e.g. yudansha(有段者):
  • shodan(初段)
  • nidan(二段)
  • sandan (三段)
  • yondan(四段)
  • godan(五段), etc. , through
  • 9th dan(九段)
  • ma'ai 間合い interval Managing space (and time!); the proper physical, temporal and energy distance between nage and uke for attack and defense
    men face or head e.g. mentsuki - strike the face
    metsuke 目付 eye line Keep head erect and focus eyes on the middle distance
    mochi 持ち hold, have ryote mochi: hold with both hands
    nage 投げ a throw or person throwing shiho nage, irimi nage
    onegai shimasu お願いします please, a request As in "please work (train) with me"
    omote or irimi 表・入り身 front entry shiho nage, omote
    (o)rei, reishiki (御)礼・礼式 etiquette, ceremony Ex. bowing in/out at the start and end of class, resp.
    ryo both ryote tori, ryote mochi
    sabaki 裁き body alignment, way of moving Align all or part of the body, see ashi sabaki ( align the feet )
    seiza 星座 traditional formal Japanese sitting, on the knees  
    senpai 先輩 senior student, i.e. having more experience See also kohai
    sensei 先生 teacher Head instructor is Sensei; all other instructors are only addressed as Sensei when they are teaching and on the mat
    shiho giri 四方切り four directions cut, also happo giri: 8 directions cut Cutting & parrying practice with the bokken
    tanto 短刀 Samurai knife, lit. short sword tanto tori waza deal with knife attacks
    te hand  
    tekubi 手首 wrist Ex. ushiro tekubi tori kotegaeshi
    tenkan 転換 turn (the body) Pivot (kaiten) and step back
    tori 取り take, grasp katate tori, ryote tori
    uchi 打ち strike shomen uchi, yokomen uchi attacks
    uke 受け receive, i.e. person being thrown, the attacker  
    ukemi 受身 the art of attacking, following and taking the fall "Partner's ukemi is good; we have to work on our ukemi"
    ura, ushiro 裏・後ろ entry to the back or rear of the partner ikkyo ura, ushiro tekubi tori
    waza technique partner techniques, i.e. Aikido has very few standalone kata outside of the weapons arts
    yudansha 有段者 Black belt holders  
    zanshin 残心 connection or focus Maintain zanshin with your partner throughout the waza or training session
    zengo 前後 rolling forward and back zengo undo

    Notes: For correct pronunciation some vowels, especially "o" and "u", are doubled ("oo" is pronounced as in low, not book)

    The words from the list that are affected:
    arigatoo, kokyuu hoo, doosa, koohai, shikkoo, ryoo, joo, shihoo nage, undoo, jiyuu waza, tantoo, koohoo, tentoo, sayuu, kyuu (the rank). The rest of the words are pronounced phonetically, except pronounce the following words without the "u": onegai shimass (not "shimasoo"); munetski (not "munetsooki")

    See also An English-Japanese Aikido Lexicon for a similar exercise from a different perspective, the words broken down to individual meanings.

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