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Japanese Terminology

By David @ JJ on February 7, 2009 in Jujitsu History

Some Jujitsu schools have done away with using the Japanese language in their training, others
consider it integral to both preserving the art and conveying certain ideas. Here’s a list of a lot of
the Japanese Jujitsu translations and terminology used in the dojo.

Everything from Age Uke (Rising block) to Yame! (Stop!), if you’re looking for translations of
Jujutsu terms you’ll probably find it in this here list…

Abara – Ribs
Age Uke – Rising block
Ago – Jaw
Ani-deshi – Senior student in the dojo (Lit: Big brother student)
Ashi gyaku – Ankle
Ashi waza – Foot and leg techniques
Atama – Head
Atemi – Strike to a vital area
Atemi waza – Striking Techniques
Asoko – Over there

Bitei Kotsu – Coccyx


Bokken – Wooden sword
Bokuto – Anoter term for a wooden sword
Bojutsu – Staff-art. Sometimes taught in classical jujutsu schools, depending on the system
Budo – Martial ways (literally “way(s) of war)
Bugei – Martial crafts (Another way of referring to Japanese martial arts)
Bujutsu – Martial arts (Yet another interchangable term for Japanese martial art)

Choku – Straight (Modern usage of this word in Japanese is “Massugu”.


Choku Tsuki – Straight punch
Chototsu – Atemi point between the eyes
Chu – Middle
Chudan – Mid level

D
Dan – Level
De Ashi Barai – Advancing Foot Sweep
Deshi – Student of a system
Do/Michi – (the) Way
Dojo – Place of practice
Dori (Toru) – To grab or capture.

Empi Uchi – Elbow strike (The term comes from karatedo and doesn’t have really much
connection to jujutsu. It literally means swallow flying.)
Ensho – Round heel
Eri – collar or lapel

Furimi – Avoidance
Fusegi – Escapes/Defences

Gedan – Low level (below belt)


Gedan Tsuki – Punch to groin
Genkotsu-uchi – Another term for Uraken.
Gewan – Forearm
Gi – Training Uniform (abbreviated from “dogi” of “keikogi”)
Go-no-sen – Responsive initiative
Gyaku – Reverse (Can also refer to some Kansetsu waza where the joint is reversed)
Gyaku Tsuki – Reverse punch

Hadaka Jime – Naked strangle


Haisoku – Instep
Hajime – Start/Begin
Hana – Nose
Harai – Sweeping
Heiko – Parallel
Henka – Variation
Hichu – Windpipe
Hidari – Left
Hiji Ate – Elbow strike
Hiki – Pull, tug
Hiraken Tsuki – Horizontal fist punch
Hiza – Knee
Hiza Ate – Knee strike
Hiza geri – Knee strike/kick
Hyoshi – Timing/rythm

Ichi – One
Ippon – Full point
Ippon Seoi Nage – One arm shoulder throw
Irimi – Entering
Irimi nage – Entering throw

Jujutsuka – Practitioner of Jujutsu


Jinzo – Kidney
Jiyu Kumite – Free sparring
Jodan – High/Upper level
Jodan Uke – High block
Juji – Cross (Literal translation: Figure ten. In Japanese, ten is
Juji Gatame – Cross lock/armbar
Juji Jime – Cross choke
Juji Uke )- Cross block
Jujutsu – The gentle art/supple art/flexible art/Pliant art/soft art (But no way in hell is Jujutsu
gentle or soft!!!)
Jutsu – Art or technique

Kacchu-Yawara – Armoured close combat, where most jujutsu systems got their techniques,
very few atemi used, lots of nagewaza, kansetsuwaza & the use of daggers to finish the enemy
Kaeshi ·- Countering Techniques. (Kaeshi also means to turn)
Kagi – Hook
Kagi Tsuki – Hook punch
Kaishu – Open hand
Kaiten – Rotation
Kakato – Heel
Kake – The point at which a throw will take it’s maximal effect
Kamae – Posture (or stance)
Kani basami – Crab scissors
Kansetsu – Joint Locking
Kansetsu waza – Joint Locking techniques
Kari – Reap (Changed to gari when used with a prefix word)
Kasumi – Temple
Kata – Pre arranged stylized techniques
Kata – Shoulder
Kata-gatame – Shoulder pin
Kata-guruma – Shoulder wheel (fireman’s lift throw)
Kata-ha-jime – Single wing strangle
Katame – Lock/Hold
Katame Waza – Joint locking/immobilizing techniques.
Katana – Japanese sword.
Katsusatsu – Spine between the shoulder blades
Kappo/Katsu – Resucitation & revival techniques
Keri – Kick
Keri waza – Kicking techniques
Kesa – Scarf
Kesa Gatame – Scarf hold
Kesa-Giri – Sash cut – A diagonal cut with a Japanese sword from shoulder to hip.
Kiai – Shout with vital energy
Kime – Focus
Kime waza – Another term for joint locking techniques
Kinteki – Testicles
Kiwostuke – Attention
Kiri – Cut
Ko – Minor/small
Kodachi – Short sword. (Alternative term: Wakizashi or Shoto)
Kogusoku – A term used in stead of jujutsu, where both practicioners use shortswords or
daggers.
Kohai – Beginner or junior student in the dojo
Ko-soto-gari/gake ·- Minor/small outer reap/prop
Kote Gaeshi – Wrist turnout lock/throw
Ko-uchi-gari/gake – Minor inner reap/prop
Koshi – Hip (when used first in a throw name)
Koshi guruma – Hip wheel throw
Kubi – Neck
Kubi Nage – Neck throw
Kumite – Sparring
Kumi-Uchi – Another term used instead of jujutsu
Kusarigama – Sickle & weighted chain. Sometimes taught in classical jujutsu, depending on the
system.
Kuzushi – Unbalancing
Kyu – Coloured belt

Ma-ai – Combative Distancing


Mae – Front
Mae geri – Front kick
Mae-tobi-geri – Jumping front kick
Makkikomi – Winding throw
Massugu – straight ahead
Mata – Groin
Mate – Wait
Mawashi-geri – Roundhouse kick
Me – Eyes
Migi – Right
Mikazuki – Crescent
Mune – Chest
Mune-gatame – Chest hold
Munen mushin – Striking without conscience
Mokuso – Meditation
Mudansha – members with kyu grades
Mushin – No-mindedness

Naiwan – Upper arm


Nage – Throw
Nage-no-kata – Throwing kata (usually used to refer to the Kodokan Nage-no-kata)
Nage waza – Throwing methods
Naginata – A long polearm with a large cutting blade.
Naka – Center
Newaza – Ground techniques
Ni – Two
Nidan – 2nd Dan
Nigiri – Grip (Gyakute nigiri -reversehand grip – Junte Nigiri – Normal grip)

O – Major/Large
Ogoshi – Major/Large hip throw
O-guruma – Major/Large Wheel
Omote – Front or surface (Can also refer to basic skill sets of techniques in classical jujutsu
schools)
O-soto-gari/gake – Major/Large outer reap/prop
O-soto-guruma – Major/Large outer wheel
O-soto-makkikomi – Major/Large outer winding throw
O-soto-otoshi – Major outer drop
O-uchi-gari/gake – Major inner reap/prop
Otagai-ne-rei – Mutual bow to all assembled

R
Randori – Sparring
Rei – To bow
Reigi – Manners
Reiho – Etiquette methods. (From dojo to dojo the reiho depends on the school of jujutsu being
taught. Usually, it’s to the Shinzen, then to the teacher and then to each other.)
Renraku-waza – Combination techniques (Lit: Connected techniques)
Ritsu rei – standing bow
Roku – Six
Rokushakubo – A six-foot staff. Generically called a bo, but this is the proper term.
Ryu – School/system of Martial Art. (e.g. Kito-ryu, Takenouchi-ryu, Takagi-ryu)
Ryuha – A collective term for different schools

San – Three
Sasae ( – Floating
Seiza – Formal kneeling position
Sen-no-sen – Simultaneous Initiative. One of the three classical timings in budo – Sen sen no
sen, sen no sen and go no sen.
Sensen-no-sen – Preemptive initiative.
Sensei – Teacher
Sensei-ni-rei – Bow to instructor
Seiken – Horizontal fist
Sempai – Senior student(s) in the dojo
Seoi – To carry on the shoulder
Seoi-nage – Shoulder throw
Seoi-otoshi – Shoulder drop
Shi – Four (note: yon is usually four, shi is only used in certain situations because “Shi” also
means “Death”)
Shiai – Competition or match
Shichi – Seven (note: similar to “shi”, “shichi” is only used in certain situations, otherwise
“nana” if more commonly used. The numerical pronunciation for shi is the same as death,
therefore, unlucky.)
Shihan – Master (6th Dan and up, style dependent)
Shikko-ho ( – Knee walking (Something only done in Daito-ryu aikijujutsu and aikido, not really
done in classical jujutsu, unless it’s a new addition.)
Shime – Choke/strangle
Shime-waza – Strangulation techniques
Shisei – Posture (Nothing to do with combative stances)
Shinzen-Ni-Rei – Bowing to the Kamiza (Shinto altar) at the front of the dojo
Shote – Palm heel strike
Shomen – Front (Also used to refer to the front of the dojo)
Shomen-Ni-Rei – Bowing to the front of the dojo
Shuriken – Throwing blades sometimes taught in classical jujutsu systems.
Sokuto – Blade of the foot
Sokuto-Geri – Side kick using the blade of the foot
Soto – Outer/outside
Sukui-nage – Scooping throw
Sutemi – Sacrifice
Sutemi-Waza – Sacrifice techniques
Suwatte – sit down

Tai – The Chinese reading for body (Usually in Japanese it’s pronounced Karada unless it’s used
in combination with another word, then the Chinese reading is used)
Tai-otoshi – Body drop throw
Tai-sabaki – Body Movement
Tanto – Dagger (one of the weapons jujutsu was originally designed to defend against)
Tanto-Dori – Defences or disarms against a dagger weilding enemy.
Tatami – Mat
Tate – Vertical (Can also mean to stand)
Te – Hand
Te-guruma – Hand wheel
Teisho – Heel of hand
Te-waza – Hand techniques
Tessen – Iron fan sometimes used in certain classical jujutsu schools to augment a technique
Tawara-gaeshi – Rice bail throw
Tokui waza – favorite technique
Tori – Defender in a demonstration.
Torite – Another term used instead of jujutsu
Tsuki – Punch or thrust with a weapon.

Uchi – Strike
Uchi – Inside/inner
Ude – Arm
Ude-kansetsu-waza – Arm locking techniques
Uke – Recieve/reciever (ie, opponent to tori in a demonstration)
Ukemi – Breakfalling (literally uke = “to recieve”)
Uki – Floating
Uki-goshi – Floating hip throw
Uki-otoshi – Floating drop
Uki-waza – Floating techniques
Ura – Reverse or underside
Ura-nage – Rear throw
Ura-ken – Backfist strike
Ushiro – Rear
Ushiro-dori – Attack from behind

V
W

Waki – Side (Can also refer to the armpit)


Wakibara – Flank/floating ribs (Literally: Side stomach)
Waki-Gatame – Side armlock using the armpit for leverage
Waki-No-Kamae – Side posture when using a katana
Wakizashi – shortsword (Also referred to as a kodachi or a shoto)
Waza – Technique

Yame! – Stop!
Yami – To cover or conceal one’s intentions
Yami-uchi – To make a sneak attack (Sucker punching)
Yawara – Another term for jujutsu
Yoko – Side
Yoko Geri – Side kick
Yon – Four
Yoroi-Kumiuchi – See Kacchu Yawara. Armoured close combat
Yubi-waza – Finger techniques
Yudansha – members with dan grades

Zanshin – Vigilance or awareness after a technique has been performed.

List of Ninjutsu Words, Terms & Commands

Here are some of the key Japanese words, commands and terminology used in Ninjutsu. This
page will also help you to pronounce these Japanese terms and phrases.

For other martial arts words & commands, please visit the main Martial Arts Terminology
section.

Ninjutsu Terms & Commands - English to Japanese

 Back/Rear - Ushiro (sounds like Oo-she-row)


 Basic - Kihon (sounds like Key-hon)
 Belt - Obi (sounds like Oh-bee)
 Block - Uke (sounds like Oo-kay)
 Body Movement - Tai Sabaki
 Bow (i.e. to greet instructor) - Rei (sounds like Ray)
 Disappearing Techniques - Intonjutsu
 Disguise & Impersonation Techniques - Hensojutsu
 Elbow - Empi or Enpi (sounds like En-pee or Em-pee)
 Elbow Strike - Empi-Uchi (sounds like Em-pee Oo-chee)
 Entangle - Garami
 Espionage - Choho
 Falling Techniques - Ukemi Waza
 Fire - Ka
 Foot - Ashi (sounds like Ah-she)
 Form or Pattern - Kata (sounds like Ka-ta)
 Form (Kata) Technique Application - Bunkai (sounds like Boon-kay)
 Goodbye - Sayonara (sounds like Sa-yoh-na-rah)
 Hand - Te (sound like Tay)
 Head - Atama (sounds like Ah-ta-ma)
 Heel - Kakato (sounds like Ka-ka-toe)
 I (Me) - Watashi (sounds like Wa-ta-she)
 Joint Lock Techniques - Kansetsu Waza
 Kick - Geri or Keri (sounds like Geh-ree or Keh-ree)
 Knee - Hiza (sounds like He-zah)
 Knife Hand - Shuto (sounds like Shoe-toe)
 Left - Hidari (sounds like Hee-da-ree)
 Low (Level) - Gedan (sounds like Geh-dan)
 Mat (Practice/Training Mat) - Tatami (sounds like Ta-ta-me)
 Middle (Level) - Chudan (sounds like Choo-dan)
 Ninja - Shinobi
 Ninja (Female) - Kunoichi
 No - Iie (sounds like E-ay)
 Please - Dozo (sounds like Doe-zoh)
 Pressure Point Techniques - Kyusho Waza
 Punch - Tsuki or Zuki (sounds like Zoo-key)
 Right - Migi (sounds like Mee-gee)
 Sandals (Flat Bottom) - Zori
 Sandals (Elevated) - Geta
 School/Training Facility (Martial Arts) - Dojo (sounds like Doe-Joe)
 Side - Yoko (sounds like Yoh-koh)
 Socks - Tabi
 Sparring - Kumite (sounds like Coo-meh-tay)
 Stance - Dachi (sounds like Dah-chee)
 Stop - Yame (sounds like Yah-may)
 Strike - Uchi (sounds like Oo-chee)
 Sweep - Barai (sounds like Baa-rye)
 Teacher/Instructor - Sensei (sounds like Sen-say)
 Technique - Waza (sounds like Waa-Zaa)
 Thank You (Formal) - Domo Arigato (sounds like Doe-moe Ah-ree-gah-toe)
 Thank You (Informal) - Domo (sounds like Doe-moe)
 Throat - Nodo (sounds like No-doe)
 Throwing Techniques - Nage Waza
 Turn Around - Mawatte (sounds like Ma-wa-tay)
 Unarmed Combat - Taijutsu
 Upper (Level) - Jodan (sounds like Joe-dan)
 Water Training - Sui-ren
 Weapon - Buki
 Yes - Hai (sounds like Hi)
 You - Anata (sounds like Ah-na-ta)

How To Count In Japanese

 One - Ichi
 Two - Ni
 Three - San
 Four - Shi
 Five - Go
 Six - Roku
 Seven - Shichi
 Eight - Hachi
 Nine - Kyu
 Ten - Jyu
 Eleven - Jyu Ichi
 Twelve - Jyu Ni
 Thirteen - Jyu San
 Fourteen - Jyu Shi
 Fifteen - Jyu Go
 Sixteen - Jyu Roku
 Seventeen - Jyu Shichi
 Eighteen - Jyu Hachi
 Nineteen - Jyu Kyu
 Twenty - Ni Jyu

Ninjutsu Weapons

 Arrow - Ya
 Blinding Powder - Metsubushi
 Blow Gun - Fukiya
 Bow (Archery) - Yumi
 Caltrops - Tetsubishi
 Chain & Scythe - Kusarigama
 Chain Weapon - Kusari Fundo
 Claw Weapon - Shuko
 Dagger - Tanto
 Dagger/Digging Tool - Kunai
 Hooked Rope-Dart - Kyoketsu-Shoge or Shogee
 Scythe (Small) - Kama
 Spear - Yari
 Staff (Long) - Bo
 Staff (Medium) - Jo
 Staff (Short) - Hanbo
 Sword (Metal) - Katana
 Sword (Practice - Bamboo) - Shinai
 Sword (Practice - Wooden) - Bokken
 Sword (Short) - Wakazashi
 Throwing Star - Shuriken
 War Fan - Tessen