You are here:
< Back

This is an extensive list of Karate and Wado Kai terms. You will find the Japanese romanized in English characters on the left and the explanation on the right. Pronunciation of Japanese vowels is simple and is as follows.

A – ‘ah’ sound as in father
I – ‘ee’ sound as in ink
U – ‘ou’ sound as in flute
E – ‘eh’ sound as in bed
O – ‘oh’ sound as in oatmeal

BUSHIDO – The Way of the warrior
CHINTO – Kata named after a Chinese sailor. Also a stance.
CHUDAN – Middle or middle level. For example, a middle level punch is generally aimed at the solar plexus but can be anywhere below the shoulders and above the waist.
DACHI – From tachi meaning stance.
DAN – One who has attained the Black belt ranking. Also known as yudansha.
DO – Way. Indicates a path to be followed in life as in Karatedo, the Way of the empty hand.
DOJO – Place for studying the Way.
EMPI – Elbow. Also known as hiji.
GAIWAN – Outside of the forearm. Used for blocking as in Sotouke.
GEDAN – Low or lower level. Generally means below the waist.
GERI – From keri meaning kick as in maegeri.
HAJIME – Begin
HIDARI – Left.
HIJI – Elbow. Also known as empi.
HIKITE – Pulling hand. Action taken by the non-striking hand to add power to a technique. May also be used to block or pull an opponent off balance.
HITSUI – Knee. Also known as hiza.
IPPON – One or one step
JODAN – Upper or upper level. Generally indicates the area above the shoulders.
KAMAE – From gamae meaning posture.
KATA – prearranged sequence of techniques making up the foundation of a particular style of karate.
KERI – Kick.
KI – This term does not translate easily. Ki is the same as the Chinese word chi which some believe is a bioelectric force that flows through the body along pathways called meridians in the same manner as the blood flows through the arteries and veins. Some believe it is your spirit or mental intention.
KIAI – Literally “spirit harmony.” This is the brief moment in executing waza that the body, mind and spirit are in perfect harmony often demonstrated by tensing the abdominal muscles forcing air over the vocal cords resulting in the “karate shout.”.
KIHON – Basic or standard.
KIOTSUKE – Attention. Command to stand in the attention stance, musubi dachi.
KOHAI – Junior. One who is less senior to another. Opposite of sempai.
KOSHI – Pelvic carriage. The pelvis and surrounding structures. Indicates the hip area.

KUMITE – Fighting as in ippon kumite (one-step fighting) or jiyu kumite (free fighting).
KUSHANKU – Kata named after a Chinese government official.
KUZUSHI – The unbalancing of an opponent either physically (as in a foot sweep), mentally (as in stepping on an opponent’s foot before punching to distract him), or spiritually (as in a fierce kiai just before an opponent attacks to “drain” his fighting spirit).
KYU – Indicates a student who is not ranked as a black belt (dan). Also known as mudansha.
MAAI – Combative engagement distance. Distance between opponents.
MAE – Front
MATTE – Stop. Command to stop.
MAWATTE – Turn around. Command to turn around.
MIGI – Right.
MOKUSO – Meditation. Command to meditate.
MUDANSHA – kyu ranks
MUSHIN – No mind. State of mind where there is no conscious thought.
NAIHANCHI – Kata whose name translated can mean “fighting on the dikes between rice paddies” or “inside fighting.”
NAIWAN – Inside of the forearm. Used for blocking as in Uchiuke.
NAOREI – Return to musubi dachi and rei.
NUKITE – Fingertip thrust strike as in ippon nukite (index finger thrust) or yonhan nukite (four finger thrust).
OBI – Belt. Used to indicate the rank of the wearer. Mudansha (kyu ranks) wear colored belts. Yudansha (dan ranks) wear black belts.
PINAN – “Peace and tranquillity.” Name of the group of 5 kata Pinan Shodan, Pinan Nidan, Pinan Sandan, Pinan Yondan, and Pinan Godan.
REI – Bow
RYU – Style or school of karate.
SEIKEN – Fist
SEIKEN ZUKI – Fist punch
SEIRETSU – Line up. Command to line up.
SEISAN – Literally “thirteen.” A kata practiced in Wado Ryu.
SEIZA – Kneeling posture. Command to kneel.
SEMPAI – Senior. One who is senior to another. Opposite of kohai.
SENSEI – Literally “one who has gone before.” Refers to the teacher of a class. Also used as a title for one who has attained Sandan rank (third degree black belt).
TACHI – stance.
TACHI REI – Standing bow.
TAE UKE – Position of the arms where one arm is across the chest, palm down and parallel to the ground and the other arm is pulled back beside the chest palm up.
TAISABAKI – Body movement or shifting. Method of moving the body to a more advantageous position for a counter attack.

Used in conjunction with ashisabaki (foot movement) and koshisabaki (hip movement).
TATE – Vertical as in tate zuki (vertical fist punch).
TOBI – Jump or leap.
TORRE – Attacker
TSUKI – Thrust or punch.
TSUKURI – Creating an opening in your defense to draw the opponent into attacking this “weakness.” This allows you to respond with a specific counterattack.
UKE – Receiver, defender or block.
URA – Back or reverse.
USHIRO – Backwards.
WADO RYU – “Way of Peace style” or “Way of Harmony style.” Emblem is the Kanji character Wa (peace or harmony) surrounded by the wings of a dove (also a peace symbol).
WAZA – technique. For example, keriwaza are kicking techniques
YAME – Stop. Command to return to ready position.
YOI – Prepare. Command to move to ready position.
YUDANSHA – black belts
ZANSHIN – State of mind where one is fully aware and alert.
ZAREI – Kneeling bow
ZUKI – From tsuki meaning punch or thrust.