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:Japanese Sword Arts Vocabulary:
– A –
  • Age means to lift or raise up, to elevate. It comes from ageru.
  • Age kote is a kendo term used for when the kendo gloves, the kote, finish a strike while remaining above the lower abdomen.
  • Agura is an informal cross legged sitting position.
  • Ai means to join, to fit together, meeting or harmony.
  • Aikuchi means a dagger with out a guard, tsuba. They were typically worn by women.
  • Aite means uniting hand or joining hand. It is sometimes used to mean a training partner partner or opponent.
  • Aka means the color red.
  • Anza is an informal sitting position with the legs crossed in front and the body resting on the buttocks.
  • Arigato gozaimashita means thank you for what you have done.
  • Arigato gozaimasu means thank you for what you are doing.
  • Asa geiko means morning training. It is also used to mean a summer camp held during the hotest part of the summer.
  • Ashi means foot or leg. – means to step.
  • Ashi gata means the form or position of the feet.
  • Ashi kake is a kendo contest term meaning the tripping or sweeping of an opponent off of their feet. In kendo, it is a violation of the sport rules rating a penalty of hansoku.
  • Ashi sabaki means foot shifting or footwork.
  • Ate waza means striking techniques.
  • Ayumi ashi translates as natural foot, meaning normal or natural walking. The back foot steps past the front foot while walking.
– B –
  • Batto means to draw and cut with a bladed weapon. It is another term for iai.
  • Batto jutsu is the sword drawing art which includes cutting rolled staw targets.
  • Bishamon was the god of war and defense. He was one of the seven deities of good luck.
  • Bo means wood or wooden. It is used to mean a staff or pole. A rokushakubo is a six foot long staff. It is used as a weapon in karate and in various Japanese weapon styles.
  • Bogu is a generic term used to mean kendo equipment.
  • Bokken means a wooden sword.
  • Bo kodachi is a wooden small companion sword to the larger katana.
  • Bokuto is a type of wooden sword. It is said to have been named for the famous swordsman Bokuden Tsukahara.
  • Bu means martial. It is a Chinese character used in Japanese. The character used for ‘bu’ is made of two parts. The first having the meaning of stopping something. The second part is of a classical Chinese weapon like a halberd. Together, the two parts have the connotation of ‘stopping the halbred.’ The concept attached to the character is that the military stops discord and creates civil order. The martial therefore being the way of avoiding or preventing violent conflict.
  • Budo means martial way.
  • Budoka means a person practicing the martial arts.
  • Bugei means martial or military arts.
  • Bugeisha means an individual who practices the martial arts.
  • Bugukake means a weapons rack.
  • Bujutsu means martial art. It is used as generic term for various martial arts. It includes military tactics and is sometimes used to mean tactics.
  • Bukai means martial ranks.
  • Buki means weapons.
  • Bushi means a warrior. It is the name of the warrior caste in feudal times in Japan.
  • Bushido means warrior’s way. The warrior caste’s code of ethics and philiosophy.
  • Bushi no nasake means the gentleness of warriors. It was a virtue to be cultivated by the warrior caste members.
  • Butoku means martial virtue.
  • Butokuden is the headquarters of the Dai Nippon Butokukai, Great Japan Martial Virtue Association, which was founded in 1895 by the Japanese government to preserve the traditional martial arts.

– C –

  • Chi means earth.
  • Chi is the blood.
  • Chiburui means the ritualized shaking of a sword to remove any blood or organ left on the sword after cutting an opponent. It is symbolic and for kata only. It is done before wiping off the sword before returning it to the scabbard. This prevents introducing blood into the scabbard which would become sticky. A sticky sheath would slow down the drawing of the sword and would cause the sword to rust.
  • Chikama is a fighting distance that is close enough to strike without needing to step to bridge the gap to the opponent.
  • Chikara is a general term for strength, power, force, or energy. It has no special connotations.
  • Chokuto was a straight sword used early in Japanese history.
  • Chotto means just a minute, please.
  • Chu means middle.
  • Chudan means middle section or middle level. This normally is the part of the torso between the waist or hips up to the shoulders.
  • Chudan no kamae means middle level stance. With a sword, the tip of the sword would be aimed at the opponent’s throat.
  • Chuden means middle scroll. It is used to mean the midlevel teachings of a style.
  • Chuken is the third contestant in a kendo team match.
  • Chusen means the centerline. In the martial arts, the centerline of the body is a line drawn down the body from the nose to the belly button.
  • Chusen is a kendo winner chosen by draw by the judges or referees officials.
  • Chusen gachi is a kendo winner by draw.
  • Chushin dori means grabbing the center. It is used to mean seizing control of the opponent’s centerline while maintaining control of one’s own centerline.

– D –

  • Dachi means stance.
  • Daito means great sword. It is one of several terms for a long sword.
  • Dame means wrong, not like that.
  • Dan means step, grade, or degree.
  • Datto means taking the sword from the belt in iaido.
  • Debana waza means to strike at the beginning of an opponent’s movement.
  • Den are the teachings, legends, and traditions of a lineage or school. They are not just the teachings of a martial art style.
  • Densho means a technique scroll. These are the transmission manuscripts that past down the elements that make up a lineage.
  • Dento means tradition.
  • Dentoteki means traditional.
  • Deshi means a student or disciple.
  • Do means motion, change, or activity.
  • Do means way, path, or road. It is the Chinese character for Tao with the same meaning. It is also pronounced as michi.
  • Do means waist, chest, or trunk. It is also the generic term used for torso armor, ie. such as a cuirass. In kendo, the torso protector can be made of bamboo or other material.
  • Dogi is a training uniform.
  • Dogu means way equipment, i.e. training equipment.
  • Dojo means way place, the meditation room of a Buddhist temple. The practice area of a martial arts school. Traditional etiquette says to bow to the designated ‘front’ of the dojo whenever entering or leaving.
  • Dojo cho the the title of the leader of a dojo.
  • Dojo kun are the maxims of a school. They vary from style to style and art to art.
  • Dokuso geiko means practicing by ones self.
  • Domo means many or much. It is the informal phrase for thank you.
  • Domo arigato is the phrase for a formal thank you to some one.
  • Domo arigato gozaimashita is the very formal Japanese phrase for thank you very much. It is said at the end of a class by the students while bowing to the instructor to thank him for teaching them.
  • Domo arigato gozaimasu is the very formal Japanese phrase for thank you for something that is still happening.
  • Dozo means please go ahead.

– E –

  • Eishin Ryu was a martial art school of sword drawing created by Hasegawa Chikaranosuke Eishin (Hidenobu).
  • Embu is a demostration of martial spirit or it can mean a two person training form.
  • Emon means chest.
  • Encho is an overtime or extension round in a match. It is used to determine a winner when no points have been scored during the normal match time.
  • Encho-sen is a contest term meaning extension. It is used if a match goes into overtime.

– F –

  • Fukuro shinai is a leather covered practice sword made of bamboo.
  • Fukushiki kokyu means abdominal breathing.
  • Fukusho is a kendo contest term for the fourth contestant in a team contest.
  • Fumi komi is a stomping action.
  • Fusei shinai shiyo is a kendo contest term meaning that one contestant used an illegal shinai during a match.
  • Fusen gachi is a kendo contest term meaning a winner due to the opponent not showing up to compete.
  • Fusensho means to win in contest by default..
– G –
  • Gaku means a certificate or diploma.
  • Ganbatte means to stick with something.
  • Gasshuku means a special training camp, workshop, or seminar.
  • Ge means lower or inferior.
  • Gedan means lower section or lower level.
  • Gedan kamae means lower level posture. In sword and other weapon arts, the weapon is pointed at the opponent’s lower level, frequently aimd at the knee.
  • Geiko means practice.
  • Gessha are monthly tuition or dues.
  • Gi means a training uniform.
  • Giri means to cut. It is also spelled as kiri.
  • Gogi is a kendo term for a consultation among the referees during a time out called during a contest match.
  • Gokaku geiko means practice between partners of similar rank.
  • Gokui are hidden, secret, or special techniques taught privately to individual students. In some traditional lineages, this term is used as the highest level license an individual can earn.
  • Gomen nasai means sorry to bother you or I’m sorry.
  • Goroshi means kill. It comes from korosu meaning to kill.
  • Gyaku kesa giri is a diagonial upward cut with a bladed weapon along the line where a kesa would be worn. A right handed person would cut from their front lower left to their front upper right.
– H –
  • Ha means a group or clique. It is used to mean a branch of a ryu or style. It does not include new styles.
  • Ha means blade.
  • Habaki is the collar on a sword which fits over the upper end of the blade and the lower end of the tang.
  • Hachiji giri is a left and right kesa giri done without pausing. This motion is like a figure eight.
  • Hachimaki is a cotton headband worn to keep sweat out of the eyes. For some individuals, it has come to symbolize resolve. Kendo practioners wear it to pad the head against their helmut and to keep sweat out of their eyes.
  • Hadashi means bare foot.
  • Hai means yes.
  • Hajime means to begin or first. It is a kendo and judo contest term to start a match.
  • Hajime no saho means beginning etiquette.
  • Hakkai shiki is the opening ceremony of a school.
  • Hakama is the large traditional divided formal skirt-pants worn over a kimono by Japanese samurai. They were common during the Edo period. A shorter version, known as a han bakama, was worn by lower class samurai and the lower classes.
  • Hakama sabaki are standing, kneeling, sitting, and moving movements done while wearing a hakama so as not to impair mobility or access to weapons.
  • Hakkeyoi means to keep striving.
  • Han means half.
  • Hankafuza means the half lotus sitting posture.
  • Hankai means a half turn.
  • Hanmi is a triangular stance commonly used in aikido and jujutsu meaning half body. The body is half way facing forward.
  • Hanshi means a model teacher. It is the highest of a series of teaching titles given by various martial arts organizations. It is used on certificates, not as a proper title.
  • Hansoku is a penalty given for an illegal act or a foul play in violation of contest rules. In kendo, the six illegal acts warranting hansoku include: (1) tripping or sweeping an opponent, (2) doing an illegal act or movement, (3) stepping outside the contest area, (4) pushing or shoving an opponent outside of the contest area, (5) dropping the bamboo sword, or (6) stalling without any intention of making a strike.
  • Hansoku make means a loss by violation of the rules.
  • Hantai means reverse or opposite
  • Hantai means the other way around.
  • Hantai ni means in the opposite direction.
  • Hantei is a verbal command by the referee to signal the judges to indicate their choice of winner in a kendo or Judo match.
  • Hara means belly or abdomen.
  • Harai waza means sweeping techniques.
  • Hasso gamae means eight sides or the generic in all directions posture. The sword or stick is held beside the head in front of the shoulder.
  • Hasuji means blade positioning or angling. A swordsman has a proper efficient angle which he swings through in doing a cutting technique. Cutting through other angles is less efficient.
  • Hayai means fast.
  • Hayaku means quickly.
  • Hayashizaki Ryu is a martial art style of sword drawing, iaijutsu. It is also known as Shimmei Muso Ryu.
  • Heiho means military strategy or principles.
  • Henka means change or variation.
  • Henka waza means variation technique.
  • Hera is the peg in the back of the hakama. It is inserted in the wide belt, kaku obi, worn to support weapons, to prevent the belt from sliding around the body.
  • Hidari means left
  • Hidari do means the left side of the body.
  • Hiden means secret or concealed techniques. They are contained in the final instructional scroll in a traditional martial art style.
  • Hiki means drawing, pulling in, or evading. It comes from hiku meand to pull.
  • Hiki wake means a draw or tie in a contest
  • Hiki waza means drawing techniques. It is used to describe techniques performed while stepping back.
  • Himo are the ties or cords on a practice uniform or a kendo helmut.
  • Hineri refers to turning something in its normal direction.
  • Hoki Ryu was a martial art school featuring kenjutsu, iaijutsu, and kyujutsu.
  • Hombu Dojo is a term referring to the headquarters or central dojo of an organization.
  • Hyoho means strategic method.
– I –
  • Iaido means the way of drawing the sword. Its usage dates from 1932 C.E.
  • Iai goshi means relatonship hip. It is a posture with one knee one the ground with the ball of the foot touching the ground and the other leg with the foot flat on the ground. This is a lowered stable position permitting a quick response.
  • Iai hiza is a sitting posture, kneeling on one calf, used in sword drawing to enable a quick draw from a kneeling posture.
  • Iai jutsu is the art of drawing the Japanese swords.
  • Ichimonji means in the shape of the character for the number one. This character is a straight line. Therefore, this means something in a straight line.
  • Iie means no. The Japanese try to avoid saying no.
  • Iki means the physical breath.
  • Ikken hissatsu means one punch death blow. It is the concept that one single correctly performed technique is capable of killing an opponent. This is a skill level goal in some Japanese karate styles.
  • Ikki ni means in one breath. It is used to mean instantly. Something which happens during the course of one breath alt ichibyoshi.
  • Itami means pain.
– J –
  • Jigai was the woman’s method of ritual suicide. It involved cutting open both neck arteries.
  • Jikan means time has ended.
  • Jiki deshi means direct student. A student who studies under the headmaster of a style.
  • Jiki keshosha is the term generally used by traditional lineages, ryu, to mean the headmaster designate.
  • Jiku ashi is the supporting leg when doing a stance on one leg such as crane stance. Bend the support leg as deeply as possible.
  • Jin means person.
  • Jissen means real battle or real combat.
  • Jodan means upper section or upper level. It is also used to describe a room with a raised floor. This raised floor being reserved for important people to put them above the average person.
  • Jodan no kamae means upper level posture. The sword is held above the head in kendo and kenjutsu.
  • Joge means up and down.
  • Jorei means dojo rules.
  • Joseki means upper place or side in a dojo. It is reserved for senior black belts.
  • Joza means upper seat or seat of honor in a dojo which is reserved for senior black belts.
  • Juban is an under kimono worn in cold weather.
  • Juku is a private school.
  • Junan taiso means conditioning exercises.
  • Junbi taiso o hajimemasu means begin warm up.
  • Junbi taiso o owarimasu means warm up is finished.
  • Junbi undo means warm up exercises.
  • Jun shi means dying with the master. In feudal times, loyalty to the lord was demonstrated by killing one’s self when the lord died. Junshi was outlawed in the Edo period
  • Jushin means the center of gravity.
  • Jutsu means art, tactic, techniques, or skill.
  • Jyogai is a kendo term for stepping outside of the contest area. It is a hansoku, an illegal act resulting in a violation of the rules of the contest.
– K –
  • -ka is a suffix meaning a practitioner of an art. A Judoka is a person who practices Judo. A kendoka practices kendo. A karateka practices karate.
  • Kaburaya is a turnip head bulbous arrow. It makes a distinctive sound while in flight.
  • Kachi means victorious. It is used to mean a win in a tournament.
  • Kaeshi means counter or overturning of an opponent’s offensive action. If preceeded by another word is is spelled as gaeshi. It comes from kaesu meaning to turn over something.
  • Kaeshi waza means counter technique. In sword fighting, kenjutsu, it refers to a reverse side technique.
  • Kagami geiko means mirror training. This is any partnered training exercise where the partners mirror each other actions.
  • Kai means an association, society, or federation.
  • Kaicho means the owner of a school organization, i.e., Japan Karate Association or Aikikai. The head of a organized group or society.
  • Kaiden are the final teachings of a style.
  • Kaishaku was the individual who cut off the head of the person committing seppuku. This was usually a kinsman or friend ending the dying person’s pain. Some kenjutsu and iai jutsu styles still retain and teach a kata for this purpose.
  • Kaku obi is a wide belt worn to support weapons being carried in or from it.
  • Kamae means a posture, stance or attitude.
  • Kamidana is the sacred shrine sometimes placed at the front of the dojo training area. Commonly, this is a small shelf with ritual symbolic items used to represent the spirit or the spirit’s home.
  • Kamishimo was formal samurai attire consisting of a kimono, hakama, and kataginu. During the Edo period, the kamishimo became more everyday wear.
  • Kamiza means seat of the spirits. In a dojo, the kamiza side is the upper side of the floor area. It sometimes contains a Shinto shrine, photographs, or a written scroll.
  • Kamiza ni rei means bow to kamiza.
  • Kan means hall or building.
  • Kancho means the owner of a school building or hall. The owner of a dojo.
  • Kan geiko means special winter training during the coldest time of the winter.
  • Kappo are techniques for resuscitating people who have suffered a shock to the nervous system.
  • Karui geiko means a light easy practice.
  • Kashira means mask. It is the pommel fitted over the end of the handle.
  • Kasso teki is the term for the imaginary opponent in iaido and iai jutsu. He is always your own size. The sword is aimed at the cener of the opponent.
  • Kata means a model, prearranged set, form, or routine. A prearranged set of movements used to teach a student how to perform a technique.
  • Kata ashi means single leg or one foot.
  • Katachi means correct form. It refers to ‘form only’. Applied in training which requires only basic movement without the full effect.
  • Katana is the traditional long curved sword of the samurai constructed through the folding and refolding of a bar of hot metal thousands of times. They are reknowned for their toughness and cutting ability. The katana replaced the straight sword during the later Kamakura period. Until then, the bow and arrow had been the primary battlefield weapon.
  • Katsuninken means life giving sword.
  • Katate means a single hand.
  • Katate waza means a single hand technique. Can be used in refering to a long sword, katana, cutting technique.
  • Katsu is a method of resuscitating a person who has lost consciousness due to strangulation or shock.
  • Katsujin no ken means the sword or fist, depending upon the characters used, that takes life.
  • Katsugi waza is a shouldering the sword technique.
  • Keiko means practice.
  • Keikogi means a practice uniform.
  • Keiko hajime means beginning practice.
  • Keito is a kenjutsu term for the sword held in a position at the left side as if it were being held in the belt, obi. The thumb is placed on the guard, tsuba, ready to release the sword from the scabbard.
  • Ken means sword. As a type of sword, it was a pre-9th century C.E. double edged straight sword.
  • Kendo means the way of the sword. It is implied that the sword is already drawn. The usage of this term by what is meant currently dates to 1895 C.E.
  • Kenjutsu means sword art, ie. sword fighting. The practice and study of fighting with a sword.
  • Kenkyuka means a seminar.
  • Kenkyukai means research association.
  • Kensei is a technique performed with a silent kiai or shout.
  • Keppan means blood seal as a method of swearing an oath. Traditionally, it is done by cutting the fourth finger on the left hand with a knife and smearing the resultant blood on an oath below the signer’s signature or chop. Some involved signing in one’s own blood.
  • Kesa giri means a diagonial downward cut with bladed weapon across the body through the line where a kesa would be worn. A gyaku kesa giri is a diagonial upward cut.
  • Ki means breath, air, or energy.
  • Kiai means to shout or yell with spirit, not what is shouted. If you hear someone yelling ‘kiai’, they are yelling ‘shout.’ Various arts and styles have shouts specific to their arts and styles.
  • Kihon means basic or fundamental techniques.
  • Ki o tsukete means attention or be careful.
  • Kiri means to cut.
  • Kiri age means rising cut.
  • Kiri te means cutting hand. It is a sword fighting term for when the back of the wrist, at the thumb, is straight. The thumb of the right hand should be touching the second finger and matching pads with the index finger. If your thumb is above, toward the guard, the index finger you are gripping the handle too square across the palm and the edge of the sword will not reach the opponent. The cut is made using the muscles between the shoulder blades, while opening, or expanding, the chest. You do not try to cut by flexing the wrist, but with the back muscles.
  • Kiza means kneeling, but up on the balls of the feet. This is called live toes.
  • Ko means small, minor, or short; means ancient or old.
  • Ko dachi means a small sword. This is the companion to the o dachi, large sword carried by the samurai.
  • Kodansha means high grade black belts at 5th degree and above.
  • Kogai is a skewer. Sometimes they are found as a part of a scabbard.
  • Kohai means another person junior to oneself.
  • Koi guchi means carp’s mouth. It is the term used to mean the scabbard opening where the sword is slid into the scabbard.
  • Kojiri is the fitting at the end of the scabbard.
  • Kojo undo means weight training.
  • Kokei means a succesor.
  • Kokoro means spirit-heart. In Japanese culture the spirit is in the heart. It is also used to mean will, mood, or intuition.
  • Kokoro kamae means mental attitude.
  • Kokyu means breath.
  • Koppu means cupping. It is a health restoration technique used to draw off excess energy from an individual.
  • Koryu means an ancient or old stream, this is taken to mean an ancient school(s) or lineage. These are usually considered to be schools which existed before the beginning of Meiji, 1865 C.E.; some say they have to be a couple of hundred years old or more.
  • Koshi ita is the small back plate on the traditional wide legged pants, hakama.
  • Kotae means change.
  • Kote means the forearm or wrist.
  • Ko waza means minor or small technique requiring only a slight amount of body movement.
  • Kozuka means a small knife. Sometimes small knives were fitted in to a sword scabbard as an additional tool.
  • Kuchi bushi means mouth warrior. It is an insult meaning an individual who talks like a warrior but doesn’t have the skills to perform as a warrior.
  • Kuden means oral teaching.
  • Kyoshi is a teacher of teachers, a knowledgeable person. The middle of the teaching titles. It is awarded by various organizations to senior teachers in different Japanese martial arts. The ZNKR requires that an individual be at least a 7th dan in kendo or iaido before being awarded this teaching title.
  • Kyu means a class of student below black belt level.
– L –
  • The English ‘L’ is not used in the Japanese language.
– M –
  • Ma means space and time.
  • Maai means the effective or proper distance between opponents.
  • Ma ai ga to means not the proper distance.
  • Machi dojo means a private dojo. Small independent dojo outside of a central school.
  • Mae means front or forward.
  • Maitta means I give in or I submit.
  • Makimono means a hand written scroll. These were the traditional form of books containing information about a style’s history and techniques. Some contain drawings of techniques. Others may contain poems explaning principles or insights from the style using words only insiders to the style can relate to their training and information told to them in class.
  • Man means 10,000.
  • Mata dachi is the term for the split in the side of a pair of hakama.
  • Mate means to wait.
  • Mawaru means to turn.
  • Me means the eye or eyes.
  • Mei means the name of a sword.
  • Mekugi is the retaining peg used to hold the handle onto the tang of a sword or knife.
  • Men means the head.
  • Men himo are the cords used to tie a kendo helmut.
  • Menkyo kaiden means license of complete and total transmission. It is given in traditional arts as the certificate of full proficiency for a lineage or style. It normally means just a license denoting a very high level of skill. For some lineages, it might be given to the headmaster designate or the headmaster.
  • Men uchi means a strike to the head.
  • Midare geiko means free training.
  • Migi means right.
  • Migi do means the right side of the body.
  • Mitori geiko means eyes grab practice. It means to observe and learn while watching a class or instructor by grabbing, i.e., understanding, what is being taught. This is the recommended way to practice when injured.
  • Mokuroku means a catalog of techniques. In some traditional Japanese martial arts, the instructor would create a catalogue of techniques to give to a student reaching a certain level of knowledge and skill listing the techniques contained in the style. This term is used by some traditional lineages as the highest level license an individual can earn.
  • Mokusho means guiet contemplation. It is used as a command normally done at the beginning and ending of a class to clear your mind and consider what you will be doing or have just completed. It is not meditation and has no religious aspect, even to the Japanese.
  • Mokusho yame is the command to finish the quiet contemplation.
  • Mon is a family crest. The mon is the Japanese form of hearldry. It  was used on clothing, weapons, and armor was a means of identification.
  • Monouchi is the best part of a sword blade to cut with the best mechanical advantage. It is the one third of the blade closest to the kissaki.
  • Montsuki is the kimono top worn on formal occasions. It would have the family crest, the mon, on the front and on the wide sleeves.
  • Morote means two hands or both hands.
  • Mudansha means individuals without rank. These are students without black belt rank, the kyu classes.
  • Musha shugyo was the traveling around by samurai testing themselves out against the various local weapons experts.
  • Mushin means no mind. It is used to mean the state of being without thought, or original mind.
  • Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu is a martial art style of sword drawing, iaido. It is also known as Hasegawa Eishin Ryu.
  • Muso Shinden Ryu is a martial art style of sword drawing, iaido. It was founded by Nakayama H. It is related to the Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu style.

 

– N –
  • Nafuda is a wooden placard used as a traditional name tag.
  • Nafuda kake means the name board used in a dojo to show the name and rank of individuals.
  • Nagare means flow.
  • Naira means the Achilles tendon. This is located between the heel and the calf muscles on the back side of the lower leg.
  • Nakago is the tang of a sword blade. It is the metal part of the sword blade under the handle cover.
  • Nakago jiri is the end of the tang.
  • Nakayui is the term for the middle knot that holds the staves of a bamboo practice sword, shinai, together.
  • Nana korobi ya oki is a phrase meaning seven falls, eight rise. It is used to mean persevere or never give up. The maxim is attributed to the Indian Chan Buddhist monk Bodhidharma.
  • Naname means diagonal or oblique.
  • Nasake-no ichigeki is a term used to mean a finishing sword cut, i.e., a coup de grace.
  • Noto means the returning of a blade to the scabbard.
  • Nuki means to pull or draw.
  • Nuki uchi means pulling strike. It is a combination block, strike, and cut all in one action and done in one direction.
  • Nuki waza means avoiding, dodging, or displacement technique.
– O –
  • O means major, great, large, or principle.
  • Obi means belt. Denotes rank in some martial arts styles.
  • Obi musubi means belt knot.
  • O chiburi means a large motion of a sword to shake off the opponent’s blood.
  • Oji waza means receiving technique(s). In practice, this is done by blocking and then counter attacking.
  • Oku means deep or secret.
  • Okuden means hidden teachings or a secret technique scroll.
  • Oku iri means introduction to the secrets. It is a rank in some traditional styles.
  • Okuri means chasing, pursuing, or sliding.
  • Omote means front, refers to entering movements or to obvious techniques. When omote is used refering to a sword, it is the side of the sword that faces out from the hip when it is in the scabbard. This is the side of the sword that is signed by the sword smith. When omote is used refering to the body, it means an open palm of the hand. It can also refer to something being obvious or openly taught or shown to the public.
  • Onegai shimasu is the phrase requesting one’s partner to practice with them.
  • Oroshi means downward.
  • Oshidashi is used in kendo to mean unfair pushing of an opponent outside of the contest area.
  • Otagai ni rei means bow to each other.
  • Owari no saho means finishing etiquette.
  • O waza means major or large technique requiring a large movement of the body.
– P –
– Q –

Q is a characher not used in the Japanese language.

– R –
  • Rei means courtesy or bow.
  • Reigi means etiquette.
  • Reigisaho means dojo etiquette or mat manners.
  • Reiho means etiquette or method of bowing.
  • Reishiki means etiquette or ceremony.
  • Renmei means a federation of styles or organizations.
  • Renshi is a training teacher. It is the lowest of the teaching titles given by various organization for various martial arts. A renshi is fully qualified to teach independently.
  • Renshu means hard work, i.e., hard practice.
  • Riai means the unification of theory and action.
  • Ritsu rei means standing bow. A standing bow may also be called tachi rei.
  • Ryu means a stream. It has come to mean a school or a lineage style or tradition. This term is used by many classical systems.
  • Ryugi are the individual sub-arts of a comprehensive martial arts school or lineage.
  • Ryuha are branch schools of a main stream lineage or school.
– S –
  • Sa means the left side.
  • Sabaki means motion. It refers to the body moving.
  • Sageo are utility cords carried on some sword cases. In some modern sword schools, these cords are tied to the swordsman’s belt to keep the sword case from sliding out of the belt.
  • Saika tanden means the center of the body.
  • Saiumen is the sword practice drill of alternately attacking the left and right sides of the opponent’s head.
  • Sakki is the awareness and sensitivity to aggressive behavior by others.
  • Same means ray fish skin. The skin of the ray fish is used to cover the handle of a sword or knife.
  • Samurai means one who serves. They were a class of warriors, bushi. Originally they were the bodyguards and retainers of nobility. Later the term was expanded to include all bushi of a certain rank belonging to warrior families.
  • Sandan waza means three step technique in kenjutsu.
  • Sankaku means three sided, a triangle.
  • Satsujin ken means the sword or fist that gives life.
  • Saya is a scabbard of a sword or knife. It is traditionally made of wood with magnolia being the most common wood type. It is made in two halves with the center carved out to fit the blade. It is glued together and lacquered.
  • Saya biki means the movement of the scabbard.
  • Saya banare means the position of the tip of the sword at the koi guchi, the scabbard opening, during the draw. The point at which the sword tip comes out of the scabbard. Just before the strike.
  • Seishi is a written pledge from a beginning student to his sensei upon joining a style. Sometimes they were written in the student’s own blood or just signed in the student’s blood.
  • Seishin means proper mind.
  • Seitei means basic or fundamental.
  • Seitei gata means fundamental forms or techniques.
  • Seito means orthodox.
  • Seiza means correct sitting. It is the formal Japanese sitting position with the legs tucked underneath the body, kneeling on both calves. The insteps are resting flat on the floor and the buttocks rest on the heels.
  • Sekai taikai means world championships.
  • Seme means pressure or attack.
  • Sempai means an individual senior by way of rank or status.
  • Sen means initiative in applying mental power, technical skill, and physical strength togain advantage over the opponent. The concept comes from the Japanese sword arts. Sen involves a well-made attack or series of movements that constitute a single attack. The character Sen can be used as future or to precede. This character is also used for the number one thousand. Be aware whether the term is being used as a number or some other meaning. Look at the context.
  • Sensei means one who was born before, i.e. someone with more experience. It is used frequently as a respectful term for school teachers lawyers, and doctors. In Japan, when doing martial arts, it is usually reserved for 4th dans and above.
  • Sensei ni rei means bow to the instructor.
  • Senshuken taikai means a ‘championship great gathering’. This get together is much more than just a tournament.
  • Seppa are the oval metal plates, the washers, on a knife or sword which secure the guard, the tsuba.
  • Seppuku is ritual suicide by pulling a dagger or short sword through he stomach.
  • Sesshin is a period of rigorous discipline used to achieve intense concentration.
  • Shaku is a length of measure of appromately 11.93 inches.
  • Shi means fourth. Because it sounds like death, the more acceptable way of saying this character is yon.
  • Shi means death.
  • Shi means an expert.
  • Shi means a person of the samurai class or an expert. An example would be the term bushi, meaning war person.
  • Shiai means contest, competition, or tournament
  • Shiaijo means the contest area
  • Shibori means wringing. This is a twisting motion of the hands inward while gripping the sword handle during a cut.
  • Shido geiko means way person practice. It is learning by teaching. An individual gains insights into techniques by having to explain them to other individuals.
  • Shi giri means death cut. It is a kenjutsu technique.
  • Shihan means a teacher of teachers, a professor. Shi translates as teacher. Han translates as wise. Commonly translated as master. It is not part of the series of teaching titles; renshi, kyoshi, hanshi. However, the characters are the same as in hanshi. It is correctly used only in a school, never outside the dojo. Sensei is used outside the dojo, instead to refer to an instructor.
  • Shihanke means the family’s senior teacher or headmaster. The previous shihanke chooses the next shihanke. The shihanke is the final authority of all questions relative to the philosophy, traditions, techniques, and kata of a lineage, ryu. The shihanke is the living tradition. There is only one in a style. The shihanke defines what the ryu is.
  • Shikake means offensive or attacking.
  • Shikake waza means any offensive technique.
  • Shimmei Muso Ryu is a martial art style of sword drawing, iaijutsu. It is also known as Hayashizaki Ryu.
  • Shimoseki is the lower side or place in a dojo at which students line up.
  • Shimoza is the lower seat in the dojo where students line up.
  • Shin means heart or spirit. (HT)
  • Shin means spirit. It can also be pronounced as kokoro.
  • Shin means upper. It can also be pronounced as kami.
  • Shinken shobu means death match. A real fight to the death.
  • Shinai is a bamboo sword.
  • Shinai hanashi is a kendo term maining dropping the bamboo sword, a shinai.
  • Shindo Munen Ryu means divine path to serenity. It is a sword school.
  • Shinpan means judge, referee, or umpire.
  • Shin shinto means new sword. This is used to mean any sword made after 1870, the date of the Meiji Restoration. This is considered the beginning of the modern era in Japanese history.
  • Shinto means new sword. Among sword collectors, this is the period between 1596 and 1870, the date of the Meiji Restoration.
  • Shinza means spirit seat. It is another name for the kamiza.
  • Shinza ni rei means to bow towards the shrine.
  • Shinzen means an alter or shrine. It is the same place as kamiza.
  • Shinzen ni rei means to bow towards the shrine.
  • Shisei means posture or stance.
  • Shochu geiko means special summer training during the hottest time of the year.
  • Shoden means new scroll. This is the name give in some styles to the first full transmission certication.
  • Shomen is the face or forehead.
  • Shomen means straight ahead.
  • Shomen uchi means front of the head strike. It is an overhead strike to the opponent’s forehead.
  • Shoshin means beginner mind. It is a mind state that is alert and empty to receive all possibilities.
  • Shoshinsha means beginner’s mind person. An individual new to training in the martial arts.
  • Shoto wakizashi means a short sword. Normally it is between 12 to 24 inches, 30 to 60 centermeters, long.
  • Shucho enbu means a public demonstration.
  • Shugyo is daily, austere practice that is maintained over a protracted period of time.
  • Shugyosha is an individual undergoing intense training.
  • Shushin means the center referee of a contest match.
  • Soatari shiai means a round robin tournament or a league tournament.
  • Soba is a term for the split in the side of a pair of hakama.
  • Sode means sleeve.
  • Soji means the cleaning of the dojo. In some dojo, it is ritualized into a ceremony for the beginning of the New Year. In other dojo, it is a ritual cleaning performed as the beginning of the normal training session.
  • Sokatsu is the critiquing of a performance, usually by senior ranking students.
  • Soke is the head of the family or lineage, a ryu, and is typically, therefore, outside of its rank system.
  • Sokui is rice glue. This rice glue is used to glue the wooden handles on to the tang on a traditional Japanese style sword.
  • Sonkyo means the squatting or crouching position in kendo.
  • Sori the curvature of a sword blade.
  • Sotai means correct body. The putting of the body into structurally correct postures.
  • Sotai renshu means partner practice. Two people training together.
  • Suburi is solo practice with a jo or bokken in aikido or kendo done repetitively to develop strength and endurance.
  • Sudori means momentum.
  • Suki is a gap in the opponent’s concentration permiting an attack.
  • Sun is a measurement of length about 1.2 inches. Ten sun equals one shaku, about one foot.
  • Sune gakoi is a block to protect the shin in kenjutsu and iaido.
  • Suriage waza means sliding up technique. It is any attacking technique involving creating an opening by sliding up the opponent’s weapon.
  • Suri ashi means sliding foot. It is the method of walking from the hips with the feet lightly sliding over the ground. It is the opposite of walking in a controlled fall.
  • Sutemi means self sacrifice
  • Sutemi waza means sacrifice techniques. The techniques are achieved by sacrificing your body position by falling down.
– T –
  • Tabi are a type of Japanese socks. The big toe is separately enclosed from the other toes. The divide permits the wearing of zori or geta.
  • Tachi is a generic name for an older type of Japanese sword mounted edge downwards.
  • Tachi means standing.
  • Tachi kata means forms of standing, i.e., stances.
  • Tachi mei is the side of the sword contain the sword smith’s signature.
  • Tachi rei means a standing bow.
  • Tachi waza means standing techniques.
  • Tai atari means body contact.
  • Taikai is a ‘big get together’ or ‘big meeting’. It is a social gathering including the tournament, demonstrations, lectures, classes, randori sessions, etc. Or it can mean a match within a competition.
  • Taiko is a ceremonial drum used to start training in some dojo.
  • Tai sabaki means body shifting or body turning. Tai sabaki is not just a means for achieving entry for techniques, or the avoiding of attacks, but also a means for generating power.
  • Taisho means team captain.
  • Taiso means calisthenics.
  • Taito means putting the sword into the belt.
  • Tameshigiri is test cutting with a sword to really practice getting the correct feeland handling against resistance.
  • Tanden means the abdomen below the navel. It is used to mean the center of balance of the body.
  • Tandoku renshu means solo practice.
  • Tanin geiko means practicing with multiple attackers.
  • Tanto means a knife or dagger sized short sword.
  • Tare is the protective skirt like armour protecting the lower body in kendo and kenjutsu.
  • Teito means holding the sword loose by the left side with the arm relaxed downward. It can also be used to describe the body posture when the sword is in the belt and the hands hang loosely at the sides of the body.
  • Teito shisei means holding the sword by the left side as if it were in the belt. The thumb is on the guard, tsuba, ready to release the sword from the scabbard.
  • Te no uchi is to grip a sword with the fingers pulling into the palm. It is sometimes used to genericaly mean gripping.
  • Tenugui is the small hand cloth used by kendo practioners under their helmets to absorb sweat or to wipe their face.
  • To means a dagger or a curved sword with a single edge.
  • Tokonoma is an alcove in the wall of a main room. It may contain flowers, a painting, or a stand for swords. Normally, the contents are a display of beauty.
  • Tokui waza means favorite technique.
  • To rei means bow to the sword.
  • Toshikoshi geiko means New Year’s Eve practice. This is a tradition in some dojo.
  • Tsuba is the hand guard on a knife or sword. Frequently it is round or oval.
  • Tsuba dome is the rubber that keeps the guard from sliding down on a shinai.
  • Tusba moto is the 1/3 of the sword blade nearest the handle and guard.
  • Tsuba zeri ai is a kendo contest term for stalling without any intention of making a strike.
  • Tsugi ashi means thrusting step or following foot. A method of stepping where by the front foot steps forward, followed by the back foot coming up behind the front foot
  • Tsuka means the hilt or handle. It is always made of wood, frequently magnolia. The two halves are held to the tang with a peg going through all three pieces.
  • Tsuka gashira is the pommel or metal end cap of the handle of a sword.
  • Tsuka gawa is the leather handle on a shinai.
  • Tsuka ito means hilt thread. The thread wrapping on the handle, the hilt, of a knife or sword can be made of silk, leather, or other material.
  • Tsuka maki is the method, style, or pattern of wrapping a sword handle.
  • Tsuki means thrusting or shoving, either with a weapon or empty handed.
  • Tsukidashi is used in kendo to mean unfair shoving of an opponent outside of the contest area.
  • Tsukinami shiai means monthly dojo contest.
  • Tsuki no kokoro means to have a mind like the moon. It sees all, but is not fixed on anything.
  • Tsuru is a bow string.
  • Tsurugi is a sword with a straight, double edged blade.
– U –
  • U means right, as in right side.
  • Uchi means strike.
  • Uchi deshi means an inside student. A student who lives at the dojo and devotes his time to training and careing for the dojo.
  • Uchi gatana means inner sword, the longer of the two swords worn by a samurai.
  • Uchiko is a powder made from polishing stones used to clean off dirt and minor oxidation. It is used on a powder ball used to dust powder on a real Japanese sword to clean it.
  • Uchi komi means practicing form by repeating a technique many times with a partner.
  • Uki ashi means floating foot. It is a leg without weight upon it.
  • Undo means exercise.
  • Ura means back, rear, or reverse. It is sometimes used to mean that a technique is done with the nage in back of uke or nage moves behind uke.
  • Uwagi means the practice uniform’s jacket.
– V –

V is a characher not used in the Japanese language.

– W –
  • Wakarimasen means I don’t understand.
  • Wakarimasu means I understand. One does not want to say “Hai, wakarimashita” to an instructor. If you understood, the instructor would not need to correct your technique
  • Waki means the armpit.
  • Waki gamae is a sword fighting posture where the sword is pointed down and back along the side.
  • Wakizashi means worn on the side. The short sword worn by the warrior class in addition to the long sword.
  • Waza means technique
– X –

X is a character not used in the Japanese language.

– Y –
  • Yaburi dojo means storming another martial arts school. It has the same meaning as Dojo arashi.
  • Yagyu Shinkage-Ryu was a martial art school founded by Yagyu Munenori in 1603. It teaches kenjutsu, iai-jutsu, and jujutsu. Munenori became the instructor to the Tokugawa Shoguns.
  • Yasumi is the intructor’s command to rest or relax.
  • Yoko men means the side of the head.
  • Yoko men uchi means side of the head strike. It is usually done on a diagonal angle of attack.
  • Yudansha means a degree holder or black belt.
  • Yukuri means slow.
  • Yuru yaka ni is a phrase meaning smooth.
  • Yusho means first place.
  • Yuyo semarazu is an composed attitude reflecting calmness and sincerity.
– Z –
  • Za means sitting or to be seated.
  • Zaiteki is an advanced skill level at which appropriate actions no longer require conscious thought.
  • Zanki is the perception of an opponent’s intention to cut or attack.
  • Zanshin literally means remaining mind/heart. It is a state of readyness or alertness for a potential attack, a state of cautiousness. It is perfect awareness exemplified by perfect posture.
  • Za rei is bowing from a kneeling position.
  • Zekken is a chest patch embroidered with your own name and your dojo name on it.
  • Zenkoku taikai means national championships.
  • Zenkutsu means forward leaning.
  • Zori are sandels. In most schools, the students wear sandels between the changing room and the workout area.