Common Japanese Words and Phrases Used in Aikido

Aikido - "The way to meet spirit"

Arigato Gozaimashita - Thank you

Bokken - Wooden sword

Dan - Black belt rank.  The United States Aikido Federation promotes black belts up to the level of 8th Dan. 

Dojo - Training hall where aikido is practiced

Domo Arigato Gozaimashita - Thank you very much.  The suffix "mashita" is the past tense.  This phrase is often used to thank partners for training at the end of class.

Fukushidoin - Assistant instructor at a dojo

Gi or Dogi or Keiko gi - Training uniform

Hajime - Begin or start

Hara - Center of the body, just below the navel.

Jo - Wooden staff

Ki - A central concept in East Asian systems of thought and medicine, as well as many other martial arts aside from Aikido.  The life force that governs the way living beings move and operate.

Kohai - Student junior to oneself.

Kyu - Rank prior to black belt, 6th Kyu being first adult rank in United States Aikido Federation ranking system, up to 1st Kyu

Onegai Shimasu - "Please", as in "Please work/train with me."  In Aikido, one says this while bowing to the sensei at the beginning of class and to one's partner before practicing a technique.

O-sensei - Reference of respect to Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), the founder of Aikido, whose picture adorns the front of the dojo.

Rei - To bow.

Sempai - Student senior to oneself; someone with a higher rank or who attained the same rank at an earlier date

Sensei - Teacher

Shidoin - Chief instructor at a dojo

Shihan - Master instructor

Shomen - The front wall of the dojo opposite the entrance.  Traditionally the shomen in aikido dojos is considered the kamiza or place of honor in the dojo.  When entering the dojo or the mat students traditionally bow towards the shomen in respect.  This signifies a shift in attitude from everyday life to focused training.

Shomen ni rei - Instruction to bow to the front of the dojo.

Tanto - Knife (literally "short sword")


Stances, Movements, Attacks, Techniques and Throws

Ai hanmi - Stance where nage and uke are both standing with either both right feet or both left feet forward.

Aikiotoshi - Aiki drop throw, or blending drop throw.  Demonstration of Aikiotoshi

Atemi - Strikes to the body at vulnerable points.  Used in techniques to distract or unbalance the attacker and thereby increase the effectiveness of a technique.

Chudan - Middle position

Chushin - "Centered mind".  Literally, "centered heart".

Funakogi Undo - Rowing exercise

Gedan - Lower position

Gyaku hanmi - A mirror hanmi stance where the uke and nage have different feet forward.

Gokyo - Arm stretch pin, usually used against knife attacks.  Fifth form.

Hanmi - A triangular stance where one foot is in front and pointing forward and the rear foot is placed perpendicular to the front foot.  One of the basic tai sabaki in aikido.  Demonstration of Tai Sabaki

Hanmi Handachi - Any attack where uke is standing and nage is seated in seiza.

Hantai - Opposite or other side

Henkawaza - While executing one technique, changing to another technique due to changed circumstances.

Hidari hanmi - Hanmi stance with the left (hidari) foot forward

Hiji - Elbow

Hijiwaza - Elbow-locking techniques.  Demonstration of Hijiwaza

Ikkyo - Basic pin of the opponent's arm; first form

Irimi - Enter, with a step or slide forward.  "Entering (body)".  One of the basic tai sabaki in aikido.  Demonstration of Tai Sabaki

Iriminage - Entering throw.  Throw by sliding past uke's line of attack, letting uke's momentum pass.  Demonstration of Iriminage

Jiyuwaza - Free-style techniques performed usually with a pre-decided attack, such as shomenuchi or tsuki.

Jodan - High position

Jo nage - Throws done when the nage holds the jo and the uke tries to take it from him.  Example of Jo Nage

Jo tori - Jo techniques

Jujinage - Cross-shaped throw.  Demonstration of Jujinage

Kaeshiwaza - Techniques for countering nage's technique or throw

Kaiten - Pivot 180 degrees in place by turning hips.  One of the basic tai sabaki in aikido.  Demonstration of Tai Sabaki

Kaitennage - Rotation throw.  Demonstration of Kaitennage

Kamae - Stance

Kata - Shoulder

Katatetori - One hand grab to wrist

Katatori - One hand grab to the shoulder

Katatori menuchi - One hand grab to the shoulder. other hand attacks with shomenuchi

Kohai - Junior student

Kokyu - Breath or breathing 

Kokyu dosa - A breathing exercise performed with a partner from seiza

Kokyu ho - A breathing exercise

Kokyunage - Breath throw.  Throws relying on timing, body movement and attacker's speed, rather than joint locks.

Koshi - Hip

Koshinage - Hip throw

Kote - Forearm

Kotegaeshi - Throw from outward wrist twist.  Demonstration of Kotegaeshi

Kubi - Neck

Kuzushi - Unbalance

Ma'ai - Proper distance between nage and uke for attack and defense

Mae ukemi - Forward roll

Men - Face or head

Migi hanmi - Hanmi stance with the right (migi) foot forward

Morotetori - Two hands on one

Mune - Chest

Mushin - "No mind".  Literally, "no heart".

Nage - Person executing the technique.  Nage also means "throw", for exampe shihonage or iriminage.

Nikkyo - Turning of the wrist pin.  Second form.

Omote - Front entry, as in shiho nage omote

Randori - Free-style exercise where two or more uke attack the nage using any attack of their choice.  Example of Randori

Ryo - Both, as in ryotetori, an attack which uses both hands to grab both of nage's wrists.

Ryokatatori - Uke grabs both of nage's shoulders.

Ryotetori - Both wrists held from the front

Sabaki - Body movement

Sankyo - Twisting of the wrist pin.  Third form.  Sankyo Demonstration

Seiza - Formal Japanese sitting, on the knees

Shihonage - Four direction throw.  Demonstration of Shihonage

Shimewaza - Choking techniques.

Shikko - walking on one's knees

Shomenuchi - Strike to the forehead with the te-gatana.  Demonstration of Shomenuchi

Shoshin - "Beginner mind".  Literally, "first heart".

Soto - To the outside, as in soto kaiten.

Sumiotoshi - Corner drop

Surinuke - "Through", as in sliding or slipping through.

Sutemiwaza - "Sacrifice" techniques.

Suwariwaza - Techniques from sitting/kneeling.  The practice of techniques in suwariwaza deprives the practitioners of the use of their legs, forcing them to learn how to throw and take down an attacker using leverage, proper breathing, and hip movement.  Example of Suwariwaza

Tachitori - Defenses to a sword attack; sword takeaways

Tachiwaza - Techniques done while standing

Tai no henko - Turning tenkan practice

Tai sabaki - Basic body movements in aikido.  Demonstration of Tai Sabaki

Tantotori - Defenses to a knife attack; knife takeaways.  Demonstration of Tantotori

Te - Hand

Te-gatana - knife-hand

Tekubi - Wrist

Tenkan - A turn in which the back leg of the hanmi stance is pulled back 180 degrees to reverse one’s direction.  "Turning (body)".  The front foot of the stance is used as the pivot point.  Unlike a pivot, one’s stance is the same as before the move, but one is facing the opposite direction.  One of the basic tai sabaki in aikido.  Demonstration of Tai Sabaki

Tenshin - Movement where one steps back and off-line of the incoming attack.  "Shifting (body)".

Tenchinage - Heaven and earth throw.  From ryotetori, one hand goes up the other comes down.

Tori - Take or grasp, as in katatetori or ryotetori.  

Tsuki (or Mune Tsuki) - Thrust or punch.  Demonstration of Tsuki

Uchi - Strike, as in shomenuchi or yokomenuchi.  Also means "to the inside", as in uchi kaiten.

Ude - Arm

Udegarame - Arm-intertwining technique. Demonstration of Udegarame (Donovan Waite Sensei)

Uke - Receiver of a technique; person being thrown.  Also means attacker.  In aikido, the uke initiates the attack, and the nage responds to the attack, throwing or pinning uke.

Ukemi - Attacking and responding to nage's technique.  A key aspect of ukemi is falling safely when thrown.

Ura - Entry to the back, as in ikkyo ura

Ushiro - Attacking from behind, as in ushiro tekubitori.

Ushiro Kubishime - Wrist grab followed by neck choke from behind

Ushiro Ryokatatori - Both shoulders held from behind

Ushiro Tekubitori - Both wrists held from behind

Ushiro Ukemi - Backwards roll.

Ushiro waza - Any attack from behind

Waza - A technique

Yonkyo - Wrist pressure pin.  Fourth form.  Demonstration of Yonkyo 

Yokomenuchi - A strike to the temple with the te-gatana.  Demonstration of Yokomenuchi

Zanshin - "Remaining mind."  Indicates focus even after you accomplished something, such as after completing a throw.