The following is a guide to Japanese words and phrases commonly used in the dojo.


The Japanese language contains five basic vowel sounds.  They can be approximated by the following:


a like “ah”
e like the “ay” in “pay”
i like the “ee” in “speed”
o like “o” in “so”
u like the “oo” in “mood”
Aikido Terminology



Ichi One
Ni Two
San Three
Shi/Yon Four
Go Five
Roku Six
Shichi/Nana Seven
Hachi Eight
Kyu/Ku Nine
Ju Ten
Phrases and Words


Onegaishimasu Can be translated as “please do this for me.”  Spoken when asking for a favour.  This is perhaps the most used phrase in Aikido practice.  We say this to Sensei at the beginning of class and to our partners before training with them.
Arigato gozaimashita A relatively formal form of “thank you.”  gozaimashita may be dropped for more informal thanks.
Domo arigato gozaimashita A very formal form of thanks – “thank you very much.”  Spoken at the end of class to Sensei.
Hai Yes, affirmative reply
Sensei Teacher, lit. “one who has come before”
Shihan Master teacher.  Title given to certain teachers ranked 6th Dan and above
Doshu Master of the way.  Most often used to refer to the hereditary head of the Aikikai Foundation.  Currently Moriteru Ueshiba, grandson of O’Sensei.
Sempai One higher in rank than oneself – a senior student.
Tori/Nage One who executes the technique – the partner who pins or throws.
Uke One who receives the technique – the partner who is pinned or thrown.
Budo Martial way
Bushido Way of the Samurai, way of the warrior
Rei Respect, Bow
Takemusu Aiki Spontaneously arising technique; the highest form of Aikido
Ki Vital energy; The life-stuff of the universe
Kiai The manifestation of Ki; Physically it is a piercing shout; Spiritually it is a steady outpouring of vital energy.
Ki no Nagare lit. “The flow of Ki.”  Refers to techniques practiced in a blending motion
Hara The centerpoint of the body.  Located just below the navel.
Kokyu-ryoku Breath power; flows from the hara outwards.
Te-gatana Hand blade; holding Ki in the hands; a manifestation of Kokyu-ryoku.
Dojo lit. “Place of the Way”; space where training takes place
Keiko Practice
Gi Outfit worn while training
Kyu Ranks preceding black belt
Dan Black belt ranks
Stances and movement


Hanmi Lit. “Half-body”.  One foot forward, one foot back.  The stance of Aikido.
Tai Sabaki Body movement
Tenkan Pivot. Pivot your back foot behind yourself to turn to face the other direction.
Irimi Entering movement.  A step or shuffle-step forward.
Shikko Knee-walking
Ai Hanmi Mutual stance. Both partners have their left or right foot forward.
Gyaku Hanmi Opposite stance – partners mirror each other
Hanmi Handachi One partner standing, one partner sitting
Suwari Both partners sitting


Funakogi Undo Boat rowing exercise
Menuchi ikkyo undo Blocking exercise
Sayu undo Left and right exercise
Tai sabaki tenkan Body pivots
Kokyu-ho undo Breathing method exercise
Kokyu-dosa Breathing movements
Misogi Purification – deep breathing exercise


Ukemi The art of protecting oneself (with rolls and falls).
Mae Ukemi Forward Roll/Fall
Ushiro Ukemi Back Roll
Yoko Ukemi Side Roll/Fall
Tobi Ukemi High Fall/Breakfall


Katate Dori Same-hand grab (eg. right hand grabbing left wrist)
Tagaite Dori Cross-hand grab (eg. right hand grabbing right wrist)
Ryote Dori Both hands grab both wrists
Morote Dori/Ryokatate Dori Both hands grab one wrist
Kata Dori Shoulder grab
Sode Dori Sleeve grab
Mune (Muna) Dori Grabbing front of gi
Shomen Uchi Overhead strike to the top of head
Yokomen Uchi Strike to the side of the head
Tsuki thrust/punch
Sode Dori Shomen Uchi Grabbing sleeve and striking head
Ushiro Ryote Dori Grabbing both wrists from the rear
Ushiro Ryosode Dori Grabbing both sleeves from the rear
Ushiro Ryokata Dori Grabbing both shoulders from the rear
Ushiro Kubishime Rear chokehold


Omote Waza Techniques where tori moves in front of uke
Ura Waza Techniques where tori moves behind uke
Tachi Waza Standing techniques
Suwari Waza Seated techniques
Hanmi Handachi Waza Seated techniques against a standing opponent
Ushiro Waza Techniques from the rear
Kaeshi Waza Counter techniques
Henka Waza Changing techniques, technique variations
Kihon Waza Basic techniques
Oyo Waza Applied (advanced) techniques
Atemi Vital strike
Ikkyo (Ude Osae) First Teaching (arm bar)
Nikyo (Kote Mawashi) Second Teaching (wrist turn)
Sankyo (Kote Hineri) Third Teaching (wrist twist)
Yonkyo (Tekubi Osae) Fourth Teaching (wrist pin)
Gokyo Fifth Teaching (reverse grip ikkyo) – used in defense against weapons
Shiho Nage Four Direction Throw
Irimi Nage Entering Throw
Kaiten Nage Rotary Throw
Kote Gaeshi “Reversed wrist.” Throwing technique
Tenchi Nage Heaven and Earth Throw
Koshi Nage Hip Throws
Juji Nage Figure Ten Throw
Tenbin Nage Balancing Scale Throw
Kokyu Nage Breath Throws (a large collection of techniques)


Aikiken/Aikijo The sword and staff of Aikido
Kenjutsu Art of the sword
Iaijutsu Art of sword-drawing
Bokken Wooden sword
Jo Staff
Tanto Knife
Iaito Sword with a dull blade – used to practice drawing
Suburi Basic movements: 7 for ken and 20 for jo.
Kumijo Paired jo kata – ten in total
Kumitachi Paired ken kata – five in total
Ken tai Jo Ken versus jo kata – seven in total
Awase Flowing
Tanto Dori Lit. knife taking – empty hand v. knife
Tachi Dori Empty hand v. sword
Jo Dori Empty hand v. staff