Iwama Takemusu Aikido Dojo London
Justin Christou

Aikido glossary: Japanese terms used in Iwama Aikido training.


Aikido: (ai: harmony; ki: spirit, energy; do: way, path, method)

Ai-hanmi: (ai: same; han: half; mi: body) Uke and nage stand facing each other with the same foot forward: right/right or left/left.)

Aiki Jinja: ( jinja: Shinto temple) The temple built by O-sensei in Iwama in honor of the deities of Aikido)

Anza: (the lotus position)

Ashi: (foot or leg)

Atama: (head)

Atemi: (ate: to strike; mi: body) A strike or blow used during a technique, directed toward the vulnerable parts of the body.

Awase: (awase: to harmonize) To coordinate and fit your movements to the movements of the attacker.

Barai/harai: (sweep)

Bokken/bokuto: (bo/bok-: wooden; ken/to: sword) Wooden sword.

Budo: (bu: martial; do: way,path, method) The Way of the Warrior. Martial arts including fighting techniques,strategy, physical and spiritual training, mental discipline and etiquette.

Bukiwaza: (buki: weapons; waza: technique) Weapons techniques.

Chudan: (chu: middle; dan: level)

Dame: "Wrong"

Dan: (dan: level, grade) black belt level.


* Yudansha: (yu: to have or possess; sha: person) Person who is a graded black belt.

* Shodan: (sho: first) First dan.

* Nidan: Second dan.

* Sandan: Third dan.

* Yondan/Yodan: Fourth dan.

* Godan: Fifth dan.

* Rokudan: Sixth dan.

* Nanadan: Seventh dan.

* Hachidan: Eighth dan.

* Kudan/ Kyudan: Ninth dan.

* Judan: Tenth dan.


Deshi: Student

Do: (way, path, method)

Dojo: (do: way; jo: place) Place for training.

Domo Arigato Gozaimasu/gozaimashita: Most polite form of thanks in present tense, past tense.

Dori/Tori: (grab/ grasp)

Dozo: (please, go ahead, begin)

Eri: (collar)

Furikaburu: (furi:to raise a weapon over the head; kaburu: to carry on or over the head) The movement of raising a ken or jo over the head to the position used for a downward strike.

Futari-dori: (futari: two people; dori: hold, grasp) Two people holding nage

Gaeshi/Kaeshi: (turn, reverse)

Gedan: (ge: lower; dan: level)

Gi: (gi: clothes) In Japanese most often called dogi (do: way) or keikogi (keiko: training) A training outfit for martial arts.

Gyaku-hanmi: (gyaku: opposite; han: half; mi: body) Uke and nage stand facing each other with the opposite foot forward: right/left or left/right.

Ha: The edge of a sword.

Hai: (hai: yes)

Hajime: (command) Begin.

Hakama: Traditional Japanese pleated, split skirt-like wide trousers.

Hanmi: (han: half; mi: body) Aikido stance in which the front foot is pointing straight forward and the rear foot is at an approximate 90 degree angle as in an upside-down T-shape. The same hip as the front foot and upper body are turned slightly sidewise to make the body a smaller target.

Hanmi-handachi: (han: half; mi: body; han: half; dachi: standing) Uke is standing and nage is sitting (in seiza).

Hantai: (opposite)

Happo-giri: (ha-: eight; po: direction; giri: cut) Eight directional cut with the sword/bokken.

Hara: (stomach) The lower region of the abdomen- the physical and spiritual center of youself. The point in which you focus and center your balance and awareness.

Hayagaeshi: (haya: quick; gaeshi: turn) The turning movement usually from Tsuki No Kame and directly into yokomen uchi without stopping for the blocking position which is part of this transitional movement.

Henka-waza: (henka: variation; waza: technique) Variation of a basic technique.

Hidari: left

Hiji: elbow

Hito-e-mi: (hito: one; e: Japanese counting prefix; mi: body) An Aikido stance resembling hanmi but with the hips pulled further back to the side. Used in irimi-nage for instance.

Hiza: knee

Ho: (1): direction

Ho: (2): method

Iie: (iie: no)

Irimi: (iri: entrance, enter; mi: body) Techniques in which nage places him/herself behind uke.

Jiyu-waza: (jiyu: free; waza: technique) Type of practice where nage improvises, freely choosing the techniques to be used.

Jo: (jo: staff) Wooden staff, usually approximately 1 1/2 meters long.

Jodan: (jo: upper; dan: level)

Jo-dori: (jo: staff; dori: grab, grasp) Techniques used to take the attacker�s (uchi�s) jo. Approximately 10 variations.

Juken: (ju: gun; ken: sword) Rifle with bayonet.

Kaicho: (kai: organization; cho: leader)

Kaiso: (kaiso: founder of a style) Term used for O-sensei Ueshiba.

Kaiten: (rotate, turn)

Kaeshi-waza: (kaeshi: reverse, return; waza: technique) Counter technique.

Kamae: ( kamae: stance) Aikido stance, encompassing an attitude of hightened mental awareness and readiness to unleash techniques.

Kakari-geiko: (kakari: to attack or swarm over; geiko/keiko: practice) Attackers (uke) in a row attack one after the other.

Kansetsu: (joint)

Kao: (face)

Karada: (body)

Kata: (1) Shoulder

Kata: (2) Predetermined sequence of movements. Used to learn techniques and principles in Aikido weapons practice

Katana: Japanese sword.

Katame-waza: (katame: to hold or pin; waza: technique) Techniques ending in a hold.

Keiko: ( actual meaning: to study old things) Training/ practice.

Ken: Japanese sword.

Ken-tai-jo: ( ken: sword; tai: against; jo: staff) A series of weapon techniques using the jo to defend against a sword/bokken.

Ki: ( ki: energy, spirit, intention) The vital life-force of the body.

Kiai: (ki: energy,spirit, intention; ai: harmony) A powerful yell or shout originating from the pit of the abdomen, used to unleash physical and spiritual energy from the body.

Kihon: (ki: important, valuable; hon: basic) Basic techniques.

Ki-musubi: ( ki: energy, spirit, intention; musubi: to tie together, to bind) The feeling of becoming one with the intentions and movements of your opponent.

Ki-musubi no Tachi: ( ki: energy, spirit, intention; musubi: to tie together, to bind; no: belonging to; tachi: sword)) The sixth kumi-tachi (paired sword practice in Aikido). Also known as Otonashi no Ken: The Sword of No Sound. This practice is based on the feeling of ki-musubi.

Ki no Nagare: (ki: energy, spirit, intention; no: belonging to; nagare: flow) Advanced type of training using flowing movements.

Kohai: (ko: behind, after; hai: colleague) Fellow junior practitioner.

Kokyu: (kokyu: breath) Coordination of breath, energy and body movement.

Komi: (-komi: thoroughly,decisevly, strongly) A suffix used to express a thoroughly completed or a strong action or movement. As in uchikomi: uchi: strike; komi: strong or decisive.

Kokyu-ryoku: (kokyu: breath; ryoku: power) The power gained through kokyu training.

Koshi: (hip)

Kotai: (change) Command, given when for instance attacker and defender are to change roles.

Kote: (ko: small; te: hand) Wrist.

Kubi: (neck)

Kuden: (ku: oral; den: convey, transmit) The oral teachings of Ueshiba used to explain important points in Aikido techniques

Kumi-tachi: (kumi: to unite, group; tachi: sword) Advanced partner practice with the sword/bokken encompassing 5 basic forms plus variations.

Kumi-jo: (kumi: to unite, group; jo: staff) Advanced partner practice with the jo encompassing 10 basic forms.

Kuro-obi: (kuro: black; obi: belt)

Kuzushi: (kuzushi: to break) The movement used to unbalance your opponent.

Kyu: (kyu: student level) Student level, in Aikido beginning at 6th kyu and advancing to 1st kyu toward 1st dan.

Ma-ai: (ma: distance; ai: harmony) The proper distance between nage and uke.

Mawatte: (mawatte: turn, turn back) Command used when practitioners should turn and move in the opposite direction.

Me: (me: eye)

Men: (men: face, head)

Menkyo kaiden: (menkyo: license, diploma; kai: everything, den: convey, transmit) Highest diploma representing the acquisition of all the techniques in a given martial art system.

Migi: (migi: right)

Mo ikkai: (mo: again; ikkai: one time) Command: Do it again.

Mo ichido: ( mo: again; ichi: one; do: time) Same as above.

Mudansha: ( mu: none; dan: level; sha: person) Person not graded to black belt.

Moku-roku: (moku: eye; roku: document) A document or diploma including technical explanations given in traditional martial art systems.

Mune (muna-): (chest, chest area)

Mushin: (mu: nothing; shin: spirit) The state of no thought stived for in martial arts; a feeling of being able to react instinctively.

Musubi: ( musubi: to tie, bind) The same as ki-musubi: The feeling of becoming one with the intentions and movements of your opponent.

Nage: (1) (nage: throw) Aikido throwing technique.

Nage: (2) In Aikido, the person performing the technique.

Nagare: (nagare: flow)

Ni-nin gake: (ni: two; nin: person, gake: attack) Two uke attacking nage.

Obi: (obi: belt)

Omote: (omote: front)

Omoto-kyo: ( o: great; moto: foundation; kyo: belief) The name of the Shinto group lead by Onisaburo Deguchi,the most important source of spiritual inspiriation for O-sensei Ueshiba.

Onegaishimasu: (o-negai: wish; shimasu: verb conjugation) Japanese standard expression when requesting or wishing for something. Used for instance at the beginning of practice or for requesting someone to practice with you.

O-sensei: (o: great; sensei: teacher, master) Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido (1883-1969). Also called Kaiso: founder.

Osae-waza: (osae: lock; waza: technique) Techniques ending in a lock.

Owari/owarimasu: owarimasu:(owari: finish, end; masu: verb conjugation)Command used to indicate the end of a training session for instance.

Oyo-waza: (oyo: application; waza: technique) Variations of basic techniques in advanced training. The practical usage of Aikido techniques in a more self-defense based context.

Randori: (ran: disorder; dori: grab, grasp) Free style, improvisational practice with several attackers, where the types of attack are not predetermined.

Rei: (rei: bow, thanks, politeness) Command used in Budo: bow.

Reigi: (rei: bow, thanks, politeness; gi: rule, ceremony) Correct behaviour in as well as outside of the dojo. Also called : reishiki ( shiki: ceremony).

Renshu: (ren: to discipline, shu: study) Training, practice.

Renzoku: (ren: to bring with; zoku: to continue) One after the other, continuous.

Riai: (ri: logic, reason; ai: harmony) The common principals in Aikido connecting empty-handed techniques, sword and staff.

Ryu: ryu: school, flow) A prefix meaning of a certain style in Budo context.

San-nin dori: (san: three; nin: person; dori: grab, grasp) Three attackers holding nage.

San-nin gake: (san: three; nin: person; gake: attack) Three people attacking nage.

Saya: (saya: sword sheath)

Sempai: (sem: in front, before; pai/hai: colleague) Fellow senior practitioner.

Sensei: (sen: before, in front; sei: to be born, live) Teacher/master: one who is born before you.

Seiza: (sei: correct; za: seat, sit) The traditional Japanese way of sitting on your knees.

Shihan: (shi: teacher; han: example) A representative of a Budo system, graded 6th dan or higher.

Shiho: (shi: four; ho: direction)

Shiho-giri: (shi: four; ho: direction; giri: cut) Practice of cutting in four directions with the sword.

Shiho-tsuki: Shiho-tsuki:

Shikko: (knee walking)

Shime/-jime: (shime: to squeeze, strangle)

Shisei: (shi: form, appearance; sei: power) Posture.

Shiro-obi: (shiro: white; obi: belt)

Shomen (1): sho: correct; men: front) The wall in the dojo towards which you bow before starting practice, usually where there is a picture of O-sensei.

Shomen (2): (sho: correct; men: face, front) The face or head.

Sode: (sode: sleeve)

Sode-guchi: (sode: sleeve; guchi/kuchi: mouth) The opening of the sleeve.

Soto: (soto: outside)

Soto-deshi: (soto: outside; deshi: student) Student who lives outside of the dojo, not a live-in student.

Suburi: (su: origin; buri: to swing a sword or staff) A basic strike or thrust with a jo or bokken.

Suki: (suki: opening) An opening or weak point in a technique which leaves you open to a counterattack.

Suwari-waza: (suwari: sit; waza: technique) Seated techniques, performed in seiza.

Tachi-dori: (tachi: sword; dori: grab, grasp) Empty-handed techniques defending against sword attacks. Approximately 10 variations.

Tai: (tai: body)

Tai-jutsu: (tai: body; jutsu: technique) Empty-handed Aikido techniques.

Tai no Henko: ( tai: body: no: belonging to; henko: to turn around) Basic practice in turning 180 degrees while uke is grabbing nage’s wrist.

Tai sabaki: (tai: body; sabaki: to move, evade) Movements off the line of attack.

Takemusu Aiki: (take: martial; musu: to give birth to; ai: harmony; ki: energy, spirit, intention) A term used by O-sensei to describe the most advanced level of practice in Aikido: the spontaneous use and creation of techniques through a complete understanding of the basic principals.

Taninzu gake: (taninzu: a group of people; gake: attack) A group of people attacking nage; the same as randori.

Tanren Uchi: (tan: to forge,train; ren; to practice; uchi: strike) The practice of striking a tire with a suburi bokken in order to obtain hip strength and to learn to unleash power at a maximum. Tanren is also used in for instance "Yokomen no Tanren", the practice of striking yokomen with the hand while your partner blocks the strike.

Tanto: (tan: short; to: sword) Knife.

Tanto-dori: (tan: short; to: sword, dori: grab, grasp) Knife disarming techniques.

Tegatana: (te: hand; k/gatana: sword) The edge of the hand.

Tsuba: (tsuba: sword guard) The small disc-like decorative object which is found between the blade and the hilt of the Japanese sword.

Tsuka: (tsuka: hilt) The hilt or handle of the Japanese sword.

To: (to: sword)

Tobu ukemi: (tobu: jump, fly; ukemi: breakfall) A high breakfall.

Tsuki: (tsuki: thrust) A thrust with a jo or bokken, or a straight punch.

Uchi (1): (uchi:strike) Strike, most often from above the head in a downwards motion.

Uchi (2): (uchi: strike) The term for the attacker in jo techniques.

Uchi (3): (uchi: inside) Inner or inside.

Uchi-deshi: (uchi: inside; deshi: student) A live-in student who trains under and assists a sensei on a full time basis.

Uchi-tachi: (uchi: strike; tachi: sword) In sword partner practice: the attacker.

Uke (1): (uke: to receive) The person receiving the technique; in empty-handed techniques the person who is thrown; the attacker.

Uke (2): (uke: to receive) In jo practice, the person who is defending.

Ukemi: (uke: to receive; mi: body) To receive (the technique) through the body: Breakfalls.

Uke-tachi: (uke: to receive; tachi: sword) In sword partner practice, the person who is defending.

Ushiro: (ushiro: behind, in back)

Waza: (waza: technique)

Yamé: (yamé: stop) Command: stop.

Yari: (yari: spear)

Yoko: (yoko: side)

Yokomen: (yoko: side; men: face) The side of the head. Often used as a shortened form for the the following strike:

Yokomen-uchi: (yoko: side; men: face; uchi: strike) Strike with the edge of the hand, jo, bokken or tanto to the side of the head/ temple.

Yoko ukemi: (yoko: side; ukemi: breakfall) Sideways breakfall.

Yubi: (yubi: finger)

Yudansha: (yu: to possess; dan: grade; sha: person) Black belt graded person.

Zanshin: (zan: to remain; shin: spirit) The mental connection between you and your partner even after completion of a technique. This manifests itself in the person performing the technique holding the final position while channeling a surge of energy outwards; the feeling of the power continuing to pour out even after the movement is over.

Zenbu: ( zen: everything; bu: part) Everything, all.

Zengo-giri: (zen: forward; go: backward; giri: cut) The practice of cutting with the sword to the front and rear consecutively.

Zengo- tsuki: (zen: forward; go: backward, tsuki: thrust) The same practice as above, but thrusting with the jo instead.