Japanese Terms used in Daily Practice

The following terms are commonly used in Aikido training, and in the standard techniques tested during Aikikai examinations for a higher rank.

The names of Aikido techniques (waza) consist of two parts:

  • First half, the name of the attack
  • Second half, the name of the throw

Examples: mune tsuki + ikkyo, katate tori + shiho nage, shomen uchi + irimi nage.

Thus the first two parts of the table are Attacks and Throws. Any attack combines with any throw to become a waza: For example, a partner can attack with mune tsuki and be thrown with ikkyo, shiho nage, kote gaeshi, irimi nage or one of many kokyu nage.


aikido termdefinitionexamples or description
hanmi handachi half sitting, half standing Standing uke attacks seated nage
kata tori shoulder grab kata tori ikkyo, ushiro kata tori sankyo
katate tori one hand grab (same side, as in left hand grabs partner's right wrist) katate tori shiho nage
katate kosa tori one hand grab (opposite side) As in, left hand grab of partner's left wrist. katate kosa tori ikkyo
katate (tori) ryotemochi
[morote tori]
attacker grabs one wrist with both hands katate tori ryote mochi kokyu nage
mune tsuki punch or thrust to the chest mune tsuki kotegaeshi
ryote tori both hands grabbed ryote tori tenchi nage
shomen uchi direct strike to the face or front of the head shomen uchi ikkyo
ushiro (ryo) kata tori grab (both) shoulder(s) from behind ushiro kata tori sankyo
ushiro tekubi / hiji / kata tori grab wrists / elbows / shoulders from behind ushiro tekubi tori kotegaeshi, ushiro hiji tori, ushiro kata tori
yokomen uchi strike to the side of the face or head yokomen uchi shiho nage


aikido termdefinitionexamples or description
ikkyo [ude osae]
(omote and ura)
first "form" throw Basic pin of the opponent's arm
nikyo [kote mawashi]
(omote and ura)
sceond "form" throw Turning of the wrist (forearm) pin
sankyo [kote hineri]
(omote and ura)
third "form" throw Twisiting of the wrist (forearm) pin
yonkyo [tekubi osae]
(omote and ura)
fourth "form" throw Wrist pressure pin
(omote and ura)
fifth "form" throw Pin usually used against knife attacks
irimi nage "entering" throw Thow by sliding past the opponent's line of attack, letting his momenum pass
jo nage (or tori) Throwing with, or taking away, the jo set of throwing techniques with a wooden staff
jiyu waza "free" style techniques Basic: perform any throw against ryotetori (both hands grasped) attack
toshu henka waza "change" style/form techniques Any throw against any attack
kaeshi waza "reversal" throw Techniques for countering nage's throw
kaiten nage
(omote and ura)
"revolution" throw Turn of the wheel "revolution", not the overthrowing of governments kind
kokyu nagebreath throwThrows relying on timing, body movement and attacker's speed, and strength, rather than joint locks
kote gaeshi Turing in of the wrist (reversing the wrist) Similar to a nikyo pin, but used to throw
randori attack by multiple (usually 4) uke lit. "passing through chaos"
Free techniques against multiple opponents
shiho nage
(omote and ura)
four directions throw  
sumi otoshi
(omote and ura)
"corner" throw  
tachi (bokken) tori sword waza deal with (wooden) sword attacks
tanto tori knife waza deal with (wooden) knife attacks
suwari waza seated techniques actually techniques executed while kneeling
tenchi nage
( omote and ura )
heaven-earth throw One hand goes up, the other comes down (from ryote tori)


aikido termdefinitionexamples or description
fune kogi undo rowing exercise  
hojo walk posture, moving, and breathing exercise during warmups  
kokyu ho breath exercise done in a kneeling position (seiza) at the end of every class
misogi (okinaga) purification breathing done at the end of every class
shikko samurai (knee) walking preparation for suwari waza


Other Japanese Words & Phrases

aikido termdefinitionexamples or description
ashi hakobi move the feet martial way of walking by sliding the feet rather than stepping
bokken wooden sword tachi, generic name for a (real) sword
hara center of the body, just below the navel  
hanmi half-stance lit., half body, as in facing forward with left or right foot forward, in left or right hanmi, respectively
hantai opposite, other side  
jo wooden staff originally a thrusting spear
kaiten pivot 180o in place turn 180o without moving feet
kamae stance formal posture for attacking or awaiting attack
kokyu breath or breathing kokyu nage, kokyu ho
kote wrist / lower arm lit. small hand
kyu & dan rank, level or grade in martial arts: kyu - colored belts, 6th or 5th through 1st kyu (descending)
dan - black belts, shodan (1st), nidan (2nd), sandan (3rd), yondan (4th), godan (5th), etc. through 10th dan (ascending)
ma'ai interval proper distance between nage and uke for attack and defense
men face or head  
metsuke Eye line Keep head erect and focus eyes on the middle distance
mochi hold, have ryote mochi: hold with both hands
nage throw or person throwing (the latter also called tori, or taker) shiho nage, irimi nage
onegai shimasu please as in, "please work (train) with me"
omote front entry shiho nage, omote
ryo both ryote tori, ryote mochi
sabaki body movement  
seiza formal Japanese sitting, on the knees  
sensei teacher Head instructor is Sensei; all other instructors are only addressed as Sensei when they are teaching and on the mat
tanto knife, lit. short sword tanto tori waza deal with knife attacks
te hand  
tekubi wrist lit. neck of the hand
tenkan turn pivot (kaiten) and step back
tori take, grasp (also person performing the throw) katate tori, ryote tori
uchi strike shomen uchi, yokomen uchi attacks
uke receiver, i.e. person being thrown, the attacker
striker (from utsu - to strike (also uchi, ukemi))
ukemi the art of attacking, following and taking the fall "Partner's ukemi is good"; "we have to work on our ukemi"
ura, ushiro entry to the back ikkyo ura, ushiro tekubi tori
waza technique  
zanshin connection maintain zanshin with your partner throughout the waza or training session


Notes: For correct pronunciation some vowels, especially "o" and "u", are doubled ("oo" is pronounced as in low, not book)

The words from the list that are affected:
kokyuu hoo, shikkoo, ryoo, randoori, joo, shihoo nage, undoo, jiyuu waza, tantoo, kyuu (the rank). The rest of the words are pronounced phonetically, except pronounce the following words without the "u": onegai shimass (not "shimasoo"); munetski (not "munetsooki")
Also, see An English-Japanese Aikido Lexicon for a similar exercise from a different perspective