Although Aikido is obviously taught through the medium of the English language in America, as a Japanese cultural tradition it contains many terms for the names of techniques, postures, movements, commands, and even objects used in practice that are either not conveniently rendered into English, or else have taken root in their Japanese form among aikidoka around the world as part of the language of Aikido. What follows is by no means an exhaustive list. At the same time, no one is expected to memorize all of the items on it. It is simply meant to serve as a vocabulary list of terms you might hear around the dojo.

The consonants of Japanese are usually pronounced as those of English. The vowels are pronounce as follows:

-"ah" as the a in father

-"eh" as the a in way

-"ee" as the i in marine

-"oh" as the o in oboe

-"oo" as the u in rule

Dojo Terminology and Commands

Arigato gozaimashita - Thank you
Bokken or Bokuto - A wooden sword
Dogi - A uniform made of thick woven cotton, used in aikido, judo, and other martial arts
Dojo - Practice hall; the place where a martial art is taught and practiced
Hajime -"Begin" or "Start"
Jo - Stick or short staff roughly four to four and a half feet in length
Ki - A central concept in East Asian systems of thought and medicine, as well as many other martial arts aside from Aikido. A kind of "life force" that governs the way living beings move and operate.
Kiai - Penetrating scream originating in the hara.
Kohai - Junior student. Those who begin their study of Aikido after you. You owe them your help and support.
Kon nichi wa - good day
Kumbanwa - greeting; "good evening"
Matte -"Wait" or "Stop"
Nage (or Tori) - The partner executing a technique in paired or multiple partner practice
Oha yo - ''good morning"
Onegai shimasu - A standard Japanese phrase used when asking for a favor or request. 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

Oyasu minassai - "good night"
Rei - A bow, command for bowing
Sempai - Senior student: Those who began their study of Aikido before you. You owe them your respect for their experience.
Sensei - Teacher
Shihan -"master" in Japanese. An official rank presented by the Aikikai to individuals who hold the rank of 6th degree black belt and above, who generally teach aikido professionally, either at the Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, or in one of the Aikikai's affiliate organizations in Japan or abroad.
Shomen ni rei! - Bow to the front! Command used to signal formal seated bow by students at end of practice we often just use rei! or bow.
Tachi - Sword, used only in the names of certain exercises or techniques (and not to refer to a wooden sword per se)
Tanto - Short sword; a wooden dagger used for practicing knife takeaways
Uke - Receiver of a Technique, that is, the "attacker" who is then thrown or pinned

Postures, Movements, and Exercises

Agura - Sitting cross legged.
Ai-hanmi - Stance where the Nage and Uke are both standing with either both right feet or both left feet forward.
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
Gyaku-hanmi - A mirror hanmi stance where the Uke and Nage have different feet forward (Uke has left foot forward and Nage has the right foot forward or visa versa)
Hanmi - A triangular stance where one foot is in front and pointing forward and the rear foot is placed perpendicular to the front foot.
Hanmi-handachi - The Nage is seated in seiza and the Uke is standing.
Hidari-hanmi - Hanmi stance with left (hidari) foot forward
Jiyu-waza -"Free-style" techniques performed usually with one Uke and usually with a pre-decided attack.
Jo-awase - Paired exercises in which basic use of the jo is emphasized
Jo-nage - Throws done when the Nage holds the jo and the uke tries to take it from him.
Jo-dori - Defenses by the Nage when attacked by the Uke with a jo
Kaiten - Forward Step-Pivot
Ken-awase - Paired exercises in which basic use of the sword is emphasized
Ki-musubi-no-tachi - A paired ki-blending exercise done with swords
Kokyu-dosa - A breathing exercise
Kokyu-ho - Breathing exercise usually done at the end of a practice session either seated or standing.
Kumi-jo - Extended paired kata with jo, in which defenses and counter attacks with the weapon are practiced
Kumi-tachi - Extended paired kata with sword, in which defenses and counter attacks with the weapon are practiced
Ma-ai - Space between the Nage and the Uke
Migi-hanmi - Hanmi stance with right (migi) foot forward
Omote - Front or in front of, used to describe techniques executed by moving across Uke's front
Randori - Free-style exercise where two or more Uke attack the Nage using any attack of their choice.
Seiza - Formal Japanese way of sitting on the floor with one sitting with knees pointed forward and rear end on one's feet and ankles. For men, the knees should be one to two fist lengths apart with one big toe resting on top of the other. For women, knees are one fist apart with one foot resting on top of the other.
Shikko - Walking on one's knees.
Suwari-waza (or Zagi) - Techniques where both Nage and Uke are seated in seiza
Tachi-dori - Defenses to a sword attack, sword takeaways
Tachi-waza - Techniques done while standing
Tai-no-hinko - 4 exercises that encompass the fundamental movements
Tai-sabaki - The general term for body movements used in Aikido to avoid an attack and unbalance the attacker in the process
Tanto-dori - Defenses to a knife attack, knife takeaways
Tenkai - Pivoting on the balls of the feet in hanmi. One reverses direction and switches hanmi stances. In other words, if one is standing in a right stance prior to tenkai, one is standing in a left stance after tenkai.
Tenkan (or Tai-no-henko) - A turn in which the back leg of the hanmi stance is pulled back 180 degrees to reverse one's direction. The front foot of the stance is used as the pivot point. Unlike tenkai, one's stance is the same as before the move, but one is facing the opposite direction.
Ukemi - Tumbling or breakfalls.
Ura - Rear or in back of, used to describe techniques executed by moving around behind the Uke
Ushiro-waza - Defenses to attacks from the rear
Waza - A technique


- Strike to the front of the face with the te-gatana
Yokomen-uchi - Strike to the temple with the te-gatana
Mune-tsuki - Punch to the abdomen
Katate-dori - Single-handed grip to the wrist (Uke grabs Nage's right wrist with his left hand)
Gyaku katate-dori (or Kosa-dori, Ai-dori) - Cross-handed grip to the wrist (Uke grabs Nage's right wrist with his right hand)
Morote-dori (or Katate-ryote-dori) - Uke uses two hands to grab one of the Nage's wrist.
Ryote-dori - Uke uses both hands to grab both of the Nage's wrists
Sode-dori - Uke grabs Nage by sleeve
Mune-dori - Uke grabs Nage by the lapel of dogi
Kata-dori - Uke grabs one of the Nage's shoulder with one hand
Ryokata-dori - Uke grabs both of the Nage's shoulders
Kata-dori shomen-uchi - Uke grabs one of the Nage's shoulder with one hand and strikes at the Nage with the other hand
Ushiro ryote-dori - Uke grabs both Nage's wrists from behind.
Ushiro ryokata-dori - Uke grabs both Nage's shoulders from behind.
Ushiro eri-dori - Uke grabs the back of Nage's collar from behind
Ushiro kubi-jime - Uke reaches around with one arm, grabs the Nage's lapel to strangle the Nage and holds on to one of Nage's wrists with the other hand
Ushiro-kakae - Uke embraces Nage's torso from behind, so that Nage's arms are trapped


Shiho-nage - Four Direction Throw
Irimi-nage - Entering Throw
Kote-gaeshi - Throw from outward wrist twist
Tenchi-nage - Heaven and Earth Throw
Kaiten-nage - Rotation Throw
Kokyu-nage - Breath Throw
Koshi-nage - Hip Throw
Tenbin-nage -"Balance Scale Throw" - throw executed from arm bar behind elbow
Juji-garami - Cross-shaped Entanglement
Sumi-otoshi - Corner Drop
Aiki-otoshi - Aiki Drop
Ikkyo (ude osae) - Arm Pin
Nikyo (kote-mawashi) - Wrist In-Turn to arm pin
Sankyo (kote-hineri) - Wrist Twist to arm pin
Yonkyo (tekubi-osae) - Wrist Pin
Gokyo (ude-nobashi) - Arm Stretch
Ude-hishigi (or Hiji-gatame) - Arm Smash; an technique executed by hyperextending the elbow


The whole name of a technique in Japanese is formed by the word for the attack, then technique, then direction,

- Shomen-uchi ikkyo omote-waza
- Katate-dori shiho-nage ura-waza


Counting ( 1-12 are as follows, after that only exceptions to the pattern are listed)

1 - ichi

2 - ni

3 - san

4 - shi (yon) (shi translates to "death" so when saying things like 4th dan use "yon" instead of "shi" to say 4th degree black belt, not death degree black belt)

5 - go

6 - roku

7 - shichi

8 - hachi

9 - ku

10 - ju

11 - ju-ichi

12 - ju-ni
...and so on

20 - ni-ju

21 - ni-ju-ichi

30 - san-ju

40 - yon ju

- yonjushi

70 - nana ju

77 - nana ju nana

100 - hyaku

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