Aikido Glossary


Don’t worry – you don’t have to learn Japanese to learn Aikido! Through repetition and association you will become familiar with the Japanese terms.

Noted below are some of the Japanese terms used in the Dojo and their phonetic pronunciation.

Ai (Eye)
Harmony, coming together
Aikido (Eye-key-doe)
Ai = harmony, Ki = spirit, Do = The way or path
Ai Hanmi (Eye-han-me)
Equal stance
Atemi (Ah-tem-ee)
Defensive strike used to distract or unbalance your attacker
Bo (Boe)
Wooden staff that is generally 6 foot in length
Boken (Bow-ken)
Wooden sword
Budo (Boo-doe)
Martial way or techniques of war
Bushido (Boo-she-doe)
Warrior’s code – the way of the warrior
Dan (Dan)
First step – black belt holder
Dojo (Doe-joe)
Training hall specifically for Japanese martial arts. Translates as “place of the way”
Dori (Door-ree)
Dosa (Doh-sah)
An exercise
lie (Ee-ay)
Gaeshi (Guy-eh-she)
To reverse
Gi (Ghee)
Or Keikogi – uniform for martial arts training
Gyaku Hanmi (Ghee-ah-koo hon-me)
Opposite stance
Hai (Hi)
Hakama (Hah-kah-mah)
A pleated, pant-like skirt. In many schools, only the black belts wear hakama, in others everyone does. O Sensei made everyone wear hakama as the gi was considered as underwear.
Hajime (Hah-jee-may)
Hanmi (Hon-me)
Triangular stance similar to a boxer’s stance.
Hiji (He-jee)
Hiji-dori (He-jee-doe-ree)
Elbow throw
Irimi (Ee-ree-me)
To enter, entering
Jyu Waza (Gee-you Wah-zah)
Free style technique/practice
Jo (Joe)
Wooden staff that is generally 4 foot long
Kaiten (Kai-ten)
To revolve or rotate
Kaitenage (Kai-ten-nah-gay)
Rotary or circular throw
Kata (Kah-tah)
Pre-arranged form of exercise. Also means shoulder
Kata-dori (Kah-tah doe-ree)
Shoulder grab
Katate (Kah-tah-tay)
One hand (left or right)
Katana (Kah-tah-nah)
Long sword
Keiko (Kay-ko)
Japanese sword
Ki (Key)
Spirit, energy intention – a stream or flow of positive energy from the body
Ki Musubi (Key Moss-su-bee)
Ki blending
Kiai (Key-eye)
A short yell or shout uttered when performing an attacking move
Kokyu (Coke-you)
Breath power
Kokyu Dosa (Coke-you-doe-sah)
Pinning or taking your partner off-balance without the use of physical power e.g by using “ki”
Koshi (Koh-she)
Hips or waist
Koshi-nage (Koe-she-nah-gay)
Hip throw
Kotegaeshi (Koh-tee-guy-eh-shee)
Wrist throw
Kyu (Cue)
Aikido rank or grade
Ma-ai (May-eye)
The distance between uke and tori – generally the closest safe distance where you cannot be hit. Translates as “harmony of space”
Mate (Mah-tay)
Men (Men)
Face or head
Menuchi (Men-oo-chee)
Strike to the head
Morote-dori (Moh-roh-tay-doe-ree)
Attack holding one wrist or forearm with both hands
Nage (Nah-gay)
Throw (or the person who throws)
Nidan (Nee-dan)
2nd degree black belt
Obi (Oh-bee)
Omote (Oh-moe-tay)
Moving forward
Randori (Ran-doo-ri)
Multiple person attack
Rei (Ray)
Ryote (Ree-oh-tay)
Both hands
Sensei (Sen-say)
Seiza (Say-zah)
Kneeling - the formal sitting posture whilst in the Dojo
Shihan (She-han)
Master teacher – generally a reserved title for teachers 6th Dan or above. With some organisations this title can only be bestowed by the Hombu (the world Aikido headquarters in Japan)
Shiho (She-ho)
Four directions
Shihonage (She-ho-hah-gay)
Four directional throw
Shodan (Show-dan)
1st degree black belt
Shomen (Show-men)
Front or top of head
Shomenuchi (Show-men-oo-chee)
Strike down on top of the head
Suburi (Sue-boo-ree)
A single movement using the ken or jo – done as a single practice
Suwari waza (Sue-wah-ree-wah-zah)
Kneeling techniques
Tai no Henko (Tie-no-hen-ko)
Basic blending practice – tankan (turning) exercise
Tai Sabaki (Tie-say-back-ee)
Body movement
Tanden (Tahn-den)
The point in your body just below your navel. Also referred to a “one point” or “hara”
Tanto (Tan-toe)
Wooden knife
Tatami (Tat-tah-mee)
Mat or flooring used in traditional Japanese-style rooms or Dojo
Te (Tay)
Te kubi (Tay-koo-be)
Tenchi (Ten-shee)
Heaven and Earth
Position of the hands so that one is up (Ten = Heaven) and one is down (Chi = Earth)
Tenchinage (Ten-shee-nah-gay)
Heaven and Earth throw
Tenkan (Ten-kahn)
To turn
Tsuki (Skee)
Thrust or punch
Uchi (oo-chee)
To strike
Uke (Oo-kay)
Person being attacked and receiving the technique
Ukemi (Oo-kem-me)
The art of receiving the technique and falling safely so as to prevent injury – this includes rolling and break falls. The tori (person throwing or applying the technique) must take into account the ukemi ability of his partner, as well as the physical space: walls, weapons on the tatami, and other Aikidoka nearby.
Ura (Oo-rah)
Moving behind
Ushiro (oo-she-row)
Back, behind or rear
Waza (Wah-zah)
Yame (Yah-may)
Yokomen (Yoh-ko-men)
Side of the head/neck

Useful Phrases

Konnichi Wa (Kon-knee-chee-wa)
Sayonara (Sigh-yoh-nah-rah)
Arigato Gozaimasu (Ah-ree-gah-toe go-zah-ee-mahss)
May I practice with you/ I make a request
Onegai Shimasu (Oh-nigh-guy-she-mahss)
Thank you very much for what you have done/taught – usually said at the end of class
Domo arigato Gozaimashita (Doe-moe-ah-ree-gah-toe Go-Zah-ee-mah-she-tah)