Japanese Commands


Japanese English
Rei Bow
Seiza Kneel down
Mokuso Meditation
Mokuso Yame Stop meditation
Sensei, Onegaishimasu, Rei Teacher, please train us, bow
Sensei, Arigato Gozaimashita, Rei Teacher, thank you very much, bow
Tatte Stand


Yoi (yoy) – get ready (into ready stance)
Hajime (hah-jee-meh) – begin
Yame (yah-meh) – stop
Yasume (yah-su-meh) – relax
Mawatte (mah-wah-teh) – turn around (in stance)
Rei (ray) – bow
Shomen ni rei (shoh-men nee ray) – bow to the front (of the dojo)
Sensei ni rei (sen-say nee ray) – bow to instructor
Otaigai ni rei (oh-tai-gai nee ray) – bow to each other (partner)
Seiza (say-zah) – sit (in Japanese formal sitting position)
Mokusoh (mohk-soh) – meditate


Japanese English
Karate Empty hands
Dojo Training place
Shihan Master
Sensei Teacher
Sempai Senior (Higher belt)
Dohai Equal (Same belt)
Kohai Junior (Lower belt)
Obi Belt
Keiotsuke Attention
Hajime Begin
Yame Stop
Karate-Ka Karate student
Karate-Gi Karate uniform
Otagi Ni Bow to each other
Rei Bow
Oss A word showing respect
Mawatte Turn around
Kata Form (an arranged pattern of attack and defense techniques against multiple imaginary opponents)


Zenkutsu dachi (zen-koo-tsoo dah-chee) – front stance
Kokutsu dachi (koh-koo-tsoo dah-chee) – back stance
Kiba dachi (kee-bah dah-chee) – side stance (horseriding/straddle stance)
Hachiji dachi (hah-chee-jee dah-chee) – ready stance (yoi position)


Age uke (ah-geh oo-keh) – rising block
Gedan barai (geh-dahn bah-raee) – downward block
Soto uke (soh-toh oo-keh) – outside forearm block
Uchi uke (oo-chee oo-keh) – inside forearm block
Shuto uke (shoo-toh oo-keh) – knifehand block


Oi zuki (oy zoo-kee) – stepping punch
Gyaku zuki (gyah-koo zoo-kee) – reverse punch
Kizami zuki (kee-zah-mee zoo-kee) – jab
Sanbon zuki (sahn-bohn zoo-kee) – triple punch
Nukite (noo-kee-teh) – spearhand strike
Empi uchi (em-pee oo-chee) – elbow strike
Uraken (oo-rah-ken) – backfist strike
Tettsui (tet-soo-ee) – hammerfist strike


Mae geri (maee geh-ree) – front snap kick
Yoko keage (yoh-koh geh-ree keh-ah-geh) – side snap kick
Yoko kekomi (yoh-koh geh-ree keh-koh-mee) – side thrust kick
Kizami geri (kee-zah-mee geh-ree) – front leg snap kick
Mawashi geri (mah-wah-shee geh-ree) – roundhouse kick
Ushiro geri (oo-shee-roh geh-ree) – back thrust kick
Nidan geri (nee-dahn geh-ree) – double kick
Hiza geri (hee-zah geh-ree) – knee strike

Additional Stances

Heisoku-dachi ( Feet together stance)
Feet together. This is usually a transitional stance, although it is used as the ready stance in some kata.

Musubi-dachi  Knot stance)
Heels together, toes open at about 45 degrees. This stance is used to perform the formal respectful bow, rei .

From musubi-dachi, open heels until both outer edges of feet are parallel. Some styles don’t distinguish this stance from heiko-dachi.

Hachiji-dachi (natural stance, literally “stand like the character 八”)
The feet are at the shoulder width, toes open at about 45 degrees. Sometimes this stance is called soto-hachiji-dachi . This is the basic ready stance in Karate.

Uchihachiji-dachi (literally “stand like the upside-down character 八”)
The feet are at the shoulder width, toes facing inwards at 30-45 degrees, knees tense. This stance is used in some formal exercises, for example the tsundome. Also called Chun’be.

Heikō-dachi (parallel stance)
The feet are at the shoulder width, and their outer edges are parallel. This is a common transitional stance in many kata.


Japanese English
Ichi One
Ni Two
San Three
Shi (Yon) Four
Go Five
Roku Six
Shichi Seven
Hachi Eight
Kyu Nine
Jyu Ten
Jyu Ichi Eleven
Ni Jyu Twenty
Ni Jyu Ichi Twenty-one
Shodan First degree
Nidan Second degree
Sandan Third degree
Yondan Fourth Degree
Godan Fifth Degree