Aikido Glossary

*these translations are based on a consolidation of information (obtained orally and through research) and are not from a fluent Japanese speaker; if you have more accurate translations for any of these terms, please share and they will be incorporated!

ai
harmony; unison; oneness; joining
aikido-ka
a practitioner of aikido
ai-hanmi
matching (‘harmonious’) stance w/ partner
atemi
a defensive strike directed at an attacker for the purpose of unbalancing or distracting
awase
blending; synchronization and connection with partner’s movement

bokken
wooden sword
budo
‘Way of War’; a term referring to martial arts in general and Japanese martial arts specifically
bukiwaza
a mode of training with weapons

dan
black belt rank
“dame”
‘bad’ or ‘incorrect’
deshi
student
do
‘the Way’; a path or practice

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dojo
‘Place of the Way’; place of practice
dojo cho
a title for the head or leader of the dojo
Doshu
the title for the ‘Leader of the Way’; the founder’s son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba (1921 – 1999) was the second Doshu, and his son, Moriteru Ueshiba, is the current Doshu
“domo-arigato-gozaimashita”
“thank you very much” (very formal; in  a  more  casual context, “arigato-gozaimasu” is more appropriate)
dori
(also tori) to grab; from the verb toru; added to the end of other words (i.e. katate-dori)

gaeshi
turn, flip or reverse; also kaeshi
gassho
‘uniting the palms’; a gesture with palms together and usually involving a bow
gasshuku
a retreat; camp; a gathering for intensive training
gedan
lower position
gi
training uniform (also dogi)
gomen nasai
‘I’m sorry,’ or ‘pardon me’
gyaku
opposite or across;  eg. gyaku hanmi or gyakute dori

“hajime”
‘begin!’ ‘go’
hakama
traditional trousers derived from samurai custom; worn by black-belts in most aikido schools
hanmi
triangular stance derived from sword work; the basic stance in aikido
hanmi handachi
techniques done w/ nage sitting and uke standing

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hara
a person’s center of mass, located about 2 inches below the navel; traditionally thought to be source of ki

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harai
sweep
hasso
figure 8 movement, or applicable to 8 directions; related to the terms happoand hachi
henka
variation
hidari
left (direction)
hiji
the sleeve at the elbow area; eg. hiji dori

ikkyo
first technique
irimi
‘entering the body’; entering movement

jiyu waza
a freestyle mode of training, usually with one attacker who may attack with any strike/grab
jo
wooden staff about 4′-5′ in length
jodan
upper position
-jutsu
technique, art, method, spell, skill or trick

kaiten
spinning; to revolve or rotate
Kaicho
a title for the leader of an organization; often used by sensei who start their own independent organizations
kamae
stance; position
kami
spirits; ancestry (from Shinto theology)
“kanpai”
“cheers”; said during a toast
kangeiko
‘cold practice’
kata
1) a form; a prescribed pattern of movement  2) the shoulder (e.g., kata dori)
keiko
training; practice
ken
sword
ki
energy; vital life force; spirit; (Chinese chi)
kiai
‘ki harmony’; a shout delivered during execution of a technique for the purpose  of focusing one’s energy
kihon
fundamental; basic
kihon waza
techniques done from a basic (static) position
ki no nagare
flowing techniques, done in motion
kohai
a person junior to oneself
kokyu
1) breath power. 2) a spiraling motion and extension led by the hand blades
kokyu-ho
a technique characterized by a contraction and then expansion coordinated with breath
kokyu-nage
a catch-all term used for various throws done by applying kokyu through the hand blades
kote
the area of the arm from the back of the hand to the elbow, which refers to a section of samurai armor

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kote-gaeshi
‘turning over the kote’; wrist-turning technique 
koshi
the waist; area of the small of the back between the hips
koshita
the piece of the hakama that covers the koshi
koshi-nage
a throw done by using one’s koshi to uproot partner’s center
kumi jo
jo partner practice
kumi tachi
bokken partner practice
kuzushi
the breaking of balance
kyu
white belt rank; any rank below shodan

ma-ai
proper distancing with respect to one’s partner
migi
right (i.e. direction)
morote-dori
2-hands-on-1 grab
mune
the area of the solar plexis where the gi crosses
musubi
‘tied together’; a connection between partners such they move together

nagare
‘flowing’; in motion
nage
1) the person executing the technique; also referred to as tori in some lineages and arts 2) a throw
ninin-dori
2 ukes grabbing one nage, usually one on either arm

“Ohayo-Gozaimasu”
‘good morning’; used before 10:00 am
omote-waza
‘techniques in front of’; with reference to the ‘center line’ that goes down one’s body, omote techniques are those where you cross the line and thus go in front of partner as you take their balance (as opposed to ura)
“Onegai-shimasu”
‘May I?,’ or ‘Please, let’s..’ etc. (no exact translation); said to one’s partner when initiating practice
O-sensei
‘Great Teacher’; used to refer to Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido

randori
ran loosely translates as ‘chaos’; in aikido practice*, randori is a kind of freestyle, or ‘all-out’ mode of training with multiple attackers, where focus is placed on the pattern of movements while multiple bodies are converging, as opposed to completing individual techniques on each attacker (*the term randori is also used in other arts and may have slightly different use, e.g., in judo and ju jutsu it may be used to simply mean ‘free spar’)

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rei
bowing; an expression of humility
renzoku
continuous
ryote-dori
double wrist grab (one hand on each)
ryu
a school; style

sensei
teacher
seiza
traditional Japanese seating posture wherein one sits on the heels and the bottoms of the feet

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senpai
a person senior in hierarchy, or older, to oneself; also may be spelled sempai
shikko
‘knee-walking’; a shuffle movement on the knees

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shihan
one who has been recognized as being at a level of mastery; one who sets a model for correct technique within a school or organization
shiho
four directions
shiho-nage
a throw done by extending partner’s wrist so that their elbow points up, thus allowing one to step and turn underneath the arm and throw partner in any of the four directions
shodan
‘beginner’; 1st degree black belt
shodo
‘the way of writing’; Japanese calligraphy
shomen
1) the front or top of the head. 2) the ‘head’ of a dojo, usually marked by scrolls, items for kami offerings, flowers, and a picture of O-Sensei
soto deshi
‘outside student’; a student that does not live at the dojo
suburi
basic striking/thrusting (solo) weapon practices
suwari-waza
‘kneeling techniques’; techniques done in kneeling/shikko position

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tachi
a type of Japanese sword; sometimes used generically for ‘sword,’ e.g. kumi-tachi
tai-jutsu
‘body arts,’ ‘body method’, body techniques’; used to refer to hand-to-hand or empty-handed techniques
tai-no-henko
a basic tai-sabaki exercise using tenkan while being grabbed katate-dori; done at the beginning of most classes in Iwama-style dojos
tai-sabaki
‘body management’; body movements; blending exercises
Tai Sai
an annual celebration of the life of O-Sensei at the end of April, when he passed
takemusu
spontaneous (without thought) appropriate response
tanto
a wooden knife/dagger
te
hand
te-gatana
‘hand sword’; the hand blade
te-kubi-shime
an ushiro grab where one hand goes around the neck as in a choke, or holding a tanto, and the other grabs the corresponding wrist
tenchi
‘Heaven and Earth’, or referring to the polarity of these
tenchi-nage
a throw done from ryote-dori where one hand goes low and the other high such that you take partner’s balance and throw them by stepping irimi
tenkan
a 180° turn or pivot on front foot or on one point
tsuki
‘thrust’; punch

uchi
1) ‘inside’,  as in uchi deshi;  2) a strike,  as in shomen uchi
uchi-deshi
‘inside student’; a student who takes residence at the dojo
uke
the person who attacks and then ends up on the receiving-end of the technique
ukemi
‘receiving’; an important part of Aikido practice, ukemi is the art of first offering an honest attack and then transitioning to receiving the technique and managing safety while falling or being taken down
ura-waza
‘techniques behind’; with reference to the ‘center line’ that goes down one’s body, ura techniques are those where you don’t cross the line, and thus go behind partner as you take their balance (as opposed to omote)
ushiro
‘in back of’; used for techniques where uke grabs from behind as a starting position, or tries to get there (i.e. ki-no-nagare practice)

waza
‘technique,’ ‘way’, ‘method’, ‘skill’; a mode of training

yamabiko
‘mountain echo’; calling partner forth; initiating partner’s movement by extending towards them like an atemi in order to draw a reaction (i.e. the raising of the arms) that can then be used in a technique
yokomen
the side of the head
yudansha
a black belt holder (any rank); also used plural

zanshin
‘unbroken spirit’; following through and holding posture after a technique; the concentration of energy and the connection that remains with one’s partner after a throw has been completed

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