Karate Terminology

Counting in Japanese

Karate is usually taught using the original Japanese terms, and that includes counting in Japanese. The second syllable is slightly suppressed, so “Ichi” becomes phonetically more like “itch!” and “Roku” sounds more like “Rokk”.

Traditionally, in Kihon (training of basic techniques), students produce a Ki-Ai (Shout) at the 10th repetition of a technique. In partner training such as Ippon Kumite (one-step sparring), the speed and power of each technique is gradually increased.


Ichi One
Ni Two
San Three
Shi Four
Go Five
Roku Six
Shichi Seven
Hachi Eight
Ku Nine
Ju Ten

Karate Stances – Japanese Terms

“Dachi” or “Tachi” means stance in Japanese, and describes primarily the position of the feet in various Karate stances. Stances are very important in delivering power and also quick responses in various situations and are thus emphasis in Kihon (basic training). Strong stances can give a smaller person a significant advantage over a larger attacker.

Stances – Dachi

Fudo dachi Free stance
Hachiji dachi Natural stance (feet shoulder width apart toes slightly pointed out)
Han zenkutsu dachi Half front stance (Short Zenkutsu dachi)
Hachiji dachi Natural stance (feet shoulder width apart toes slightly pointed out)
Heiko dachi Parallel stance (feet shoulder width apart)
Heisoku dachi Closed foot stance (feet together)
Kiba dachi Horse riding stance (feet parallel)
Kokutsu dachi Back stance
Musubi dachi Formal attention stance (feet together)
Neko ashi dachi Cat stance
Renoji dachi The letter L stance
Sanchin dachi Hourglass stance
Sesan dachi Side facing straddle stance
Shiko dachi Straddle leg stance (horse stance feet at 45 degrees)
Zenkutsu dachi Front stance

Karate Blocking Techniques – Japanese Terms

“Uke” means block in Japanese, and can be performed with hands, arms, legs and feet.

Karate Blocks

Ashi barai Blocking sweep
Age uke (Jodan uke) Rising block (Upper block)
Chudan suki uke Middle scooping block
Chudan shotei yoko uke Middle level open hand block
Chudan uke Inside circular block
Chudan uchi uke Outside forearm block (Middle Block)
Gedan barai Downward block (Lower block)
Gedan uchi barai Downward block (Fom outside inward)
Haisoku barai Instep block (Inside to outside)
Hiji uke Elbow block
Hiki uke Open hand pulling grasping block
Hiza uchi uke Knee block (Blocking outside to inside)
Hiza soto uke Knee block (Blocking inside to outside)
Kake uke Open hand hooking block
Ko uke Wrist block
Kosa uke Cross block arms crossed at wrist
Mawashi uke Round house block with two hands
Morote uke Reinforced block
Otoshi uke Blocking downward with palm heel
Shotei gedan bari Open hand downward block
Shotei otoshi uke Open hand dropping block
Shotei uke Palm heel block
Shuto uke Knife hand block
Sokutei harai uke Block with sole of the foot (Outside to inside)
Tora guchi Circular double block to gedan and jodan
Uchi uke Inside forearm block
Ura uke Back hand block

Karate Hand Techniques – Japanese Terms

“Te” means hand in Japanese, and Kara-Te is often reported to mean “empty hand”. Zuki (often also spelled tsuki) means punch.

Often the same technique is referred to by different names, for example, for the elbow strike you may find the Japanese terms Empi Uchi, Hiji Uchi, or Hiji Ate that all usually mean the same thing!


Age zuki Rising punch
Awase zuki U punch
Boshiken zuki Thumb fist
Choku zuki Straight punch
Chudan zuki Middle level punch
Empi uchi Elbow strike
Furi zuki Circular punch
Gyaku zuki Reverse punch
Haishu Back hand
Haito uchi Sword ridge hand
Hasami zuki Scissors punch
Heiko zuki Parallel punch
Hiji uchi Elbow strike
Jodan zuki Upper level punch
Kagi zuki Hook punch
Kaiko ken zuki Crab shell fist, four knuckle strike
Kizami zuki Jab or leading punch
Kote uchi Forearm strike
Ko uchi Bent wrist strike
Kuma-de Bear hand
Mawashi zuki Round hook punch
Nagashi zuki Flowing punch
Nakadaka ippon ken zuki Middle finger knuckle punch
Nihon zuki Double punch
Nukite zuki Finger thrust
Oi zuki Lunge punch
Sanbon zuki Triple punch
Seiken zuki Fore fist strike
Shotei uchi Palm heel strike
Shotei zuki Palm heel thrust
Shuto uchi Knife hand strike (Karate Chop)
Tateken zuki Vertical fist punch
Tsuki (zuki) Punch or thrust
Tettsui uchi Hammer fist strike
Uchi Strike
Ura ken uchi Back fist strike
Ura zuki Short punch (palm up)
Yama zuki Mountain punch
Washi de Eagle hand

Karate Foot Techniques – Japanese Terms

“Ashi” means foot in Japanese, and “Geri” (sometimes also spelled “Keri”) means kick.


Ashi barai Foot sweep
Fumikomi geri Heel stamping kick
Hiza geri Knee kick
Kansetsu geri Knee joint kick
Keri (Geri) Kick
Kakato geri Heel of foot kick
Kin geri Groin kick (Haisoku, instep)
Mae geri (Keage) Front kick (snap)
Mae geri (Kekomi) Front kick (thrust)
Mae tobi geri Jumping front kick
Mawashi geri Round house kick
Nidan geri Double front snap kick (Back leg first)
Ren geri Double front snap kick (Front leg first)
Tsumasaki mae geri Front kick with tips of toes
Ura yoko geri Spinning side kick
Ushiro geri Back thrust kick
Yoko geri (Keage) Side snap kick
Yoko geri (Kekomi) Side thrust kick
Yoko tobi geri Jumping side kick


Haisoku Instep
Hiza Knee
Josokutei Ball of the foot
Kakato Heel of the foot
Sokuto Foot edge
Tsumasaki Tip of the toes

Striking – Japanese Terms


Mae To the front
Yoko To the side
Mawashi Round house (Around)
Ushiro To the rear


Jodan Upper level, from neck up, Head
Chudan Middle area, neck to belt, Stomach
Gedan Lower level, belt down, Groin