Aikido = the way of Harmony of the Spirit AIKIDO
Ai= Harmony Ki= Spirit Do= Way
The pronunciation of Japanese words tends to be somewhat subject to interpretation. Do not be confused by minor differences. Japanese speakers are.
A little effort in learning this vocabulary can add much to one’s ability to learn and understand Aikido. Japanese terminology is always used in teaching Aikido for two reasons; First, it helps to preserve the traditional heritage of Japanese martial arts; and second, it provides/establishes a common language understandable to all Aikidoka around the world, regardless of their primary language or culture.
The consonants of Japanese are usually pronounced like those in the English language. Vowels are pronounced as follows:
A“ah” as the a in father
E“eh”as the e in met
I“ee” as the i in marine …(Irimi – ee/ree/mee)
O“oh”as the o in oboe
U“oo”as the u in rule … Uke (oo/keh)
Words related to Aikido and Aikido practice in most dojos.
Ai … Harmony, coming together, unification
Atemi Waza… Techniques of striking. Ai hanmi / Mutual stance with partners facing each other with the same foot forward.
Aiki…Universal life energy, the creative principle of life. Literally, Blending of energy (ki).
Aikido…The way of blending with universal energy; the art founded by Morihei Ueshiba.
Ai-uchi…Simultaneous striking, mutual kill.
Ame–no–ukihashi…“Floating bridge of heaven, symbolizing the connection between earthy and heavenly realms of existence.
Amaterasu omikami…The goddess of the sun.
Arigato gozaimashita…Thank you.
Atemi…Strikes, a blow directed toward an anatomical weak point, used defensively in Aikido.
Ato geiko…Literally, “After-training training”, where higher belts throw lower belts to give more ukemi practice after regular class.
Bo… Long staff.
Bokken… Wooden sword.
Bujutsu… Fighting Techniques.
Bokken: Wooden practice sword.
Bu… Often translated as “martial”, this character has deep meaning in Aikido. It can mean “harmony,” “mutual understanding,” and “peace” as well as “martial”. The character is made up of two parts, one for “stop,” and one for “thrusting spear.”）
Budo… Literally to stop the thrusting spear. “A mind to serve for the peace of all humanity is needed in Aikido, not the mind of one who wished to be strong and only practices to defeat an opponent. There are neither opponents nor enemies for true Budo. Therefore to compete in techniques, winning or losing, is not true Budo. True Budo knows no defeat. Never defeated means never fighting.”
Bushin… Highest level of spiritual communion
Bushido… The way of chivalry.
Bushido… Warrior’s code; The way of the warrior.
Chinkon kishin…“Calm the spirit and return to the source” a mediation technique rooted in Shinto spiritual practice.
Dan…Black belt rank in Aikido.
Deai… The moment of truth. The moment of the meeting of two forces. (The proper moment)
Deshi… Full time dedicated student/A way of life direction; a path of physical and spiritual refinement.
Dojo …Training hall. The place where the way is revealed. A place for the strengthening and refinement of spirit, mind and body.
Funakogi undo-…Rowing movement exercise for body awareness and unification.
Furi–tama … “Shaking down the spirit”, cleanse and polish the soul itself.
Gi… Training uniform. Also called “keiko-gi”.
Gyaku hanmi… Reverse stance in which partners have the opposite foot forward.
Hakama… Wide skirted pants worn over the gi. You will be expected to wear hakama (dark blue or black) after receiving the 6th kyu grade.
(At Shindai Dojo the Hakama is an initial public indication of commitment. We recommend our students wear the hakama as soon as they can.)
Hanmi… The relaxed triangular stance of Aikido. It is stable yet flexible enough to move quickly in any direction. All technique begins, moves through and ends in hanmi.
Hanmi Handachi… Techniques practiced with nage sitting and uke standing.
Hara… The lower abdomen. The center of life energy, physical and spiritual. All movement must originate from this point.
Henko Waza… Changing technique. One technique evolves into another based on the continuing flow of energy from Uke.
Irimi… Entering, moving into and through the line of attack with no thought of escape.
Jo… Short staff.
Jo dori… Techniques of staff taking.
Jiyu Waza… Free technique. In testing usually against one opponent
Kaiten…“Open and turn,” one of the fundamental pillars of Aikido practice.
Kamae… A posture or stance of readiness. In each kamae there are different positions for the hands or weapon. Jodan – high position; Chudan – middle position; Gedan – lower position.
Kami…Fire and water; deity; natural gods and goddesses; spirit of the Universe;Spirits; the divine.
Kannagaranomichi… The path that flows from the gods and binds the universe together.
Kata dori… Shoulder grab.
Kata …“Fixed form”; a set of prearranged series of movements.
Katate…One hand (left or right).
Katate dori… Wrist grab.
Katate dori ryote mochi… Grabbing your partner’s wrist with both hands.
Katsuhayabi…“Victory right here, right now”; “speed which transcends time and space”; spiritual tenet of Aikido.
Katsu jin ken… The saving of your enemy’s life. c.f. Satsu jin ken.
Keiko… Study or practice. The deeper meaning is to return to the origin. Through the study of the past and appreciation for its experience we can understand the present and refine our spirit.
Ki… Spirit; vital force or energy; universal energy. Pronounced “chi” in Chinese.
Kiai… The release of spiritual and physical power in the form of a piercing scream originating in the hara.
Kibaki… This is a term that loosely translates to the expansive Ki or expanding Ki. According to Saotome Sensei, this expansion of Ki creates connection and is the essence of Irimi.
Kihon…Basic form of a technique.
Kohai… Junior student. Those who begin their study of Aikido after you. You owe them your help and support.
Kokyu… The power of breath, renewal of life force.
Kosa dori… Cross hand grab.
Kotodama… The spiritual function of sound. Every one syllable sound has its own spiritual vibration.
Kubi shime… A choke hold.
Kumi Jo… Paired jo practice.
Kumano… Ancient district in Wakamaya Prefecture; O Sensei’s birthplace.
Kumi Tachi… Paired sword practice.
Kyu… White belt grade.
Maai… The distance of time and space between two forces. The movement of the mind, the stream of spirit and their direction, as well as physical distance, determines the balanced and proper use of space.
Mae…In front. Opposite of Ushiro.
Masakatsu Agatsu…“True victory is self victory”, one of the principal tenets of Aikido.
Men–uchi…Strike to the head.
Misogi… Purification of mind, body, and spirit. Sweating is misogi; cleaning is misogi; fasting is misogi; keiko is misogi.
Mokuso… Meditation and contemplation period/ with eyes almost closed.
Munetsuki… A straight punch to the chest or solar plexus.
Mushin… No mind, a mind without ego. A mind like a mirror which reflects and does not judge.
Musubi… Opposites are but different images of the same reality. Musubi is the process of their unification. It is the movement of the spiral.
Nage… A throw (kokyu Nage/ breath throw). One who throws.
Omote… To the front.
(It can also denote “inside” as opposed to “outside” (Ura), as it relates to irimi and intent.)
Onegai Shimasu…“Please [train with me].” Japanese phrase used between students to initiate training.
O Sensei… Great teacher – the title used for the Founder of Aikido.
Randori… Free technique against multiple attack.
Rei… To bow. (It also denotes an encompassing and focused attitude of respect. A self-awareness of responsibility and consideration is imperative, as is an empathetic nature.)
Reigi… Rei can also be translated as holy spirit; gi as manifestation. When used together the words mean proper etiquette, respecting the creative force and spirit which is the same in all of us.
Ryote dori… Grabbing both wrists.
Ryokata dori… Grabbing both shoulders.
Samurai… Originally comes from the verb meaning to serve. One who has the duty and responsibility to protect society.
Satsu jin ken… The destruction of killing of one’s enemy. c.f. Katsu jin ken
Sempai… Senior student: Those who began their study of Aikido before you. You owe them your respect for their experience.
Seiza… Formal sitting position.
Sensei… Teacher, one who gives guidance along the way. Literally – born before.
Senshin… A purified heart and spirit; enlightened attitude.
Shin ken…Live blade. Unified attention.
Shin kokyu…Divine or spirit breath. lit. Deep breathing exercise.
Shinto…Way of the Gods; indigenous animistic religion of Japan.
Shikko… Knee walking.
Shomen… The upper seat, the shrine which houses the picture of the Founder and the spirit of Aikido.
Shomenuchi… Strike or cut to the top of the head.
Shomentsuki… Thrust between the eyes.
Shinai… Split bamboo practice sword.
Shugyo… The daily work to refine and purify the quality of life.
Soto…Outside, or too the side. Opposite of uchi.
Suburi… Practice with sword or bokken in which the same cut is repeated again and again. An excellent purification/meditation exercise.
Suki…Opening gap; vulnerability; moment of inattention.
Suburi…Repetitions of a motion done for the purpose of perfecting performance.
Suwariwaza… Techniques which begin with both opponents in seiza and are executed from the knees.
Tachi… Japanese long sword.
Tachi dori… Techniques of sword taking..
Tachi waza…Techniques from standing. c.f. Suwari waza
Tai no henko…The basic blending practice. Tenkan exercise.
Taijutsu… Empty handed techniques.
Takemusu Aiki… Enlightened Aikido. “Aiki has a form and does not have a form. Aiki is a life which has a form and still flows with change; it expresses itself by changing itself. A form without a form is a word in a poem which expresses the universe limitlessly.”
Takemusu Aiki means “spontaneous creation of divine techniques.” A more down-to-earth translation is “spontaneously aikido occurring naturally, without thought or force because it is inherently part of the universe.
Tanden… The hara.
Tanren… Training. Suburi is training; kumi tachi is study (keiko).
Tanto… Knife, generally with a specifically shaped blade.
Tanto dori… Techniques of knife taking.
Tegatana…Hand blade; Sword edge of the hand. Also pronounced “shuto.”
Ten–chi… Heaven and earth; the complete universe
Tenkan… Turning to dissipate force.
Tsuki…Thrust; punch to a body part.
Uchi …Inside. Opposite of soto.
Ueshiba Morihei…(O Sensei) The founder of Aikido.
Uke… One who receives. The person being thrown.
Ukemi… Techniques of falling. The art of protecting oneself from injury. The first and most important step to developing strong Aikido technique is developing good ukemi.
Ura… To the rear.
(Can also denote the opposite of Omote)
Ushiro…From behind; back; rear. Opposite of mae.
Yudansha…One who has achieved the rank of black belt in an art.
Zanshin…Continuity; complete awareness of one’s surroundings; unbroken concentration.
masakatsu – victory of correctness, precision, righteousness (first principle of Aikido)
agatsu – victory over self (second principle of Aikido)
katsuhayahi – victory over light, over speed (third principle of Aikido) shihan – master instructor sensei – title of respect when referring to an instructor; never used for oneself
Bu = Relating to a warrior, e.g. budo = way of the warrior.
Do = the way, or a way of viewing the subject. In some cases it elevates the study to an art form. Eg. Jujitsu, becomes Judo. Kenjistu, becomes Kendo.
Ka = (suffix) Practitioner, e.g. aikidoka = Aikido practitioner
Budoka = One who studies the way of the Warrior, with a balanced emphasis on the ethics, integrity, responsibility… etc., of the warrior spirit.
Sensei = Teacher, i.e. your Aikido instructor
Shihan= A leader who has transcended the presentation of the subject matter to become its embodiment and example. An individual recognized as a living example of the tenants and principles of the art form who inspires others to follow their lead. Most often these individuals have been identified as those who take hold the knowledge of the past, and with consideration and integrity, expand the art form into a future unseen by their predecessors. Also, in a sense, one who inspires disciples by their life, examples and actions.
Mitsugi Saotome Shihan.
O = (prefix) Honorable, e.g. O-Sensei = Honorable Teacher, used to refer to the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba.
Kai = School, e.g. aikikai = Aikido school
Dojo = Practice hall, i.e. the place where you practice Aikido
Seiza = formal sitting position
Shikko = Moving on the knees
Dan = Black belt rank
Kyu = rank below black belt
Onegashimas = Let’s practice. It is a mutual recognition of the dynamics of the practice at that moment in time. It is a greeting of introduction and mutual consideration.
Domo Arigato = Thank you
Domo Arigato Gozaimashita = Thank you once again for your consideration. Often used at the end of class.
Simple Counting (as in counting repetitions of warm-up exercises)
Ichi = One Roku = Six
Ni = Two Shichi = Seven
San = Three Hachi = Eight
Shi = Four Ku = Nine
Go = Five Ju = Ten
Rokkyu < gokkyu < yonkyu < Sankyu < Nikkyu < ikkyu
(Dan Ranks) Yudansha – Black Belts
Shodan = First degree
Nidan = Second degree
Sandan = Third degree
Yodan = Fourth degree
Godan = Fifth degree
Rokudan = Sixth degree
Nanadan = Seventh degree
Note: Numbering of ranks is done in different directions. A student progresses upward from Rokkyu to Ikkyu and then having achieved black belt rank progresses form Shodan upward to higher numbered ranks.
Stance & Movement
Hanmi = Stance
Migi = Right, e.g. migi hanmi = right stance
Hidari = Left, e.g. hidari hanmi = left stance
Irimi = Entering movement, e.g. irimi nage = entering throw
Tenkan = Turning movement, e.g. tenkan = first control technique with turning movement
Ma-ai = Distance between combatants
Tsuki = Spearlike thrust or percussive blow (punch)
Uchi = Sword like cutting strike
Shomen = Head level cutting strike from the front ending in an out thrusting motion. e.g. shomen uchi = front strike
Yokomen = Side (of the head or neck).. starting with the same motion as Shomen uchi, the cut turns as the target moves to strike the side of the temple or neck region. e.g. yokomen uchi = side strike
Mune = Chest/solar plexus, e.g. mune tsuki = chest area thrust or strike.
Atemi = Striking principles. Used to break the opponent’s concentration and balance, or otherwise change the nature of the attack and intended outcome.
Waza = Techniques, e.g. atemi waza = striking techniques
Hiji = Elbow
Kata = Shoulder
Katate = One hand
Ryote = Two hands
Tori = Hold or grab, e.g. katate tori = hold on one hand; kata tori = shoulder grab
Mochi = grip, e.g. katate tori ryote mochi = two hand grip on one hand
Ushiro = Rear, e.g. ushiro hiji tori = elbow hold from behind
Omote = In front / inside
Ura = In back / outside
Soto= Side / lateral
Throws & Locks
Nage = A throw or one who performs the throw by directing the energy.
Uke = One who most often provides the attack energy and who receives the throw.
Ukemi = A three part description of Uke’s movement 1. A solid attack with intent and control. 2. Continuation of movement and intent as the interaction progresses. 3. A resolution by Uke to protect him/her from harm … generally seen as a series of controlled rolls, flips or back falls. In the beginning the word Ukemi is most often used to describe the series of falls and rolls.
Ten Chi = Heaven-earth, e.g. tenchi nage = heaven and earth throw
Shi ho = Four directions, e.g. shiho nage = four directions throw
Irimi = Entering, e.g. irimi nage = entering throw
Kokyu = Breath, e.g. kokyu nage = breath throw
Kaiten = Rotary, e.g. kaiten nage = rotary throw
Koshi = Hip, e.g. koshi nage = hip throw
Otoshi = Drop, e.g. aiki otoshi = aiki-style drop
Kote = Wrist
Gaeshi = Turn outward, e.g. kote gaeshi = wrist turn out
Mawashi = Turn inward, e.g. kote mawashi = wrist turn in (usually referred as nikyo)
Jime = locking a joint against the natural direction of movement, e.g. hiji jime = elbow lock
These techniques are numbered from one up. Compare this with the section on counting.
Ikkyo = First Principle
Nikyo = Second Principle
Sankyo = Third Principle
Yonkyo = Fourth Principle
Osae = Control technique ikkyo nikyo, sankyo and yonkyo are all “osae” and formal terminology may include this term,
e.g. ikkyo osae.
Jo = Wooden staff
Bo = Long wooden staff
Ken = Sword
Bokken = Wooden sword (bo-ken)
Shinai = Bamboo sword for full contact fencing
Tachi = Short sword
Tanto = Knife
Jutsu = System of techniques, e.g. bujutsu = martial arts; aikijutsu = the forerunner of Aikido
Tai = Body, e.g. tai jutsu = body (unarmed) techniques
Dori = Weapon taking techniques, e.g. tanto dori = knife taking techniques; tachi dori = sword taking techniques
Note that while Aikido is based in large part by the movements and perspectives of sword work, the sword is a whole separate line of study. Sword has a distinct vocabulary and terminology for its study.
Keiko: Aikido practice.
Suwari = Performed from the kneeling position, e.g. suwari waza = techniques performed while kneeling
Tachi = Performed from the standing position
Hanmi-handachi = Performed with one partner standing and one kneeling
Kata = Fixed form practice or series of movements that can be studied in a safe and controlled fashion, e.g. jokata = fixed form jo practice
Jiyu waza = Free form technique
Aikido is more than the study of technique. First it is the investigation of essential principles in part articulated through the study of technique. The physical part is one part of three; physical, intellectual and spirit. In terms of intellectual our study requires that we do research on history, culture and THE LANGUAGE OF OUR ART. You should look for additional sources of vocabulary. As we are an ASU dojo, the first source is the ASU handbook and the books of our Shihan, Mitsugi Saotome.
Kusushi = Unbalancing Uke
Awase= Blending or harmony with Uke’s movement.
Kime= Stance or position in relation to Uke.
Hanmi= Stance.left foot forward or right foot forward. Ie. Ai Hanmi
Shisei= Posture in Nage static or in motion
Shizentai= Natural balanced posture/stance
Zanshin= Connection of Nage to Uke in terms of position, intent, spirit.
Maai= Distance of engagement
Sempai = senior student. Bears of responsibility of consideration nurturing Cohai
Cohai = junior student
Gedan = Low sword/hand position
Chudan = Mid sword/hand position
Jodan = High sword/hand position
Kokoro = has no literal translation in our language. It is the balanced combinations of Mind/Spirit/Heart . It is intellect, emotion, sensitivity, expression, Intergrity and love in contact with the universe outside the man. It is conscious humane interaction with life.
Thanks to Geoff Goodman
Definition / Shindai:
To conduct oneself in awareness of the divine nature of those around us. To walk in the appreciation of the precious aspects of all life, with consideration for all. Taken from the Kojiki the word Shindai derives itself from a time when men and gods walked the earth together. Indistinguishable from one another, one therefore conducted oneself as if everyone was a god. Consideration, empathy, respect, honor, a nurturing nature, ethics, an attitude of chivalry, a strong spirit, all of these things were the nature and second nature of all. This is Shindai.