Basic Japanese

All of TMAA’s classes (including our children’s program / Little Dragons) incorporate at least some Japanese terminology into the curriculum. Older / more senior students are expected to be able to perform many aspects of a class (or test) based solely on traditional Japanese commands.

General Classroom Vocabulary

  • Dojo: karate school

  • Bunkai: analysis / disassembly of more complex movements

  • Hajime: begin

  • Gi: uniform

  • Kabudo: weapon based martial art

  • Karate: open handed martial art

  • Karateka: practitioner of karate

  • Kata: form

  • Kioske: attention

  • Kumite: sparring

  • Rei: bow

  • Yame: end / stop

Bowing in and Out of class

  • Shomen-ni: “face the front of the room”

  • Sensei-ni / Shihan-ni / Senpai-ni: “face your instructor”

  • Haji me masu: “Let this class begin”

  • Onegaishimasu: “Here I am, please teach me”

  • Owadimasu: “Let this class end”

  • Domo Arigato Gozai Mashta: “Thank you very much for teaching me”

  • Doitashimashite: “Take what I have given you”

  • Kaizan: “You are dismissed”

  • Hai Shihan/Sensei/Senpai: “Yes teacher/assistant” (should be used in response to commands you are given)

People and Titles

  • Senpai: senior student / assistant (also the proper honorific for non-certified black bets)

  • Sensei: teacher (reserved for certified black belts)

  • Shihan: teacher (reserved for senior level instructors of at least 5th degree black belt)

  • Hanshi: teacher (reserved for the most senior level / 10th degree black belts)

  • Dan: black belt rank (e.g. Shodan is 1st Degree Black Belt, Nidan is 2nd Degree Black Belt, etc.)

Numbers / Counting

  1. ichi: one

  2. ni: two

  3. san: three

  4. shi (yon): four

  5. go: five

  6. roku: six

  7. shichi: seven

  8. hachi: eight

  9. kyuu: nine

  10. juu: ten


  • dachi: stance

  • musubi dachi: heels together, toes apart

  • neko ashi dachi: cat stance

  • shiko dachi: box stance

  • zen kutsu dachi: forward stance


  • jodan: face level (high)

  • chudan: chest level (middle)

  • gedan: waist level (low)

Basic Blocks

  1. jodan age uke: rising block

  2. chudan shuto uke: middle knife hand block

  3. gedan barai uke: down block

  4. chudan soto uke: middle outside block

  5. gedan shuto uke: down knife hand block

  6. chudan uchi uke: middle inside block

Basic Fighting Techniques

  1. gyaku zuki: reverse punch

  2. kizami zuki: jab punch

  3. mae geri: front kick

  4. uraken: back fist

  5. haito: ridge hand

  6. shuto: knife hand

  7. yoko geri: side kick

  8. mawashi geri: round kick

  9. ushiro geri: heel kick