Aikido Terms

  • Aikido terminology is in Japanese. It’s “all Greek” to the beginner, but by time we all learn most of it. Here is a comprised dictionary of aikido terms, with short translations/explanations.

    Stefan Stenudd



  • A
    • ai harmony, unity, blending
    • aihanmi basic relation between partners: both have same foot forward (left or right), compare gyakuhanmi
    • aihanmi katatedori wrist grip, right on right or left on left, also called kosadori, compare gyakuhanmi katatedori
    • aiki blending/uniting one’s ki with that of the partner
    • aikibatto sword exercises, solo or pair
    • aikibudo budo based on the aiki principle, earlier name for aikido
    • aikido the way through the life energy to harmony/unity
    • aikidoka one who does aikido, specifically on an advanced or professional level
    • aikido toho Nishio sensei’s iaido school
    • Aikijinja the aikido temple in Iwama
    • aikijo aikido jo-staff exercises
    • aikijutsu name on the Daito ryu Martial art, also called aikijujutsu
    • Aikikai organization and "label" for Ueshiba’s aikido
    • aikiken aikido sword exercises
    • aikinage aiki-throw, throwing technique
    • aiki no michi aikido (michi=do)
    • aikiotoshi aiki-drop, throwing technique
    • aikitaiso aikido warm-up exercises
    • aite partner in training
    • arigato thanks
    • arigato gozaimasu thanks for something going on
    • arigato gozaimashita thanks for something completed
    • ashi leg, foot
    • ate hit, strike
    • atemi strike to the body
    • awase harmonizing/blending movement
    • ayumiashi altering steps, left and right, like normal walking

  • B
    • barai/harai parry, ward off
    • batto draw the sword, also called nuki
    • bo staff, longer than the jo
    • bokken wooden training sword
    • bokuto same as bokken
    • bu war, battle, fight
    • budo the way of war/battle, the Japanese Martial arts
    • budoka one who does any budo, specifically on an advanced or professional level
    • bugei battle art, old term
    • bukiwaza weapons training
    • bushi warrior
    • bushido the way of the warrior

  • C
    • chado tea ceremony
    • chikara force/strength
    • choku direct
    • chokutsuki direct strike with the jo
    • chudan middle, compare jodan and gedan
    • chudan kamae guard position with a weapon at belly height
    • chudan tsuki strike at belly/solar plexus, with weapon or empty hand
    • chukyusha continuing student, with a mid-level kyu grade (jämför jokyusha)

  • D
    • dai big, also o
    • daisho sword pair, the long and the short sword
    • Daito ryu aikijutsu school
    • dame wrong, bad
    • dan level, black belt grade in budo
    • dao/tao transcribation of the Chinese word for way, do
    • deshi student
    • do way, also michi
    • dogi training dress, also keikogi
    • do-in self massage tradition
    • dojo training hall
    • dojo cho head of a training hall
    • doka poem about the way
    • domo much
    • domo arigato gozaimas thank you so much, for something going on
    • domo arigato gozaimashita thank you so much, for something completed
    • dori take, catch, grab
    • dosa movement
    • doshu way leader, head of a budo
    • dozo please/by all means

  • E
    • embukai public demonstration
    • empi strike with elbow
    • eri neck, collar
    • eridori collar grip by the neck

  • F
    • fukushidoin assisting instructor, title for aikido teacher, 2-3 dan, compare shidoin and shihan
    • funakogi undo, rowing exercise, also called torifune
    • furitama exercise to still ki
    • futaridori/futarigake two attackers

  • G
    • gaeshi/kaeshi returning, reversed
    • gamae/kamae guard, basic position
    • gasshuku training camp, lodging together
    • gedan low, compare jodan and chudan
    • gedanbarai low block
    • geiko/keiko training
    • geri kick
    • gi dress
    • giri/kiri cut
    • go five
    • gokyo fifth teaching, pinning technique
    • gomen nasai excuse me
    • Gorin no sho Book of Five Rings, by Miyamoto Musashi
    • gotai hard body, static training, compare jutai, ryutai and kinagare
    • gyaku reverse, opposite
    • gyakuhanmi basic relation between partners: they have opposite foot forward, compare aihanmi
    • gyakuhanmi katatedori wrist grip, right on left or left on right, compare aihanmi katatedori
    • gyakutsuki strike with opposing arm and leg forward, compare oitsuki

  • H
    • hachi eight
    • Hagakure Hiding the Leaves, classic samurai book from the 18th century
    • hai yes
    • hajime begin
    • hakama traditional wide pants, used in aikido
    • handachi half standing
    • hanmi half body
    • hanmi gamae angled guard position
    • hanmi handachiwaza sitting versus standing
    • hanshi title in kendo, from 8th dan
    • hantai opposed
    • happo eight directions, compare shiho
    • hara stomach
    • harai/barai sweep away, parry
    • harakiri cut belly, ritual suicide, also called seppuku
    • hassogaeshi jo-staff technique
    • hasso gamae guard with weapon at shoulder level
    • henkawaza, changing techniques, variations on basic techniques, also shifting from one technique to another
    • hidari left (right: migi)
    • hiji elbow
    • hijidori grip on elbow
    • hijikimeosae pinning technique, sometimes called rokkyo
    • hiki pull
    • hineri twist
    • hiragana Japanese phonetic writing, compare katakana
    • hito e mi making the body small, guard position with more of an angle than hanmi
    • hiza knee
    • ho method
    • ho direction, side
    • hombu head quarters
    • Hombu dojo head dojo, used for Aikido’s head dojo in Tokyo

  • I
    • iaido the art of drawing the Japanese sword
    • iaito training sword, usually not sharpened
    • ichi one
    • ichiban first, best
    • iie no
    • iki will power
    • ikkajo older term for ikkyo
    • ikki one ki, bottoms up, toast
    • ikkyo first teaching, pinning technique
    • ikkyo undo exercise of the basic ikkyo movement
    • in Japanese for the Chinese concept yin, compare yo
    • ippon one point
    • ipponken strike with one knuckle
    • irimi in to the body, inwards
    • iriminage inward throw, throwing technique
    • Iwama Japanese town, where Osensei had a dojo and a home
    • Iwama ryu Saito sensei’s aikido style

  • J
    • jiyuwaza free training
    • jo wooden staff, 127.5 centimeters
    • jo awase jo-staff exercises
    • jodan high, compare chudan and gedan
    • jodan kamae guard with weapon over head
    • jodan tsuki strike at head
    • jodanuke high block
    • jodo the way of the staff
    • jodori defense against jo-staff
    • jokyusha advanced student, with a higher kyu grade, compare chukyusha
    • ju ten
    • ju soft
    • judo the soft way, or the way to softness
    • jujigarami/jujinage cross throw
    • jujutsu the soft art
    • jumbitaiso warm-up exercises, also called aikitaiso
    • juntsuki strike with the same arm and leg forward, also called oitsuki, compare gyakutsuki
    • jutai soft body, smooth training, compare gotai, ryutai and kinagare
    • jutsu technique/art

  • K
    • kaeshi/gaeshi returning, reverse
    • kaeshitsuki reverse strike with jo-staff
    • kaeshiwaza counter techniques
    • kagami biraki Japanese New Year celebration, held January 11
    • kai club, association
    • kaiso founder
    • kaitennage rotation throw, throwing technique
    • kaitenosae rotation pinning technique
    • kakaedori embrace
    • kakarigeiko attackers in line, one after the other
    • kakudo angle
    • kamae/gamae guard position
    • kami divinity
    • kamiza honorary place in a dojo, compare shomen and shinzen
    • kampai cheers, toast
    • kan intuition
    • kangeiko mid-winter training
    • kanji ideograms, the Chinese writing
    • kanren linked, connected
    • kanrenwaza linked techniques, one technique followed by another, compare renzokuwaza
    • kansetsu joint (on body)
    • karatedo the way of the empty hand, or the way through the hand to emptiness
    • Kashima shintoryu traditional sword school
    • kata form, pre-decided movements
    • kata shoulder
    • katadori shoulder grip
    • katadori menuchi shoulder grip followed by shomenuchi
    • katakana Japanese phonetic writing, compare hiragana
    • katamewaza pinning techniques
    • katana the Japanese sword, also ken, to and tachi
    • katate one-hand technique
    • katatedori wrist-grip
    • katate ryotedori grip with both hands, also called morotedori
    • Katori shintoryu traditional sword school
    • keiko/geiko training
    • keikogi training dress, also dogi
    • ken sword, also katana, to and tachi
    • kendo Japanese fencing
    • ki spirit, life energy
    • kiai gathered ki, usually used for shout in budo
    • ki-aikido Tohei sensei’s aikido style
    • kihon basics
    • kihonwaza basic training
    • kikai tanden the ocean of ki in the body’s center
    • kime focusing
    • kimusubi tying one’s ki to that of the partner
    • kinagare/ki no nagare streaming ki, flowing training, compare gotai, jutai and ryutai
    • Ki no kenkyukai Tohei sensei’s aikido school, also Shinshin toitsu
    • kiri/giri cut
    • kirikaeshi turning cut, sword exercise
    • koan riddle in zen
    • kobudo older budo
    • kogeki attack
    • kogekiho attack techniques
    • kohai one’s junior, compare sempai
    • Kojiki religious Japanese book from the 8th century
    • kokoro heart, will, mind, also pronounced shin
    • kokyu breathing
    • kokyuho breathing exercise, throwing technique
    • kokyunage breath throw
    • kokyu ryoku breath power
    • kosa cross over, pass
    • kosadori cross-over grip, same as aihanmi katatedori
    • koshi hip
    • koshinage hip throw
    • kote wrist
    • kotegaeshi reversed wrist, throwing technique
    • kotehineri twisted wrist, sankyo
    • kotemawashi turned wrist, nikyo
    • kotodama/kototama spirit of words, Japanese sound mystique and cosmology
    • ku nine
    • ku emptiness
    • kubi neck
    • kubishime neck choke
    • kuden oral tradition/teaching
    • kumi group, set
    • kumijo jo-staff exercises, jo against jo
    • kumitachi sword exercises, sword against sword
    • kumite empty handed fight
    • kumiuchi ancient Japanese wrestling in full armor
    • kuzushi break balance
    • kyo principle, learning
    • kyoshi title in kendo, 6-7 dan
    • kyu grade before blackbelt, compare dan
    • kyudo the way of the bow and arrow

  • L
    • (L not used in Japanese)

  • M
    • ma distance between training partners
    • ma-ai harmonious, balanced distance between training partners
    • mae front, forward, compare ushiro
    • maegeri straight kick
    • mae ukemi forward fall
    • makiwara target for hitting practice in karatedo
    • maru circle
    • mawashi revolving, turning
    • mawashigeri roundhouse kick
    • mawate turning
    • me eye
    • men head
    • michi way, also do
    • migi right (left: hidari)
    • misogi purification, cleansing
    • mochi hold/grip, also called dori
    • mochikata gripping attacks
    • mo ikkai do again
    • mokuso meditation, also called zazen
    • moro both
    • morotedori grip with both hands, also called katate ryotedori
    • mu nothing, empty
    • mushin empty mind
    • mudansha trainee without dan grade, compare yudansha
    • mune chest
    • munedori collar grip by the chest
    • musubi tie together

  • N
    • nagare flow, streaming
    • nage throw, also used for the one doing the aikido technique, compare tori
    • nagewaza throwing techniques
    • naginata Japanese halberd
    • nakaima here and now
    • nana seven, also pronounced shichi
    • nen the purity and unity of the mind
    • ni two
    • Nihon/Nippon Japan
    • Nihongi religious Japanese book from the 8th century
    • nikajo older name for nikyo
    • nikyo second teaching, pinning technique
    • nin person
    • ninindori two attackers, also called futaridori
    • ninja courier and spy in old Japan
    • Nippon/Nihon Japan
    • Nito ichiryu/Niten ichiryu School of Two Swords/Two Heavens, Musashi’s sword school
    • noto return the sword to the scabbard
    • nuki draw the sword, also called batto
    • nukite strike with fingertips

  • O
    • o big, also dai
    • obi belt
    • ocha tea
    • oitsuki strike with same arm and foot forward, also called jontsuki
    • omote front, surface, compare ura
    • Omotokyo shintoistic society
    • onegai shimasu please, asking for something
    • osae press down, pinning
    • osensei great teacher, in aikido Morihei Ueshiba
    • otagai ni rei bow to each others
    • otoshi drop
    • oyowaza applied techniques, modified for efficiency

  • P
    • (P rarely used in Japanese)

  • Q
    • (Q not used in Japanese)

  • R
    • randori disorderly grabbing, free training
    • rei bow
    • reigi etiquette, also called reishiki
    • renshi title in kendo, 4-6 dan
    • renshu training
    • renzoku continuous
    • renzoku uchikomi jo-staff exercise
    • renzokuwaza consecutive techniques, a series of techniques
    • ritsurei standing bow
    • rokkyo sixth teaching, pinning technique, see hijikime osae
    • roku six
    • ryo both
    • ryotedori gripping both wrists
    • ryu school
    • ryutai flowing body, fluid training, compare gotai, jutai and kinagare

  • S
    • sabaki action/handling
    • sake rice wine
    • samurai to serve, Japanese warrior class
    • san three
    • sankajo older term for sankyo
    • sankaku triangle
    • sankakutai triangle shape, position of the feet in hanmi
    • sankyo third teaching, pinning technique
    • sannindori/sanningake three attackers
    • sanpo three directions
    • satori enlightenment in zen
    • saya scabbard
    • seika no itten, the one point below the navel, the body center, also called tanden
    • seiki life energy
    • seiza correct sitting, sit on knees
    • sempai one’s senior, compare kohai
    • sen no sen before the attack, countering before the strike
    • sensei teacher
    • sensen no sen before before the attack, a leading initiative
    • seppuku cut belly, ritual suicide with sword, also called harakiri
    • shi four, also pronounced yon
    • shiai competition
    • shiatsu massage
    • shichi seven, also pronounced nana
    • shidoin instructor, middle title for aikido teacher, 4-5 dan, compare fukushidoin and shihan
    • shihan expert example, high title for aikido teacher, from 6 dan, compare fukushidoin and shidoin
    • shiho four directions
    • shihonage four directions throw, throwing technique
    • shikaku square
    • shikaku dead angle
    • shiki courage
    • shikko knee walking
    • shime choke
    • shin heart, will, mind, also pronounced kokoro
    • shinai kendo sword of bamboo
    • Shindo Musoryu jodo-school
    • shinken sharp authentic Japanese sword
    • Shinshin toitsu Tohei sensei’s aikido school, Ki no kenkyukai
    • shinto the way of the gods, Japanese religion
    • shinzen seat of the gods, in a dojo usually a position on the wall farthest from the entrance, compare kamiza and shomen
    • shisei posture
    • shite the one leading, defender in aikido, also called tori or nage
    • shizentai natural body posture
    • sho first, beginning
    • shodan first dan grade
    • shodo calligraphy
    • Shodokan Tomiki sensei’s aikido school
    • shomen front of the head
    • shomen head place of the dojo, compare shinzen and kamiza
    • shomen ni rei bow to head place of the dojo
    • shomenuchi cut or blow to head
    • shoshinsha beginner
    • shuto hand ridge strike
    • sode sleeve
    • sodedori sleeve grip
    • sodeguchidori grip on the cuff of the sleeve
    • soto outside, outer, compare uchi
    • sotodeshi student who lives outside the dojo, compare uchideshi
    • sotokaiten outer rotation, compare uchikaiten
    • sotouke block from outside, compare uchiuke
    • suburi basic exercises with sword or staff
    • suki opening
    • sumi corner
    • sumikiri sharpness of body and mind
    • sumimasen excuse me
    • sumo traditional Japanese wrestling
    • suri rub, scrape
    • sutemiwaza techniques with losing one’s own balance
    • suwariwaza seated training, also called suwate
    • suwate seated training, also called suwariwaza

  • T
    • tachi sword, also to, ken and katana
    • tachi stand
    • tachidori defense against sword
    • tachiwaza training standing up
    • tai body
    • taijutsu body techniques, unarmed techniques
    • tai no henko body turn, also called tai no tenkan
    • tai no tenkan body turn, also called tai no henko
    • taisabaki body move, evasive movement in aikido
    • taiso exercises
    • takemusu improvised Martial art
    • takemusu aiki improvised Martial art through the principle of aiki
    • tameshi test
    • tameshigiri cutting test with sword
    • tameshiware hitting test in karatedo
    • tanbo short staff
    • tanden body center, compare seika no itten
    • taninzugake several attackers
    • tanren drill techniques
    • tanto/tanken knife
    • tantodori defense against knife
    • tao/dao Chinese for do
    • tatami mat
    • tate stand up
    • te hand
    • tegatana hand sword, hand ridge in swordlike movements
    • tekubi wrist
    • tekubiosae pinned wrist, yonkyo
    • tenchinage heaven-earth throw, throwing technique
    • tenkan turn
    • tettsui hammer strike
    • to sword, also ken, tachi and katana
    • tobigeri jump kick
    • tobikoshi fall over hip, break fall
    • tomauchi jo-staff technique
    • tori the one who takes, defender in aikido, also called nage and shite
    • torifune rowing exercise, also called funakogi undo
    • tsuba sword guard
    • tsugiashi following step, back foot following and not passing front foot
    • tsuka sword hilt
    • tsuki strike, with a weapon or empty hand

  • U
    • uchi hit
    • uchi inside, within, inner, compare soto
    • uchideshi student living in the dojo, compare sotodeshi
    • uchikaiten inner rotation, compare sotokaiten
    • uchikata striking and hitting attack forms
    • uchikomi hitting repeatedly
    • uchiuke block from inside, compare sotouke
    • ude arm
    • udekimenage arm lock throw
    • udenobashi extended arm, gokyo
    • udeosae pinned arm, ikkyo
    • uke the one receiving, attacker in aikido
    • uke block, parry
    • ukemi falling
    • undo exercise
    • ura backside, inside, reverse side, compare omote
    • uraken backhand strike
    • ushiro behind, backwards, compare mae
    • ushirogeri backward kick
    • ushiro kiriotoshi rear cutting drop, throwing technique
    • ushiro ukemi backward fall
    • ushirowaza attacks from behind

  • V
    • (V not used in Japanese)

  • W
    • waka sensei young teacher, used in aikido for successor of Doshu
    • waki side
    • wakizashi short sword
    • ware break, split
    • waza technique, skill, training method

  • X
    • (X not used in Japanese)

  • Y
    • yame stop
    • yang sunny side, heavenly, in Japanese yo, compare yin
    • yari spear
    • yawara old jujutsu
    • yin shady side, earthly, in Japanese in, compare yang
    • yo Japanese for yang
    • yoko side, sideways, horizontal
    • yokogeri side kick
    • yokogiri horisontal cut
    • yokomen side of the head
    • yokomenuchi strike to the side of the head
    • yoko ukemi side fall
    • yon four, also pronounced shi
    • yonkajo older term for yonkyo
    • yonkyo fourth teaching, pinning technique
    • Yoseikan Mochizuki sensei’s aikido school
    • Yoshinkan Shioda sensei’s aikido school
    • yudansha dan graded, compare mudansha

  • Z
    • za seated, sit
    • Zaidan Hojin Aikikai Aikikai Foundation
    • zanshin remaining spirit, continued concentration
    • zarei sitting bow
    • zazen sitting meditation, also called mokuso
    • zen a form of buddhism
    • zengo around, forward and back, front and rear
    • zori sandals

  • Numbers
    • 1 ichi
    • 2 ni
    • 3 san
    • 4 shi / yon
    • 5 go
    • 6 roku
    • 7 shichi / nana
    • 8 hachi
    • 9 ku
    • 10 ju
    • 20 ni-ju
    • 21 ni-ju-ichi
    • 100 hyaku
    • 1000 sen

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