More helpful vocab

In a previous post, I explained that we use a lot of Japanese in our classes – and why. It can be a little intimidating though, so I gave some words you’ll encounter a lot.

In that post, we covered class admin (start, stop, please, thank you, and so on), directions, and parts of the body.

This time, some more violent things that you will find in names of techniques. Some of them have two spellings/pronunciations, depending on context (sorry!).

Just like I said last time, don’t try to memorise them all at once, just use this list as a helpful reminder.

Pronunciation (spelling) – Meaning


Go-ho (goho) – the hard way (all the punches and kicks and blocks)

Zoo-key, or t-skii (zuki, or tsuki) – punch.

Ke-ree, or ge-ree (keri, or geri) – kick

Ooo-kay (uke) – block

Gi-ya-ku (gyaku) – literally reverse, but in context it usually means punch/kick/block with your back hand.

Jun (jun) – literally order (as in doing things in the right order), but in context it usually means punch/kick/block with your front hand.

So, you might have jun zuki jodan, a front punch to the head, or gyaku geri chudan, a back kick to the stomach.


Jew-ho (juho) – the soft way (all the eludes, throws, and pins)

Nu-key (nuki) – elude

Ki-ree (kiri) – cut

Ko-tey, or Go-tey (kote, or gote) – wrist

Ooo-day (ude) – arm

Ka-ta-may, or ga-ta-may (katame, or gatame) – pin

So, you could have kote nuki, a wrist elude, or kiri gote, a technique involving a cutting motion to the wrist.

Goho and Juho

Oo-chi (uchi) – inside (as in uchi uke zuki, or uchi kiri nuki)

So-toe (soto) – outside (as in soto uke zuki, or soto kiri nuki)

Oo-ra (ura) – backside (generally, a technique where you end up behind your partner)

O-mot-ey (omote) – front side (generally, a technique where you end up in front of your partner)

Oo-chi (uchi) – strike (as in uchi age zuki). Yes, I know that uchi appears twice in my list. I’m sorry. They are different words, they just look the same when you write them in roman lettering. Context is important!

Found any words you don’t understand? Let me know in the comments.

Published by Nicola Higgins

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something* martial artist, Girlguiding Brownie and Ranger Leader, and actuary. She somehow also finds time to read, fuss her cat, and occasionally spends time with her husband. [* please note that "ten or more" is still something.]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: