As with any other art form Shotokan karate has its own unique terminology, and even though Shotokan is taught all over the world, and in many different languages, it is still common in most dojos to give some commands in Japanese.

The following list of Japanese words and their English counter part is by no means definative and so students are encouraged to view this list as merely a starting point in their own effort to further their knowledge of all that Shotokan Karate has to offer.


karate do - empty handed way

shihan - master

sensei - teacher

sempai - senior student

kohai - junior student

dojo - training hall

obi - belt

seiza - kneel

mokuso - meditate

rei - bow

yoi - ready

hajime - begin

yame - stop

naote - relax

hidari - left

migi - right

jodan - upper

chudan - middle

gedan - lower

dachi - stance

zuki - punch

uchi - strike

uke - block

geri - kick

tai sabaki - body shifting

yori ashi - foot shifting


kazama zuki - jab

choku zuki - straight punch

oi zuki - lunge punch

gyaku zuki - reverse punch

yama zuki - mountain punch

yoko zuki - side punch

shita zuki - inverted punch

ippon ken - one knuckle strike

uraken - back fist

tetsui - hammer fist

empi uchi - elbow strike

nukite-zuki - spear hand strike

shuto - knife hand

shuto-zuki - sword hand strike


jodan age uke - upper rising block

jodan tetsui zuki - upper hammer fist

gedan uke - lower block

kake wake uke - reverse wedge block

haishu-uke - back hand block

soto uke - inward middle block

uchi uke - outward middle block

morote uke - augmented block

teisho oshi uke - pressing palm heal block

shuto-uke - sword hand block

juji-uke - X block


zenkutsu dachi - front stance

kokutsu dachi - back stance

kiba dachi - horse stance

fudo dachi - rooted stance

neko ashi dachi - cat stance

hangetsu dachi - hourglass stance


hiza geri - knee strike

mae geri - front kick

yoko geri keage - side snap kick

yoko geri kekomi - side thrust kick

fumakomi - stomp kick

mika zuki geri - crescent kick

mawashi geri - round kick

tobi geri - jump kick

ni mae geri - double front kick

ushiro geri kekomi - back thrust kick



gedan-barai - down block

chudan oi zuki - middle lunge punch

chudan uchi uke - inside outward block

tetsui zuki - hammer fist strike

shuto uke - sword hand block

shuto zuki - sword hand strike

tai-sabaki - body shifting

jodan oi zuki - upper lunge punch

jodan age uke - upper rising block

yoko geri keage - side snapping kick

mae geri keage - front snapping kick

chudan uraken - middle back fist

chudan nukite zuki - middle spear hand strike

chudan gyaku zuki - middle reverse punch

morote chudan uchi uke - augmented middle inside outward block

jodan soto uke - upper forearm strike

morote gedan uchi uke - augmented lower inside outward block

morote shita zuki - augmented upper inverted punch

chudan teisho yoko uke - middle side palm heel block

chudan yoko zuki - middle side punch

ni jodan shita zuki - double inverted upper punch

chudan tsukami uke - middle grasping block

chudan osae uke - middle pressing block

chudan mae empi uchi - middle forward elbow strike

chudan keito uke - middle chicken head block

hitosashiyubi gedan nukite - lower index finger spear hand

shuto gedan barai - lower sword hand strike

washide jodan uchi - upper eagle strike

jodan mae geri keage - upper front snapping kick

chudan uraken - middle back fist

chudan hiza geri - middle knee strike

chudan mika zuki geri - middle crescent kick

chudan mawashi zuki - middle round house punch

jodan shuto juji uke - upper open hand X block

ni yoko chudan zuki - double middle side punch

chudan-tate-shuto-uchi-uke -middle level vertical inside outward sword hand block

chudan choku zuki - middle straight punch

ni jodan uke - double rising block

hidari ashi dachi - left legged stance

chudan uchi otoshi - middle falling block

jodan yoko uchi barai - upper side sweeping block

sho koko bo uke - tiger mouth block

chudan oi zuki maeude hineri - middle lunge punch with turning forearm

jodan tate mawashi uchi - upper vertical roundhouse strike

naname shita ni oshinobasu - double downward oblique push

gedan gassho uke - lower double palm heel block

sankaku tobi - triangle jump

chudan nakadaka ippon ken - middle one knuckle strike

jodan age nihon nukite-zuki - upper two finger spear hand strike

haishu uke - back hand block

jodan kensei - upper palm feint