Terms and Vocabulary

Common Attacks
Katate tori (also katate mochi) = One hand holding one hand.
Kosa dori (also naname mochi) = One hand holding one hand, cross-body.
Morote tori = Two hands holding one hand.
Kata tori = Shoulder hold.
Ryokata tori = Grabbing both shoulders.
Ryote tori = Two hands holding two hands.
Mune dori = One or two hand lapel hold.
Hiji tori = Elbow grab.
Ushiro tekubi tori (ushiro ryote tori / ushiro ryokatate tori) = Wrist grab from the back.
Ushiro ryokata tori = As above from the back.
Ushiro kubi shime = Rear choke.
Shomen uchi = Overhead strike to the head.
Yokomen uchi = Diagonal strike to the side of the head.
Tsuki = Straight thrust (punch), esp. to the midsection.

Basic Techniques
ikkyo (ikkajo / ude osae) = omote and ura (irimi and tenkan).
Nikyo (nikajo / kote mawashi) = omote and ura (irimi and tenkan)
Sankyo (sankajo / kote hineri) = omote and ura (irimi and tenkan)
Yonkyo (yonkajo / tekubi osae) = omote and ura (irimi and tenkan)
Gokyo (ude nobashi) = omote and ura (irimi and tenkan)

Irimi nage (also kokyu nage) = Entering throw (“20 year” technique).
Juji nage (juji garami) = Arm entwining throw.
Kaiten nage = Rotary throw. uchi and soto, omote and ura (irimi and tenkan)
Kokyu nage = Breath throws.
Koshi nage = Hip throw.
Kote gaeshi = Wrist turn-out.
Shiho nage = “Four direction” throw.
Sumiotoshi = “Corner drop.” omote and ura (irimi and tenkan).
Tenchi nage = “Heaven and earth” throw. omote and ura (irimi and tenkan).

General Vocabulary
Aikido The word “aikido” is made up of three Japanese characters: ai harmony, ki – spirit, mind, or universal energy, do – the Way. Thus aikido is “the Way of Harmony with Universal Energy.” However, aiki may also be interpreted as “accommodation to circumstances.” This latter interpretation is somewhat nonstandard, but it avoids certain undesirable metaphysical commitments and also epitomizes quite well both the physical and psychological facets of aikido.
Aikidoka A practitioner of aikido.
Ai hanmi Mutual stance where uke and nage each have the same foot forward (right-right, left-left).
Atemi (lit. Striking the Body) Strike directed at the attacker for purposes of unbalancing or distraction. Atemi is often vital for bypassing or “short-circuiting” an attacker’s natural responses to aikido techniques. The first thing most people will do when they feel their body being manipulated in an unfamiliar way is to retract their limbs and drop their centre of mass down and away from the person performing the technique. By judicious application of atemi, it is possible to create a “window of opportunity” in the attacker’s natural defenses, facilitating the application of an aikido technique. “Atemi” can also have the connotation of a “vital strike”. As such, it is important that the strike be delivered to a vulnerable target and with sufficient force as to eliminate the attacker’s ability or willingness to continue the assault.
Bokken (= bokuto) Wooden sword. Many aikido movements are derived from traditional Japanese fencing. In advanced practice, weapons such as the bokken are used in learning subtleties of certain movements, the relationships obtaining between armed and unarmed techniques, defenses against weapons, and the like.
Budo “Martial way.” The Japanese character for “bu” (martial) is derived from characters meaning “stop” and (a weapon like a) “halberd.” In conjunction, then, “bu” may have the connotation “to stop the halberd.” In aikido, there is an assumption that the best way to prevent violent conflict is to emphasize the cultivation of individual character. The way (do) of aiki is thus equivalent to the way of bu, taken in this sense of preventing or avoiding violence so far as possible.
Chudan “Middle position.” Thus chudan no kamae is a stance characterized by having one’s hands or sword in a central position with respect to one’s body.

Dan Black belt rank. In IAF aikido, the highest rank it is now possible to obtain is 9th dan. There are some aikidoka who hold ranks of 10th dan. These ranks were awarded by the founder prior to his death, and cannot be rescinded. White belt ranks are called kyu ranks.
Do Way/path. The Japanese character for “do” is the same as the Chinese character for Tao (as in “Taoism”). In aiki-do, the connotation is that of a way of attaining enlightenment or a way of improving one’s character through aiki.
Dojo Literally “place of the Way.” Also “place of enlightenment.” The place where we practice aikido. Traditional etiquette prescribes bowing in the direction of the shrine (kamiza) or the designated front of the dojo (shomen) whenever entering or leaving the dojo.
Domo arigato gozaimashita
Japanese for “thank you very much.” At the end of each class, it is proper to bow and thank the instructor and those with whom you’ve trained.
Doshu Head of the way (currently Moriteru Ueshiba, grandson of aikido’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba). The highest official authority in IAF aikido.
Gedan Lower position. Gedan no kamae is thus a stance with the hands or a weapon held in a lower position.
Gi ( = do gi = keiko gi) Training costume. Either judo-style or karate-style gi are acceptable in most dojo, but they must be white and cotton. (No black satin gi with embroidered dragons. Please.)
Gyaku hanmi Opposing stance (if uke has the right foot forward, nage has the left foot forward, if uke has the left foot forward, nage has the right foot forward).
Hakama Divided skirt usually worn by black-belt ranks. In some dojo, the hakama is also worn by women of all ranks, and in some dojo by all practitioners.
Hanmi Triangular stance. Most often aikido techniques are practiced with uke and nage in pre-determined stances. This is to facilitate learning the techniques and certain principles of positioning with respect to an attack. At higher levels, specific hanmi cease to be of importance.
Hanmi handachi
Position with nage sitting, uke standing. Training in hanmi handachi waza is a good way of practicing techniques as though with a significantly larger/taller opponent. This type of training also emphasizes movement from one’s center of mass (hara).
Happo 8 directions; as in happo-undo (8 direction exercise) or happo-giri (8 direction cutting with the sword). The connotation here is really movement in all directions. In aikido, one must be prepared to turn in any direction in an instant.
Hara One’s center of mass, located about 2″ below the navel. Traditionally this is thought to be the location of the spirit/mind/(source of ki). Aikido techniques should be executed as much as possible from or through one’s hara.
Hasso no kamae
“Figure-eight” stance. The figure eight does not correspond to the arabic numeral “8,” but rather to the Chinese/Japanese character which looks more like the roof of a house. In hasso no kamae, the sword is held up beside one’s head, so that the elbows spread down and out from the sword in a pattern resembling this figure-eight character.
Irimi (lit. “Entering the Body”) Entering movement. Many aikidoka think that the irimi movement expresses the very essence of aikido. The idea behind irimi is to place oneself in relation to an attacker in such a way that the attacker is unable to continue to attack effectively, and in such a way that one is able to control effectively the attacker’s balance. (See shikaku).
Jiyu waza Free-style practice of techniques. In the context of our training this usually means to perform your choice of techniques against a given attack.
Jo Wooden staff about 4′ in length. The jo originated as a walking stick. It is unclear how it became incorporated into aikido. Many jo movements come from traditional Japanese spearfighting, others may have come from jojutsu, but many seem to have been innovated by the founder. The jo is usually used in advanced practice.
Jodan Upper position. Jodan no kamae is thus a stance with the hands or a weapon held in a high position.
Kamae A posture or stance either with or without a weapon. Kamae may also connote proper distance (ma ai) with respect to one’s partner. Although “kamae” generally refers to a physical stance, there is an important parallel in aikido between one’s physical and one’s psychological bearing. Adopting a strong physical stance helps to promote the correlative adoption of a strong psychological attitude. It is important to try so far as possible to maintain a positive and strong mental bearing in aikido.
Kamiza A small shrine, frequently located at the front of a dojo, and often housing a picture of the founder, or some calligraphy. One generally bows in the direction of the kamiza when entering or leaving the dojo, or the mat.
Kata A “form” or prescribed pattern of movement, especially with the jo in aikido. (But also “shoulder.”)
Katame waza “Hold-down” (pinning) techniques.
Katana What is vulgarly called a “samurai sword.”
Keiko Training. The only secret to success in aikido.
Ken Sword.
Ki Mind. Spirit. Energy. Vital-force. Intention. (Chinese: chi) For many aikidoka, the primary goal of training in aikido is to learn how to “extend” ki, or to learn how to control or redirect the ki of others. There are both “realist” and anti-realist interpretations of ki. The ki-realist takes ki to be, literally, a kind of “stuff,” “energy,” or life-force which flows within the body. Developing or increasing one’s own ki, according to the ki-realist, thus confers upon the aikidoka greater power and control over his/her own body, and may also have the added benefits of improved health and longevity. According to the ki-anti-realist, ki is a concept which covers a wide range of psycho-physical phenomena, but which does not denote any objectively existing “energy” or “stuff.” The ki-anti-realist believes, for example, that to “extend ki” is just to adopt a certain kind of positive psychological disposition and to correlate that psychological dispositon with just the right combination of balance, relaxation, and judicious application of physical force. Since the description “extend ki” is somewhat more manageable, the concept of ki has a class of well-defined uses for the ki-anti-realist, but does not carry with it any ontological commitments beyond the scope of mainstream scientific theories.
Kiai A shout delivered for the purpose of focussing all of one’s energy into a single movement. Even when audible kiai are absent, one should try to preserve the feeling of kiai at certain crucial points within aikido techniques.
Kihon (Something which is) fundamental. There are often many seemingly very different ways of performing the same technique in aikido. To see beneath the surface features of the technique and grasp the core common is to comprehend the kihon.
Kokyu Breath. Part of aikido is the development of “kokyu ryoku,” or “breath power.” This is the coordination of breath with movement. A prosaic example: When lifting a heavy object, it is generally easier when breathing out. Also breath control may facilitate greater concentration and the elimination of stress. In many traditional forms of meditation, focus on the breath is used as a method for developing heightened concentration or mental equanimity. This is also the case in aikido. A number of exercises in aikido are called “kokyu ho,” or “breath exercises.” These exercises are meant to help one develop kokyu ryoku.
Kumitachi Sword matching exercise or partner practice.
Kyu White belt rank. (Or any rank below shodan)

Ma ai Proper distancing or timing with respect to one’s partner. Since aikido techniques always vary according to circumstances, it is important to understand how differences in initial position affect the timing and application of techniques.
Mae Front. Thus mae ukemi = “forward fall/roll.”
Mushin Literally “no mind.” A state of cognitive awareness characterized by the absence of discursive thought. A state of mind in which the mind acts/reacts without hypostatization of concepts. mushin is often erroneously taken to be a state of mere spontaneity. Although spontaneity is a feature of mushin, it is not straightforwardly identical with it. It might be said that when in a state of mushin, one is free to use concepts and distinctions without being used by them.
Nage The thrower.
Obi A belt.
Omote “The front,” thus, a class of movements in aikido in which nage enters in front of uke.
Onegai shimasu
“I welcome you to train with me,” or literally, “I make a request.” This is said to one’s partner when initiating practice.
O-sensei Literally, “Great Teacher,” specifically in aikido this is used to refer to  Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido.
Randori Free-style “all-out” training. Sometimes used as a synonym for jiyu waza. Although aikido techniques are usually practiced with a single partner, it is important to keep in mind the possibility that one may be attacked by multiple aggressors. Many of the body movements of aikido (tai sabaki) are meant to facilitate defence against multiple attackers.
Reigi Ettiquette. Observance of proper ettiquette at all times (but especially observance of proper dojo ettiquette) is as much a part of one’s training as the practice of techniques. Observation of reigi indicates one’s sincerety, one’s willingness to learn, and one’s recognition of the rights and interests of others.
Sensei Teacher. It is usually considered proper to address the instructor during practice as “Sensei” rather than by his/her name. If the instructor is a permanent instructor for one’s dojo or for an organization, it may be proper to address him/her as “Sensei” off the mat as well.
Seiza Sitting on one’s knees. Sitting this way requires acclimatization, but provides both a stable base and greater ease of movement than sitting cross-legged.

Shikko Samurai walking (“knee walking”). Shikko is very important for developing a strong awareness of one’s center of mass (hara). It also develops strength in one’s hips and legs.
Shodan First dan or “stage” black belt. (Nidan = second dan black belt, followed by sandan, yondan, godan, rokudan, nanadan, hachidan, kyudan, judan)
Shomen Front or top of head. Also the designated front of a dojo.
Soto “Outside.” Thus, a class of aikido movements executed, especially, outside the attacker’s arm(s). (see uchi)
Suburi Repetitive practice in striking and thrusting with jo or bokken. Such repetitive practice trains not only one’s facility with the weapon, but also general fluidity of body movement that is applicable to empty-hand training.
Suwari waza Techniques executed with both uke and nage in a seated position. These techniques have their historical origin (in part) in the practice of requiring all samurai to sit and move about on their knees while in the presence of a daimyo (feudal lord). In theory, this made it more difficult for anyone to attack the daimyo. But this was also a position in which one received guests (not all of whom were always trustworthy). In contemporary aikido, suwari waza is important for learning to use one’s hips and legs.
Tachi A type of Japanese sword (thus tachi-tori sword-taking). (Also “standing position”).
Tachi waza Standing techniques.
Tai sabaki Body movement.
Tanto A dagger.
Tenkan Turning movement, esp. turning the body 180 degrees. (see tai no tenkan).
Tsuki A punch or thrust (esp. an attack to the midsection).
Uchi “Inside.” A class of techniques where nage moves, especially, inside (under) the attacker’s arm(s). (But also a strike, e.g. shomen uchi.)
Uke Person being thrown (receiving the technique). At high levels of practice, the distinction between uke and nage becomes blurred. In part, this is because it becomes unclear who initiates the technique, and also because, from a certain perspective, uke and nage are thoroughly interdependent.

Ukemi Literally “receiving [with/through] the body,” thus, the art of falling in response to a technique. Mae ukemi are front roll-falls, ushiro ukemi are back roll-falls. Ideally, one should be able to execute ukemi from any position and in any direction. The development of proper ukemi skills is just as important as the development of throwing skills and is no less deserving of attention and effort. In the course of practicing ukemi, one has the opportunity to monitor the way one is being moved so as to gain a clearer understanding of the principles of aikido techniques. Just as standard aikido techniques provide strategies for defending against physical attacks, so does ukemi practice provide strategies for defending against falling (or even against the application of an aikido or aikido-like technique).
Ura “Rear.” A class of aikido techniques executed by moving behind the attacker and turning. Sometimes ura techniques are called tenkan (turning) techniques.
Ushiro Backwards or behind, as in ushiro ukemi or falling backwards.
Waza Techniques. Although in aikido we have to practice specific techniques, aikido as it might manifest itself in self-defence may not resemble any particular, standard aikido technique. This is because aikido techniques encode strategies and types of movement which are modified in accordance with changing conditions. (see kihon).
Yoko Side.
Yokomen Side of the head.
Zanshin Lit. “remaining mind/heart.” Even after an aikido technique has been completed, one should remain in a balanced and aware state. Zanshin thus connotes “following through” in a technique, as well as preservation of one’s awareness so that one is prepared to respond to additional attacks. Zanshin has both a physical and a cognitive dimension. The physical dimension is represented by maintaining correct posture and balance even when a technique has been completed. The cognitive dimension consists partly in preserving the same overall mindset at all phases of technique application – there is nothing any more special about having completed a technique than there is about beginning or continuing it. Also, upon completing a technique, one’s state of cognitive readiness is not abandoned: one remains ready either for a renewed attack by the same opponent, or for an attack from another direction by a new attacker.
Extracts have been taken from the Aikido Primer written by Eric Sotnak (http://www.sotnak.com/primer/), and the Aiki No Michi handbook.


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