Aikido Glossary 

Or, in Japanese: 合気道の語彙 (あいきどうのごい – Aikidō no goi): 語彙 (ごい, goi) = vocabulary, glossary.
Some Aikidō, 合気道, terms, with kanji, 漢字, (Chinese character, as used in Japanese language) and short explanation..

If you like my page and decide to use it, please reference back or credit – it has been a long work to make it and keeping it updated! Thanks!

Attention: if you got problem to display properly the Japanese (日本語), take a look at this post (also for the PDF files!!)

Introduction(PDF)Pronunciation(PDF)Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC
Counting(PDF)General Terms(PDF)Directions(PDF)
Stance(PDF)Attacks(PDF)Gen. Practice Terms
TechniquesWeapon Practice
PDF of all sections
(so far)
External Credits

A few words of introduction
There are many similar pages on the net, this is for me, especially for having the 漢字 and the reading in the same page!

I will include the romanji (the reading in our alphabet), the kanji version (Chinese characters) and the kana version, ie. the phonetic Japanese alphabet, using hiragana, ひらがな, for this.

And, yeah, a short description! 😉

When writing the meaning of a kanji I will refer to one of the best and my favourite Japanese-English web pages (opening in a new window):


..and to my kanji books..


A bit longish explanation about pronunciation is here and even more about phonology, ie. the sound system in Japanese language, here.

As shorter notes for the use here:

  • I put the pronunciation, when necessary, between brackets [###].
  • The letter or letters between parenthesys (#) are mute, not to be pronunced.
  • Vowels: a as in father; e as in get; i as in macaroni; o as in polo; u as in put or book.
  • Long sound: the vowel is followed by “u”, う, except if it is an e, where the longer sound is done by an “i”, い, after (yep, the correct pronunciation of sensei is “sensee”, without saying the “i”) and I will try to write as often as possible with a stroke “-” over the letter: ā, ī, ū, ē, ō.
  • g has a strong sound, something in between of give and sing.
  • When nothing it is specified it means no special rule applies, so just read it! 😉


*** 合気道 *** 合気道 *** 合気道 *** 合気道 *** 合気道 ***


1: ichi 一 (いち) – [ich(i)]
2: ni 二 (に)
3: san 三 (さん)
4: shi 四 (し); yon 四(よん)
5: go 五 (ご)
6: roku 六 (ろく) – [rok(u)]
7: shichi 七 (しち) – [shich(i)]; nana 七(なな)
8: hachi 八 (はち) – [hach(i)]
9: ku 九 (く); kyū 九 (きゅう)
10: 十 (じゅう) – [juu]

…and for the higher numbers, it is actually extremely easy:

11: juu-ichi; 12: juu-ni;…; 16: juu-roku;…; 20: ni-juu; 21: ni-juu-ichi;…; 50: go-juu;…; 99: ku-juu-ku

and 100, 1000, 10000 are different names, but it is a long way before I will have counts that high at practice, maybe only at sword practice.. for a good old time warming up 😉


General terms:

Aikidō – 合気道 (あいきどう): The art of blending with the mats without feeling too much pain.. oh, no.. not here.. be serious! 🙂 OK, then, Aikido, literally mean the harmonic way of the energy, being composed by three characters:

  • Ai – 合 (あう – yeah, actually the main reading is not “ai” but “aa”, long sound): joint; associate; accomplice; fit; put together.
  • Ki – 気 (き): spirit; mood.
  • – 道 (どう): road; path; street; way; method.

Rei – 礼 (れい): literally, expression of gratitude; salutation; thanks – it means “to bow”.

Reishiki – 礼式 (れいしき): etiquette, manners.

Onegai shimasu – おねがい します [onegai shimas(u)]: literally it means “please”, and it is always said at the beginning of every class and beginning the practice with a partner, when bowing to the instructor or to each other.

Doumo arigatou gozaimashita – どうも ありがとう ございました [doomo arigatoo gozaimash(i)ta]: formal way to say “thank you very much”, always used at the end of practice, when bowing to the instructor.

Aikidōka – 合気道家 (あいきどうか): Aikidō practitioner. The last kanji 家 (it can be read “ie” also) means family, house and, better, when used as a suffix, like here, it takes the meanings of: house; family; person; expert; -ist (sort of: Aikidō-ist).

Tori – 取り (とり): the one who takes, defender in aikido, also called Nage (投げ, なげ) or Shi’te ( 指手, して)

Uke – 受け (うけ): the one receiving, attacker in aikido



– 方 (ほう) [ho]: direction (example: shi-hō-nage = four-direction-throw)

Mae – 前 (まえ): front, before
Ushiro – 後 (うしろ): back, behind
Migi - 右 (みぎ): right
Hidari - 左 (ひだり): left
Omote - 表 (おもて): forward direction, or in the front side of the opponent
Ura – 裏 (うら): backward direction or in the rear side of the opponent



Hanmi – 半身 (はんみ): half-facing stance. Composed by the two kanji 半 (はん, han) = half; 身 (み, mi) = body.

Or, the stance is also referred as:

Kamae – 構え (かまえ): it comes from 構う [かまう] to mind; to care about; to be concerned about

Migi hanmi – 右 半身 (みぎ はんみ): right foot forward half-facing stance
Hidari hanmi – 左 半身 (ひだり はんみ): left foot forward half-facing stance
Gyaku hanmi - 逆 半身 (ぎゃく はんみ): opposite half-facing stance (one is in left stance and the other in right, for example)
Ai Hanmi - 相 半身 (あい はんみ): same half-facing stance (both are either in left or right stance)



Dori – 取り (どり): take, catch, grab
Uchi – 打ち (うち): hit
Tsuki – 突き (つき): punch, strike
Atemi – 当て身 (あてみ): strike to the body

Katate dori – 片手 取り (かたて どり): wrist grip
Gyaku hanmi katate dori – 逆半 身 片手 取り (ぎゃく はんみ かたて どり): wrist grip in reverse stance, left hand takes right or right takes left
Ai hanmi katate dori – 相 半身 片手 取り (あい はんみ かたて どり): wrist grip in the same stance, right on right or left on left
Kōsa dori – 交差 取り (こうさ どり): same as Ai hanmi katate dori

Morote dori – もろ手 取り(もろて どり): grip of the arm with both hands, also called Katate ryotedori
Katate ryōte dori – 片手 両手 取り (かたて りょうて どり): grip of the arm with both hands, also called Morote dori
Ryōte dori – 両手 取り (りょうて どり): gripping both wrists
Ushiro ryōte dori – 後ろ 両手 取り (うしろ りょうて どり): gripping both wrists from the back, from behind, also called Ushiro ryō tekubi dori
Ushiro ryō tekubi dori - 後ろ 両 手首 取り (うしろ りょう てくび どり): gripping both wrists from the back, from behind, also called Ushiro ryōte dori

Kata dori - 肩 取り (かた どり): shoulder grip
Ryō kata dori – 両 肩 取り (りょう かた どり): grip to both shoulders
Ushiro ryō kata dori – 後ろ 両 肩 取り (うしろ りょう かた どり): grip to both shoulders from behind

Hiji dori – 肘 取り (ひじ どり): grip on elbow
Ryō hiji dori – 両 肘 取り (りょう ひじ どり): grip on both elbows
Ushiro ryō hiji dori – 後ろ 両 肘 取り (うしろ りょう ひじ どり): grip on both elbows from behind

Mune dori – 胸 取り (むね どり): collar grip by the chest
Eri dori – 襟 取り (えり どり): collar grip by the neck
Kubishime – 首 締め (くび しめ): neck choke

Shōmen uchi – 正面 打ち (しょうめん うち): cut or blow to head
Yokomen uchi – 横面 打ち (よこめん うち): strike to the side of the head

Katadori menuchi: 肩 取り 面 打ち (かた どり めん うち): shoulder grip followed by shomenuchi

Jodan tsuki – 上段 突き (じょうだん つき): strike at head
Chudan tsuki – 中段 突き (ちゅだん つき): strike at belly/solar plexus
Gedan tsuki – 下段 突き (げだん つき): low strike, compared to chudan


General Practice Terms:

  • Tandoku dōsa – 単独 動作 (たんどく どうさ): individual practice

These exercises include:

Ukemi – 受け身 (うけみ): falling technique
Ashi-sabaki – 足 捌き (あし さばき): footwork
Tai-sabaki – 体 捌き (たい さばき): body move, evasive movement

Mae ukemi – 前 受け身 (まえ うけみ): forward fall
Ushiro ukemi – 後 受け身 (うしろ うけみ): backward fall
Shikkō – 膝行(しっこう), moving forward by sliding on one’s knees (in the presence of high-ranking individuals) (*) – also I had firstly written “shikko” (しっこ) without ō (long sound): the meaning is pretty different as well explained here 🙂
Ayumi ashi – 歩み 足 (あゆみ あし): alternating steps, left and right, like normal walking
Tsugi ashi – 次 足 (つぎ あし): following step, where the rear foot is brought up close to the front then the front foot moves forward to the normal kamai/hanmi distance
Okuri ashi – 送り 足 (おくり あし): sliding step, where the front foot is advanced then the rear foot brought forward to the normal Kamae/hanmi distance

Kaiten – 回転 (かいてん): 180 degrees turn, rotation in place (on the toes)
Irimi – 入り身 (いりみ): in to the body, inwards
Tenkan – 転換 (てんかん) or Tai no henkō – 体の変更 (たいのへんこう) or Tai no tenkan – 体の転換 (たいのてんかん): body turn
Irimi tenkan – 入り身 転換 (いりみ てんかん): entering and turning the body
Irimi-sokumen – 入り身 側面 (いりみ そくめん): lateral entering

Torifune – 取り船 (とりふね) or funekogi undō – 船漕ぎ 運動 (ふねこぎ うんどう): rowing exercise (undō 運動 means Motion or Exercices)
Furitama – 降り魂 (ふりたま): exercise to still ki
Some more about those two very important exercises is explained here!

Shihō-giri 一 四方切 : 4 direction cut
Happō-giri 一 八方切 : 8 direction cut

Ikkyo shihōgiri 一教 四方切 : 4 direction movement with Ikkyo entrance
Shomen uchi shihōgiri 正面 打ち 四方切 : 4 direction movement performing Shomenuchi strike
Ikkyo Happōgiri 一教 八方切 : 8 direction movement with Ikkyo entrance
Shomen uchi happōgiri 正面 打ち 八方切 : 8 direction movement performing Shomenuchi strike

Ikkyo undō 一教運動 : enter with both arms forward in the tegatana (手刀) position, used also in combination of previous shihōgiri or happōgiri movements (or maybe better, using the expression: 第一教 Dai-ikkyō undō, as again nicely explained here)

  • Sōtai dōsa – 相対 動作 (そうたい どうさ): practice with a partner

General terms:

Suwariwaza – 座り技 (すわりわざ): sitting training
Tachiwaza – 立ち技 (たちわざ): standing training (corrected thanks to David’s comment below!)
Hanmi handachiwaza – 半身 半立ち技 (はんみ はんだちわざ): sitting versus standing

Jiyu waza : free techniques from free attack

Futaridori : defense against 2 attacker holding statically with grabbing techniques
Futarigake : defense against 2 attacker using dynamic striking or grabbing techniques

Tantodori 短刀取り: disarming techniques against knife attack
Tachidori 太刀取り: disarming techniques against sword attack
Jodori 杖取り: disarming techniques against stick attack
Jonage 杖投げ: defense techniques using the stick actively to throw the attacker (whose intention is taking the stick from you)



[A quite new page has been a very good fresh and useful reference, especially in order to put in words what I usually do on the mats.. in understandable words!]

Ikkyo 一教 : first principle, control of the elbow
Nikkyo 二教 : second principle, control of the wrist
Sankyo 三教 : third principle, a rotational wristlock that directs upward-spiraling tension throughout the arm, elbow and shoulder
Yonkyo 四教 : forth principle, similar to Ikkyo, controlling uke by applying contact to radial nerve points on the forearm
Gokkyo 五教 : fifth principle, defense from knife attack

Sumiotoshi 隅落 : corner drop, move the contact with the partner to the blind point

Shihonage 四方投げ : four-direction throw

Kotegaeshi 小手返し : wristlock-throw

Iriminage  入身投げ : entrance throw

Kokyunage 呼吸投げ : literally, breath throw, a system of throwing techniques by using more center and hips and relaxation than locks for unbalance the opponent, and then terminating by projection

Tenchinage : literally, heaven and earth throw where tori unbalance uke bu extending one arm completely upward and the other completely downward

Kaiten nage 回転投げ : a group of Kokyunage techniques using the foot movement kaiten – 2 versions:

  • Uchi kaiten nage (内回転投げ), “inside” throw, tori enters between uke‘s arm and uke‘s body (内 means inside, internal, inner)
  • Soto kaiten nage (外回転投げ), “outside” throw, tori stays on the side of uke‘s arm and uke‘s body (外 means outer, outside, external)

Koshinage 腰投げ : hip throw, similar to Judo

Jujinage 十字投げ : cross arm throw


Weapon Practice:

Bukiwaza 武器技 : “Weapons technique.” Generic term for weapons practice

Tantō 短刀 : Dagger or knife (practice tantō is made from wood).

Bokken 木剣 : Wooden practice sword (also called bokutō 木刀)

Tachi 太刀 : Sword (antiquated term)

Ken 剣 : Sword

杖 : Wooden staff (typically 50” to 56” long)

The following are the 5 stances of weapon work: jōdan, chūdan, gedan, hassō and waki – originally form kendo but of course applicable to all sword and also short staff practice; some also used in naginata and long staff

  • Jōdan-gamae 上段構え : A sword stance. Jōdan is upper-level. In jōdan-gamae, the sword is raised up so that the hilt is held in front of the forehead and the tip points obliquely behind toward the sky
  • Chūdan-no-kamae (chūdan-gamae) 中段の構え : A sword stance. Chūdan means mid-level. In chūdan-gamae, the tip of the sword is pointed toward the base of the opponent’s throat
  • Gedan-no-kamae (gedan-gamae) 下段の構え : A sword stance. Gedan means lower level. The tip of the sword is lowered so that it points toward the ground
  • Hassō-no-kamae 八相の構え : “all (eight) directions” stance, it is an offensive stance, named for one’s ability to respond to a situation in any direction
  • Waki-gamae 脇構え : a stance involving the swordsman hiding the length of one’s own blade behind their body, only exposing the pommel to the opponent. This stance was common when there was no standard length of sword and was often used as a deterrent to any opponents who did not know the range of the sword being hidden and could be used as a sort of bluff technique. It also serves to conceal the orientation of the blade to one’s opponent, as to give him no hint about your own intention for the next attack

Tachidori 太刀取り : Sword take-away technique (generic)

Tachiware 太刀割れ : The act of “splitting the sword.” Describes a sword strike that displaces an opponent’s sword to take the center line

Jōdori 杖取り : Jō takeaway techniques

Jōnage 杖投げ : Throwing techniques executed with the jō

Tantōdori 短刀取り : Knife take-way technique (generic)

Kumijō 組杖 : Paired stick (Jo) practice of pre-established kata or forms

Kumitachi 組太刀 : Paired sword practice of pre-established kata or forms


*** 合気道 *** 合気道 *** 合気道 *** 合気道 *** 合気道 ***

External Credits:

In the years that this glossary has existed I have used several sources (and recently I checked and all my original once had disappeared! ) but recently I found a few more links that proved useful (besides all the great comments and corrections received below).

Just to name a few (hoping their links are not going to be removed any time soon, for all to consult):

Wikipedia of course 😉

Aikido Schools of Ueshiba

Northwestern University Aikido Club


24 responses

27 08 2008
Jan-Olof Helm

This is a great Aikido glossary, thank you.
Just wanted to point out that the numbers 4, 7 and 9 have two different names each in Japanese.

4: shi 四 (し) / yon 四 (よん)

7: shichi 七 (しち) – [shich(i)] / nana 七 (なな)

9: ku 九 (く) / kyū 九 (きゅう) 


27 08 2008

Thanks a lot!!

I left out the different readings because in the counting usually you don’t say yon or nana, even if ku/kyu is more used!

Also it is a page i made for the beginners in the club where i practice: i learnt to not give too many info too soon!! 🙂

Anyway, you are perfectly right, and thanks again for the visit!!
Still A LOT must be done for the glossary.. but i wanted to have both the reading and the japanese!

Any other suggestion will be more than welcomed!!


31 08 2008
Jan-Olof Helm

I found an error in your glossary (actually a friend of mine found it).

Uchi – 内 (うち): hit

Although that kanji is pronounced uchi it means middle, inside or home.
The spelling for uchi as in “hit” is, as you know (since you use it everywhere else), 打ち.


31 08 2008


I corrected it now..

Thanks your friend too!!!


15 05 2009

Very Good Glossary. Really GJ!!

Liked by 1 person

25 04 2010
Carlos Enguis

Jan-Olof Helm wrote:
“Uchi – 内 (うち): hit
Although that kanji is pronounced uchi it means middle, inside or home.
The spelling for uchi as in “hit” is, as you know (since you use it everywhere else), 打ち”.

The kanji for “hit is 打ち, as in shomenuchi.
The kanji for home is 内, as in uchi kaitennage

Liked by 1 person

25 04 2010
Carlos Enguis

I forget to say that you have done a great job, nice glossary!!!

Liked by 1 person

3 02 2011

Thank you very much, you rock, couldn´t find this written in both english and japanese anywhere. Thank you!

Liked by 1 person

2 08 2011
Sudarshana Mitra

its really an asset…very informative…..

Liked by 1 person

3 08 2011
Sudarshana Mitra

If one questions me
On the Japanese spirit,
I answer it is
Like the wild cherry blossoms
Shining in the morning sun.

Liked by 1 person

23 09 2011

Thanks to all the last comments!
Always working to improve this, that it is mainly meant as my personal reference!!


30 01 2012


“Shikko – しっこ: knee walking”, here the correct term is “Shikkō, 膝行(しっこう), which is “膝行 しっこう (n,vs) moving forward by sliding on one’s knees (in the presence of high-ranking individuals)” according to the dictionary.

Liked by 1 person

30 01 2012

Thanks a lot Ultramarino!!

I have to review some of the other voices as well, I am sure I lost here and there some of the “ō”!


30 01 2012

You’re welcome, this vocabulary is great, I hope it keeps growing better!

Liked by 1 person

4 03 2012
Joseverson Goulart

Carlos Enguis wrote:
The kanji for home is 内, as in uchi kaitennage
*** It is not correct.
The correct Kanji for home is 家 also read Uchi.
The kanji 内 (meaning inside, internal, inner)… This is “Uchi” in 内回転投げ Uchi kaiten nage.

Ultramarino wrote:
“Shikko – しっこ: knee walking” here the correct term is “Shikkô,膝行(しっこう), which is (n,vs) moving forward by sliding on one’s knees (in the presence of high-ranking individuals)” according to the dictionary.
*** (^_^)
In fact, the word Shikko without diacritical sign above last “o” (that shows japanese long vowel) means “to pee”, “to wee wee”!
“Moving forward by sliding on one’s knees” is Shikkō.

Happō-giri literally means “Cuts in eight directions” where:
八 Hachi – 8.
方 Hō – Direction(s).
切 Kiri – To cut.

Ikkyō undō 一教運動 literally means “Exercices of Ikkyō”, where:
一 Ichi – “One”
教 Kyō – “Teaching”
運動 undō – “Motion or Exercices”
I would use 第一教 Dai-ikkyō, because “Ikkyō” by itself means “teaching one” and Dai-ikkyō would be “First teaching”.
In this context we have to make a very very brief explanation on japanese cardinal and ordinal numbers:

一 Ichi – One
二 Ni – Two
三 San – Three
四 Yon – Four

第一 Dai-ichi – First
第二 Dai-ni – Second.
第三 Dai-san – Third
第四 Dai-yon – Fourth

Easy, huh?

Liked by 1 person

4 04 2020

Long delayed but I wanted to thank you for comment and for stopping by. I am finally reviewing and updating the glossary. I have to deeply thank all the contributions.


15 03 2012
Aaron Greller

This is absolutely fantastic, thank you so much.

Liked by 1 person

9 11 2017
David Chaisson

hi is tachiwaza supposed to be written 立ち技?

Liked by 1 person

9 11 2017

I’ll check and get back to you! I’m not an expert, using different sources to put together something mainly for myself. Thanks for stoping by and commenting! Cheers


9 11 2017
David Chaisson

cool thanks. Just to let you know this page has been a very helpful reference for me thank you so much for creating it.

Liked by 1 person

15 12 2017

corrected now.. sorry for the delay (I double checked with Japanese friends..). If you have more corrections, please let me know.
Next year I’ll do some improvements!
Have a great end of the year!


28 12 2018
Richard Thompson

I wondered if you would mind amending one of your English spellings … “shite” should be written as “shi’te” or “shtay”, “shite” is actually an alternate spelling/pronunciation of an English swear word

Liked by 1 person

3 01 2019

It took sometime to find what you refer to! OK, I will change the spelling.. I did not think about it at all when writing 🙂
thanks! happy new year!


17 01 2022

The link for the Northwestern University Aikido Club appears to also be that of the Aikido Schools of Ueshiba. I couldn’t find a correct link to offer you.


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