Shotokan Karate Glossary

Basic Shotokan Karate Glossary


  • Belt Ranking – The belt a student wears is color-coded to indicate his or her progress in Karate. For specifics, see our rankings page.
  • Dojo – “School” or place where one trains.
  • Gichin Funakoshi – The founder of Shotokan Karate
  • Japan Karate Association (JKA) – The JKA is the largest and most prestigious karate organization in the world. Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, the JKA oversees many schools of Japanese martial arts.
  • Karate – “Empty Hand” – a form of self-defense taught without the use of weapons.
  • Kata – Sometimes referred to in other styles as “Forms”, a Kata is a series of movements put together into an imaginary battle against multiple opponents. Its purpose is to teach coordination of movement from one technique to another.
  • Kumite – Sparring – the act of training with an opponent.
  • Senpai – “Senior student” – assists the Sensei with teaching and instruction.
  • Sensei – An instructor of karate
  • Shotokan Tiger – The symbol of Shotkan <!–
  • –>


From the neck up: Jodan level
From the neck down to the belt: Chudan level
From the belt down: Gedan level
Left: Hidari
Right: Migi

Karate Stances: (Dachi)

Natural Stance: Shizen Tai
Formal (attention) Stance (feet together): Heisoku Dachi
Heels Together (feet at a 45° angle): Musubi Dachi
Front Stance: Zenkutsu Dachi
Side (horse-riding) Stance: Kiba Dachi
Back Stance: Kokutsu Dachi
Half Moon Stance: Hangetsu Dachi
Rooted Stance: Sochin Dachi
Cat Stance: Neko-Ashi Dachi
Hourglass Stance: Sanchin Dachi


Fist: Seiken
Punch: Zuki
Step-in (Lunge) Punch: Oi-Zuki
Reverse Punch: Gyaku-Zuki
Jab: Kizami-Zuki
Triple Punch: San Bon Zuki
Spear Hand: Nukite
Back Fist: Ura-ken
Elbow: Empi
Heel of Palm: Teisho
Mountain Punch: Yama zuki


Front Snap Kick: Mae Geri
Round-house Kick: Mawashi Geri
Side Snap Kick: Yoko Geri Keage
Side Thrust Kick: Yoko Geri Kekomi
Back Kick: Ushiro Geri
Foot/Leg Sweep: Ashi Barai
Hook Kick: Ushiro Mawashi Geri
Front Leg Front Kick: Mae Ashi Mae Geri
Front Leg Round-house Kick: Mae Ashi Mawashi Geri


Downward Block: Gedan Barai
Rising Block: Age Uke
Knife-hand Block: Shuto Uke
Outside Block (middle block): Soto Uke
Inside-outside Block: Uchi Uke
Reinforced Inside-outside Block: Morote Uke

Other Karate Terms:

Dan: Black Belt Ranks
Dojo: Training Room/Hall/Gym
Dojo Kun: Principles of the Dojo
Gi: Karate Uniform
Gohon Kumite: Five-step Sparring
Gyakuhanmi: Reverse Half-face (hips twisted to the reverse side)
Haito: Ridge Hand
Hajime: Start, Begin
Hanmi: Half-face (hips to the side)
Ippon Kumite: One-step Sparring
Kamae: Take Position
Kata: Formal Exercise (forms)
Kiai: Focusing Yell
Kihon: Basics, Basic Training
Kime: Focus
Kumite: Sparring
Kyu: Belt ranks below black belt
Mawatte: Turn Around
Mokuso: Meditation, “close your eyes”
Rei: Bow
Ren zuki: Double Punch
Sanbon Kumite: Three-step Sparring
Sanbon zuki: Triple Punch
Seiza: Kneeling (proper kneeling position)
Sempai: Senior Karate Student
Sensei: Instructor/Teacher
Sensei Ni Rei: Bow to the Instructor
Shomen: Front (of the dojo), hips straight/facing front
Shomen Ni Rei: Bow to the front
Obi: Belt
Oss: Acknowledgement, hello, yes
Otogai Ni Rei: Bow to each other
Uchi: Strike
Yame: Stop, Recover
Yoi: Ready Position (a command to take ready stance)


Seiretsu Line Up
Seiza Sit Down
Makso Close Your Eyes for Meditation
Yame Open Your Eyes
Shomen Ni Rei Bow to the School
Sensei Ni Rei Bow to the Teacher


  1. Seek Perfection of Character
  2. Be Faithful
  3. Endeavor to Excel
  4. Respect Others
  5. Refrain From Violent Behavior


Ichi One
Ni Two
San Three
Shi (Yon) Four
Go Five
Rokku Six
Sichi Seven
Hachi Eight
Ku Nine
Ju Ten


  • Heian Shodan
  • Heian Nidan
  • Heian Sandan
  • Heian Yondan
  • Heian Godan
  • Tekki Shodan
  • Bassai Dai
  • Kanku Dai
  • Empi
  • Jion
  • Hangetsu
  • Jitte
  • Gankaku
  • Tekki Nidan
  • Tekki Sandan
  • Nijushiho
  • Chinte
  • Sochin
  • Meikyo
  • Unsu
  • Bassai Sho
  • Kanku Sho
  • Wankan
  • Gojushiho Sho
  • Gojushiho Dai


Heian Peaceful Mind
Tekki Iron Horse
Bassai Storm a Fortress
Kanku Viewing the Sky
Empi Flying Swallow
Jion (named after a Buddhist Temple in China)
Hangetsu Half Moon
Jitte 10 Hands
Gankaku Crane on a Rock
Nijushiho 24 Steps
Chinte Incredible Hands
Sochin Preserve Peace
Meikyo Mirror of the Soul
Unsu Hands of the Cloud
Wankan Crown of a King
Gojushiho 54 Steps





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