Glossary and Pronunciation of Aikido Terms

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This glossary has been compiled by the Takemusu Aikido Association and is a work in progress.


A reminder as to pronunciation - The five Japanese vowels are:  

A - The letter "a" always represents a sound not unlike the American "a" in "father".

I - The letter "i" almost always represents a sound quite like the American "ee" in "feet", not "i"    in "fit". I said "almost". There is one minor exception, which will be explained later.

U - The letter "u" in Japanese almost always represents a sound like the "oo" in "fool", not "u" in "full". Again there's one minor exception.

E - The letter "e" always represents a sound quite like the "e" in "pet".

O - The letter "o" always represents a sound quite like the initial portion of the American "o" in "so”. 

The most important thing to note is that each letter almost always represents one single vowel sound. (There's one minor exception for "i" and another for "u".) In English, the "i" in "sit" and the "i" in "site" represent quite different vowels. This type of wild variation never occurs in Japanese. 

The “R” in Japanese is very hard to pronounce. We are borrowing information from the as follows:

In Japanese, there are five syllables containing the ‘R’ sound: ら ra り ri る ru れ re ろ ro. The Japanese ‘R’ is probably one of the trickiest consonant to pronounce because it is very different from the English ‘R’. However, it is not actually difficult!

If you speak American English, think of how you pronounce the ‘T’ sound in water, letter, meter, cutter, and so on. You probably pronounce it soft, while a British English speaker would pronounce it sharp. That soft ‘T’ sound (called “flap T”) is similar to the Japanese ‘R’ sound.

When you pronounce ら ra り ri る ru れ re ろ ro, the tip of your tongue lightly touches or flaps right above the back of your front teeth. This is certainly different from how we pronounce the English ‘R’ because the tip of your tongue does not touch anywhere.

HU” This is another difficult pronunciation for American English speakers. But it is rarely used in Aikido terminology, so we will not address this sound.



Agatsu - victory over self. Commonly used in the phrase “masakatsu agatsu

Ai hanmi - both partners have the same foot forward to begin a technique

Aiki - uniting ki with partner/attacker

Aikido - the way of harmonizing life’s energy

Aikidoka - person who practices aikido

Aiki jinja - shrine dedicated to the Aiki spirit

Aiki jo - short staff used as part of Ri-ai. The length is approximately 4 ft. 2 inches long, 1 inch in diameter

Aikikai - organization for Aikido under the Ueshiba Family

Aiki ken - wooden sword used in Aikido as part of Ri-ai; practice of aiki using the wooden sword

Aiki otoshi - aiki drop; throw

Aiki taiso - aikido related exercises/warm ups

Aite - depending on kanji written, this could mean partner, but classically means opponent

Ai uchi - mutual strike; it is striking (kendo) without the fear of being hit

Ashi - leg or foot

Atemi - strike or feint to a weak point or area

Awase - blended/harmonious movement (same character as Ai in Aikido)


Barai/harai - parry or warding off

Bokken -  wooden training sword. Also known as bokuto

Bukiwaza - weapons training/techniques

Bokuto - wooden sword. Term is most commonly used in Japanese (outside of the Ibaragi Dojo)

Butsukaru - colliding vs awaseru (harmonizing) with your attacker


Chikara - strength/force

Choku - direct

Choku tsuki - direct thrust

Chudan - middle position; compared to jodan (high) position; gedan (low) position


Dai - great/important. ex.-Dai Ikkyo

Dame - wrong; incorrect

Dan - level, black belt rank

Deshi -  student; disciple

Do - the way; can be read as michi

Dogi - clothes used when training; also keikogi

Dojo - training hall; lit. hall of the way

Dojo cho - head of the training hall or dojo

Dori - same as tori; to grab or hold or catch

Dosa - action or movement

Doshu - leader of the way; head of the Aikikai


Embukai - public demonstration of martial arts


Fudo shin - immovable mind

Fukushidoin - assistant instructor; aikido 2 to 3 dan minimum

Funakogi undo - rowing exercise, as if pushing and pulling a Japanese oar. Ame no torifune

Furi kaburu - raising the hands above the head (the same movement as raising a sword)

Futari dori/futari gake - two persons holding/attacking; see ni nin dori/gake


Gaeshi/kaeshi - returning/reversed

Gamseki otoshi - rock drop throw

Gasshuku - training camp. Retreat or camp where everyone lives eats and trains together

Gedan - low (position); vs chudan (middle position) and jodan (high position) ready postures

Gokyo - fifth teaching

Goshin Jitsu - self defense techniques

Gyaku - reverse, opposite

Gyakute Dori - cross handed grab or hold; see kosa

Gyaku hanmi - partners have the opposite foot forward, i.e. right foot to left foot


Hajime - begin; start

Hanmi - ‘half body’. Common usage refers to the triangular stance which is unique to Aikido

Hanmi handachi - Nage is sitting (shikko-style) and uke is standing and attacking

Happo - eight directions

Happo Giri - eight directions cutting

Hakama - loose skirt with many pleats in the front, worn by "black belt" Aikidoka (Some schools wear hakama even at lower levels)

Harai/barai - sweep or parry

Henka waza - variation of a technique

Hidari - left (vs. right)

Hiji - elbow; see sode

Hito e mi - turning the body so that it is parallel to the strike or thrust. Lit.-“one layer of the body”

Ho - method

Ho - direction (different kanji)

Hombu dojo - ‘headquarters’ dojo. Note: all martial arts can have a ‘headquarters’. Aikido’s hombu dojo is known as the “Aikikai Hombu Dojo


Ibaragi Shibu dojo - formerly known as the ‘Iwama’ dojo. Shibu means branch.

Ikkyo - first teaching

Irimi - ‘enter body'. The body enters into the attack

Irimi nage - entering throw…enter deeply behind the attacker

Iwama - name of the town where Morihei Ueshiba lived and had his dojo. The Aiki Shrine is across the street from his home/dojo


Jiyu waza - free style attacks and techniques/techniques and attacks without being pre-set

Jo - short staff about 4ft 2 inches in length and about 1 inch in diameter (see aiki jo)

Jo awase - skills practice with a partner; 13 jo awase

Jodan - high position. See chudan and gedan.

Jo dori jo - taking or disarming an attacker empty handed

Jo kata jo - forms-13 jo kata; 31 jo kata

Ju - ten (number)

Jujigarami - ‘figure ten- entwining’. M. Saito Sensei used this term.

Juji jime - cross handed choke using the lapels

Jujinage - same technique as above. The meaning is: ‘figure ten throw’

Jusan no kata - 13 count jo movement


Kaeshi/gaeshi - returning/reversing

Kaeshi waza  - counter or reversal techniques

Kaiso -  founder (of Aikido…Morihei Ueshiba)

Kaiten nage - circulating or rotating throw

Kakari geiko - attackers line up and come in one at a time

Kakudo - angle

Kamae - ‘en garde’ position or ‘ready’ posture

Kami - divinity; gods/spirits of Shinto

Kamiza - honorary place in the dojo; usually in the ‘front’. Compare to shomen

Kampai - cheers; a toast

Kan - intuition

Kangeiko - winter training on the coldest days of the year

Kanji - Chinese ideograms for the Japanese language

Kansetsu - joint (in body)

Kata - form (movements)

Kata - shoulder (different kanji)

Katadori - grabbing the do-gi at the shoulder

Katadori - grip at the shoulder, then nage ‘calls out’ the uke in shomen uchi

Menuchi Katai - solid/hard grip or hold by uke in practice

Katame waza - pinning techniques; controlling techniques

Katana - Japanese sword-also called ken, to, or tachi

Katate - one handed

Katatedori uke  - holds the wrist with one hand in gyaku hanmi

Katsu Hayabi - right now; this moment; often used in the phrase, “masakatsu agatsu katsuhayabi

Keiko - training

Keiko gi - training uniform or outfit

Ken - sword; also called katana, to or tachi

Ki - energy; life energy

Kiai - a piercing shout in martial arts

Kihon - basic(s)

Kihonwaza - basic training or basic techniques

Kimeru - focus

Kimusubi - unifying one’s ki with the attacker

Kimusubi No Tachi - sixth kumitachi; the bokken do not make contact during the form; also otonashi no ken (silent sword)

Ki no nagare - ‘ki’ flow movement practice

Kogeki - attacker

Kokoro - heart, mind, will; also shin

Kokyu - breath

Kokyu ryoku - spiral (breath) strength; breath power

Kokyu-ho - breath training

Kokyu nage - breath throw

Kosa - cross over (same as gyakute, aihanmi, katatedori)

Kosa dori - cross over hold; in aihanmi

Koshi - hip, back

Koshinage - hip throw, nage and uke’s bodies form a cross at the hip level

Kotegaeshi - reversed wrist, throw

Kototama - Sometimes ‘kotodama’. Sound mysticism/ cosmology. ‘Sound creates reality’

Ku - nine (number); sometimes pronounced kyu

Kubi - neck

Kubishime - choking the neck

Kuden - oral teaching/tradition, also Okuden

Kumi - group or set

Kumi jo - jo vs jo exercise (10)

Kumi tachi - bokken vs bokken exercise (6)

Kuzushi - breaking the balance (unbalancing direction)

Kyo - for instance, Ikkyo; kyo means lesson or teaching or principle. Ikkyo is first principle or teaching

Kyu - grade or level before black belt or dan


Ma - distance or space between attacker and receiver

Ma-ai - harmonious space between training partners

Mae - front, forward vs. ushiro

Mae ukemi - front rolls or falls

Masakatsu - true victory

Men - top of head

Michi - the way, path or road; also do

Migi - right (hidari, left)

Misogi - purification, cleansing

Mokuso - meditation

Moro - both

Morote dori - grasping the forearm with two hands

Morote dori Kokyu ho - uke holds with two hands on forearm, nage develops kokyu ryoku

Muna - from the traditional name munamotodori or grasping the lapel of the kimono

Mune - chest, same as above; used interchangeably

Munedori - gripping the lapel at the chest level; same as munadori

Musubi - binding together; for instance in ki musubi no tachi


Nagare - flow; flowing

Nage - throw; the thrower…the person doing the technique-tori

Nage waza - throwing techniques

Ni ju no suburi - 20 jo suburi

Nikyo - second teaching

Nin - person

Ni nin dori - two attackers holding

Ni nin gake - two person attack


O - big, great

Obi - Japanese belt

Omote - (in front) front, vs. ura

Osae - press or pin down

OSensei - in the Aikido world, it is Morihei Ueshiba; means great teacher

Otagai ni rei-  bow to each other; direction to bow to each other

Otoshi - drop; such as aiki otoshi, sumi otoshi or ganseki otoshi

Oyo waza - application of the basics; often modified for efficiency


Randori - multiple attackers; means ‘grabbing hold of chaos’ or controlling chaos

Rei - bow

Reigi - etiquette

Renshu - training or practice. See keiko

Riai - the movement and principles are the same whether using bokuto, jo or body arts

Ritsurei - standing bow

Rokkyo - sixth teaching

Ryo - both

Rupo kata dori-uke - holds both shoulders of dogi

Ryo-te dori uke - holds both wrists with both hands


Sabaki - management or control; as in tai sabaki or body control

San ju ichi no jo - 31 count jo form

Sankaku - triangle

Sankyo - third teaching

Seiza - sitting Japanese style on the knees

Sensei - teacher - literally the one who has gone before

Shiboru - to wring or squeeze (a towel); the kokyu motion of the wrists

Shidoin - instructor as awarded by Aikikai hombu dojo. Minimum 4th or 5th dan plus has own dojo.

Shihan - master instructor. Minimum 6th dan.

Shiho - four directions

Shikko - knee walking

Shite - the one leading, defender in Aikido… also called tori or nage

Shomen - front of the dojo; straight ahead

Shomen uchi - straight overhead strike

Sode - sleeve of do-gi

Sode dori - grasping the sleeve. See hiji dori

Sode guchi - sleeve opening

Sode guchi dori - grasping the cuff of the sleeve

Sokumen irimi nage - side iriminage

Soto - outside

Suburi - basic movement of bokken and jo; seven for bokken and 20 for the jo

Sumi otoshi - corner throw

Suwari waza - seated training


Tachi - sword

Tachi - stand/standing

Tachi dori - empty handed sword taking

Tai - body

Tai jutsu - body techniques, empty handed techniques

Tai no henko - body turn; the Founder always started practice with tai no henko

Tai sabaki - evasive body movement; lit. "body management"

Takemusu Aiki - highest principle of Aikido, spontaneous techniques arise when attacked

Tanren - forging techniques

Tanto/tanken - Japanese knife

Tanto/tanken dori - bare handed knife takeaway

Te - hand

Tegatana - hand sword; basic hand position

Tekubi - wrist

Tenkan - turning

Tenchi nage - heaven and earth throw

Tou - sword-compare to ken, katana, tachi

Tobu ukemi - leaping break fall

Tori - person who ‘takes’ or ‘grabs’ the attack. Compare to Nage, Shiite

Tori fune Undo - rowing exercise. Lit. ‘bird boat’ the heavenly boat that traversed the skies from  earth to heaven and back again. Also funakogi undo

Tsuka - sword hilt

Tsuki - thrust


Uchi - hit

Uchi - inside, also implies hidden or ‘house’ teachings

Uchi desshi - student living in the dojo

Uchi tachi - attacker with the sword (kumi tachi)

Ude - arm

Uke - one receiving the technique; the attacker

Uke tachi - person receiving sword attack (kumi tachi)

Ukemi - the one who takes falls and pins after the attack

Ura - back or to the rear (vs omote)

Ushiro - behind vs mae or in front

Ushiro eri tori - one hand holding the nape of the collar from behind

Ushiro katate Kubishime/Munadori - one hand holding the wrist from behind then holding the neck or material at chest

Ushiro ryokata Dori - two hands holding both shoulders from behind

Ushiro ryote Dori - two hands holding both wrists from behind

Ushiro ukemi - backward falls


Waka sensei - young master; designated next Doshu

Waza - technique


Yamabiko - calling out the ‘ki’ of an attack or inviting (sasoi); Saito Sensei called it Yamabiko no Michi

Yawarakai - soft; flexible

Yoko - side

Yokomen Uchi - strike to side of the head

Yonkyo - fourth teaching

Yudansha - black belt


Za - seated

Zanshin - continued concentration and connection after the technique

Zengo - turning one direction then another. Front then back



Morihiro Saito Shihan's Ni ju no suburi (20 Suburi)



Choku Tsuki - direct thrust

Kaeshi Tsuki - counter thrust

Ushiro Tsuki - rear thrust

Tsuki Gedan Gaeshi - thrust, retract to a low position and sweep/strike low

Tsuki Jodan Gaeshi - thrust, retract to high position over the head and strike down



Shomen Uchi Komi - striking straight down

Renzoku Uchi Komi - continuous strike

Shomen Uchi Gedan Gaeshi - strike retract low, sweep/strike low

Shomen Uchi Ushiro Tsuki - strike then thrust to rear

Gyaku Yokomen Ushiro Tsuki - reverse strike thrust to rear



Katate Gedan Gaeshi - one handed sweeping strike from low to high

Katate Toma Uchi - one handed sweeping strike from high to low

Hachi no Ji Gaeshi - one handed figure 8 motion (the kanji for 8, not "8")



Hasso Gaeshi Uchi - (Japanese) figure 8 move, then strike

Hasso Gaeshi Tsuki - figure 8 move, thrust forward

Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Tsuki - figure 8 move, then thrust to rear

Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Uchi - figure 8 move, then strike to rear

Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Barai - figure 8 move, then sweep to rear



Hidari Nagare Gaeshi Uchi - Strike, turn left and strike again

Migi Nagare Gaeshi Tsuki - Step and strike, turn right and then thrust