These are the Japanese-language terms students are most likely to encounter during practice under Aikido Schools of Ueshiba instructors. Glossary terms can be sorted by a number of categories by using the drop-down menu.
Select glossary terms regarding:
|The character 合 ai means “to meet” or “to come into conformity with.” 氣 ki is energy, especially the universal, primordial energy that moves all of nature and is the basis of human vitality. The term aiki has a long history and is used in different arts and by different teachers to mean different things, but the founder’s use implies not just a way of practice but a way of living that is in alignment and conformity with universal principles. The founder: “Aiki is the primordial movement echoing from the universal fabric of creation and taught by the gods. To enact aiki is to invoke that universal echo and its infinite power. The universe is our teacher; everything there is to learn, we learn from it, and we must ever return to it and to act in unity with it. And we must evolve as the universe evolves. By living in this way, we cultivate the growth and development of the universal fabric of creation within our own bodies”.
|Thank you very much. In its literal or etymological meaning, arigatō means “too good to be true.” So, when you thank someone, you are telling them that their kindness, too good to be true, is like a miracle.
|Foot or leg. Often used to indicate the leg as a target for a sword cut.
|Preemptive strike, usually delivered by nage to control uke or cause him to react.
|Wooden practice sword (also called bokutō).
|Also read as ‘take’, as in ‘take-musu’ (see below). Seldom used alone, the character means military or martial. Etymologically, it derives from the combination of two characters, one meaning spear and the other meaning to walk; thus, “advancing with the spear.” However, in the way that it is written, “to walk” has morphed into “to stop,” thus implying that the true purpose of martial or military discipline is to stop aggression or to keep the peace.
|Literally, the martial way. Budō is the study of the martial arts as a way of life, implying moral and spiritual aspects as well as physical aspects of martial discipline. The Founder: “Displaying physical strength or brandishing dangerous weapons with the intention of bringing down other human beings is not representative of budō, any more than is the advocacy of weapons of mass destruction that can only lead the world toward ruin. True budō is the way of bringing forth order, preserving world peace, and protecting and cultivating growth and development in the natural world.”.
|“Weapons technique.” Generic term for weapons practice.
|Warrior (often used synonymously with samurai).
|The way of the warrior, or chivalry (see budō).
|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.
|A black belt rank or degree.
|The moment of meeting (of people or forces). Used in training to signify the first moment of contact (intentional contact before physical), the moment of truth.
|Disciple or follower; dedicated student of one teacher.
|Trunk or torso. Often used to indicate the torso as a target for a sword cut.
|Path or way (also read michi).
|Training uniform (also called keikogi).
|A place of practice where the way is revealed. A place for the strengthening and refinement of spirit, mind and body.
|Head of the dojo.
|A misogi or purification exercise that imitates rowing or the drawing of oars. See also torifune-no-gyō.
|A misogi or purification exercise often practiced right after funakogi-undō.
|A sword stance. Gedan means lower-level. Same as waki-gamae [hyperlink].
|A sword stance. Gedan means lower level. The tip of the sword is lowered so that it points toward the ground.
|To respond to an attack after it is initiated. (See sen-no-sen and sen-sen-no-sen).
|5th degree black belt.
|“Fifth teaching.” The fifth technique in the osaewaza curriculum.
|8th degree black belt.
|Wide, pleated pants worn over the dōgi (usually black or dark blue).
|“Half-body” stance. The basic triangular stance of Aikido where one foot is forward and the other, back but pointed diagonally.
|“Half-body, half-standing.” A training configuration where nage is seated and executes techniques against a standing uke.
|Lower abdomen, center of body mass, source of physical power and breath. More formally called seika-tanden.
|A non-standard technique.
|“Elbow throw.” Part of the nagewaza curriculum.
|“Elbow pin.” Part of the osaewaza curriculum; sometimes called rokkyō.
|The Aikikai Foundation dōjō in Tokyo (hombu means headquarters).
|“Each moment, always the first.” Expression of the reality that each moment comes only once; there are no second chances.
|“First teaching.” The first technique in the osaewaza curriculum.
|1st degree, prior to black belt (kyu ranks begin at six and work up to one).
|The aikido principle of entering inside of and moving through an attack.
|A throw executed from irimi. Part of the nagewaza curriculum.
|A practice were nage responds freely, with any technique and without prior agreement, to uke’s attacks. In jiyūwaza, the attack is usually prescribed (for example, shōmen-uchi or yokomen-uchi), as opposed to randori, where attacks are random.
|Wooden staff (typically 50” to 56” long).
|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.
|A sword stance. Jōdan is upper-level. Hassō is eight aspects, meaning the sword is ready to cut in any of the eight directions. In jōdan-hassō, the hilt of the sword is held in front of the right shoulder with the tip of the sword pointing directly overhead.
|Upper level thrust or strike. Can refer to a thrust with sword or jō toward the head or neck or to a fist strike to the face.
|Jō takeaway techniques.
|Throwing techniques executed with the jō.
|Jūji means the character for ten, written as a cross. In jūjinage, uke’s arms are crossed, like the character for ten. Part of the basic nagewaza curriculum.
|Kaiten means to turn or spin. A throwing technique that is part of the nagewaza curriculum.
|Stance, state of readiness.
|A god; a spiritual being or essence.
|A shelf or small platform carrying a small Shinto shrine. Inside the dojo, this refers to the shōmen.
|Seat of honor. If seated inside the dojo, the kamiza would be directly in front of the shomen.
|“The way of the gods.” Archaic name for Shintō.
|Method of camouflaging or concealing the movement of the sword so that the trajectory of the strike is different from what it appears to be. (Kasumi means mist or haze).
|A form; the formal aspect of a waza.
|Shoulder grab or hold.
|The practice of kata. Practice involving adherence to form.
|One hand grab or hold.
|Grab or hold of nage’s hand (wrist or forearm) with both hands.
|Victory in the moment; instantaneous victory.
|Practice or training.
|Training uniform (see dōgi).
|A martial shout (used to effect an opponent’s mind and to gain an advantage). Also, to be animated and energetic (literally, “to meet with ki”). Note: Kiai is generic; there are different kinds of kiai and different applications depending upon the circumstances and desired effect.
|“Foundational techniques.” The basic technical curriculum of aikido.
|Training junior (someone who started his or her training after you did yours).
|Breathing; the breath.
|“Way of developing the tanden or hara through the breath.” A practice (as opposed to a technique) usually performed seated and at the end of class.
|“Breath throw.” Part of the nagewaza curriculum. Kokyūnage is practiced both forward (uke is thrown forward, taking a forward roll) and backward (uke falls backward, taking a backward roll), each with an omete and an ura aspect.
|Cross-hand grab or hold (for example, uke grabs nage’s right wrist with his right hand).
|“Hip throw.” Koshinage is not one but a set of techniques where uke is thrown over nage’s hip. Part of the nagewaza curriculum.
|“Turning of the forearm” throw. Part og the nagewaza curriculum.
|“Soul or spirit of the word.” Kotodama is a traditional teaching of Shintō, wherein it is maintained that the word-sounds of the Japanese language are expressions of the primordial, spiritual essence of creation.
|Paired stick (Jo) practice of pre-established kataor forms.
|Paired sword practice of pre-established kata or forms.
|The act of destabilizing an opponent by disrupting his structure.
|A preliminary rank or degree (pre-black belt).
|9th degree black belt.
|The spacing and timing of an encounter. “Ma” means space or interval; “ai” means meeting. .
|Forward fall or roll.
|The quality of integrity, truthfulness, and sincerity of character.
|“Ten thousand years, first step;” always train as if you are taking your first step (similar to the concept of beginner’s mind).
|“Log bridge” (from 丸木 maruki, “log,” and 橋 hashi “bridge”). Used by Saotome Sensei as a metaphor for a situational encounter with an opponent where there is no escape and where the only way out is directly into and through the opponent’s attack.
|Masagatsu agatsu, katsuhayabi
|“Truse victory is victory over self, victory in the moment.” The phrase appears in the Kojiki, Japan’s most ancient chronical of the age of the gods, as the name of a diety.
|Fist strike or thrust (with a weapon) to the face.
|Gaze, expression of the eyes. During practice, the eyes should be alert and perceptive. Likewise, the readiness and alertness of an opponent can be gauged by the expression of his/her eyes.
|Rite of purification, as practiced in Shintō.
|Practitioner without black belt rank.
|Chest grab or hold (uke grabs the chest of nage’s dōgi).
|Fist strike or thrust (with a weapon) to the midsection or solar plexus.
|“No mind.” The state where the mind is alert but empty of thoughts.
|Connection. The physical, mental, and spiritual connection between nage and uke.
|“Thrower;” in partner practice, the role of the person executing the technique.
|“Throwing technique.” The generic term for any technique where uke is thrown, as distinguished from osaewaza, where uke is pinned.
|Nanadan (also Shichidan)
|7th degree black belt.
|2nd degree black belt.
|“Second teaching.” The second technique in the osaewaza curriculum.
|“Great Teacher.” An honorific title reserved for Ueshiba Morihei, the founder of aikido.
|Belt or sash tied over dōgi.
|Front. Omote-waza are techniques executed by entering to the opponent’s front-side.
|The frontal aspect of a technique (opposite of urawaza), generally involving an entry to uke’s front side. Where urawaza tend to be circular, omotewaza tend to be linear.
|Please. Uttered at the beginning of the class, it means “please teach me;” uttered to a training partner, it means “please train with me”.
|“Pinning technique.” The generic term for any technique where uke is rendered imobile with a pin, as distinguished from nagewaza, where uke is thrown.
|“Applied technique(s).” The application (including modification) of technique to particular circumstances and a particular attack.
|“Ran” means riotous or disorderly; “tori” means attack. In randori practice, uke may use any attack (as distinguished from jiyūwaza, where the attack is prescribed) and nage responds accordingly. Also, randori is usually practiced against multiple opponents.
|“Sixth teaching.” Part of the osaewaza curriculum, also called hijiosae.
|6th degree black belt.
|Hold, both shoulders.
|Hold, both hands.
|3rd degree black belt.
|“Third teaching.” The third technique in the osaewaza curriculum.
|A sword stance. Seigan means in front of the eyes; in seigan-no-kamae, the tip of the sword points slightly upwards towards the opponent’s eyes in such a way that, ideally, the opponent is unable to accurately judge how long the sword is or how far away its tip.
|Lower abdomen, center of body mass, and source of physical power and breath (see hara).
|Sitting position, legs folded and butt resting on the heels. Normally in seiza, the left big toe rests on top of the right.
|Training senior (someone who started his or her training before you did yours).
|To anticipate an attack and to take the initiative. (See go-no-sen and sen-sen-no-sen).
|To anticipate and take the initiative against sen-no-sen. (See sen-no-sen and go-no-sen).
|Cleansing or purification of the mind.
|First move; (to take the) initiative.
|Master instructor; usually the head of a lineage or school of affiliated dojos.
|“Four directions throw.” Part of the nagewaza curriculum.
|Movement (forewards, backwards, turning, and to oblique angles) on the knees from kneeling position.
|Practice sword made from split bamboo.
|Natural stance (as opposed to an assumed stance, such as hanmi).
|1st degree black belt.
|Frontal alcove or panel, typically carrying a picture of O-Sensei; also called kamidana.
|Open-handed, vertical strike to the forehead.
|A committed and dedicated student who commutes to the dojo for training (as opposed to “uchideshi,” live-in student).
|Outside turn (a turn to the outside, away from an opponent’s attack).
|“Corner throw.” Part of the nagewaza curriculum.
|“Seated technique.” The generic term for waza executed from a seated position against an also seated attacker (as opposed to hanmi-handachi, where nage is seated but uke is standing).
|Sword (antiquated term).
|Sword take-away technique (generic).
|The act of “splitting the sword.” Describes a sword strike that displaces an opponent’s sword to take the center line.
|The name given by the founder to a basic entering and turning exercise conducted against a one-hand wrist grab.
|“Physical arts;” empty-handed training (as opposed to bukiwaza).
|“Martial competance born of aiki,” the founder’s description of the ideal state of the martial arts, wherein one responds spontaneously and in complete harmony with the natural order to any situation or any set of circumstances. “Aiki has a form and does not have a form. Aiki is a life which has a form and still flows with the change; it expresses itself by changing itself. A form without a form is a word in a poem which expresses the universe limitlessly.”.
|Same as seika-tanden or hara.
|Dagger or knife (practice tantō is made from wood).
|Knife take-way technique (generic).
|Hand blade (hand open, fingers extended, as in shōmen-uchi or yokomen-uchi strikes).
|“Heaven and earth throw.” Part of the nagewaza curriculum.
|A pivot or turn. In aikido training, tenkan also refers to an entering turn against a one-hand wrist grab (see also tai-no-henkō).
|See funakogi-undō. Originally an ascetic, Shinto-based, purification practice, torifune-no-gyō was adopted into aikido training by the founder.
|Thrust or fist strike.
|Live-in student; a disciple living in the dojo or with the master and dedicating him or herself fulltime to the study of the art.
|Inside turn (a turn into or toward an opponent, usually with atemi). An uchimawari entry usually takes you inside and under your opponent’s attacking arm.
|“Receiver;” in partner practice, the role of the person executing the attack and receiving the technique.
|Fall, roll, or submission. Ukemi is, literally, the receptive or receiving body. (Outside of the martial arts, ukemi can also mean passive or passivity).
|Back (opposite of front). Ura-waza are techniques executed by entering to the opponent’s blind side or rear.
|The rear aspect of a technique (opposite of omotewaza), generally involving an entry to uke’s rear or blind side. Where omotewaza tend to be linear, urawaza tend to be circular.
|Backward fall, roll, or submission.
|Generic name for holds from behind.
|Flank or side.
|A sword stance. In wakigamae, left leg is forward, right leg is back, and the sword is held to the side pointing toward the rear so that the sword blade is partially or fully concealed by the right leg.
|“Technique.” Any of the formal methods of throwing or pinning uke performed in aikido.
|Open-handed, diagonal strike to the temple, side of the face, or side of the neck.
|4th degree black belt.
|“Fourth teaching.” The fourth technique in the osaewaza curriculum.
|Practitioner possessing black belt rank.
|“Remaining mind or attention;” exercise of mental alertness or readiness, especially following the completion of a technique.
This glossary and its contents are copyright ©2016 Aikido Schools of Ueshiba, and may not be republished, used, or changed without permission. Special acknowledgment to Stephen Earle, George Ledyard and Chetan Prekash for their contributions in organizing this glossary.