Karate Vocabulary

Basic Karate Terminology


Counting
ichi - one
ni - two
san - three
shi (or yon) - four
go - five
roku - six
shichi (or nana) - seven
hachi - eight
ku (or kyu) - nine
ju (or jyu) - ten

Body Parts & Targets
jodan - upper level (usually refers to the head)
chudan - middle level (usually refers to the solar plexus)
gedan - lower level (usually refers to the groin)
te - hand (as in karate, which means 'empty hand')
ude - arm
ashi - leg or foot
kubi - neck
tekubi - wrist (lit. 'hand-neck')
ashikubi - ankle (lit. 'foot-neck')
hiza - knee
hiji - elbow
koshi - hip(s) 

Kihon (Basic Techniques)
shizentai - 'natural' standing position
heisokudachi - feet together and knees usually bent
heikodachi - feet apart & parallel
zenkutsudachi - front stance
kokutsudachi - back stance
kibadachi - side stance
tsuki - punch
keri - kick
uke - block
harai (barai) - sweep
chokuzuki - straight punch
kizamizuki - jab
gyakuzuki - reverse punch
oizuki - lunge (stepping in) punch
maegeri - front kick
yokogeri - side kick
ushirogeri - back kick
mawashigeri - roundhouse kick
keage - rising/snapping kick (often refers to side snap kick)
kekomi - thrusting kick (often refers to the side thrust kick)
ashibarai - foot/leg sweep
ageuke - rising block
sotouke - outside block
uchiuke - inside block
gedanbarai - down (sweeping) block
shutouke - knife-hand block
uraken(uchi) - back-fist (strike)
empi(uchi) - elbow (strike)
shomen - hips straight/facing front (also the area in the front of the dojo)
hanmi - hips to the side ("half-face")
gyakuhanmi - hips twisted to the reverse side (reverse half-face)

Kumite (Sparring)
kihon ippon kumite - basic one-step sparring
kihon sanbon kumite -
basic three-step sparring
kihon gohon kumite -
basic five-step sparring
jyuu-ippon kumite - semi-free sparring
jyuu kumite - free sparring

Kata (Forms: predefined sets of movements)
Taikyoku Shodan
Heian Shodan
Heian Nidan
Heian Sandan
Heian Yondan
Heian Godan
Tekki Shodan
Tekki Nidan
Tekki Sandan
Jion
Bassai Dai
Kanku Dai
Empi
Jitte
Hangetsu
Jiin
Gankaku
Bassai Sho
Kanku Sho
Meikyo
Chinte
Nijushiho
Gojushiho Sho
Gojushiho Dai
Sochin
Wankan
Unsu

(other kata practiced less frequently)

Other terms frequently used in the dojo
dojo - training hall
seiza - traditional (formal) sitting position
rei - bow
shomen - front of the dojo
sensei - instructor
sempai - senior
kohai - junior
osu - all-purpose martial arts greeting
yoi - ready
hajime(ru) - begin
yame(ru) - stop/finish
migi - right
hidari - left
mokuso - silent meditation
makiwara - literally, 'rolled straw' - the traditional striking board of karate used to increase focus of punches & strikes. The board was covered with a straw pad at the striking area (usually cotton/canvas nowadays).
kime - focus (lit. decisiveness, but more often used to describe physical commitment in the form of timing of muscular contraction)
waza - technique
dojo-kun - the creed (motto) of karate, repeated at the end of each class
tokui kata - test/favorite (lit. specialty) kata
owari - the end