Why Do We Speak Japanese In Class Sometimes?
Even though we are an English speaking Dojo, and an English speaking people, our Martial Arts are a Japanese art. Tradition and respect of the art lead us to continue to use Japanese when referring to techniques, forms, fighting concepts, and very often - general activities in and around the Dojo.
To assist beginning students, as they are introduced to the martial arts, English terms are used. However, as the student gains rank and moves into more advanced classes, they will find that Japanese is used more than English when someone refers to a particular technique or stance.
Speaking Japanese isn’t a requirement - but gaining an understanding will make your journey into the martial arts more enjoyable.
The use of Japanese in class extends beyond simply being used for the names of punches, kicks, etc. For example; Black Belts are bowed on and off the dojo floor by lower ranked students announcing to class- “kiotsuke!” (Attention!) “Rei” (bow). Students are told to begin a particular exercise “hajime” (begin), or to stop what they are doing “matte” (wait or stop).
The following link is an English-Japanese translator that may be useful in determining the meanings of words not found here.
Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC Japanese-English Dictionary is an easy to use translator/dictionary. It can convert English to/from romanji and kanji.
Counting In Japanese
Counting in Japanese can provide interesting problems to the beginning student, and we know it can be intimidating - but that is not our intention. Counting is a basic skill someone develops as a child and it can sometimes be hard to overcome many years of learning how to count in their native language then suddenly have to comprehend numbers spoken in another language. However, counting in Japanese is actually very easy and once you have learned how to count to 10 in Japanese you have actually gained the knowledge needed to count to 100.
Japanese has been described as a vague or indirect language. What is meant by this is many words in Japanese have more than one meaning and often there are several words with the same - or very similar -meanings. Sometimes the meaning of a word can only be determined by it’s context within a sentence or even how it's used during the course of a conversation.
This short vocabulary of Japanese is meant to assist WCMA students understand what is being said in the Dojo. To this end, the words here are defined by their relationship to the Martial Arts. Please do not assume the definitions here are the only correct one for the word in question. Nor should you assume that the words listed here are the only words available for what someone is attempting to say.
GENERAL JAPANESE TERMS
(ashh-hee) Foot, feet or legs
(doh) Way or path
(doh-joe) Training hall. Literally — “The place of the way”
(gay-dan) Low or lower
(hik-i-tay) Position of the back hand when doing formal techniques
(joe-dan) Upper. Also joudan
(gee) The uniform worn during the practice of karate. In most traditional Japanese and Okinawan karate dojos, the gi must be white and cotton (synthetics with cotton allowed)
(kah-tah) Form or formal exercise
(ker-ree) To kick. The sound of this word changes when combined with other words to make “geri” (ger-ree) which is the pronunciation used when referring to kicks
(kee-ah-ee) A sharp sound made at the moment of kime to aid in the tensing of body muscles and focusing of the mind for a more effective technique
(KEE-meh) Focus. The pinpoint concentration of mind and body to achieve maximum effectiveness
(KEE-hon) Basic or standard
(KEE-hon-noh-keh-ee-koh) Practice in basic techniques
(kee-oht-soo-kay) Come to attention
(koh-geh-kee) To attack
A junior member of the dojo
(koo-mee-teh). Sparring. Literally means to engage one’s hands with an opponent. There are two types of kumite training:
A. Kihon Kumite. Basic sparring in which attack techniques and target areas are predetermined.
B. Jiyu kumite. Free sparring. The distance, timing and techniques are left to the judgment of the two participants.
(koo-mee-teh-noh-keh-ee-koh) Practice in sparring
(mah-ah-ee) Distancing. The correct distance between two opponents
(mah-eh-nee) Move forward
(maat-tay) Stop or wait
(mah-waht-teh) Turn around
(na-o-ray) Recover. The command given when you move from heiko dachi to masuba dachi
The three bows performed at the beginning and end of each class are:
(SEH-ee-reht-soo) Lineup in an orderly fashion
(SEH-ee-zah) The Japanese formal method of sitting on the floor with the knees bent and the legs under the body
(SEHN-pah-ee) A senior person in a school or organization. Senpai is also a formal title given to 2nd Dan and above black belts
(sehn-seh-ee). Teacher. The term may be applied to anyone who guides or instructs another, such as a doctor or lawyer. Literally, sensei means “one who has gone before”. It is also a formal title given to 3rd Dan and above black belts
(so-toe) Outside or exterior
(TAHT-teh) Vertical punch
(taa-chee reh-ee) Standing bow
(t’soo-yoh-koo) Execute strong, fast techniques
(oo-key) block or defender
(00-shee-roh-nee) Move backward
(YOH-ee) Be ready
(YOH-wah-koo) Move lightly
(yoo-koo-ree) Slowly, or “at ease”
(zan-shen) “The remaining mind”. Maintaining complete awareness and alertness at all times
School Rules & Regulations
How To Tie An Obi (Karate Belt)
Ushidashi Program Requirements