Japanese Anatomical Names

Up through the Brown Belt rank students focus much of their Tensoku Ryu training on Japanese martial arts concepts. Later this focus changes, but a predominant theme in much of the Mudansha instruction involves Japanese terms and nomenclature. The Mudansha ranks frequently reference terminology related to body parts. Usually this on the same level as typical English anatomical terms such as head, arm, leg, finger, foot, knee, etc. These are not scientific terms, but everyday usage terms.

It can take some time to appreciate all of the anatomical terms encountered. Terms such as Ashi, Empi, Kote, Atama, and Hiza are used quite often. These are usually the first terms students encounter and learn. But a great many additional terms will come into use as a student progresses.

To make learning these terms easier we provide a diagram with all common body parts labeled. This chart is available for display in a Dojo, is provided here, and is included in our Purple Belt Student Manual for reference. Here is the chart – there will be more discussion below the diagram.
You will find alternate names for many of these body parts in common use as well. It is good to know and understand these alternate terms. In general, we will use the names identified in the chart, but may on occasion use other names commonly found in martial arts discussions, techniques, and methods. We dislike being too tightly constrained to one point of view.

The chart lists the most common external anatomical features. It does not list any internal organs or structures. Here is a list of some of the most useful additional terms.


Japanese Term English Equivalent
Chou Intestine
Chuusui Appendix
Ha Teeth
Hada Skin
Hai Lung
Heso Navel
Hizagashira Knee Cap
Hone Bone
Hoppeta, Hoo, Hoho Cheek
Ibukuro, Hara, Onaka Stomach
Kami Hair
Kanzou Liver
Karada Body
Kekkan Blood Vessel
Ken, Kobushi Fist
Kikan Trachea
Kinniku Muscle
Nou Brain
Shibou Fat
Shinzou Heart
Shita Tongue
Shokudou Esophagus
Suizou Pancreas
Tannou Gallbladder
Zinzou Kidney

Anatomical names are used throughout our training for the Mudansha ranks. It is not the only terminology we use, but training for these ranks is heavily influenced by Japanese skills, so we use Japanese terms to reference many of these skills. For example, we will refer to Migi Hiza Geri as a right knee kick or Hidari Empi Uchi as a left elbow strike.

But this terminology can also be employed to indicate the target of a strike. This is often used in discussing weapon strikes, particularly in our Kata descriptions. But these terms are used in other places as well. Hidari Empi Uchi might refer to a weapon strike to the left elbow of the opponent.

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