The Mudansha ranks in Tensoku Ryu primarily study skills, practices, Kata, and other curriculum materials based on Japanese martial arts. This suggests that much of the terminology you will encounter during instruction involves Japanese terms. In this article we will cover some of the more common terms you will encounter. You will likely want to refer to this page often, particularly early in your studies.
Here is a list of Japanese terms and phrases that you will likely encounter during your training. You can select the number of terms that show at one time and move forward and back through display pages as needed. You can also sort the list in various ways by clicking on the column titles. You may also enter a word in the Search box to find a specific meaning.
|Bo||Long Staff Weapon|
|Chikoma||Short Distance, Within Range|
|Chudan||Middle Level; Middle Elevation|
|Chuma||Middle Distance, One Step Away|
|Dan||Degree or Step|
|Empi or Hiji||Elbow|
|Eri||Lapel or Collar|
|Ippon||Single Cylindrical Object|
|Ittoma||Middle level distance, 1 step away|
|Jo||Short Staff Weapon|
|Juji||Cross; Shape of Ju (the number 10)|
|Kamaete||Keep your guard up|
|Kanji||Ancient Japanese Characters|
|Kata||Choreographed Movement, Shoulder|
|Katana||Long Japanese (Samurai) Sword|
|Ken||Fist; Straight Bladed Sword|
|Kumite||Point Fighting; Sparring|
|Kyu||Class; Grade; Rank|
|Mawashi||Around; Circling; Rotating|
|Mushin||Mind Without Thought|
|Ne||Ground; Base; Root|
|Nihon||Dual; Two Long Cylinders|
|Oi||Lunge; Charge; Pursue|
|Randori||Free Practice; Sparring|
|Ryu||Style; Stream; Martial Arts System|
|Sai||Fork Shaped Metal Weapon|
|Seiza||Sitting Position; Sit Command|
|Sensei||One who has gone before; teacher|
|Shihan||Master or Senior Instructor|
|Shiho||Every Direction; Four Directions|
|Shu||Hand (also see Te)|
|Tate||Vertical; Length; Sword Fight|
|Te (Shu)||Hand (also see Shu)|
|Teiji||Shape of the letter ‘T’|
|Tettsui||Hammer; Iron Hammer|
|Toma||Far Distance, 2 or More Steps Away|
|Uchi||Strike; Inside; Inner|
|Uke||Block; Receiver; Training Partner|
|Ura||Reverse Side; Back; Opposite|
|Ushiro||Back; Behind; Rear|
|Zen||In Front; Meditative|
|Shu||Hand (also see Te)|
Many words in Japanese can be spelled in different ways. It is common for words containing the letter “n” to also be correctly spelled with the letter “m”. A very common example is “Kenpo” and “Kempo”. While many different martial styles differentiate themselves based in part on the spelling of this word, the word is the same either way. It means “fist law” no matter how it is spelled.
Another area where different letters can be used involves the letters “k” and “g”. A good example here is the word for “kick”, which can be spelled “Keri” or “Geri”; Keri is preferred where the word is used alone (perhaps in a title), and Geri would be used where the word follows another (e.g. Mae Geri). If you see a word starting with the letter ‘K’, but cannot find its definition, try the ‘G’ spelling (and vice versa). A similar spelling option can be found using the letters ‘T’ and “D’; for example, “Tachi” and “Dachi”.
Pluralities are generally not used in the Japanese language. So, “Keri” might refer to one kick or several kicks. “Kata” might refer to the one Kata that you are doing now, all of the Kata you know; or all of the Kata in the known universe.
You will often find that one longer word is composed of many other separate smaller words. For example, “Zen” can mean “In Front” and “Kutsu” can mean bend. When used together they can form the word “Zenkutsu”, which is a Hard Bow stance in which the front leg is bent and the side leg profile looks something like a bent Japanese archery bow (the Yumi). If you cannot find a specific word, try looking up each syllable to see if that helps explain the term.
You will encounter other non-Japanese terminology as you study. Here are some common terms you will encounter.
- Front and Back – aside from the obvious (where is your front or where is your back), this term is most useful when describing which side of the body you are to employ for a particular movement. If you are facing forward and have your right leg back and your left leg forward, then your right leg is your back leg, and your left leg is your front leg. Additionally, your right arm is your back arm, and your left arm is your front arm. If you now extend your right arm and retract your left arm so that the right arm is forward of your left arm, but leave your feet positioned as before, your right arm is still your back arm (even though it may be the most forward at the moment). So, by way of a formal definition, your back arm is the arm that is on the same side of the body as your back foot.
- Pedestal Leg – when you stand on one leg the leg that is still in contact with the floor is called the Pedestal Leg
- C- Step or V-Step – when stepping forward we prefer to have the back leg come inward and pass directly beside the front leg and then move outward again as it continues to its final position. This offers you improved balance and stability during the movement and also ensures your center stays focused directly in front of you. If you trace this movement of the foot along the floor it forms a gentle “C” or V” shape, hence the name for the term.