• Japanese Karate Terms

    Instructions at the Beginning and end of Class


    Sensei Calls students to line up.

    1. "Ki O Tsuke" = Sensei Calls Attention. Students line up according to rank on a straight line, feet together and hands to the side, and facing forward.

    The Senior Student at the front of the line, or the Sensei (if the senior student is too new to know the commands) gives the following instructions for the class:

    2. "Seiza " = come to a  sitting position on the knees, legs under the body and feet facing back, the body remains straight, and the hands come to rest on the legs - do not use your hands when going to seiza or standing up. The body must remain straight at all times.

    3. "Mokuso " The students close their eyes and breath deeply to clear their minds, calm their body, and properly prepare for the session. The Japanese term means "to meditate" but in martial arts it is used in a less "trascendental" way.

    4. "Mokuso Yame" = End Meditation.

    5. Shomen-ni Rei = Bow to the Front. Sensei will turn and face the front, Sensei and students bow as a sign of respect for the Dojo (School / Place of training). This is similar to other signs of respect used in the Western world (some of which may have - unfortunatelly- fallen in disuse), such as removing one's hat when entering the home (one's own or someone else's as well).  This is the same reason why students must bow when entering and leaving the Dojo. It is important to note that because this is the place where students are formed in the Art and Discipline of Karate, they must take care of and respect the Dojo. Refraining from littering, leaving things in order, and always behaving in an appropriate manner. 

    6. Sensei-ni Rei = Bow to the Sensei. Sensei turns and faces the students once again. Sensei and students bow to each other as a mutual sign of respect. ***

    7. Kiritsu (or Tate) = Stand up


    At the End of Class the class repeats the same steps, however between steps 4 and 5 (After Mokuso Yame). The students and instructors, led by the senior student, recite the Dojo-Kun, or Rules of the Dojo:

    Dojo Kun:

    Seek Perfection of Character

    Be Faithful


    Respect Others

    Refrain from Violent Behavior 


    *** Note that bowing as a Japanese tradition, is a way of greeting each other, and has great symbolism. In the Western world bowing, specially on one's knees may be taken out of context, and be interpreted as taking some sort of religious significance. This is not the case. Below is a small article about Japanese bowing from www.japan-guide.com :

    "The Japanese greet each other by bowing. Bowing techniques range from a small nod of the head to a long, 90 degree bow. If the greeting takes place on tatami floor, people get on their knees in order to bow.

    If your opposite is of higher social status than yourself, you are supposed to bow deeper and longer than him or her. But since most Japanese do not expect foreigners to know proper bowing rules, a nod of the head is usually sufficient.

    It is also common to bow to express thanks or an apology or when making a request or asking somebody for a favor.

    Shaking hands is uncommon among the Japanese, but foreigners are sometimes greeted with a hand shake."


    26 Shotokan Katas

    1. Heian Shodan
    2. Heian Nidan
    3. Heian Sandan
    4. Heian Yondan
    5. Heian Godan

    6. Tekki Shodan
    7. Tekki Nidan
    8. Tekki Sandan

    9. Bassai Dai
    10. Bassai Sho

    11. Kanku Dai
    12. Kanku Sho

    13. Gojushiho Dai
    14. Gojushiho Sho

    15. Enpi
    16. Sochin
    17. Meikyo
    18. Ji'in

    19. Jion
    20. Jitte
    21. Hangetsu
    22. Gankaku
    23. Chinte
    24. Nijushiho
    25. Unsu
    26. Wankan 

    NOTE: Katas will not be learned/taught on this order necessarily, aside from the Five Heian Katas.  Students should not be overly eager to learn new Katas, but rather eager to perfect each one that they know. Their Sensei will determine when a student is competent enough to learn a new Kata. 


  • Counting in Japanese

    Counting in Japanese

     Please note that in Japanese, counting may be done in different ways according to the circumstance. Counting from one to ten, will be done differently than counting items, or enumerating placement: first, second, third, etc. 

     1  Ichi  (Sho)
     2  Ni
     3  San
     4  Shi (Yon)
     5  Go
     6  Roku
     7  Sichi (nana)
     8  Hachi
     9  Kyu
     10  Ju
     11  Ju Ichi
     12  Ju Ni
     13  Ju San
     20  Ni Ju
     21 Ni Ju Ichi
     22 Ni Ju Ni
     23 Ni Ju San
     30 San Ju
     100 Hyaku
     101 Hyaku Ichi
     201 Ni Hyaku Ichi
     1,000 Sen
     10,000  Man


     In class we will generally only count from 1-10, but from the above you should be able to figure out the rest by combining the digits. 

    There are however some "gotchas". For example: "shi" can only be used for "four", Forty, Four Hundred, etc. would use "Yon". Seven is similar, use "sichi" only for seven, seventy, seven hundred, etc, use "nana".

    A few others: 600 = roppyaku,  800 = happyaku , 8000 = hassen.