Karate is international in nature, and traditional karate is taught using Japanese terms for the most part. Some of these terms have no literal equivalent in the English language, so use caution when using this glossary. If in doubt about any term, please refer to a club instructor.

Rising – as in Age-Uke (upper rising block).
Chin or jaw, as used in Ago-Mai-Geri, which is a kick to the jaw using the ball of the foot, or in Ago-Uchi – a strike to the Jaw.
Foot or lower leg as used in Ashi-Barai – a leg sweep.
The way of karate practice. The word “Budo” is the translation of characters used in the Japanese language. “Bu” means military, or related to the military, or martial. “Do” means path, way or method. Budo thus refers to Japanese fighting systems which emphasize “do” – personal, ethical and spiritual development as the ultimate goal of training.
Chest Protector
Optional protective equipment that may be used by women and girls in competition.
Mid-section of the body. For example a punch to the mid-level (typically aimed at the solar plexus) is described as Chudan-Zuki.
Ball of foot as used in Chusoku-Mawashi-Geri – a roundhouse kick contacting the target with the ball of the foot.
Black belt grade.
The place where karate training is undertaken. English translation is “the place of training in the way”.
Dojo Fees
Payment for the lesson paid to the club secretary (or nominated deputy) before a lesson starts.
English Karate Governing Board. The functions of this organisation were taken over by Karate England on its formation in 2005. At that time the EKGB ceased to exist. Karate England has now been superceded by The English Karate Federation.
The English Karate Federation (EKF) is recognised as the official governing body for English Karate by both the British Karate Federation and World Karate Federation
Lower body (anything below the belt). As in Gedan-Zuki, or punch to the lower body.
Downward block (more accurately `low-level sweep’).
Progress is karate is measured by a formal grading process before a panel of instructors. Kyu grades are represented by coloured belts from red through to brown as shown below.

8th Kyu Red Belt Club Grading
7th Kyu Yellow Belt Club Grading
6th Kyu Orange Belt Club Grading
5th Kyu 2nd Green Belt Club Grading
4th Kyu 1st Green Belt General Grading
3rd Kyu Blue Belt General grading
2nd Kyu 2nd Brown Belt General Grading
1st Kyu 1st Brown Belt General Grading
Shodan 1st Dan Black Belt General Grading
Nidan 2nd Dan Black Belt General grading
Sandan 3rd Dan Black Belt General Grading
8th Kyu through to 5th Kyu are awarded by a panel of club instructors. For 4th Kyu and above, students are assessed by a panel of senior Ishinryu instructors, including sensei Ticky Donovan. Grades above 3rd Dan Black Belt are awarded for services and contribution to Ishinryu karate and do not require a formal grading.
Gum Shield
Protective equipment that is compulsory in competition and advised for sparring in the club. Best ones are custom fitted by your dentist for an exact fit. However, a general gum-shield can be purchased from some sports shops and pharmacies – these must be prepared in hot water before initial fitting to ensure a good fit.
or reverse punch. `Reverse’ denotes the reversal of leads of the arm and the leg, that is, the punch is delivered from the side of the body which is not leading.
Instep of the foot, as used in Haisoku-Mawashi-Geri – a roundhouse kick contacting the target with the instep.
Back of hand.
‘Ridge hand’ or ‘Inner knife hand’. This refers to using the side of the hand above the thumb to strike as used in Jodan-Haito-Uchi (Inner knife-hand strike to the head).
Begin. Used to direct students to commence training, or in competition, to instruct fighters to begin.
Hand Pads
Protective equipment that is compulsory in competition and for sparring in the club. English Karate Federation approved hand-pads are compulsory.
Parallel-leg stance; feet less than shoulder-width apart and parallel arms relaxed, hands in fists.
Formal attention stance: heels and big toes touching.
Left (as in left-hand). Normally used in description of stances.
Elbow. As used in Chudan-Hijji-Ate (elbow strike to mid-section) or Age-Hijji-Ate (Raising elbow strike).
Half open fist. As used in Hira-Ken-Chudan (half open fist to middle level). For Hira the fist is not fully folded so that the second set of finger-knuckles make impact rather than the first set of knuckles (as in a usual fist).
Knee – as in Hiza-Ganmen-Geri, or knee kick to the face.
Spleen – as in using the spleen (in the lower abdomen) as a target.
One knuckle punch. In this strike the middle knuckle of the fist stands proud of the other fingers thus providing a smaller point of impact and therefore concentrating more force into a smaller striking area.
Ippon kumite
One-step sparring. Pre-prepared defense and counter attack against an attack.
The school of karate originated by Sensei Ticky Donovan (OBE) in 1973. Translates literally as “all of one heart”.
Ishinryu association badges
The karate Gi must display two association badges – one on each side of the chest. The Circular badge is worn on the right side.
Upper level (typically aimed at the head) as in Jodan-Mae-Geri, which is a front kick aimed at the head, or in Jodan-Uke which is an upper block.
Lower block.
Students under the age of sixteen.
Karate England
was the unified governing body that represented the interests of Karate in the UK between 2005 and 2007. Karate England was associated with Sport England and was formed in late 2005 to replace older governing bodies, such as the EKGB. Karate England has now been superceded by the English Karate Feberation.
Way of the empty hand.
Karate Gi
The traditional clothing in which karate training is conducted.
“student” A karateka is a person who studies and practices the art of karate.
Kata is a series of defensive and offensive techniques followed in a set sequence of moves. The purpose of Kata is to develop the skills of power, balance, focus, coordination and technique. It is believed that Kata were first developed as an aid to remembering and teaching karate techniques in an age before literacy was widespread. The literal translation of Kata is ‘form’.
Straight leg kick.
Joint – as used in Kensetsu-Geri, or kick to the knee joint.
Kiai is the name given to the explosive shout used in karate. Its primary purpose is to expel air when attacking or receiving an attack – this serves to maximize the force as well offering some protection from injury. A good kiai also serves to intimidate an adversary. The sound that is made is of secondary importance, but is usually a short sharp vowel sound such as ‘a’ or ‘e’.
‘Horse riding’ stance – feet two shoulder-widths apart and parallel with toes facing forward. Knees bent.
Basic techniques or ‘ fundamentals’ (the practice of stances, blows, blocks, etc).
Focus (literal translation is `decision’ or `commitment’) and describes the concentrated focus that is essential to delivering an effective karate technique. Kime is one of the criteria for scoring a technique in competition karate.
Groin kick.
Front Hand punch.
Sparring or free fighting.
Student. `Kyu grades’ are pre-black-belt grades represented by a coloured belt (see Grade).
Forward lower sweeping block – starting point for the blocking arm is with the fist to the opposite shoulder.
Front kick.
Roundhouse – as used in Mawashi-Geri (roundhouse kick) and Mawashi-Uchi (roundhouse strike).
Turn around. Normally used to mean `face the opposite direction’.
Right (as in right-hand). Normally used in description of stances.
Augmented (or supported) as in Morote-Uke where the blocking arm is supported by the other arm, or in Morote-Zuki which is a two handed punch.
Literal translation is ‘meditation’. In practice, it is used to command a class to close their eyes (for example, before the start of certain Katas).
Stance with heels touching and feet making a ‘V’ shape – gap between the toes should be equal to two fist widths with the knuckles facing forward. Arms should be straight with hands against each side of the body. One application of this stance is to deliver a standing bow at the start and end of each lesson.
Cat stance (literally `cat foot stance’). In this stance 90% of the body weight is carried by the back leg.
Second Dan black belt grade.
Two finger spear hand strike.
Oi- Zuki
Step or lunge punch. Technically you can’t deliver Oi-Zuki while stationary. The term does not describe the way the punch is thrown using the arm, but the fact that you are in pursuit (Oi) of your opponent.
Organized Competitions
or tournaments are held on a regular basis in the UK. Some are restricted to a particular style. There are also open competitions where a mix of karate styles may compete. Competitors are split into categories dependant on age, grade, and size to ensure a fair match. Both Kata and Kumite are represented in most competitions.
Difficult to translate accurately, this term is often used to mean `yes’ or `okay’ to signify understanding. It is a respectful way to reply to an instructor when a response is called for. Usually pronounced as ‘Ouss’ (rhyming with ‘puss’).
Thumb of knuckle fist. Describes a strike delivered to the side of the head using the knuckle of the thumb as the contact point, with the thumb being wedged into the side of the hand for support.
Pinan Basic Kata.
There are five basic katas in the Ishinryu style; (1) Pinan-Sono-Ichi, (2) Pinan-Sono-Ni, (3) Pinan-Sono-San, (4) Pinan-Sono-Yon, and (5) Pinan-Sono-Go.
Protective Gear
Protective equipment that is compulsory in competition and advised for sparring in the club. Includes English Karate Federation approved hand pads and gum shield. Optional items include shin guards (without instep) and chest protectors for females. No other protective gear is approved for use within the club.
Command to bow. May be from a kneeling position (see Seiza) or from a standing position – either way this must be a deep bow from the waist.
Sanbon Kumite
Three-step sparring. Pre-prepared defense and counter attack against an attack.
Third Dan black belt grade.
‘Fore- fist’. Since most hand strikes are with the fore-fist, this term is used infrequently.
The basic kneeling position used at the beginning and the end of a karate class and is associated with bowing in respect for teachers and senior students. In this posture the knees are bent 180 degrees with the calves tucked under the thighs so you sit on your heels, toes pointed.
Term of respect for a Senior Student.
Translation is “bow to the senior students” and is announced at the start of each training session. This initial bow is to show respect for the senior students who will be assisting in running the class.
Translation is “thanks to the Senior Students” and is announced at the end of each training session. This final bow is to give thanks to the senior students who have assisted during the class. ‘Rei’ is the command to bow.
Term of respect for a senior instructor – the most common translation is ‘Teacher’. The Japanese character “sen” means “ahead of” or “before” so Sensei may also be translated as “one who is ahead or before” in the sense of their experience and understanding.
Translation is “bow to the instructor” and is announced at the start of each training session. This initial bow is to show respect for the instructor(s) who will take the class.
Translation is “thanks to the Instructor” and is announced at the end of each training session. This final bow is to give thanks to the instructor(s) who have taken the class. ‘Rei’ is the command to bow.
Shin Pads
Optional protective equipment for sparring and competition. Must not cover the instep.
Short rising punch.
Initial Black belt grade otherwise referred to as a first Dan. Literal translation is ‘first’ as in first black belt.
Knife hand – using the side of the open-hand to strike (on the little finger side).
Roundhouse block.
Blocking from the outside in.
Knife edge of foot – used when striking with the side of the foot as in Yoko-Geri.
`Palm heel’ – the palm of the hand when the fingers are drawn back as used in Shotei-Uchi.
Introductory Katas. There are three introductory Ishinryu Katas: (1) Taikyoku-Sono-Ich, (2) Kette-Taikyoku-Sono-Ni, and (3) Taikyoku-Sono-San.
Inner edge of foot.
Half Twist punch. Similar to Chudan-Zuki, but with the fist making contact when half turned (i.e. making contact with the thumb side of the fist uppermost).
Using the fist as a hammer as in Tettsui-Uchi (hammer fist strike) or Tettsui-Komi-Kami (hammer fist strike to side of head).
Blocking from inside out.
Block (strict translation is `reception’). This Japanese term reinforces the idea that the defender should receive (catch, absorb) the attack rather than intercept it with brute force, which is what `block’ might imply. The word `Uke’ may be accompanied by a word that denotes the direction or style of the block (e.g. Uchi-Uke – inside block) or the target area that is being defended (e.g. Jodan-Uke – high-level block).
or `back fist’. As used in Uraken-Ganmen-Uchi which is a strike delivered to the face with the back of the fist rather than the knuckles and forefingers.
Back Kick.
Reverse roundhouse Kick.
Side – as in Yoko-Geri which is a side kick with `thrusting’ action.
Front stance with legs shoulder-width apart side-to-side, and two shoulder widths front-to-back. Front leg bent so that knee is approximately over toes of the front foot. Back leg is held straight and locked.
Punch – as in Chudan-Zuki which is a punch to the mid-section of the body.