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Basic terminology

Japanese word or term (phonetic pronunciation) - definition

Ai (eye) - Harmony, unity, to join or become one with. The word caries the feeling of the strength and power of natural forces.

Ki (key) - Spirit; life-force or vital energy; the essence of universal creative energy.

Do (doe) - The Way or Path. "The Way" means to be one with the will of the Universe and embody its function. If you are even slightly apart from it, it is no longer the "Way".

Atemi waza (ah-teh-mee-wah-zah) - Striking techniques, blows.

Bokken (bow-ken) - Wooden sword used in practice.

Budo (boo-doe) - Literally, the Way of the Warrior arts; but the deeper meaning is the Way of the protection of society, of strength and honour in peace. "A mind to serve for the peace of all human beings in the world is needed in Aikido and not the mind of one who wishes to be strong and practises only to fell an opponent. There are neither opponents nor enemies for true Budo. Therefore, to compete in techniques, winning and losing, it is not true Budo. True Budo knows no defeat. 'Never defeated' means never fighting."

Bushido (boo-she-doe) - Warrior's Code, "Way of the Warrior".

Dan (dawn) - Aikido rank, grade holder, black-belt rank.

Deshi (deh-she) - Student, pupil, disciple.

Dojo (doe-joe) - The place where the Way is revealed. A place for strengthening and refinement of body, mind, and spirit. (Formerly a term used by Buddhist priests in reference to the place of worship.)

Dojo cho (do-joe choe) - Term used for the head of the dojo; dojo leader.

Fuku Shidoin (foo-koo- she-doe-een) - Title used for assistant instructor; usually second Dan and below.

Gaeshi (guy-she) - To reverse.

Gi (ghee) - White training uniform.

Hakama (ha-kah-mah) - Wide-skirted pants worn over the gi. Symbol of the Samurai culture and an important part of the Aikido training uniform. Typically worn by yudansha.

Hanmi (hawn-mee) - The relaxed triangular stance of Aikido, stable yet flexible enough to move quickly in any direction.

Hanmi Handachi (hawn-mee hawn-dah-chee) - Nage is kneeling and opponent attacks from a standing position.

Hantai (hawn-tie) - In reverse order.

Hara (hah-rah) - The lower abdomen; the centre of life energy, physical and spiritual. Often used as a synonym for "guts", courage.

Hidari (hee-dah-ree) - Left (direction).

Irimi (ee-re-mee) - Moving into and through the line of attack with no thought of escape. Technique of entering and choosing death.

Jo (Joe) - Wooden training staff about 50" long and 3/4" to 1" thick.

Kaiten (kah-ee-ten) - To revolve or rotate.

Kamae (kay-mye) - A posture or stance of readiness. There are many different stances, and within each stance there are different positions for the hands or weapon: Jodan-High position, Chudan-Middle position, Gedan-Lower position.

Kata (kah-tah) - shoulder.

Katana (kah-tah-nah) - Japanese sword; blade.

Keiko (kay-koe) - study or practice. The deeper meaning is reflection and refinement; to return to the origin and discover reality. Only through the study of the past, and an appreciation for its experience, can we understand the present and refine our spirit.

Ken (kehn) - Japanese sword

Kiai (key-eye) - The release of spiritual and physical power in the form of a piercing scream originating in the hara. Literally a meeting of the spirits.

Kohai (koe-high) - Junior student. Anyone who begins the study of Aikido. You owe them your help and support.

Kokyu (koe-kyoo) - Power of breath and life force; the co-ordination of ki flow and breathing.

Kotodama (koe-toe-dah-mah) - The spiritual function of sound. Every one-syllable sound has its own spiritual vibration.

Kyu (kyoo) - White belt grade; a mudansha (shoshinsha) or undergraduate.

Maai (mah-eye) - The distance of time and space between uke and nage; the movement of mind, the stream of spirit and the direction in which mind and spirit move, along with physical distance, determines the balance and proper use of space.

Migi (mee-ghee) - Right (direction).

Misogi (mee-sew-ghe) - Purification of mind, body and spirit. Sweating is misogi; cleaning is misogi; fasting is misogi; keiko is misogi.

Mushin (moo-sheen) - No mind; a mind without ego. A mind like a mirror which reflects and does not judge.

Nage (nah-gay) - To throw; the person who throws.

Obi (oh-bee) - Belt (part of the gi.

Omote (oh-moe-tay) - To the front.

O Sensei (Oh-sen-sei) - Great teacher - The title used for the Founder of Aikido.

Rei (ray) - To bow; salutation.

Reigi (ray-ghee) - Rei also translates as Holy Spirit; Gi as manifestation. Combined, it means proper etiquette, to respect the creative force and spirit which is the same in all of us. In essence - we are different, but one in origin; our bodies are different, but our spirits are the same; our functions are different, yet we share the same responsibility to God.

Ryote (ree-oh-tay) - Both hands.

Samurai (sah-moo-rye) - Originally came from the verb "to serve". Noble and honourable, one who has the duty and responsibility of protecting society.

Sempai (sehm-pie) - Senior student. Anyone who began the study of Aikido before you. You should respect this person's experience.

Seiza (say-zah) - Formal sitting position, the only proper way to sit on the mat.

Sensei (sen-say) - Teacher; one who gives guidance along the way. Literally means "born before".

Shidoin (she-doe-een) - Title for Aikido teacher with typically the rank of third Dan.

Shihan (she-hawn) - Title for a master teacher who has been ranked at least to the grade of sixth Dan.

Shimoseki (she-moe-seh-key) - The lower side of the mat, opposite the joseki>

Shomen (show-men) - The shrine which houses the picture of the Founder and the spirit of Aikido. Not a religious symbol, but a spiritual one.

Shugyo (shoo-gyoe) - The day-to-day struggle; the work of education to refine and purify the quality of life.

Suburi (soo-boo-ree) - Training. Suburi is training as opposed to kumi tachi, which is study (keiko).

Suwari waza (soo-wah-ree wah-zah) - Techniques beginning with both attacker and defender in formal sitting position, executed from the knees.

Tachi (tah-chee) - Japanese long sword; can also mean "from the standing position".

Taijutsu (tie-joot-soo) - Empty-handed techniques.

Takemusu Aiki (tah-keh-moo-soo eye-key) - Enlightened Aikido. "Aiki has a form, and does not have a form. Aiki is a life which has a form and still flows with change; it expresses itself by changing itself. A form without a form is a word and a poem that expresses the universe limitlessly."

Tanden (tawn-den) - The centre; your centre of being.

Tanren (tawn-ren) - Striking practice with sword or bokken. The same cut is practised over and over again. This can also be done with a Jo.

Tanto (tawn-teo) - Wooden practice knife.

Tenkan (ten-kawn) - turning to dissipate force.

Uchi deshi (oo-chee deh-she) - Live-in student; personal student or disciple.

Uke (oo-kay) - One who receives; the person being thrown.

Ukemi (oo-keh-mee) - Techniques of falling. The art of protecting oneself from injury. The first and most important step to developing good Aikido technique is learning to take ukemi well.

Ura (orr-rah) - To the rear.

Waza (wah-zah) - Technique. Way of . . .

Yudansha (yoo-dawn-shah) - Black-belt rank holders.

Zanshin (zahn-sheen) - Continuity; remaining aware and prepared for the next attack.