Karate Terminology

Welcome to our online guide to Karate terminology, compiled by Sensei Terry Lyon.
Karate is traditionally taught using the original Japanese terms, and this page shall list the most important terms and illustrate their meaning. You may well find Japanese expressions on this site that you are not familiar with, and this glossary shall help to explain how we use
each term in the style of Traditional Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate.

Please note that the english spelling of Japanese terms is far from standardised, and you many find that different sources chose a different spelling from the one shown on this site. Let this not worry you – more important is the phonetic sound of the term, so that you can recognise it in training or when reading about it on a site like ours.

Please also note that this is an Australian site and thus uses Australian English spelling for words like “recognise” and “colour”.


Karate Terminology explained: