Some Japanese

First Japanese...

The Japanese word for teacher is Sensei. The founder of Aikido, Mr Ueshiba, is known as O Sensei or great teacher.

On the mat, the instructor is referred to as Sensei.


At the beginning of class we bow to O Sensei, then bow to Sensei and say “o ne gai shi mas”, which means ‘please’ - in this context ‘please practice’. At the end of class we bow to O Sensei, then bow to Sensei and say “domo arigato gozaimashita” which is a very polite ‘thank you’ (generally, the longer a phrase is the more polite it is).

When practising with a partner we bow to each other before and after training together.

Bowing in the dojo is used to show respect to the memory of the founder of Aikido, to the instructor and to fellow Aikidoka (practitioners of Aikido). It is not to be construed as an act of worship.

Tori the person performing the technique

Uke the person receiving the technique (usually the attacker)


Kamae posture (general)

Hanmi half body posture

Migi right foot forward

Hidari left foot forward

Tai Sabaki (body movement)

Irimi entering body (step forward)

Tenkan (pivot on the front foot)

Tsugi ashi following feet (move the front foot forward, draw the rear foot up behind)

Ukemi (receiving body) break falls

Mae forwards

Ushiro backwards

Yoko sideways

Shikko knee walking

Introduction to techniques

An Aikido technique is described by the attack, followed by the name of the technique. Sometimes it is specified whether the technique should be sitting or standing.

Most techniques have two forms, omote (positive, irimi) and ura (negative, tenkan).

When practising in pairs it is usual for one person to perform the technique four times (omote, right and left; ura, right and left), then the other person to perform the technique four times.

Suwariwaza sitting techniques

Tachi waza standing techniques

Hanmi handachi sitting technique, standing attack


Katatedori wrist held by one hand

Aihanmi (agreeing posture) right takes right or left takes left

Gyakuhanmi right takes left or left takes right

Katadori shoulder holding

Ryotedori ryotemochi both wrists held

Morotedori one wrist held by two hands

Shomenuchi vertical cut down

Yokomenuchi diagonal cut down

Tsuki punch

Jo dan upper level (punch to face)

Chu dan middle level (punch to the knot on the belt)

Ge dan lower level (!)

Ushiro behind


Ikkyo first technique (circling arm)

Nikyo second technique (painful wrist twist)

Sankyo third technique (turning wrist and forearm)

Yonkyo fourth technique (cutting forearm while applying pressure to a nerve)

Gokyo fifth technique (applied to the wrist)

Rokkyo sixth technique (applied to the elbow)

Iriminage entering body throw

Ko te gae shi little hand turn

Shi ho nage four direction throw

Kai ten nage body turn throw

Uchi inside (under)

Soto outside


Jo stick

Bokken wooden sword

Tanto wooden knife

Aikido Concepts

Tegatana (hand blade) the edge of the arm from the base of the little finger to the forearm

Ki energy

Tanden centre, point below the navel which is the centre of ki

Kokyuho breath power

Atemi strike to distract ukei

Ma ai distance, space or being in the right place at the right time

Zanshin finishing, spirit at the end of the technique


Numbers are regular, once you know one to ten you can go all the way to 99. The exception is 4 which can be pronounced either shi (shi ho nage) or yon (yon kyo).

1 Ichi

2 Ni

3 San

4 Shi (or Yon)

5 Go

6 Rokkyu

7 Shichi

8 Hachi

9 Kyu

10 Ju