Japanese Pronunciation Guide

“a” – “ah” as in father
“i” – “e” as in eat
“u” – “u” as in put
“e” – “eh” as in bet
“o” – “o” as in go

Japanese Vocabulary in the Dojo

arigatou gozaimashita – thank you very much
bunkai – application of kata in kumite
dan – degree of black belt
gi / dougi / keikogi – training uniform
hanshi – grandmaster (eighth degree black belt or higher)
idou tanren – training while moving across the floor
iro obi – coloured belt (white, green or brown belt)
kamae – combative engagement posture
kanchou – headmaster of the dojo
kata – stylized dynamic martial arts forms
kiai – inner power resulting from the concentration of mind and body by proper breathing
kikou – internal energy training, known in English as chi kung
konban ha – good evening (“ha” is pronunced “wa”)
konnichi ha – good day, hello (“ha” is pronunced “wa”)
kumite – sparring
kuro obi – a black belt (the belt itself – see also yuudansha)
ki wo tsuke – come to attention
maai – combative engagement distance
mawatte (from the base verb mawaru) – the command to turn around
mudansha – a person who has earned an iro obi, ie. a white, green or brown belt
ohayo gozaimasu – good morning
onegaishimasu – please
rei – bow
seiretsu – line up
shinkokyuu – deep (abdominal) breathing
suki – weakness or gap in your opponent’s defenses
tai sabaki – body maneuvering
tanden – the centre of gravity in the body, approximately 2 inches below the navel, which is regarded as the centre of coordinated energy and source of power in budo
yakusoku kumite – prearranged sparring
yame – stop
youi – ready position
yuudansha – a person who has earned a black belt (the black belt itself is a kuro obi)


  1. ichi
  2. ni
  3. san
  4. shi / yon
  5. go
  6. roku
  7. shichi / nana
  8. hachi
  9. ku / kyuu
  10. juu

Note: the numbers above are usually used in the dojo to count. In conversational Japanese, sometimes other words are used, for example, four is also “yon”, seven is “nana”, and nine is “ku”.

Bowing in and out

A. seiza – kneel with your heels touching your buttocks
B. shoumen ni rei – bow to the front
C. mokusou – observe a minute’s silence
D. kaimoku – open your eyes
E. sensei ni rei – bow to the Sensei (Sensei may also be substituted for other titles such as Renshi, Shihan, etc.)
F. kiritsu – stand up


pin’an shodan
pin’an nidan
pin’an sandan
pin’an yondan
pin’an godan
naifanchi shodan
naifanchi nidan
naifanchi sandan
passai dai
koryuu gojuushi ho
chibana kushanku
matsumura no passai
youshin daini
shingetsu sho
tenryuu no kon
sunakake no kon
hakuson no kon
shuushi no kon
sakugawa no kon
oyadomari no sai
tawada no sai


heisoku dachi (feet together)
hachiji dachi (open leg stance)
zenkutsu dachi (front stance)
musubi dachi (heels together)
koukutsu dachi (back stance)
neko ashi dachi (cat stance)
naifanchi dachi (horse stance)
kousa dachi (crossed leg stance)

Tsuki (punches)

joudan zuki (upper punch)
gyaku zuki (reverse punch)
ren zuki (double strike)
chuudan zuki (middle punch)
oi zuki (lunge punch)
renzoku zuki (multiple punches)
morote zuki (double fist punch)

Uke (blocks)

gedan barai (downward sweeping block)
joudan uke (upper block)
shutou uke (knife hand block)
uchi uke (inside block)
soto uke (outside block)
morote uke (double block)

Keri (kicks)

mae geri (front kick)
mawashi geri (roundhouse kick)
yoko geri (side kick)
ushiro geri (back kick)

Uchi (strikes)

shutout uchi (knife hand)
yoko empi (upper elbow strike)
tate empi (middle elbow strike)
ura ken (backfist strike)

Japanese Vocabulary – Budo concepts

budou – classical Japanese martial ways, whose goal is to simultaneously   cultivate martial technique, character, and spirituality to reach self perfection and inner peace, commonly spelled budo
bushi – classical Japanese warrior
deshi – disciple, a practitioner of traditional Japanese martial arts
doujou – means the “place of the Way”, a training center for Japanese budo, commonly spelled dojo
gokui or hiden – secret teachings, “hidden” techniques in kata
ikken hissatsu – “one strike, certain death”, the budo concept that a single blow must decide all
karate ni sente nashi – “there is no first attack in karate”, a favourite saying of Funakoshi Gichi, the founder of Shotokan
kobudou – “old martial ways”, refers to either the more ancient forms of traditional Japanese martial arts, or to martial arts weaponry systems orginating in Okinawa
makiwara – a karate striking board
seishin tanren – spiritual forging
sensei – literally, “one who was born before another”, generally means a teacher but is also used as a title of respect in Japan
shugyou – austere training
takigyou – waterfall training
Toyama Kanken – an Okinawan master of Karate-do and Kobudou who pioneered the introduction of Karate to Japan in the 1920’s, also was the sensei of Takahashi Eishu Hanshi

Rules and Regulations

  1. The goal of the Yoshinkan Karate-do Dojo is to provide budo (martial way) training that will help each student reach his or her highest potential both inside and outside the dojo.
  2. To reach that goal requires involvement and determination on the part of every participant. The following rules and regulations are formulated to help maximize training time and set guidelines for the dojo in general.
  3. Proper respect for other students in the dojo is essential. Participants who disrupt training for whatever reason steal not only their own time, but the time of others as well. Students who do not properly respect the rights and abilities of other students may be asked to leave.
  4. Students are expected to perform every technique with as much effort as possible. However, please ensure that you exercise enough control when doing kumite (sparring) so that you do not injure your partner. Any intentional fighting, inside or outside the dojo, will result in expulsion from the dojo.
  5. No alcohol or illegal drugs are to be consumed before training.
  6. No jewelry, watches, rings, etc. to be worn during class
  7. No chewing gum or consumption of food is permitted during training
  8. If the Sensei designates someone to teach part or all of a particular technique or class, participants will treat that person in the same manner as they would Sensei
  9. Proper attendance to matters of personal hygiene must be maintained
  10. No kumite (sparring) is to take place before, during or after training without the permission of, or without being in the presence of, the Sensei
  11. Some Japanese words will be used as part of the routine and etiquette of the dojo. To advance beyond the beginners level, students are expected to learn these words as well as the techniques taught in the dojo.
  12. Any participant whose activities outside the attendance of, or membership in the Yoshinkan Karate-do Dojo are deemed by the Sensei to have a detrimental effect on the group as a whole, may be asked to relinquish their membership in the dojo.
  13. Disregard for any of the rules may be just cause for the Sensei to dismiss any student from training
  14. Any student who cannot pay the tuition fees should consult with the Sensei as soon as possible. Otherwise, students are requested to pay the tuition at the beginning of each session at the Fleetwood Dojo.

Ranking system

Mudansha (white/coloured belts)

White Belt
10 Jikkyuu – (the rank that beginners start with)
9 Kyuukyuu
8 Hachikyuu
7 Nanakyuu

Green Belt
6 Rokkyuu
5 Gokyuu
4 Yonkyuu

Brown Belt
3 Sankyuu
2 Nikyuu
1 Ikkyuu

Yuudansha (holders of a black belt)

1 Shodan
2 Nidan
3 Sandan
4 Yondan (sometimes called Yodan)
5 Godan
6 Rokudan
7 Nanadan
8 Hachidan
9 Kyuudan
10 Juudan


Renshi – designation as an instructor, roughly translated as a “polished expert” (may be awarded to yuudansha between the ranks of yondan and rokudan)

Kyoushi – designation as an advanced teacher (may be awarded to yuudansha between the ranks of rokudan and hachidan)

Hanshi – grandmaster (may be awarded to yuudansha between the ranks of hachidan and juudan)

Shihan – old budo term meaning master or mentor/teacher for all disciples in the dojo; can be used in conjunction with other ranks, such as Renshi Shihan. It’s usually reserved for ranks godan to juudan.

Testing Requirements for Mudansha (holders of a white or coloured belt)

White Belt
Level 9 – Pin-an nidan
Level 8 – Pin-an shodan
Level 7 – Naifanchi shodan + one other kata

Green Belt
Level 6 – Pin-an sandan + two other kata + kumite
Level 5 – Naifanchi nidan + two other kata + kumite
Level 4 – Pin-an yondan + two other kata + kumite

Brown Belt
Level 3 – Naifanchi sandan + two other kata + kumite
Bunkai of Pin-an shodan + one weapons kata
Level 2 – Ahnankuu + two other kata + kumite
Bunkai of Pin-an nidan + one weapons kata
Level 1 – Passai dai + three other kata + kumite
Bunkai of Pin-an sandan + one weapons kata

Note: for “other kata” requirements, students can choose from any kata that they’ve learned

Testing Requirements for Yuudansha (holders of a black belt)

Shodan test: Koryugojushiho + Passai dai + three other kata + kumite
Bunkai of Pin-an yondan + one weapons kata

Nidan test: Jion + Passai dai + three other kata + kumite
Bunkai of Pin-an godan + one weapons kata

Sandan test: Chinto + Passai dai + three other kata + kumite
Bunkai of Pin-an godan + one weapons kata


At present, regular training sessions for Okinawa Seitou Karate-do are conducted at the Fleetwood Community Center, 15996 84th Avenue, Surrey. Additional training is sometimes offered at the Cloverdale Dojo as well.

To register for classes at the Fleetwood Community Center, please refer to the Surrey Recreation Guide, which is distributed by Surrey Parks and Recreation, and search for the key word “Yoshinkan”. Fees will vary depending on the length of time each course is offered in the Guide, and payments are made directly to Surrey Parks and Recreation. Please check the latest edition of the Recreation Guide for more information.


The standard training uniform of Yoshinkan Karate-do is a white keikogi (also called gi or dougi). These can be purchased from the dojo with the option of buying light, middle or heavyweight material. The price will vary depending on the material. An authentic Yoshinkan keikogi can also be purchased directly from the Yoshinkan Honbu Dojo in Japan.

The colour of the keikogi in traditional budo is actually quite important, unbeknownst to many martial artists today. Not only is white a universal symbol of purity, symbolizing the sincerity and purity of spirit of the martial artist, but the colour is also of historical significance. In the days of the Japanese Bushi (classical warriors), white was the colour associated with death. If a warrior, for whatever reason, was to commit seppuku (suicide by disembowelment), he would dress all in white. The knife or sword to be used for the act would be wrapped in a white cloth. In this manner, the warrior would be preparing himself mentally for his death. The colour white, then, serves to remind us, as persons training in the various combat arts of budo, that our training in the dojo is a serious thing, figuratively a matter of life or death. Each movement in the dojo – each punch, kick, block or throw – should be done as if your very life depended on how well you executed that technique, just as if it was a life and death struggle on the street. Hopefully none of us will ever encounter such a situation. However our budo training is meant to forge the spirit to prepare us for any challenge in life, including a deadly confrontation. In addition, the techniques we are learning can, if properly applied, cause death or grievous bodily harm, and the colour of our keikogi should remind us to exercise the utmost care when training with a partner. Techniques in a budo dojo should never be done frivolously or in jest.

Dojo Etiquette

In a traditional martial arts dojo, the teacher is usually addressed as Sensei. This is especially important during class time or in the presence of students of other styles of budo. If more than one teacher is present, the person you are addressing may be called “surname” Sensei, otherwise the title Sensei by itself is fine. Students of traditional martial arts should also keep in mind that there are other titles which teachers may have been designated, specifically Renshi, Kyoshi, Hanshi, and Shihan. Please refer to the section on the ranking system for a definition of these terms.

Upon entering the dojo of any traditional martial art, it is considered proper for the students to bow to the front of the room. In the case of the Yoshinkan Dojo, this is the direction in which the pictures of Takahashi Hanshi and/or Toyama Sensei are (usually) hung. Students then remove their shoes and line them up neatly near the entranceway. Without exception, outdoor footwear is always removed before stepping onto the dojo floor. After changing into a clean keikogi, gymbags and personal effects may be stored in the changing area or in the designated area in the dojo.

If the teacher is present when you enter the dojo, you should promptly walk towards him or her and bow, saying either good morning or good evening. If the teacher enters the room after you, the senior student will usually call “ki wo tsuke” (come to attention), and everyone in the room will face the teacher with hands and feet together. The teacher will greet the students with one of the above greetings, and the students will do the same to him or her, in unison. The mutual exchange of greetings is an important part of the etiquette of the dojo and is not performed merely for show. The bow and salutations should come from the heart, as a sincere sign of respect for yourself and the person you are addressing. Students bow to show their gratitude to the sensei and all the teachers of budo before him or her, and the teacher’s bow in return is to acknowledge the students’ sincerity and dedication to training. Students should keep in mind that the Japanese word dojo literally means “the place of the Way” or “the place for training in the Way”. The Way is the way of life, our struggle towards self-perfection and excellence of character. Through our austere training, we develop the will power and strength of character to accomplish our goals and stand in the face of adversity and succeed. It is the process of transforming ourselves into new beings – to be at peace with ourselves and the world. Learning to respect others as well as ourselves is an integral part of that process.

When training has finished for the day, the dojo floor will be wiped clean with wet cloths. The cleaning of the floor is generally performed by student and teacher alike, but it is usually the junior members of the dojo who wet the cloths beforehand and wash them out after. This floor wiping process is also an important part of the training, analogous to “seishin tanren”, or spiritual forging. Not only does it build strong legs and a humble heart, but also serves the purpose of keeping the training area clean and neat.

Any tasks or chores which are to be done in the dojo are usually shared by all students, however it is good etiquette for lower ranked students to take over any chores that the teacher or a higher ranked student is doing. If a senior is wiping the floor or putting equipment away, for example, it is proper for a lower ranked student to hurry to their location and offer to do it for him/her. Since the senior will usually refuse, the junior should insist and take over the job. Such interactions in the dojo are important to build a humble attitude and foster a spirit of cooperation among all students.

When the student is ready to leave, the last thing he or she does is approach the teacher and all black belts in turn and bow, saying “arigatou gozaimashita”. If you have trouble with the Japanese words, a simple “thank you” will do fine. As in all aspects of budo, it is the sincerity of the action that matters, not whether you get the words right. The teacher will bow in return saying “Sayonara”. Finally, before walking out the exit, it is proper to face the front of the room and bow. All this bowing may seem confusing and intimidating at first, so don’t worry if you forget sometimes. It will soon become second nature. Just keep in mind that the bow is a traditional sign of respect to your teacher and all the budo masters who have gone before you, and is an affirmation of your commitment to training even after you leave the dojo. Training in Karate-do, and any budo for that matter, occurs outside the dojo as well as inside – 24 hours a day, all the days of your life. Training is life and life is training. The true Karate-ka (students of Karate-do) will maintain a sincere attitude in everything they do, and strive to perfect their character and spirit through every activity in life. This is the way to peace of mind and emotional and physical well-being. This is the true way of Karate-Do.