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A guide for beginners to help them associate common aikido terms with what they learn and practise in the dojo


dojo – Practise place/area
onegai shimasu – “Please teach me” (at the start of class)
arigato gozaimasu – “Thank you” (at the end of class)
nage – Person executing technique
uke – Person receiving a technique


hakama – Black “skirt” worn by senior aikido-ka (shodans and above)
bokken – Wooden sword
jo – Staff
tanto – Dagger
tatami – Mats making up the dojo


Shisei/hanmi – Stance
seiza – Formal sitting (legs folded behind)
keiza – Sitting on one’s toes (kneeling)
shikko – Walking on one’s knees
ai hanmi – Partners have the same stance; i.e. oright hand and foot to right hand and foot, or vice versa
gyaku hanmi – Partners in mirror postures; i.e. right to left
jodan – High level (usually referring to hand position)
chudan – Mid (waist) level
gedan – Low level
tachi waza – Both partners stand
ma ai – Distance between uke and nage
suwari waza – Techniques executed with both partners sitting keiza (*)
hanmi hantachi waza – Uke stands, nage in keiza
jiyu waza – Free style (attack and defence)

* suwari waza techniques have their origin (in part) in the historical practice of samurais sitting and moving about on their knees while in the presence of a feudal lord. In contemporary aikido, suwari waza is important for learning to use one’s hips and legs.

Attack Techniques

tori – Catch (from nage’s front or behind – ushiro)
katate tori – One hand grabs wrist (near arm)
morote tori – Two hands grab one wrist
ryote tori – Two hands grab two hands
kata tori – One hand grabs near shoulder (lapel) in gyaku hanmi stance
ryokata tori – Two hands grab two shoulders
ushiro kubi shime – One hand grabs wrist from behind and the other arm locks around neck as if to choke
uchi – Strike (as if with bokken)
shomenuchi – Strike to the head, cutting down
yokomenuchi – Diagonal strike to the head/neck
tsuki – Punch (usually to the abdomen)
atemi – Hand strike


ichi – One
ni – Two
san – Three
yon – Four
go – Five
roku – Six
nana – Seven
hachi – Eight
kyu – Nine
ju – Ten


Ukemi – Roll
mae ukemi – Forward roll
ushiro ukemi – Backward roll
yoko ukemi – Side fall

Basic Movement

irimi – Step forward (direct entry)
tenkan – Turn away/around (from line of attack)
irimi tenkan – Step forward and then turn away
omote – Front side of partner
ura – Other side (back) of partner

Defence Techniques

nage – Throw
shihonage – Four-direction throw (uke’s hand comes to shoulder with elbow bent)
iriminage – Entering throw (bring uke’s head to nage’s shoulder, tip head up or to the side, and throw b cutting down and across collar bone
kokyunage – Breath throw (by cutting up then down)
kokyuho – Similar to kokyu nage, but done near the end of class as a warm-down exercise that also allows one to practice “extension”
kotegaeshi – Twist wrist outwards
tenchinage – Heaven-and-Earth throw (technique to counter ryote tori – one hand points to the ground, the other points to the sky)
kaitenage – Bring uke’s head low under control, stretch arm behind his/her back, and throw forward
jujinage – Crossed-arm throw
koshinage – Hip throw
osae – Hold down, keep from moving
ikkyo – ‘First’ lock (one hand grabs wrist the other grabs elbow) ending with shoulder pinned to ground
nikyo – Second’ lock (one hand grab wrist bending it at right angles, the other hand grabs near elbow) ending with shoulder pinned to ground
sankyo – ‘Third’ lock (grab uke’s hand with both hands, apply wristlock wielding uke’s hand like a bokken) ending with shoulder pinned to ground
yonkyo – ‘Fourth’ lock (grab near wrist and apply pressure to arm nerve) ending with shoulder pinned to ground)
gokyo – ‘Fifth’ lock (grab wrist before uke’s hand falls to nage’s chest level, apply gokyo lock, pin shoulder to ground

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