Note: The English spelling of Japanese terms is far from standardised. Different sources may use a different spelling than the one shown here. It is more important to understand the phonetic sound of the term, so that you recognise it when it is used in training.

General Terms

  • Stances (Dachi)
  • Blocks (Uke)
  • Punches (Tsuki)
  • Strikes (Uchi)
  • Kicks (Geri)

Traditional Okinawan Karate Weapons
There are five traditional weapons, BO, KAMA, NUNCHAKU, SAI and TONFA. Many of the striking and blocking techniques have been adapted for use when armed with these weapons.

Goju Ryu Katas
Katas are a sequence of pre-defined movements that include the attack and defence against one or more imaginary attackers. They are practiced alone to perfect the movements and to learn how to move more efficiently. Many Katas contain karate techniques that are not obvious to an onlooker (and sometimes not even to the student performing the Kata). The practical application of the Katas is called BUNKAI. Katas and their applications are an integral part of the grading system. There are twelve Katas in the Okinawan Goju-Ryu Kata List

Gekisai means “to destroy or demolish”. These Katas were created by Chojun Miyagi and are designed for beginners. They contain exaggerated movements and are relatively easy to learn.

Saifa means, “tearing” and is of Naha-te origin. It is also known as “Circle/Circular” Kata

Seiyunchin is said to mean “marching far quietly” or “pulling” and is also known as the “Earth” or “Dragon” Kata. It is of Chinese origin.

Shisochin means, “fighting four” and refers to fighting in four directions and is of Chinese origin having been taught to Kanryo Higoanna by Ryu Ryu Ku

Sanseru when written in Chinese characters is the number 36. It also focuses on fighting in all four directions

Sepai is the number 18. It is of Chinese origin

Kururunfa is an advanced Kata. It is also of Chinese origin

Seisan means “thirteen hands”. It contains eight defensive and five offensive moves

Superinpei is the number 108 and is said to refer to a warrior group of 108 men who, in the 1600′s travelled the countryside righting wrongs – Robin Hood style

Sanchin means “three battles” – the three being the body, the mind and the spirit. Kanryo Higoanna brought it back from China

Tensho means “flowing or changing hands”. Tensho is also known as “Heavenly Palm”. Chojun Miyagi created it. It is a combination of dynamic tension and deep breathing with soft flowing hand movements

Instructors Commands

Command Meaning
SHUGO Line up
KI O TSUKE (key-scay) Attention
SEIZA (say-tsar) Kneel
MOKUSO Meditation (Close eyes)
SHOMEN NI Face forward
REI (ray) Bow
KIRITSU (care-writ-sue) Stand up

On bowing to Sensei at beginning of session (or on commencing training with another student Karate-ka will say: ONEGAISHIMASU – “ONARGI SHIMAS” - (Please teach me).

On completion of training, (or working with a partner) Karate-ka will say: “ARIGATO-GOZAIMASHITA” - (Thank you very much).


Command Meaning
YOI (yoy) Ready i.e. in musubi dachi position
KAMAE (cam-I) On guard i.e. take up your position ready to fight or assume a set position as in moving basics
HAJIME Begin (or continue) at your own speed or count
MAWATTE Turn round or “about face”
ASHI O KAETE Change leg (stance)
MO ICHI DO One last time

Counting to Ten

Japanese Word Number
ICHI (itch) One
NI (knee) Two
SAN (san) Three
SHI (she) Four
GO (go) Five
KU (coo) Nine
JU (due) Ten

Body Areas

Japanese Word Meaning
JODAN (jo-dan) Upper area: from the collar up, the face.
CHUDAN (choo-dan) Centre area: from the collar to the belt, stomach.
GEDAN (gay-dan) Low area: groin.


KYU Grades DAN Grades
Tenth Kyu White Belt Shodan Black Belt (1st Dan)
Ninth Kyu Yellow Belt Nidan 2nd Dan
Eighth Kyu Orange Belt Sandan 3rd Dan
Seventh Kyu Green Belt Yondan 4th Dan
Sixth Kyu Blue Belt Godan 5th Dan
Fifth Kyu Purple Belt Rokudan 6th Dan
Fourth Kyu Purple/White Belt Nanadan 7th Dan
Third Kyu Brown Belt Hachidan 8th Dan
Second Kyu Brown Belt with one black band Kudan 9th Dan
First Kyu Brown Belt with two black bands Judan 10th Dan


  • Dan Grades are only conferred at a Gasshuku (held twice yearly – summer & winter)
  • There is a minimum two-year qualification period from 3rd Kyu to 1st Dan
  • Other qualification periods and age restrictions apply to the Dan grades
  • Juniors are awarded Mon grades between Kyu grades. There are three Mon grades between each Kyu grade � signified by striped belts.
  • Junior Grades
    • 10th Kyu = White belt
    • 10th Kyu 1st mon = white belt yellow stripe
    • 10th Kyu 2nd mon = white belt blue stripe
    • 10th Kyu 3rd mon = white belt black stripe
    • 9th Kyu = Yellow belt
    • 9th Kyu 1st mon = yellow belt white stripe
    • 9th Kyu 2nd mon = yellow belt green stripe
    • 9th Kyu 3rd mon = yellow belt black stripe
    • 8th Kyu = Orange belt
    • 8th Kyu 1st mon = orange belt white stripe
    • 8th Kyu 2nd mon = orange belt yellow stripe
    • 8th Kyu 3rd mon = orange belt black stripe
    • 7th Kyu = Green belt
    • 7th Kyu 1st mon = green belt white stripe
    • 7th Kyu 2nd mon = green belt blue stripe
    • 7th Kyu 3rd mon = green belt black stripe
    • 6th Kyu = Blue belt
    • 6th Kyu 1st mon = blue belt white stripe
    • 6th Kyu 2nd mon = blue belt red stripe
    • 6th Kyu 3rd mon = blue belt black stripe
    • 5th Kyu = Purple belt
    • 5th Kyu 1st mon = purple belt brown stripe
    • 5th Kyu 2nd mon = purple belt black stripe
    • 5th Kyu 3rd mon = purple belt black stripe with 1 black tape at end of belt
    • 4th Kyu = Purple belt white stripe
    • 4th Kyu 1st mon = purple belt 2 white stripes
    • 4th Kyu 2nd mon = purple belt 2 white stripes with 1 black tape at end of belt
    • 4th Kyu 3rd mon = purple belt 2 white stripes with 2 black tape at end of belt
    • 3rd kyu = Brown belt
    • 2nd kyu = Brown belt 1 black tag
    • 1st Kyu = Brown belt 2 black tags
  • Depending on age, Juniors can become a Junior 1st Dan or a 1st or 2nd Dan Cadet