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Notes on Japanese terminology

Techniques used in Isami Ryu are generally named in English. However, many other Japanese based martial styles use Japanese terminology. Japanese terminology can be quite complex and most students and schools learn the Japanese names of these techniques individually.

Isami Ryu takes the opinion that although we are a club with a traditional base in Okinawan Karate, we are to all intents a British martial arts club with an English speaking audience.

Below is a description of how key techniques are named in martial arts. Many of these techniques are made up of various elements. In some cases the part of the body used to do the technique and the direction of the strike. An example of this is Mawashi (round) Geri (kick), so Mawashi Geri is a round kick.

Other techniques use a different method, naming the part of the body affected by a technique along with the direction of the attack. An example of this type of terminology is Kote (forearm) Gaeshi (reverse). So Kote Gaeshi is a reverse arm control (although to complicate things further it works on the wrist, which is actually Tekubi in Japanese).

It’s also worth noting that the words for the body part and direction of attack are in a different order in each example. This is down to looking at the attackers body part in one example and the receivers in another example.

Another element a student may come across is the height of the technique being performed for instance the height involved in the technique usually comes first when naming in Japanese. An example of this is Jodan (head level) Age (rising) Uke (block). So Jodan Age Uke is a rising head level block.

What I’ve done on our terminology page is a list of the techniques used in Isami Ryu with a description of what they are or how they may be used. I feel this list is of far greater benefit to the student than learning Japanese naming for no realistic reason.

The only retained references to Japanese naming retained in Isami Ryu are:

1.     The names of Kata because basically these are what the Kata are actually called.

2.     Counting. When a technique or series of techniques are required to be performed strongly I find counting in Japanese gives a strong feel to a performance and encourages a sense of focus and determination from the student.

    3. Bowing in and out I feel gives a real sense of the traditions and lineage of a martial art.

 

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