Below is a list of Japanese terms used to describe the most common techniques in Karate.



Jodan – Head or upper level

Chudan – Stomach or middle level

Gedan – Lower level




Heiko-Dachi – Natural/Yoi Stance


Heisoku-Dachi – Feet together


Musubi-Dachi – Heels together, toes at 45 degrees.


Zenkutsu-Dachi – Front Stance

Front leg bent with knee over front foot. Back leg straight.  Feet shoulder width apart. The front foot must face forward with the rear foot facing in the front direction as much as possible. Don’t lean forward.

Weight Distribution: Front Leg – 60%                 Back Leg – 40%


Kokutsu-Dachi – Back Stance

From ‘Yoi’ Dachi, the left or right leg slides out into back stance with the heels in line and the feet at right angles with the knees bent and back kept upright, the arms are crossed in front of the chest and in an inwards/outwards motion the arms perform ‘Kaka-Wake-Uke’.

Weight Distribution: Front Leg – 30%       Back Leg – 70%


Kiba-Dachi – Straddle/Horse Stance

From ‘Yoi’ Dachi, the left leg is slid out to double shoulder width.  Both feet facing forward, knees pushed out and back straight.

Weight Distribution: 50% – 50%


Shiko-Dachi – Like Kiba-Dachi but with both feet facing outwards at 45 degrees.


Neko-Ashi-Dachi – Cat Stance

From ‘Yoi’ Dachi, the right foot on the toe moves in a small arc (inwards – out), the back is kept straight, with both knees well bent. The right hand comes over and down in a slapping motion to Chudan level as the left hand scoops back towards the body as if catching a foot.

Weight Distribution: Front Leg – 10%                                Back Leg – 90%


Uchi-Hachiji-Dachi – Feet shoulder width apart, toes facing inwards at 30-45 degrees, knees tense.


Renoji-Dachi – ‘L’ Stance, feet are shoulder width apart, with the front foot facing forward and rear foot facing outwards at 90 degrees.


Kosa-Dachi – Cross Stance


Fudo-Dachi/Sochin-Dachi – Unshakable Stance




Gedan-Barai – Downward Block

From the “Yoi” position, the blocking arm is raised over the opposite shoulder and swung downwards in an arc towards the leg stepping forward into Zenkutsu Dachi.  Use both arms when blocking.  Stop fist just 6” above the knee.

Hips: Hanmi (45 degrees).


Age-Uke – Rising Block

The forearm and fist is positioned in front of forehead straight. The forearm is angled down from the wrist to the elbow.

Hips: Hanmi (45 degrees).


Soto-Uke – Outside Block

Often used for attacks to middle level.  The arm travels inward from the outside of the body.  Forearm vertical, elbow same level as Gedan-Barai and Uchi-Uke.  When moving into stance, reach behind body with blocking arm.  Block centre.

Hips: Hanmi (45 degrees).


Uchi-Uke – Inside Block

As above this block is used for attacks to the middle level.  The arm travels outward from the inside of the body.  Forearm vertical, elbow same level as Gedan-Barai.  Block centre.

Hips: Hanmi (45 degrees).


Shuto-Uke – Knife hand block

From ‘Yoi’ Dachi, step forward with left leg into Ko-Kutsu Dachi and in an arc from right shoulder, the open left hand swings down to Chudan level, pull back right hand (open) to solar plexus.

Hips: Hanmi (45 degrees).


Tate-Shuto-Uke – Vertical Knife Hand Block (Arm Straight)


Kakewaki-Uke – Wedge Block


Kake-Uke – Hook Block


Nagashi-Uke – Sweeping Block


Juji-Uke – Cross Arm Block (X)


Haishu-Uke – Back Hand Block


Morote-Uke – Reinforced Forearm Block


Manji-Uke – Running Water Block


Kosa-Uke – Double Hand Cross  Block




Choku-Zuki – Static straight Punch

Punch centre, shoulders down, chest square.


Oi-Zuki – Stepping/Lunge Punch

As Choku-Zuki but utilise hip rotation.  Keep hips low when moving forward.  Don’t turn front foot to the side.  Bend ankle, keep foot flat.


Gyaku-Zuki – Reverse Punch

As Choku-Zuki but utilise hip rotation.  Don’t lean forward. Don’t move front knee.


Kizami-Zuki – Leading side Punch

Snapping punch typically directed to  upper level.



Empi-Uchi – Elbow strike


Mawashi Empi-Uchi – Roundhouse Elbow Strike


Ushiro Empi-Ucho – Reverse Elbow Strike


Tate Empi-Uchi – Downward Elbow Strike


Uraken-Uchi – Back Fist Strike


Tetsui-Uchi – Hammer Fist Strike


Teisho-Uchi – Palm Heel Strike


Haito-Uchi – Ridge Hand Strike



Mae-Geri – Front Kick

Lift knee of kicking leg to height required. Pull toes back, kick and push forward with the hip at the same time striking with the ball of the foot. Snap foot back after kicking.  Keep supporting foot flat ensuring the leg is slightly bent.


Yoko-Geri – Side Kick

Lift knee of the kicking leg in front and twist 90 degrees on the other leg. Kick with the outer edge of the foot (Keage – Snap), bottom of foot (Kekomi – Thrust), snap back kicking leg returning it to the front.  Keep heel up, toes down and use supporting leg.


Mawashi-Geri – Roundhouse Kick

Lift knee of kicking leg behind body fully cocked. Parallel with the floor, swing leg forward with a smooth hip rotation, snap back kicking leg, keep the supporting leg bent, foot flat, kick with ball of the foot.


Ushiro-Geri – Reverse Kick


Hiza-Geri – Knee Kick


Mikazuki-Geri – Crescent Kick


Kakato-Geri – Axe Kick


Ashi-Barai – Foot/Leg Sweep



Sensei – Instructor

Kekomi – Thrusting kick technique

Keage – Snapping kick technique

Kiai – Sound produced during execution of technique with maximum effort

Kime – Tensing of muscles

Kihon – Basic (Hence Kihon Kata = Basic Kata)

Kumite – Sparring

Migi – Right

Hidari – Left

Rei – Bow

Yoi – Ready position

Zanshin – Maintaining concentration