All posts in “Blog”

Chinese vocabulary

Chinese Name English Translation
Yut One
Yee Two
Sam Three
Say Four
Um Five
Lok Six
Chat Seven
Bat Eight
Gal Nine
Sup Ten
Sandah/Sanshou Full contact fighting
Kwoon Training Hall
Tongsan Uniform
Kune Fa Fist Law
Hung Sao Doh Empty Handed Way
Sihing Senior
Sitze Senior (feminine form)
Sifu Teacher or Father
Sigung Master
Sijo Grand Master
Sipa Your Sifu’s Sihing (i.e. Your father’s elder brother.)
Ma Bu Horse Stance
Shi Bu Cat Stance
Kom Bu Bow and Arrow Stance
Yu-Bay! Ready!
Gin Lai Salute
Bai Jong Ready Position
Kwoon School or Academy
Si-jo Founder of System
Si-gung Your Instructor’s Instructor
Si-fu Your Instructor
Si-hing Your senior, older brother
Si-dai Your junior or younger brother
Si-bak Instructor’s senior
Si-sook Instructor’s junior
To-dai Student
Toe-suen Student’s Student
Phon-Sao Trapping Hands
Pak sao Slapping Hand
Lop sao Pulling Hand
Jut sao Jerking Hand
Jao sao Running Hand
Huen sao Circling Hand
Boang sao Deflecting Hand (elbow up)
Fook sao Horizontal Deflecting Arm
Maun sao Inquisitive Hand (Gum Sao)
Gum sao Covering, Pressing Hand, Forearm
Tan sao Palm Up Deflecting Hand
Ha pak Low Slap
Ouy ha pak Outside Low Slap Cover
Loy ha pak Inside Low Slap Cover
Ha o’ou sao Low Outside Hooking Hand
Woang pak High Cross Slap
Goang sao Low Outer Wrist Block
Ha da Low Hit
Jung da Middle Hit
Go da High Hit
Bil-Jee Thrusting fingers (finger jab)
Jik chung choi Straight Blast (Battle Punch)
Chung choi Vertical Fist
Gua choi Back Fist
Ping choi Horizontal Fist
Chop choi Knuckle Fist
Saat Knee
Jang Elbow
Kow Tao Head Butt
No’ou tek Hook Kick (Roundhouse Kick)
Juk tek Side Kick
Hou tek Back Kick
Hou juk tek Back-Side Kick
Juen tek Spin Kick
Dum tek Foot Stomp
Gua tek Inverted Hook Kick
Jeet Tek Stop Kick
Jik tek Straight Kick
So tek Sweeping Kick
Chi sao Sticky Hands Excercise
Tan sao Palm Up Deflecting Hand

Japanese vocabulary

Guide to Japanese Pronunciation

Although the Karate terminology is in Japanese, it is very easy to pronounce if you follow a few simple rules:

In the case of vowels, that is the letters a, e, i, o, u, pronounce them in the following manner (this is the only way they are ever pronounced):

  • pronounce “a” like the “a” in the word “at”
  • pronounce “e” like the “e” in the word “egg”
  • pronounce “i” like the “e” in the word “be”
  • pronounce “o” like in the word “awe”
  • pronounce “u” like the “o” in the word “do”

In the case of the double vowel “ei”, its pronunciation has no equivalent in standard English, but is to be pronounced as the “ay” is pronounced in words like “nay” in the Yorkshire dialect

In the case of the letter “y”, it is never pronounced like the letter “i” as it is often in English in words like “cry”, but always pronounced like the “y” in the word “yes”

In the case of the letter “g”, it can be pronounced like the letter “g” in “go” and also like the “ng” in the words “bring”, “king” and “sing”, but never pronounced like the “g” in the word “gentle”. With the exception of the words “gedan”, “geta” “go”, “gohon” and “gyaku”, the “g” will be pronounced like “ng”.

The other letters in the Karate terminology are pronounced as they are in English.

Glossary of Japanese Words

The following is a table of Japanese words which are commonly used in martial arts, their phonetic pronunciation and the English meaning:

Japanese Word Phonetic Pronunciation English Meaning
Sensei Sen – sei Teacher
Sempai Sem – pai Senior Student
Dojo Do – jo Training Hall
Kiai Kee – ai Yell of Spirit
Hai Hi Yes
Gi Ghee Uniform
Seiza Say – zah Kneel or sit
Rei Ray Bow
Arigato Are – e – ga – toe Thank you
Yasume Ya – sue – may Relax or rest
Yame Ya – may Stop
Mukuso Muk – kuh – so Meditation
Karate Kar – rah – tey Empty Hand
Kumite Coom – i – tay Sparring
Kata Cat – ah Forms
Hidari Ha – dar – ree Left
Migi Mig – ee Right
Shomen-ni Sho – men – nee Front
Jodan Joe – dahn Face level
Chudan Chew – dahn Chest level
Gedan Gay – dahn Low level
Keage Kay – ah – geh Snap
Kekomi Keh – koh – me Thrust
Hajime Hah – ji – me Start
Mawate Ma – wa – teh Turn
Otagai – Ni O – teh – gai – nee Turn and bow


Japanese Word Phonetic Pronunciation English Meaning
ichi itch one
ni knee two
san san three
shi shee four
go goe five
roku rook – u six
shichi shee – see seven
hachi hach – ee eight
ku ku nine
ju ju ten

Stances – “dachi” (dah – chee) is added at the end of each stance

Japanese Word Phonetic Pronunciation English Meaning
Hachi ji Hah – chee – gee Open-leg (relax)
Heisoku Hay – so – koo Attention
Zenkutsu Zen – kut – sue Front
Kokutsu Koh – kut – sue Back
Kiba Key – bah Horse riding
Sanchin San – chin Hour glass
Shiko Shee – ko Horse riding (45 degrees)
Musubi Moo – sue – bee Attention (45 degrees)
Neko Ashi Nee – ko ash – ee Cat

Blocks – “uke” (U – key) is added at the end of each block

Japanese Word Phonetic Pronunciation English Meaning
Jodan Joe – dahn Face
Soto So – toe Outside to inside
Uchi Oo – chee Inside to outside
Shuto Shoe – toe Knife – hand
Gedan Barai (no uke) Geh – dahn bar – eye Low Block

Punches – “tsuki” (tsue – key) is added at the end of punch

Japanese Word Phonetic Pronunciation English Meaning
Oi Oh – ee Lunge
Gyaka Gya – koo Reverse
Yama Yah – mah U – punch

Strikes – “uchi” (U – chee) is added at the end of strike

Japanese Word Phonetic Pronunciation English Meaning
Shuto Shoe – toe Knife – hand
Tettsui Tet – Tsue Hammer Fist
Empi Em – pee Elbow
Uraken Er – rah – ken Back – fist

Kicks – “geri” (gary) is added at the end of kick

Japanese Word Phonetic Pronunciation English Meaning
Mae Mah – eh Front
Yoko Yoh – koh Side
Mawashi Mah – wah – she Round
Ushiro Oo – she – row Back
Mae – keage Mah – eh kay – ah – geh Front snap
Mae kekomi Mah – eh keh – koh – me Front thrust
Yoko keage Yoh – koh kay – ah – geh Side snap
Yoko kekomi Yoh – koh keh – koh – me Side thrust

Dojo formality & customs

The dojo is a symbolic structure that contains specific meanings. The north side of a dojo is called the Kamiza (上座); it is the most important place in a dojo. Another term used for the north end of a dojo is the Upper Seat. This area is reserved for honoured guests and high-ranking instructors.

The south side of a dojo is called the Shimoza and is also referred to as the Lower seat. This is where the students usually sit. In Japan, there is a saying: There is no teaching from the south. This means the students should not try to instruct or speak to one another during class. It is poor etiquette to speak to one another during training unless it is to instruct by a Sempai. There is no need to discuss what you did, could have done or should have done during class. The south or lower seat is the area identified for training purposes and learning.


The East Side of a dojo is referred to as the Joseki or Upper Side. This is where visitors usually sit and watch practice. This is also where the instructor sits if an honoured guest is sitting at the Kamiza. The east is also the direction of the rising sun and is associated with enlightenment. Some dojo in Japan, bow to the east before and after training to symbolize the recognition and honouring of enlightenment.

The West Side of the dojo is referred to as the Shimoseki, or Lower Side. It is usually just a space or area of a dojo without specific meaning other than the fact that the sun sets in the west and the west symbolizes darkness, or the direction the dead take in afterlife.

The above relates to the formality, beliefs, and customs regarding the four sides of a Japanese dojo. However, even in Japan, the Kamiza, and the other symbolism in a dojo are arranged in whatever manner provides the best use of training space.

The role of a sempai

Seniors are generally considered those members ranked Blue-Brown belt or higher, although, anyone of higher rank is a Sempai.

Being a Sempai is an important role within the Dojo. A Sempai is a position of trust, honor, and responsibility.

Sempai should teach students how to bow, tie their obi, proper etiquette, and assist the Sensei with instruction.

Sempai should ensure that the Dojo remains clean.

Sempai should always be encouraging and helpful and should never criticize or tear down their Kohai (juniors).

Sempai should train frequently and harder than other students, thus setting an example.

Sempai should have the class lined up properly and ready for training when the Sensei steps onto the floor.

Sempai should be positive, kind, and display respect, thus showing proper budo.

Sempai should maintain dojo discipline and correct violations of etiquette or policy by taking one aside and instructing him gently and with respect. Never embarrass anyone.

Always research any question that a Kohai asks. When unsure of the correct answer a Sempai should never guess and should refer the question to Sensei.

Sempai should learn the names of all students.


We frequently hear that “people refuse to change because change is stressful.” I would like to suggest that not to change is even more stressful because the world is changing.

In 1917 the 100 largest corporations in America were identified and by 1998 only 15 of them were still in business. They had either disappeared entirely, merged with or been bought out by other companies. One of the companies I represented for eight years refused to change and as a result they simply “went under” and were eventually taken over. They sold an excellent product, but when new developments entered the field they stuck by their original product and the consumers took their business elsewhere.

Many marriages have been saved because the participants were willing to change their attitudes and behaviours. On the other hand, countless marriages have failed because the participants refused to make any changes at all, indulged in “the blame game” and, as a result, created intolerable conditions under which no one could live.

Many people today who have difficulty keeping jobs end up unemployed because they are unwilling to change. From my perspective the word “change” means “to grow,” or “to change from doing the wrong thing to doing the right thing.” On the growth perspective, Eric Hoffer said it extremely well: “In times of change the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” To this Tom Peters added, “Only those who constantly retool themselves stand a chance of staying employed in the years ahead.”

Yes, when we continue to grow it eliminates a lot of stress and helps build employment security, and security in all aspects of life.

Adapted from SOMETHING ELSE TO SMILE ABOUT by Zig Ziglar.

Using fear

You’re in a situation with your wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend that makes you nervous. Your car has broken down, it’s dark, and you’re in a bad part of town. Your try to tell yourself to relax. You’re a martial artist with years of training. A shabbily-dressed man approaches you. Your stomach tightens. He asks for “spare change” for a drink. You refuse but he persists. You start to walk away and he follows. You can smell the alcohol on his breath. He starts to reach out to you and you pull away. You back up, your wife behind you. You do not want trouble. Does he read this action as fear? Predators feed on fear, you remind yourself. He stalks closer, he eyes moving behind you to your wife. He has crossed your safety line. You get feelings you tell yourself you should not have ?doubt and fear. You tell yourself to be calm but it worsens. You don’t know what to do. You’re frozen in indecision. Fear overcomes you. Your heart races and you have trouble catching your breath. Your hands shake, your vision narrows, your hearing shuts down, and your mind races with negative thoughts. Where is my Zen-like peace? Where are the techniques I’ve worked on for so many years? Why am I afraid? You pray your skills will kick in, but will they?

Every martial artist’s deepest fear is that when they need their combat training to defend themselves or their loved ones, they will hesitate or freeze. Most martial artists spend years sharpening their physical skills, yet spend little or no time developing their mental ones. They fall into the trap of thinking that physical techniques alone will ensure peace of mind in a violent encounter. Then when a real fight occurs, they are shocked at their response. Many quit training in the martial arts after such an experience, thinking their art failed them, or that they failed their art. In reality, though, they only neglected to train their brains as well as their bodies.

Mind Training

To train the mind to resist fear, you must first be able to realize the difference between an “adrenal push” and its physical effects, and the psychological state we label as fear, and make friends with both. Only then can you put them to good use. The first part is to separate our physical responses from our psychological interpretations of them.

Fear is defined as a strong, often unpleasant, emotional and physical response to real or perceived danger. Adrenaline is a natural hormone secreted by the adrenal glands that are nature’s response to stressful environmental triggers. Its only job is to prepare the body for action ?be it fight or flight. Fear should be your ally. The process of fear comes in basically four steps.

  1. Pre-Event Adrenal Drip: This state occurs often. Many people refer to it as a stress reaction. You’re tense, slightly nervous and on edge. If this state is prolonged it can exhaust you. This is why stressful jobs “burn” you out. This state is intended to put you on alert ?physically and mentally. It also releases neuro-transmitters for heightened mental focus. Fear of fear can increase this.
  2. In-Event, Primary Adrenal Dump: This occurs rapidly and very intensely. It is when your adrenal glands “dump” large amounts of the hormone into your system. This is to prepare you for major physical activity. The effects of adrenaline are varied, but it is important too remember that this state is the ultimate survival tool. Adrenaline can cause a variety of effects to the body. It can tighten the muscles in preparation for trauma. It will cause visual exclusion or narrowing of vision, which causes you to lose your peripheral vision, creating tunnel vision. It leads to auditory exclusion, in which you lose a high percentage of your hearing ?this is why athletes can’t hear the crowds at athletic events. Adrenaline can speed up the heart rate. It can release ATP to give extra physical strength, but it can also cause rapid exhaustion, giving you the shakes. Mentally, it can cause rapid cognitive activity, giving you an overload of thoughts ?usually negative ?which can flood your mind, making you feel overwhelmed. It can also increase your breathing rate. These things, in and of themselves, are bad and are not to be feared. They prepare your body for action. People that channel this into productive use excel in tense and stressful situations. These are the people who do better on rank tests, fights and other events when most people go down a notch.
  3. In-Event, Secondary Adrenal Dump: This is a second dump which increases the effects of the above, as well as blocks pain, gives a secondary rush of energy, and creates extra negative thoughts. This state is intended to give you that “second wind,” of extra physical endurance, strength, and power to finish your task. This state explains why some people get better as a game, or fight, goes on. This is why in football, some athletes go out of their way to get hit a few times, in order to “get into the flow of the game.”
  4. Post-Event Adrenal Drip. After an event, the adrenal glands secrete small amounts of adrenaline. This causes slightly higher physical tension and leads to mentally repeating the event and reliving the fight. This state is much like the first and is intended to help your body readjust to the effects of the stressful event. This leads to physical and mental exhaustion.

Channeling Fear Into Power

Once it is understood that the physical states of fear are intended to help you, the importance of not labeling these as “good” or “bad” is obvious. Just accept these states, then let the mind take over and channel the extra energy from the adrenaline to your own use. To learn to harness fear, the first step is to recognize that it is normal. Insight and knowledge opens the door to channel this wonderful, power-packed state into something that can give you an edge in hostile situations. The first step is to find and identify the first feelings of fear ?the pre-event adrenaline release: How do you feel? Where do you feel it (stomach, chest, shoulders, back, et cetera)? What is your state of mind? To do this exercise, think of something that makes you fearful such as a confrontation with your boss, an IRS audit, or stepping onto the mat for a tournament fight. Relive the situation, note the above sensations, label the information, and store it.

Next, think of a time you were at your very best and were physically and mentally sharp. It could be a tournament you did well at, an academic test, or a business deal. Now imagine a circle on the floor. This is your circle of excellence and power. What color is this circle? Does it have a sound, a taste, a smell? Do this until you’ve established a recognizable and identifiable presence for it.
Now, think of your positive event and step into your circle ?pull the circle into you. Throw your shoulders back. Feel the focus and the power. Repeat this twice. Now step out of the circle and access your fearful state. As you begin to feel the fear (the adrenaline state), step back into your circle and breathe in deeply. Do this five times. This is the first step in turning fear into power. Now, when your body starts to access the state of fear, it will naturally go into the circle of power. The more often you do this training, the more automatic the response will be when confronted by a stressful situation. As Tsunetome Yamamoto, an 18th century samurai, said, “The realization of certain death should be renewed every morning. Each morning, you must prepare yourself for every kind of death with composure of mind. Imagine yourself broken by bows, guns, spears, swords, carried off by floods, leaping into a huge fire, struck by lightening, torn apart by earthquakes, plunging from a cliff, or as a disease-ridden corpse.”
It may sound morbid, but if you can imagine your deepest fears, death, humiliation, loss of pride, and step into power, you will be in a better position to face whatever comes your way. It will help you to develop the heart of a warrior.

Dr. Will Horton, a martial artist and the founder of The National Federation of Neurolinguistic Psychology, is available for consultation, speaking engagements, or seminars by calling 800-758-4635, or visiting