Basic Dojo Japanese

For starters, we have certain phrases we use all the time at the beginning and end of class and before and after training with each other:

  • 神前に礼 shinzen ni rei — bow to the front of the dojo
  • お互いに礼 otagai ni rei — bow to each other
  • お願いします onegai shimasu — I have a favor to ask of you (i.e. “let’s train together”)
  • ありがとうございました arigatō gozaimashita — thank you (for what you have done)

You may also hear the following words used to signal the beginning or end of something:

  • はじめ hajime — begin
  • やめ yame — stop

You will also learn other terms related to your practice:

  • 受身 ukemi – [literally “receiving body”] falling and rolling practice
  • 遠い間合い tōi ma’ai – far distance
  • 近間合い chika ma’ai – close distance
  • 内間合い uchi ma’ai – inside distance
  • 残心 zanshin – remaining spirit
  • 遠山の目付け enzan no metsuke – gazing at distant mountains

There are a few items of clothing as well:

  • 稽古着 keikogi – training uniform
    • 上着 uwagi – upper garment
    • ズボン zubon – pants
  • 帯 obi – belt
  • 袴 hakama – Japanese pleated skirt-like pants

There are many more Japanese terms that you will encounter during your training.  Rather than list all of them here, you will learn many of them as you train and can find most of them in the glossary of the green book that you will get after being accepted as a student.

If you are interested in a much more in depth treatise on the subject of Japanese for martial artists, our own Michael Hacker sensei—a professionally-trained linguist and polyglot with 10 years of experience living and training in Japan—has written an extensive book on the subject which can be found at: