A Glossary of Kendo Terms

Counting in Japanese

ichi 1 juichi 11 sanju 30
ni 2 juni 12 yonju 40
san 3 jusan 13 goju 50
shi 4 juyon 14 rokuju 60
go 5 jugo 15 nanaju 70
roku 6 juroku 16 hachiju 80
shichi 7 jushichi 17 kyuju 90
hachi 8 juhachi 18 hyuku 100
kyu 9 jukyu 19    
ju 10 niju 20    

Bowing Ceremony

In between the warmup period and the beginning of training and, at the conclusion of each training there will be a short bowing ceremony. Before and during each of these ceremonies the dojo steward of the day will call out a number of instructions as follows:

Before Training:

seiretsu Line up.
chakuza Be seated (in seiza).
ki o tsuke A call to attention, be ready.
mokuso A brief period of meditation.
mokuso yame End of meditation.
joseki ni rei Bow to the kamiza, (the calligraphy in front of the wall to sensei's left).
sensei ni rei Bow to sensei, say "onegaishimasu". If no sensei is present then the bow will be "shomen ni rei" - bow to the front of the dojo.
men tsuke Put on your men, (and your kote).

After Training:

seiretsu Line up.
chakuza Be seated (in seiza).
men tore Remove your men (and kote).
ki o tsuke A call to attention, be ready.
mokuso A brief period of meditation.
mokuso yame End of meditation.
sensei ni rei Bow to sensei.
jo seki ni rei Bow to the kamiza.
otagai ni rei Bow first to sensei and then to the kendoka directly to your left and right, say "domo arigato gozaimashita" on each occassion.

General Words & Phrases

ato backwards
arigato thank you
ashi leg, foot
ashi-sabaki footwork
ayumi-ashi 'walking' footwork
banzai hurrah, cheer (after a contest)
bogu kendo armour
bokken wooden sword
bokuto wooden sword
budo chivalry, way of the warrior
chakuza sit ready
chikai-maai near interval (distance)
Chudan-no-kamae 'on guard' position, with shinai point at opponents throat or chest
dan rank, grade
do chest or trunk, chest armour
dojo place of training
domo arigato gozaimashita thank you very much
gedan-no-kamae position of the shinai when held lower than the waist with point towards the floor
hai yes, acknowledgment
hajime begin, start
hakama full length divided skirt worn in kendo
hara abdomen, stomach area
hidari Left (side/direction)
himo string, cord, strings used in tying kendo armour
hiraki-ashi 'open' footwork
iaido the way of sword drawing; the practice of drawing, cutting or thrusting, and sheathing the sword
iie no
issoku-itto-no-maai interval for a stroke at a step forward
jodan-no-kamae position of the shinai held above the head with one or both hands
kakari-geiko attack practice
kamae 'on guard' position, mental attitude included
kamaette order to assume kamae (chudan-no-kamae)
kamiza shrine, focus of dojo
kata training with an opponent using a bokuto or katana in a series of prearranged attacks and counter attacks performed at a deliberate pace
katana sword
keiko practice
keiko-gi kendo jacket
kendo 'way of the sword'; study of Japanese fencing
ki-o-tsuke sit up straight and pay attention
kiai shout of self assertion, audible expression of inner spirit of determination
kiri-kaeshi practice cuts; a series of cuts and tai-atari on an opponent
kote gauntlet; glove
maai interval between opponents, time and distance
mae front, forward
men mask, helmet
men tsuke 'put on the men'
men tore 'take off the men'
migi right (side/direction)
okuri-ashi 'sending' footwork'
onegai shimasu 'please may I (practice)'
osame to 'sheath the sword'
rei bow, order to bow
reigi courtesy, etiquette
sakigawa leather cap on the tip of the shinai
seiritsu 'lineup'
seiza formal kneeling/sitting posture
sensei teacher
shiai match, contest
shinai bamboo sword
shizentai natural standing posture
shomen front of men
sonkyo squatting posture
suburi non-contact practise cuts
tai-atari body attack, push with body
tare hip and abdomen protector
tatte stand up
tenegui head cloth, small towel
temoto grip
tenuchi squeeze
toi-maai distant interval
tsuba guard on shinai or sword
tsuba-dome rubber tsuba retainer
tsugi-ashi 'connecting' footwork
tsuka hilt
tsukagawa leather covering on the shinai hilt
tsuki thrust to throat or chest
uchi strike, cut
uchi-kaeshi see kiri-kaeshi
uchi kome geiko basic strike practice
ushiro back, behind
waza techniques of attack and defence
yame stop
yokomen a blow to the side of the men above the ear
zanshin state of mental and physical alertness to be maintained throughout a confrontation