Crowborough Jitsu Club| Teaching Self-Defence for Today » a jitsu self defence resource for our junior and senior martial arts clubs in and around crowbrough east sussex england and for the jitsu foundation in the uk

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Japanese words

This is not an exhaustive list of the words we use but contain the main ones and from these you can break down the meaning of throws etc. for example O Soto Garuma= Major-Outer-Wheel. Or Sasae-Tsuri-Komi-Ashi.=Propping-Lifting-Pulling-Ankle. Each word can be found in this list.

Japanese Word  – English Meaning
Ashi  – Ankle.
Atama  – Head
Ate  – Strike,hit, punch or kick.
Atemiwaza  – Striking techniques using hand fist elbow etc.
De  – To come out, to advance.
Do  – Way, Path.
Dojo  – Training hall.
Eri  – Collar lapel.
Eri- jime  – Strangulation by use of collar.
Empi  – Elbow
Gake  – Hang Hook or block.
Garami  – To entangle to wrap
Garuma  – Wheel.
Gari  – Reap
Goshi [also Koshi]  – Hip
Gatame  – Lock
Gyaku  – Reverse, Upside down.
Hadaka  – Naked.
Hajime  – Begin or start.
Hane  – Spring
Hara  – Stomach.
Harai  – To clear away, Sweep.
Hidari  – Left side
Hiji  – Elbow.
Hiza  – Knee.
Ippon  – One. [Point. In judo =10 points]
Irimi  – Entering
Jigotai  – Defensive posture.
Ju  – Soft or gentle or flexible.
Judogi  – Clothes worn by players “Gi”
Judoka  – Judo player.
Juji jime  – Normal cross strangle.
Kyu  – A grade.
Kata  – Form, also Shoulder.
Katame-waza  – Groundwork.
Kame [i]  – Upper or Top
Kansetu  – A joint of the body [wrist,arm locks]
Kesa  – Scarf
Kiai  – A shout.
Ko  – Small or minor.
Koka  – Judo score three points.
Komi  – Pulling
Koshi  – Hips [also goshi]
Kubi  – Neck
Kuzure  – To break.
Kuzushi  – The balance broken
Makikomi  – Winding. Rolling up.
Mata  – Thigh.
Matte  – A command, “to wait.”
Migi  – Right side.
Mon  – Junior grade.
Morote  – Both hands.
Mune  – Chest
Nage  – To Throw
Nagewaza  – Throwing techniques.
Ne  – To lie down
Ne waza  – Techniques lying down.
No  – Belonging to…
O  – Big, large, major.
Obi  – Belt.
Okuri  – To send forward.
Osaekome  – Holding.
Otoshi  – To Drop.
Ouchi  – Major inner.
Randori  – Free practice
Rei  – To Bow.
Ryote  – Two hands.
Ryu  – Method or style.
Sasae  – To support or prop.
Sensei  – Teacher
Seoi  – To carry on the back[Shoulder throw]
Shihan  – Master
Shiho  – Four quarters or direction.
Shime [Jime]  – To tighten to strangle.
Shime waza  – Strangling techniques.
Shizentai  – Natural upright posture.
Sode  – Sleve.
Sono Mama  – Referees command to Freeze.
Sore-Made  – Referees command “That is all”
Soto  – Outer.
Sukui  – To Scoop up
Sumi  – Corner.
Sutemi  – To Throw away
Sutemiwaza  – Sacrifice throws.
Tachi  – To Stand
Tachi-rei  – Standing bow.
Tachiwaza  – Techniques performed in standing position
Tai  – Body
Tai sabaki  – Body movement.
Tani  – Valley
Tatami  – Mats [literally rice mats.]
Tate  – Vertical
Te  – Hand
Tewaza  – Hand techniques.
Toketa  – Hold- Broken term used in Judo contests.
Tomoe  – Turning Over.
Tori  – Person who applies a technique.
Tsuri  – To “fish up” lift up.
Uchikomi  – To go in repetitive techniques
Uchi  – Inner
Ude  – Arm
Uke  – To receive [person on whom technique is applied]
Ukemi  – Breakfall
Uki  – To Float
Ura  – Back or rear.
Ushiro  – Behind, back of
Utsuri  – To Change to move.
Wakare  – To divide to separate.
Waza  – Technique
Waza-ari  – A score in judo seven points.
Waza-ari awesete ippon  – Ippon achieved having scored two waza-aris.
Yame  – Stop.
Yama  – Mountain.
Yoko  – Side.
Yoshi  – Continue Carry on.
Yuko  – Judo score five points.
Za-rei  – Formal kneeling bow or salutation

How to remember the Japanese names for throws

“Do Ushiro Yoko Shiho Gatame”, your instructor says. You look at him or her with a glazed look. Your instructor asks someone else and they do it, then you say “Oh that one I know that.” The problem you had was to put the Japanese name to the throw or in this case to the hold down or should I say the “Osaekomi Waza”


“I did not come to Jitsu to learn Japanese”, you may say and you would be right. However if you went to study gardening or become a doctor you would be learning the names of plants and bones etc in Latin and you did not enter these jobs to learn Latin.
The reason for the Latin is to have consistency throughout the study and understanding of the discipline you have entered. The reason for Japanese terminology is much the same.
Our discipline came from Japan and it is our tradition to honour that by using their words or terminology. Some people may not like anything to do with the Japanese lifestyle. Jitsu is not asking you to become Japanese just to follow their tradition and thinking about Jitsu which they have developed over centuries and which is the foundation for our modern way of dealing with self defence.

Enough of the chat! How do I learn the names of the throws etc? The first thing to remember is that all of us who practise Jitsu have had to learn these names and over the months and years we have managed. Some find it easy, some find it hard. For years I knew arm locks as 1, 2, 2for a tall.3, 4, 5, and 6. Now I have to know 1 as “Kujiki Gatame”. So how do I start again learning all these names?


Let us start at the beginning. I have just learnt three throws for my yellow belt but I cannot remember the order or names.(The Website also gives the names of all the other techniques you need to know).

A Look on our website speaks of three throws for yellow:


Ko Soto Gari  Translated as Minor Outer Reap
O Soto Gari  Translated as Major Outer Reap
Ko Soto Gake  Translated as Minor Outer Prop/Hook


The Japanese use their language fairly similar to ours. I say that, knowing absolutely nothing about Japanese but if we use the word “Reap” it more or less stays the same sound and spelling in what ever sentence I use. A Reap is a Reap. Unlike French or German, the word does not change because it is feminine or masculine or where it is placed in the sentence. So A “Gari is a Gari.”Wherever you see the word “Gari” you will know it means “Reap” so whatever you do with that throw you know you have to somewhere “Reap”.

If we look at our three throws we see that “Soto” is always “Outer” and “O” in one case is “Major” and in two cases “Ko” is “Minor”. If we wanted we could say O=Big Ko=small. So wherever we see O it is big or Major, KO is small or minor. For “O Soto Gari” I go inside the attack and with a BIG movement of my leg REAP the OUTSIDE leg of the person who attacked me. Major – Outer- Reap- O – Soto – Gari.


As we move through the throws we learn that the Japanese for Hip is “Goshi; for shoulder is “Seo;” for side is “Yoko;” for wheel is “Garuma;”From what has just been said, what would “O Soto Garuma” be in English? [Answer at the end of the article. No prizes for the correct answer. Thirty press-ups for the wrong answer!]
All I have to do is remember the Key names of the throws[and the Japanese for “throw” is “Nage” pronounced Nagey.] Consequently I will know that there are “Gari” throws “Goshi” throws. “Seo” throws.”Garuma” throws. “Ashi”-ankle throws and so on.
As soon as you hear the Japanese for the technique look for the bit where the name never changes. Hip; Wheel; Lock; Throw. And you will begin to put all the techniques into boxes or categories. So when I did by brown belt I knew that I had to know 10 Goshi’s; 4, [I learnt,] 5 Gari’s, 7 Garuma’s. and so on up to forty five throws. You can of course add as many throws to these categories as you want.You can find them in Judo or Jitsu books or who knows you may even invent a throw or lock yourself!

How Jitsu developed [My idea]

That is an important thing to remember. I believe that all the techniques in Jiu Jitsu came about, to meet different circumstances in an attack, as against someone sitting down saying –in Japanese of course- “I will invent a new throw”! The new throw may have come about in this way:TORI- the defender, went inside to defend against an attack and tried “Koshi Garuma” a “Hip Wheel” but did not quite make the turn in and had to do something, so stuck his foot out and swished it backwards, so inventing ASHI GARUMA – ANKLE WHEEL. Well that is my version of how throws came about. No doubt someone in the foundation knows a different and more historical version.

So I now know the names of the throws and hold downs and how they are made up but I still have to remember them and put the names to the throws. Is this not where we came in with this article but I went off on one.


You may be a person who can read a list, and like at school, after a few reads you know what was written and can recite them back. That is one way of remembering the Japanese names. Another way which is the one I favour is to close your eyes and picture yourself doing, for example “O Soto Gari”. You have practised the throw so you can picture yourself doing it. As you do say “O Soto Gari” or break the technique down and pause at each bit of the throw. Picture the wide bit of going in that is the O” say it, then going to the outside of UKE the attacker, that is the “SOTO” say it. Finally doing the reap that is the GARI say that too. Gradually by picturing the throw and saying the words you will associate the two together. Do That with all the throws, hold downs locks etc. If you are not able to break the technique down just picture yourself doing the whole technique then say the Japanese word.

One last bit of advice if you can’t remember the names do not fret or get upset, far better to be able to deck an attacker than be able to say “Oh that was a nice O Soto Gari”! The rest will come.

Happy training.
Sensei John Harquail

[O Soto Garuma- Major Outer Wheel]
Lastly if anyone has other ways of remembering names to techniques let me know and I will add them to this section.