Kendo Terms
  • long vowels are noted in this section (example: kendō), but for simplicity are not noted in the explanatory sections (example: About Kendo)
  • descriptions in quotes are spoken phrases or commands

aisatsu
greeting; courtesy exchanged when meeting another person, see rei-gi

arigatō gozaimashita
"Thank you very much"

ashi-sabaki
footwork

ato-geiko
literally after practice, usually a second practice session for advanced kenshi following a primary practice session which stresses kihon

bōgu
kendo armor consisting of men, kote, do, and tare

bokken
wooden sword, primarily used for kendo kata

bokutō
same as bokken

chaku-sō
the manner of wearing keikogi, hakama, and bogu, see basic concepts

chakuza
command to sit down on the floor from a standing position

chūdan-no-kamae
basic kamae, with the kensen pointed at the opponent's throat, see basic concepts

chūken
middle player in a team match

(counting 1,2,3, ... ,10)
ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, shichi, hachi, ku, jyu

dan
ranking system for advanced levels (1=lowest, 10=highest); equivalent to black belt in other martial arts

datotsu
striking and thrusting. A valid point is referred to as yuko datotsu.

datotsu-bu
the part of the shinai with which one should strike the opponent. Refers to the jin-bu (side opposite the tsuru) around the region of the mono-uchi.

datotsu-bui
the correct striking or thrusting zones of the kendo-gu (protective gear), refers to the men, kote, do, and tsuki areas

datotsu-no-kikai
chance of strike

kendo armor to protect the trunk and chest

dō ari
"do" (awarding of the do point in a match)

enchō
match overtime period

fukushin
sub-referees in a match

fukushō
second to last player in a team match

furi-kaburi
big movement swing of the shinai above one's head

fusenshō
a match win by default, due to the opponent's absence or forfeit

gōgi
referee's conference during a match, held in the center of the court

hachimaki
thin cotton towel worn on the head under the men

hai
"yes" (used to answer when called)

hajime
"begin"

hakama
kendo clothing worn on the lower part of the body, a long divided skirt-like trousers

hansoku
match foul, results in one half-point against the offending player

hansoku ikkai
"first hansoku"

hansoku nikai, ippon ari
"second hansoku, one point" (awarded to the opponent of the offending player)

hantei
referees' decision of the winner of a match

hasuji
cutting path of the sword (angle of cut)

haya-suburi
fast suburi, one count per backward step plus foward strike

hikiwake
match draw

hiraki-ashi
footwork used when the body is moving diagonally (front foot is same side as forward shoulder)

igi
formal protest in a match, registered by a team manager

ippon gachi
a match decided by one point, due to time running out in sanbon-shobu

ippon shōbu
one point match (first person to score wins)

issoku-ittō-no-maai
distance from which one can strike in one step

jihō
second player in a team match

jiyū-keiko
free practice

jūdan-no-kamae
kamae with the shinai above the head, with the left hand above the forehead about one fist away

jōgai
stepping out of bounds (this is a hansoku)

kachinuki
a method of conducting matches in which the winner remains and keeps fighting until defeated

kaishi-sen
starting line in the court

kakari-geiko
attack practice

kamae
basic stance; ready position

kamae-te
command to assume kamae

kantoku
team manager

keiko
practice, training

keiko-gi
kendo clothing worn on the upper part of the body, a thick jacket-like shirt

kendō
the way of the sword; training the mind, body, and character through one-one-one striking practice using the shinai while wearing bogu

kensen
the tip of the shinai

kenshi
kendoist

ki-o-tsuke
"attention"

kiai
a shout or yell to show spirit

kiai-o-dashite
"More kiai!"

kigurai
confidence, presence, bearing

kihon
basics

kihon-dōsa
basic exercises, including uchi-kata and suburi

kihon-shiai
tournament in which kihon is judged. Usually includes rei-ho, kiri-kaeshi, and basic uchikomi. See shiai.

kiri-kaeshi
basic exercise in which the sides of the men are struck repeatedly, typically in sets of a straight men followed by 4 strikes forward and 5 strikes backward, see shiai

kiritsu
"stand up"

kōdansha
one with a high dan rank, typically 5th dan (godan) or higher

kokyū
breathing

kōtai
change places, alternate

kote
kendo armor used to proect the hand and forearm

kote ari
"kote" (awarding of the kote point in a match)

kumiawase
tournament match-ups

kyū
ranking system for beginning levels (6=lowest, 1=highest); equivalent to white and colored belts in other martial arts

ma-ai
distance between opponents

massugu
straight, linear

mawari-geiko
rotation keiko

mejirushi
red or white tag tied to the crossed do strings on the back, used to distinguish the players in a match

men
kendo armor to protect the face, head, and shoulders

men ari
"men" (awarding of the men point in a match)

men-no-uchi, gokai
"basic men strike, 5 times"

men-no-uchi, sankyodo
"basic men strike, three count movements" (1=raise shinai, 2=strike, moving forward, 3=step back)

men-o-tore
"take off the men"

men-o-tsuke
"put on the men"

metsuke
use of the eyes to see the opponent, see basic concepts

mokusō
meditation performed in the seiza position, see basic concepts

monouchi
the region of the shinai most effective for striking, located between the tip and the nakayui

motodachi
person being struck to provide instruction, for example in uchikomi-geiko, kakari-geiko, or kihon shiai

nakayui
thin strip of leather tied around the shinai about one third down from the tip

nafuda
name tag worn on the center of the tare

naore
command to stop mokuso

nihon me
"Second point" (continues sanbon-shobu after one player has scored the first point of the match)

nuke-tō
"draw the sword (shinai)"

okuri-ashi
the most basic footwork used in kendo, where the feet start and end in the basic kamae position with the right foot in front and the toes of the left foot even with the line of the right heel, see basic concepts

onegai shimasu
"I request the favor (of a practice)" (said when beginning keiko with a more senior kenshi)

osame-tō
"return the sword (shinai)"

rei
bow

rei-gi
matters of etiquette, see rei-gi

rei-hō
doctrines of etiquette, see basic concepts and shiai

ritsu-rei
standing bow

sanbon shōbu
three point match (first person to score two points wins)

sage-tō
the posture taken when performing ritsu-rei, with the shinai held in the left hand with the arm hanging naturally at the side. The tsuru faces downward and the hand next to the tsuba.

sayū-men
the right and left striking zones of the men

seiretsu
"make a line"

seiza
seated attention position (literally correct sitting), see basic concepts

seme
pressure applied to one's opponent

senpō
first player in a team match

sensei
instructor, usually with rank 4th dan (yondan) or higher

shiai
match, see shiai

shiai-geiko
match practice. At Norwalk Dojo, includes kihon-shiai and regular shiai.

shiai-jikan
match time limit

shiai-jō
court

shinai
bamboo sword used in kendo

shinai-otoshi
losing control of the shinai (this is a hansoku)

shin-kokyū
deep breathing exercise

shinpan
judge; referee

shinpan-chō
head judge

shinpan-shunin
court judge

shinsa
promotional examination

shisei
posture, see basic concepts

shizentai
natural standing position, see basic concepts

shōbu
"Match" (continues sanbon shobu after each player has one point)

shōbu ari
"Match done" (announces the end of the match)

shōmen
the side of the dojo or hall farthest from the main entrance, the side having the highest place of honor

shōmen-uchi
a strike to the center of the men

shūgō
gathering, meeting

shushin
chief referee (makes the match pronouncements)

shusseki-o-torimasu
"taking roll call"

sogo-no-rei
ritsu-rei to the opponent. The angle is about 15 degrees, and eye contact is maintained.

sonkyo
the crouching position in which begins and ends each bout

suburi
basic exercise which simulates striking the men repeatedly, performed without an opponent

suburi-ikkyodo
one-count suburi (alternate striking forward and backward on each count)

suburi-nikyodo
two-count suburi (raise the shinai on the odd count; strike on the even count, alternating the going forward and backward and each strike)

suigetsu
solar plexus

suriage
deflecting the opponent's shinai using a circular motion

suri-ashi
footwork in which the feet do not lose contact with the floor, see basic concepts

taiatari
hitting with the body

taikai
tournament

taishō
last player in a team match (captain)

tai-to
holding the shinai at the left hip, ready to draw. The tsuka-gashira should be in front of the center of the body.

tanden
a point located slightly below the navel in the center of the lower abdomen, considered to be the body's center of mass and, in oriental medicine, the source of health, vitality and ki-energy

tare
kendo armor to protect the waist, groin, and upper legs

te-no-uchi
the usage of the hands to tighten/loosen the grip on the shinai or adjusting the balance between the hands when striking or responding

tenugui
same as hachimaki

tsuba
circular guard on the shinai

tsuba-zeriai
the position in which the opponents are close to each other with tsuba or fists together

tsuka
the handle of the shinai

tsuka-gashira
the very end (bottom) of the tsuka

tsuki
flap on the men which protects the throat

tsuki ari
"tsuki" (awarding of the tsuki point)

tsuru
the string which holds the shinai together

uchikomi-geiko
practice striking the basic points on the motodachi

wakare
during keiko: "dismissed" (signals end of session)
during shiai: "separate" (timer does not stop)

waza
technique, see advanced concepts

yame
"stop"

yonkyū ika wakare
"4th kyu and below, dismissed"

yudansha
kendoist with a rank of 1st dan (shodan) or higher

yūkō datotsu
valid point, see shiai

zanshin
mental and physical presence of spirit, especially after completing an attack


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