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Pronunciation Key

a like a in father
e like e in Ed
i like ee in see
o like o in oats
u like oo in boot
ai like i in like
ei like ay in say
tsu like tsoo in oats-oo

Kendo Terminology

Printable version
Beginners' Terminology

Intermediate Terminology

Armor Terminology

Keiko Terminology

Tournament Terminology

Beginners' Terminology

Kendo is a traditional Japanese martial art. Therefore, we use Japanese terms for most of the techniques and to express the principles and concepts of Kendo, in the same way that French terms are used in ballet or European fencing. The following are terms you will hear during your first two months of Kendo. Try to learn them as soon as possible.

Click on the icon next to each word to hear the word pronounced. This can help you learn the terms very quickly.

the way of the sword (ken = sword, do = way or path)

kenshi a Kendoist
dojo training hall; a place for learning the "way", in this case, the way of the sword, including Kendo techniques, disciplines and patterns of behavior
rei to bow; also means practicing courtesy, politeness and respect in any form; putting others first
reigi the 'techniques' of politeness
seiza a formal sitting position; legs tucked under you and sitting on your heels
hai yes!; to answer emphatically with spirit when spoken to
sensei teacher
sempai a more experienced or older kenshi
kohai a less experienced or younger kenshi
counting 1 - 10 ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, shichi, hachi, kyu, ju
ashi sabaki footwork, how to use your legs
okuri ashi gather step; for fast, short-range movements in any direction; snap the trailing foot into a good stance
renzoku ashi smooth, continuous stepping without pauses
suburi sword swinging techniques
jogeburi full sword swing; an exercise used for relaxing and warming up the shoulders and upper back
jo = high area
ge = low area
buri (suburi) = sword swing
hayasuburi fast paced sword swing; used as warm up, endurance and strengthening exercise
men uchi men (helmet) strike
shomen uchi striking the middle of the opponent's helmet
sayumen uchi left and right men strike; a men strike slightly to the left or right of center
kote uchi wrist/forearm strike
do uchi ribcage strike
shizentai natural standing posture
hajime begin!
yame stop!
kamae physically, its an on-guard position; mentally, your spirit and mental attentiveness should be fully on your opponent
kiai shout; a way of building up and extending / expressing your spirit
bokuto (or bokken) a hardwood sword in the shape of a Japanese sword (katana), used to learn sword handling and for kata practice
shinai bamboo sword used for striking kendo armor
shinai parts:
tsuka handle
tsuba hand guard
tsuru string
kensen tip of the blade

Contact Us:
Russ or Wendy Sinclair
Email: Russ or Wendy Sinclair
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