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© Marko Grönroos, 1998 - Iaido Glossary

A glossary of terms in Japanese swordsmanship
Version 1.1 released on Iaido-L
by Kim A. Taylor


Batto Another name for iai.
Iaido The way of drawing the sword.
Kendo The way of the sword, already drawn.
Koryu Old school or lineage.
Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu A style or school of Iai. Named for Hasagawa Eishin.
Muso Shinden Ryu style related to the above, originated by Nakayama Hakudo.
Seitei Basic, fundamental. Seitei Gata, fundamental techniques (kata).


Etiquette names:

Hajime no saho Beginning etiquette
Owari no saho Finishing etiquette
Reigi Etiquette
Reiho Etiquette, method of bowing
Reishiki Same as above.
Saho Method of etiquette

Sword positions:

DATTO Taking sword from belt
KEITO Same as teito shisei.
TAITO Putting sword into belt
TEITO holding the sword loose by the left side. Also used when sword is in belt and both hands loose at sides.
TEITO SHISEI holding the sword by the left side, as if in the obi. Thumb on tsuba.


JOSEKI NI REI Bow to the high section of the dojo.
KAMIZA NI REI Bow to kamiza (gods)
OTAGAI NI REI Bow to each other.
REI Bow.
RITSU REI Same as tachi rei.
SENSEI (GATA) NI REI Bow to teacher(s)
SHINZEN NI REI Bow to shrine.
TACHI REI Standing bow.
TO REI Bow to sword.
ZA REI Kneeling bow.


ARIGATO Thank you (informal)
DOMO Thanks (informal)
DOMO ARIGATO Thank you (formal)
DOMO ARIGATO GOZAIMASU Thank you very much (very formal)
DOZO Please go ahead
GOMEN NASAI Excuse me, I'm sorry
ONEGAI SHIMASU Please (when asking for something, usually as in Please lets practice together)
OSHIETE (KUDASAI) "(Please) teach me", such as a polite way to get a game with an older better player at a Go club, or before keiko with a visiting high ranked kendo sensei.

Onegai shimasu is used when asking someone to do something for you, but unlike kudasai, which needs to be attached to the verb, onegai shimasu can stand by itself, such as in giving an item to buy to the cashier, or to a waiter to get a dirty plate removed, or as an additional exhortation after the initial please, as in "Oshiete kudasai. Onegai shimasu." Yarimasho-ka might also be better for "Let's practice (play) together, shall we?"

ONEGAI OTSUKARESAMADESHITA A thank-you that is used after training.
O TSUKARE SAMA DESHITA You have become tired (because of the hard work you have done teaching) An expression of thanks.
SUMIMASEN Excuse me (to attract attention).

Ranks and titles

KO HAI Junior student.
SEMPAI Senior student.
SENSEI Instructor.
SHIHAN A senior teacher, properly used within the school only, when outside, use sensei.

KYU Student grade, from 5 to 7 up to 1, the highest.
DAN More advanced grades, from 1 to 10.
YUDANSHA Members with dan grades.
MUDANSHA Members with kyu grades

HANSHI Highest title from ZNKR, must be 55 or older and 8 dan.
KYOSHI Middle title from ZNKR, must be 7th dan.
RENSHI Title bestowed from ZNKR in addition to Dan ranks.

SOKE Head of style (actually head of family, unifier of gods and lineage)
KAICHO "Owner" of school (organization) eg. Sei Do Kai
KANCHO "Owner" of school (building, hall) eg. Yugen Kan

Practice hall arrangement

DOJO Practice hall.
GE Side of dojo opposite shinzen
JOSEKI (JO) High side, Shinzen.
SHOMEN Front of room.
SHINZEN, KAMIZA Altar, gods place.
SHIMOSEKI, SHIMOZA opposite sensei, where students sit.
Students line up on one side of the room, instructors on the other. Shinzen is one of the two remaining sides, usually depending on where the door to the room is. If the door is in a corner, usually that corner is where the lowest ranked students would sit. Preferably, shinzen is to the east.
i J                                                G
n o                                                e

     Sempai    -> decreasing rank                  door

Commands in the dojo

ATO Move back.
HAYAKU Quickly.
IAI KISOGEIKO Fundamental practice.
IJO That's all (after recitation).
JUNBITAISO O OWARIMASU Warm-ups are finished.
KATANA O MOTTE Get your sword(s).
MATE Wait.
MAWATTE Turn around.
MO MOTTE More, eg. mo oki, bigger.
MOKUSO Close the eyes, meditation.
OSAME TO Replace swords into saya.
YAME Stop.
YOI Ready.

General vocabulary

AGE Lift or raise up.
ATO DE Afterwards.
BATTO Draw the sword.
CHIGAU Different.
DAME Not like that, wrong.
EGURU To scoop out, gouge.
HAI Yes.
HETA Unskillful, poorly done.
JOZU Skillful.
KOGESA Small form.
KYOJUN Standard, basic level.
MIRU Look.
NANKEN "False sword", bad style, twitchy tournament style
OGESA Large form.
OKI Big.
SEMERU Push, press.
SHITA Under.
SHITO KOKYU One breath.
SHIZUKANI Soft, gentle.
SUKOSHI A little, a small amount.
TATE Standing, upright.
WAKARIMASU I understand.


MAE Forward.
MIGI Right.
USHIRO Rearward, behind.

OMOTE Front.
URA Back.
UCHI Inside.
SOTO Outside.

CHUDAN Middle.

ICHI MON JI A straight line.
TATE ICHI MON JI A vertical line.
YOKO ICHI MIN JI A horizontal line.

CHOKKAKU Right angles.
DO Degrees, eg. kyu ju do is 90 degrees.
HEIKO Parallel.
MASSUGU Straight ahead.
NANAME Diagonal.
OTOSHI Dropping.
SHOMEN Straight ahead.
UE Up.
YOKO Horizontal, to the side.

ASOKO Over there.
BIKI To move, as in saya biki or hakama biki.
GYAKU Reverse, opposite, inverted.
HANTAI The other way around.
KIKU Lower.
KOMI Coming close or drawing near.
SOKO There, that position.

The uniform

BOGU Kendo armour.
DO The breastplate.
KOTE Gloves, gauntlets.
MEN The helmet.
TARE The protective skirt.
TENUGUI Small hand cloth to wipe face. Also worn under the helmet in kendo.

KEIKO GI Practice uniform.
KENDO GI Practice uniform for kendo.
EMBU GI Demonstration top / uniform.
GI Refers to top only.
KAMISHIMO Over vest / jacket.
KESA Lapel / part of monk's costume hanging from left shoulder.
MON Family crests on uniform (5).
MONTSUKI Wide sleaved top with mon on chest, sleeve and back.
SODE Sleeve, on practice top.
TANOMO Large sleeves on formal tops.
UWA GI Practice top.
ZEKKEN Chest patch embroidered with own name and dojo name.

OBI Belt.

HAKAMA Split skirt, wide legged pants.
HIMO Straps / cords
HERA Peg in back of hakama.
MATADACHI Split in side of hakama.
KOSHI ITA Back plate on hakama.

TABI Japanese sock-slippers used in dojo.
ZORI Japanese sandals for use outside dojo.


HANMI Half forward stance.
HITOEMI Equal stance, feet parallel forward
IAI GOSHI Hips lowered, stable position.
IAI HIZA, TATE HIZA Kneeling on one calf.
KAMAE Posture, stance.
KIZA Kneeling, but up on the toes.
SEIZA Kneeling on both calves.
SONKYO squatting (crouching) position in Kendo practice.
TACHI Standing.

CHUDAN Middle kamae, sword in middle, seigan is a chudan gamae.
GEDAN Lower level, sword pointed down.
HASSO GAMAE Figure 8 stance, sword by side of head. Usually hasso hidari, sword on right, left foot forward.
JODAN Upper level, sword above head. Usually hidari jodan, left foot forward.
KARUMA like waki gamae, blade horizontal.
KASUMI Arms crossed over to hide technique (mountain mist).
KONGO Blade vertical in front of face.
SEIGAN Natural step, fundamental kamae.
WAKI GAMAE Sword pointed down and back, for a sutemi (sacrifice) waza. Usually sword on right side (migi waki gamae), left foot forward. Other purpose - hiding length of sword, especially in case of a broken one.


AIUCHI Strike together.
ATE Strike.
GYAKU KESA GIRI Diagonal upward cut.
KATATE UCHI One handed cut.
KESA GIRI Diagonal downward cut. A kesa is a sash worn diagonally across the chest by buddhist priest.
KIRI Cut. (kiru: to cut)
KIRI AGE Same as gyaku kesa giri.
KIRI GAESHI Large diagonal cut, sword finishing in waki gamae position. Different meaning in kendo, refers to partnered practice with attacker performing successive yokomen and defender blocking.
KIRI KUDASHI Finishing cut.
KIRI OTOSHI Dropping cut, straight down.
MOROTE UCHI Two handed cut.
SHOMEN UCHI Strike on front of head.
SUNE GAKOI Block to protect the leg (shin).
TSUKI Thrust.
UCHI Strike.
UKE NAGASHI Receive and deflect.
YOKOMEN UCHI Strike on side of head.
YOHO GIRI Horizontal cut.

Kendo techniques (wazas):

Ashi-waza Foot technique
Debana-waza Attack-at-the-start technique
Gedan-waza Sword lowered technique
Harai-waza Warding-off technique
Hiki-waza Stepping-back technique
Jodan-waza Sword-over-head technique
Kaeshi-waza reverse-side or rotating warding technique.
Katate-waza Single-hand technique
Katsugi-waza Shouldering-the-sword technique
Kiri-otoshi-waza Both cut men, the weaker cut bounces off and the stronger, more centred cut hits the target.
Maki-waza Rolling-off technique
Nidan-waza Two-step technique
Nuki-waza Displacement, dodging or avoidng technique.
Sandan-waza Three-step technique
Sayai-waza Small wrist swing technique
Shikake-waza Offensive techniques
Suriage-waza Literal meaning of suri-age is sliding up. It's any oji or shikake (oji - counterattcking, shikake attacking) technique which involves creating the opportunity by sliding your shinai upwards along the opponent's shinai.
Uchiotoshi-waza A downward strike used to knock the sword away or out of the opponent's hands.


EMBU Demonstration.
KATA - structured practice; form or pattern.
JI GEIKO Free practice (kendo).
JOGEBURI (JOGESUBURI) Suburi with the finishing position with tip about 2" above floor.
KAKARI-GEIKO Practice where the instructor offers openings to the student, who must attack the openings immediately.
KEIKO Practice.
KIRI KAESHI This is the migi-men, hidari-men practice with another person blocking.MI TORI KEIKO Watching practice.
NANAMAE MEN Suburi with the "corners" of the head as target, 45 degree angle - same technique as in kiri-kaeshi
OJI WAZA Receiving techniques.
SAIUMEN Suburi practising left and right yoko-men alternately.
SHIAI Competition.
TAIKAI Match within a competition.
TAMESHIGIRI Test cutting.
UCHIKOMIGEIKO - continuous attack practice

Parts of an iaido technique (kata)

HENKA WAZA Small variations in same basic technique.
KAE WAZA Substitute or totally different techniques.
WAZA Technique.

KOKYU Breath control.
CHOSOKU Breathing.
ENZEN NO METSUKE Gaze at the far mountains.

BATTO To unsheath a sword.
NUKI TSUKE or KIRI TSUKE, simultaneous draw and strike.
TATE HA Standing edge, draw with edge up.
JO HA KYU Acceleration, buildup to climax.
SEME Pressure.
SEMERU Pressing forward.
SAYA BIKI Movement of scabbard.
SAYA BANARE Tip at koiguchi during draw, just before strike, the flight from the scabbard.
KIME Focus

FURI KABURI Lifting sword from nuki to morote jodan.
KIRI KUDASHI or KIRI TSUKE the finishing strike.
HIKI TAOSHI Pulling down. (Usually the opponent).
HIKI KIRI Pulling cut, usually when pulling over teki.
HANE AGE Flipping over. (Flipping up the blade).

CHIBURI Shaking off the blood, cleaning the blade.
O-CHIBURI Large or circular chiburi.
YOKO CHIBURI Horizontal chiburi, move to the side.
CHINUGUI Wiping off the blood, as is done in Uke Nagashi.

NOTO Replacing the blade in the saya.
TATE NOTO Standing noto, blade replaced with edge facing up.
ZANSHIN Awareness, watchfulness, "lingering heart".


TE NO UCHI Grip on sword with fingers pulling into palm.
SHIBORI Wringing. Twisting the hands inward over the handle on the cut.
HASUJI Angle of movement of the edge. Where the edge is "pointing".
KIRI TE Grip that allows cutting action with blade.
SEME TE Pushing hand. Pressing forward with the blade.
MAMORI TE As for seme te. Covering or protecting hand.
SHINI TE Hand position that does not allow a cut. Dead hand.
TOME TE Stopping hand, one that is defensive.
NOBI TE As for shini te.
KATA TE One handed.
MORO TE Two hands on tsuka.
SOE TE "Assisting hand" One hand on tsuka, one on blade.

Descriptions of the sword

Sword names:

AIKUCHI a dagger with no tsuba, typically worn by women
BOKEN Hardwood replica of sword.
BOKUTO Hardwood replica of sword.
DAISHO Great small, the set of two swords, daito and shoto.
DAITO Great sword, larger of the set of two, daisho along with shoto.
GUNTO War sword, usually refers to those made just prior to and during WWII.
IAITO Practice sword for Iaido, usually not sharp.
KATANA Same as Daito. Mounted edge up.
KEN Sword, usually refers to the straight double edged type.
KODACHI equivalent to SHOTO, lit. "small TACHI" with the same fittings as a tachi.
KOTO "Old sword". Blades before about 1600.
SUBURITO Wooden sword, usually heavy.
SHINAI Bamboo practice sword, used for Kendo.
SHINKEN A real or "live" blade.
SHINTO New swords, from about 1600 to 1870.
SHIN-SHINTO Modern blades.
SHOTO the smaller of a pair of daisho, the other is the daito.
TACHI Old style sword, (koto) mounted edge down.
TANTO a knife-sized short sword, typically less than 1 SHAKU in length
TO Sword, curved type, single edge.
UCHI GATANA Inside sword, forerunner of Katana, worn in belt.
WAKIZASHI equivalent to SHOTO, the shorter sword in a DAISHO pair, typically less than 2 SHAKU in length

Other bladed weapons:

NAGAMAKI Similar to a naginata, a curved blade on a pole.
NAGINATA Halberd - a long pole with a curved blade on the end
YARI spear

Measuringl the sword:

SHAKU 30.2 cm. or 11.9 inches.
SUN 1/10 of a shaku.
BU 1/10 of a sun, 0.3 cm

NAGASA Measure of length of blade from kissaki to mune machi in a straight line
SORI Measure of curve of blade from nagasa to mune at deepest point.

Sword length parameters:

Tachi, Daito, Katana, = 2+ shaku.
Shoto, Wakizashi, 1-2 shaku.
Tanto, <1 shaku.

Parts of the sword:

OMOTE For Tachi. That side that faces out from the hip when it is in the saya in its usual mounting. This side is signed by the swordmaker.
URA For Tachi. Side that faces the hip.

SASHI OMOTE (Katana) Side facing out.
SASHI URA (Katana) Side facing hip.

TACHI-MEI The side with the signature.
KATANA-MEI The side with the signature.

Points on the sword blade (tang to tip):


NAKAGO Tang of blade.
NAKAGO JIRI End of tang.
MEI Signature on tang.
YASURI MEI File marks on tang.
HITOE Back of tang, meets mune at mune machi. Also called Nakago-mune.
MEKUGI ANA Hole through tang.
MUNE MACHI Notch for habaki, at back of blade.
HA MACHI Notch for habaki, at edge side of blade.


TSUBA MOTO 1/3 of blade nearest tsuba.
CHU O Middle 1/3 of blade.
MONO UCHI 1/3 of blade nearest tip, cutting area.
KATAHABA Measurement at thickest part of blade.

MUNE Back of blade.
MUNE TYPES: Mitsumune (3 surfaces), Marumune (rounded), Iorimune (standard 2 surface)

SHINOGI JI Area of blade near back from shinogi to mune.
HI Grooves down shinogi ji.
SHINOGI Line of blade between shinogi ji and jigane, ridge at widest point of blade.
HIRAJI Area of blade between hamon and shinogi.
JIGANE Refers to the steel material. Jigane = skin steel. Shingane = core steel. These have different carbon contents. Appearance of the jigane is controlled by the smith's folding technique. Can be of different patterns, courseness, etc.
HAMON Ha = edge, Mon = Pattern. The shape or style of the yakiba. This does not necessarily exactly follow the shape of the yakiba. A polisher will "improve" it sometimes.
HIRA Face of the blade between shinogi and ha, includes hiraji and hamon.
YAKIBA Yaki = fired, Ba (Ha) = edge. The hardened part of the blade near the edge.
HABUCHI Boundary of the yakiba.
HA Cutting edge.


YOKOTE Line between edge plane and tip plane.
MITSUKADO Point where shinogi, yokote, and ko shinogi meet.
KO SHINOGI Shinogi line through tip area.
KISSAKI Tip area, from yokote to end.
Ko kissaki = small, Chu Kissaki = medium, O kissaki = large.
FUKUSA Cutting edge in tip area.
BOSHI The hamon of the kissaki. Hardened area in tip / the curve leading to the point.

Fittings of the sword:

TSUKA Handle.
KASHIRA Fitting at end of handle, end of handle.
TSUKA MAKI The style, or pattern, or method of wrapping the handle.
TSUKA ITO The material used to wrap the handle. Silk, Leather, etc.
SAME Belly skin from a type of Ray. However, the word SAME means "shark", not "ray fish".
MENUKI Decorative fixtures on handle.
MEKUGI Retaining peg.
MEKUGI ANA Hole for peg.
FUCHI GANE Fitting between handle and guard.
SEPPA Spacers on either side of tsuba.
TSUBA Sword guard.
HABAKI Fitting between tsuba and blade, wedge for koiguchi.

KOGAI Skewer.
KOGATANA Ko = small, Katana = blade. Small knife carried in a pocket on the Saya.
KODZUKA Ko = small, Tsuka = handle. Handle of the Kogatana.

The scabbard:

SAYA Scabbard.
SHIRASAYA lit. "white scabbard", a plain storage-only scabbard
KOIGUCHI Scabbard mouth (literally carp's mouth).
KURIGATA Knob for tying sageo.
SHITODOME Metal fittings inside the kurigata.
SAGEO Cord from saya (kurigata) to hakama himo.
KOJIRI Fitting at end of saya, end of saya.

Parts of a shinai:

sakigawa - leather tip of shinai
nakayui - the middle knot that holds the shinai staves together
tsukagawa - the leather handle
tsuba - disc guard
tsubadome - the rubber that keep the guard from sliding down.

Body motions

TAI SABAKI Body motions. TAI Body. SABAKI Movement.

HIRAKI ASHI Rear foot moves forward and turns to face opponent, front foot turns to establish feet again in kamae but with opposite foot forward.
IRIMI Entering.
JIKU ASHI Turning foot, the main axis of rotation.
KAITEN Turning.
MAWARI Swinging around.
SEME ASHI Pushing or pressing foot.
SURI ASHI Sliding foot.
TENKAN Moving one foot behind the other to face 180 degrees.


AYUMI ASHI Normal walking motion, back foot slides up to become front foot.
CHIDORI ASHI "Bird walk" as in ayuma ashi.
FUMI KOMI Shift forward, as in a strike, using the hips.
FUMI KOMI ASHI Foot motion as shifting forward, front and back slide together, not two different movements.
OKURI ASHI Following foot, step forward with front foot, then rear foot moves same distance forward to regain original distance apart.
TSUGI ASHI Half step, rear foot up to front then front forward again.

The swordsman

Names of roles:

KASSO TEKI Invisible opponent.
MOTODACHI Defender, teacher side in waza practice.
NAGE Performer of technique.
SHIDACHI (SHI TACHI) Completing sword. Finishes partner practice.
TEKI Opponent
TORI Attacker.
UCHIDACHI (UCHI TACHI) Entering sword. "Attacker" in partner practice.
UKE Receiver (of technique)

The body (top down):

NAKAZUMI Centreline of body

MEN Head.
SHOMEN Front or top of head.
YOKOMEN Side of head.
SHAMEN Side of head, temple
GAMMEN Point on face between the eyes.
SUNMEN Same as gammen.
ME Eye.
JINCHU Centre of upper lip.

NODO Throat

DO Chest / side of body at ribs
SUI GETSU Solar plexus.
MUNE Chest. Particularily the area over the heart, in kendo, the embroidered part of the do above the do target.

TE Hand.
TE KUBI Wrist.
OMOTE Open / palm of hand.
KOTE Wrist (forearm).
HIJI Elbow
KATA Shoulder
UDE Arm in general.
URA Back of hand
YUBI Finger / toe

HARA Abdomen.
TANDEN Centre of balance, below navel.
SEIKA TANDEN As per tanden.

ASHI Foot or leg.
ASHI KUBI The ankle.

Philosophical concepts

AIUCHI Mutual strike, strikes at the same time.
BUDO Way of war.
BUSHIDO Way of warrior.
DAI KYO SOKU KEI Big strong fast smooth.
DEHANA WAZA Strike at the outset, as opponent moves, like sen no waza.
DO Activity, motion.
FUSHIN Frozen or stopped mind.
FUDOSHIN Immovable mind, calm spirit.
FUKAKU Personal character.
GOKAI Grandeur, large feeling, full motions.
GO NO SEN NO WAZA (GO NO SEN) Strike at a suki, a mind stopping. Strike before the opponent forms the intention to strike.
HEIJISHIN Ordinary mind.
JO HA KYU Slow, faster, fastest.
KAKE GOE Yelling to get extra energy.
KENSEN Pressure from the sword, esp. the tip.
KI Spirit, energy, inner strength.
KI KEN TAI ICHI Spirit, sword, body, one.
KIAI Shout, yell.
KIME Sharpness of movement, positive end of cut or thrust.
KIMOCHI Feeling, sensation.
KIRYOKU Willpower.
KOKYU Breath, breath power.
MA Distance, space, interval (in time).
MAWAI (MAAI) Mutual distance (in space.
MUSHIN, MUSO No mind, no rationalization.
MUGA No ego.
MUNEN No thought.
OI WAZA Chasing or following strikes, attack as opponent retreats.
RIAI Unification of action and theory.
SAE OF SWORDSMANSHIP The skill beyond technique only.
SAYA NO UCHI NO KACHI Saya = scabbard, uchi = inside, kachi = victory. The sword in the saya, winning without drawing.
SEN Initiative, to forestall.
SEN NO WAZA (SEN) Strike faster than opponent, before attack delivered.
SEN SEN NO WAZA (SEN NO SEN) Strike as opponent commits to an attack but before he moves.
SEI Motionless, inactive.
SHU HA RI Keep, break, leave. Memorize technique, question and understand, forget technique.
SUKI Opening.
SUTEMI Sacrifice technique, accept a blow to deliver one.

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