Arigato: thank you (informal).

Ashi: foot.

Atama: head.

Ate: strike.

Atouchi: delayed strike.

Ayumi-ashi: ‘moving foot forward,’ footwork when walking.

Batto-ho: sword drawing techniques.

Bokuto, Bokken: wooden swords used in training.

Budo: training path of warfare.

Bukuro: sword bag

Bunkai: application of kata techniques (with opponent)

Bushi: warrior.

Bushido: training path of the warrior.

Chiburi: moving the sword blade in such as way as to remove blood and tissue. A standard part of iaido kata.

Chi-isai: small.

Choji: oil applied to a sword blade to lubricate it and prevent rust.

Chudan: middle.

Chudan no kamae: stance wherein the sword is held center and the iaidoka faces the opponent directly (also seigan no kamae).

Dai kyo soku kei: big, strong, fast, smooth (in katana technique).

Daisho: “large-small,” referring to long sword (katana) and short sword (wakizashi) swords that were worn by the samurai as a symbol of membership in the warrior class.

Daito: long sword, worn cutting edge upwards.

Dan: (black belt) rankings in iaido and other budo disciplines.

Datto: Removing the katana (long sword) from the obi (belt or sash).

Deshi: student.

Do: (also pronounced “michi”) lit. “way,” “path” or “road.” A term used as a suffix as in iaido, judo, kendo, aikido and karate-do as a concept of the way or road toward self-development and denotes a spiritual path followed by students of budo disciplines.

Dojo: training hall.

Domo: thanks (informal)

Domo arigato: thank you (formal).

Domo arigato gozaimasu: thank you (very formal).

Dozo: please (go ahead)

Embu: display, demonstration.

Enzan no metsuke: gazing at distant mountains.

Fudoshin: imperturbable (‘unfettered,’ ‘unstopped’) mind.

Fukuro: sword bag.

Furikaburi: raising the sword to cut.

Gakusai: student.

Ganmen: center of face.

Gedan no kamae: stance in which the sword is pointed low, with the tip pointing towards an area between an opponent’s knees and ankles.

Gendaito: sword made after 1868.

Giri: duty or obligation of one person towards another.

Giri or Kiri: cut.

Gomen nasai: excuse me (apology).

Gunto: military sword (WWII).

Gyaku: reverse, opposite, inverted.

Gyaku kesa giri: “reverse diagonal” cut from opponent’s hip to opposite shoulder.

Ha: cutting edge of a sword.

Habaki: a collar, usually made of copper or brass, fitted to the end of the sword blade just before the tsuba (guard) to ensure a tight fit between blade and tsuba.

Hakama: traditional Japanese pleated trousers.

Happogiri: eight direction sword cuts. A training exercise.

Hai: yes.

Hajime: begin.

Hanmi: posture with one foot in front, back foot lightly turned.

Hanshi: master (highest shogo).

Haori: over jacket.

Hara: abdomen.

Heiho: old term for fencing.

Heiko: parallel.

Hi: groove(s) along the back edge of a sword. Its function is to lighten the blade without losing strength.

Hidari: left.

Hiji: elbow.

Himo: cord, lace.

Hiza: knee.

Iaidoka: a student of iaido.

Iai goshi: sitting in a position with one knee raised.

Iaijutsu: refers to older styles of sword-drawing art.

Iaito: unsharpened practice swords, usually made of copper alloy, used in iaido practice.

Ichi mon ji: straight line.

In-yo: (or yin-yang) The unity or complementary of opposites. Individual iaido kata contain many instances of in-yo. The most obvious may be that in all iaido kata, the sword is drawn, then returned to the sheath. More philosophically, in-yo can be seen in that, as a deadly art form, iaido is a contemplation of life and death.

Ipon: point.

Jikishin: direct mind, honesty.

Jodan: stance in which the sword is held overhead and the iaidoka directly faces the opponent.

Jodan no kamae; upper level guard posture.

Junbitaiso o hajimemasu; start warming up.

Jutsu: Lit. art, method or technique. In martial arts, a term used by contemporary scholars to classify by category those Japanese pre-1600 fighting disciplines, such as kenjutsu (the art or technique of the sword) or specialization as iaijutsu (art or technique of sword drawing) whose principal focus was the development and perfection of effective combat techniques used to kill other professional warriors, as opposed to the philosophical and moral orientation of the “do” forms.

Jo-ha-kyu: a formalistic organizing principle, which has been variously interpreted as “slow, medium, fast” and “beginning, middle, end.” In iaido it is characterized by a sense of rising action; for example, from an initial draw and small cut (or parry), to the larger, “killing cut.” Individual actions which make up a given kata also have this sense of rising action.

Kaiten: to turn.

Kakato: heel.

Kakemono: calligraphy roll.

Kamae: stance or combative posture.

Kancho: dojo leader.

kamiza: the “deity (kami) seat.” A position of honor or respect which is often the front wall of a dojo where there are scrolls, a Shinto altar and/or photos of a teacher or founder.

Kamidama: Shinto or spirit altar found in practice halls (dojos) and in traditional Japanese homes.

Kami no ashi: upper foot nearest the kamiza.

Kamon: family crest.

Kashira: pommel at the end of the tsuka (hilt). Also called tsukagashira.

Kata: Form, pattern or model used as a teaching method for traditional Japanese arts. Kata in iaido are fixed sequences of offensive and defensive techniques arranged in specific movement patterns.

Katana: long sword, often worn with a short sword (wakizashi), the set known as daisho which symbolized membership in the samurai class.

Katana kake: sword stand.

Katana o motte: get your swords.

Katate: with one hand.

Katate uchi: one hand cut.

Katsu jin ken: life giving sword.

Keikogi: refers to the top of the training uniform. The full iaido training uniform consists of keikogi, hakama and obi.

Kendo: the Japanese sport of fencing.

Kensei: “sword saint.” Most popularly used in reference to Musashi Miyamoto, a famous swordsman of the early Tokugawa era.

Ken no sen: attacking after your opponent.

Ken o fumu: stepping onto the sword.

Kensen: point of the sword.

Kesagiri: diagonal sword cut in which the target is from an opponent’s shoulder to his opposite hip.Keiko – training.

Ki: breath power, inner strength.

Ki ken tai ichi: spirit, sword and body are one, in harmony.

Ki o tsukette: be careful.

Kiai: shout or yell adding energy to a technique.

Kihon: basic techniques.

Kimono: the traditional Japanese dress worn by both men and women.

Kiri: to cut.

Kiri-age: upward cut.

Kirioroshi/kiriotoshi: refers to a straight overhead cut, the target being from the opponent’s head to the waist.

Kirite: cutting (‘living’) hand.

Kiritsu: Stand up.

Kiritsuke: decisive cut.

Kirukudashi: decisive cut.

Kissaki: tip of a sword.

Kizu: flaws. In a sword that might include rust, scratches, metal cuts, cracks or pits.Kime – ‘decision,’ sharpness of movement in cutting

Kodogu: sword hardware.

Kokyu: breathing.

Kohai: one’s junior.

Koiguchi: open end of saya (‘carp’s mouth’).

Kokissaki: small kissaki.

Kokoro: attitude of spirit, heart, honor, respect, confidence, mind.

Kokyu: breath control.

Koryu: lit. “old style” generally used to describe Japanese martial art forms established before 1600, though scholars do not totally agree on what designates a koryu.

Koshi: hip, waist.

Kote: forearm.

Kote uchi: forearm/wrist strike.

Koto: sword made between 806 -1595.

Kubi: neck.

Kumidachi: partner forms practiced in iaido.

Kurigata: a knob on the saya (scabbard) through which passes the sageo (cord).

Kyoshi: teacher. Depending on how kanji are written, either means “teacher” in the generic sense, or if kanji for “shi” is synonymous with “samurai,” used on ranking certificates in certain martial arts styles as an indication of teaching rank.

Kyu: levels of achievement awarded in iaido and other budo disciplines to practitioners before achieving a black belt or dan. Some styles equate kyu with different colored obi (white, green, or brown).

Ma: roughly defined as the way something (or someone) moves through space over time.

Ma-ai: refers to the critical distance between opponents, a point at which forces are essentially neutral, but where anything can happen. Fundamental to ma-ai is “ma,” roughly defined as the way something (or someone) moves through space over time. Many teachers have stated that ma-ai “cannot be taught,” either one has this sense of timing, or one does not. However, ma-ai can be enhanced and developed through training. An iaidoka (a student of iaido) who has a good, well-developed sense of ma has an uncanny sense of time and distance. Combined with a sense of zanshin, it is the difference between a merely competent practitioner and a great one. As in other traditional martial art forms, the ma-ai of iaido embodies the concept of the sphere of protection, but in this case the circle is extended by the use of the sword.

Mae: in front.

Maki ito: material of tsuka binding.

Matte: wait Mawari – to swing around.

Mawatte: turn around.

Me: eye.

Mei: signature on tang.

Mekugi: peg(s), usually made of bamboo, used to fasten the tsuka (handle) to the sword. Should be checked for tightness and wear before every practice.

Mekugi-ana: peg hole.

Men: head.

Menkyo: teaching license.

Menuki: ornaments on a sword handle.

Metsuke: direction of looking.

Migi: right.

Migi jodan no kamae: right foot forward jodan.

Mokuroku: catalogue of techniques.

Mokuso: silence (meditation).

Mon: family crest.

Mono-uchi: area of sword actually used for cutting, approx.”one-quarter” of the blade length from the tip.

Morote tsuki: two handed sword thrust.

Motonoichi: assume the initial position.

Mudansha: person without Dan ranking.

Mune: back edge surface of the blade.

Mushin: no mind. A mind state absent of conscious thought or emotion.

Naname: diagonal.

Nigiri: grip.

Noto: returning the blade to the scabbard.

Nukikata: drawing of the sword.

Nuki tsuki: the draw with simultaneous cut of the sword in certain kata.

Obi: belt or sash.

Okissaki: large kissaki.

Okuden: secret level (in koryu curriculum).

Okuri ashi: footwork (sliding approaching step).

Omote: outside, front side, forward.

Onegai shimazu: please (asking).

Oshiete kudasai: please, teach me.

Osameto: put the sword back.

Otoshu: falling, cutting downwards.

Rei: formal bow.

Reigi: etiquette.

Reiho: method of bowing.

Renshi: teacher (lowest shogo).

Renzoku waza: training consecutive techniques.

Riai: meaning, logic, principles, harmony of theory and praxis.

Ritsurei: standing bow.

Ryu: a term literally meaning “current,” as in a river or stream. Within the martial arts the term refers to a school, style, system or method.

Ryuha: branch of a ryu.

Sabaki – movement

Sageo: cord on a scabbard (saya).

Sage to: carrying sword posture.

Samurai: lit. “one who serves. A term for members of the warrior ruling class.

Satsu jin ken – life-taking sword

Saya: sword scabbard.

Saya no uchi de katsu: victory in the saya, without drawing sword.

Sayabiki: saya control, usually pulling back.

Seigan: natural walk.

Seigan no kamae: see Chudan no kamae.

Seitei: established.

Seitei kata: established series of forms.

Seitei iaido: established form (way) of sword pulling and cutting.

Seiza: a kneeling position.

Seme: pushing, pressing (mental and physical control of the opponent).

Semete: pressing, pushing hand.

Sempai – one’s senior Sen no sen – attacking beore the opponent.

Sen sen no waza: attacking at the same time as your opponent.

Sensei: literally “one who has gone before,” an honorific term used as a respectful form of address by students when speaking to or referring to their teacher. One never refers to oneself as “sensei.”

Sensei ni rei – bow to the sensei.

Seppa: metal washers used to tighten the fit of the tsuba between the habaki and the tsuka.

Shaku: 30.2 cm.

Shiai: match, competition.

Shidachi: defending and following side.

Shihan: ighest teacher in dojo.

Shin: Chinese concept of Kokoro.

Shinbu: true martial method.

Shinite: ‘dead’ hand.

Shinogi: ridge line to the back side of the sword, opposite the cutting edge (ha).

Shinken: real swords sometimes used in iaido practice, with the permission of their teachers, or for demonstrations. Shinken can be modern, steel blades or antiques, depending on the resources of the practitioner. The blades and fittings must be sound enough to withstand the rigors of practice.

Shinken shobu: drawing and cutting with a live blade, serious match.

Shinshinto: blade made between 1804 – 1867.

Shinto: sword made between 1596 – 1803.

Shinzen: spiritual center, also sometimes called kamiza, a position of honor or respect which is often the front wall of a dojo, often with an alcove, where there are scrolls, a Shinto altar and/or photos of a teacher or founder.

Shisei: posture.

Shizen tai: natural posture.

Shoden: first level (in koryu curriculum).

Shogun: Title of military dictator. Organized a system of government with the samurai established as the ruling class. Existed in Japan during the Kamakura era (1192-1336) and more recently in the Tokugawa era (1603-1868).

Shomen: front side of head.

Shomen: straight ahead.

Shomen kiri: front cut.

Shomen uchi: cut or attack straight to the front of the opponent.

Shu-ha-ri: A concept that is often used to describe a student’s progression through training. “Shu” means “conservative” and is often translated as “tradition.” The beginning student learns the fundamentals of the art form, and all the techniques and kata, essentially as her teacher has shown her. “Ha” means “break” and has been variously interpreted in Western martial art circles as “breaking the tradition” or even “breaking with your teacher.” However, it could also mean breaking as in “breakthrough in understanding”, i.e., going beyond the mechanics of the techniques to discover their underlying meaning. “Ri,” therefore, which has been interpreted in the West as “founding your own style,” or even “preserving the style but adding to it,” means “freedom” and could instead be interpreted as “owning the kata,” establishing one’s own identity within the traditionally arranged and performed techniques. Iaido at this point becomes very like free-flowing movement. Few practitioners attain this level, though it remains a goal of training, however elusive.

Sode: sleeve.

Soete: supporting hand.

Soetetsuki no kamae: guard posture before thrusting in the abdomen.

Sonkyo – half-crouching posture.

Sori: curvature. Refers to curvature of the sword blade.

Soto: outside.

Suburito: heavy wooden sword.

Suigetsu: solar plexus.

Suihei: horizontal.

Suki: weak, vulnerable point, opening, chance.

Sumimasen: excuse me (to attract attention).

Sunden: point between the eyes.

Suri-ashi: sliding foot.

Suwari waza: sitting techniques.

Tabi: formal soft footwear for inside the dojo.

Tachi: a long curved Japanese sword used primarily before the slightly shorter katana became popular.

Tachi waza: standing techniques.

Tachirei: standing bow with the sword.

Tai sabaki: body movement (while turning).

Tameshigiri: cutting test.

Tanden: center: the center of power in the lower abdomen.

Tanto: dagger.

Tate: upright, vertical.

Tate ichi mon ji: vertical line.

Tategiri: standing, stable cut.

Te: hand.

Te no uchi: control of hands, correct grip, timing of shibori.

Tekubi: wrist.

Tomoe: a comma used in various configurations to designate different families as part of their kamon (family crest).

Torei: formal bow to the sword.

Tori: attacking side of a technique.

Tsuba: sword guard.

Tsuka: sword handle.

Tsuka ate: striking with the sword handle.

Tsuka ito: material of tsuka binding.

Tsugi ashi: rear foot toes move to front heel line.

Tsukamaki: tsuka binding.

Tsuki: thrust with a sword.

Uchi: inside; also: strike.

Uchidachi: attacking side.

Uchiko: fine stone powder used for cleaning of shinken (real swords).

Ude: arm.

Ude osae: pressing opponent’s hand.

Uke: receiving side of a technique.

Ukenagashi: block and deflect.

Ura: inside, back sid.

Ushiro: behind.

Uwagi: iaido jacket.

Wakarimasen: I don’t understand.

Wakarimasu: I understand.

Waki no kamae: guard posture with sword hidden behind the body.

Wakizashi: short sword, often worn with a long sword (katana), the set known as daisho which symbolized membership in the samurai class.

Warui: bad.

Waza: technique.

Yoi: good.

Yoko: flat, horizontal, to the side.

Yoko giri: horizontal cut.

Yoko: side.

Yokomen: side part of head.

Yokomen uchi: cut to the side of the head.

Yubi: finger, toe.

Yudansha: person with Dan ranking.

Zanshin: is the sense of lingering awareness. Iaido kata foster the development of awareness in solo kata by encouraging the student to visualize the opponent. In kumidachi (partner forms), students learn zanshin in patterns of attack, defense and counterattack.

Zarei: sitting bow.

Zori: sandals for outside the dojo.

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