Kendo Terminology

Kendo Dictionary

This section of the site gives a brief explanation of the main words and phrases in Kendo. Not sure what drills Cho Sensei is asking you to do? Or just can't make out the words that are being shouted in the dojo? Don't panic, Kendo has a lot of terminology at first but you will quickly pick them up.

The Basics

Sensei - Teacher

Dojo - The practice hall

Shinai - Bamboo sword

Bokken / Bokutou - Wooden sword used for Kata exercises

Kihon - Kendo Basics (fundamental drills, for example a cut to the head Men is a Kihon drill)

Kata - Pre-arranged fighting sequences used to teach the basics of Kendo, consisting of two partners.

Uchidachi - The teacher (senior) partner in Kendo Kata

Shidachi - The junior/student partner in Kendo Kata

Bougu - Kendo armour

Hakama - Traditional pleated trousers worn in Kendo

Keiko-Gi - Heavy duty martial arts jacket (like a judo or karate jacket)

Men - The head

Kote - The wrist

Dou - The body (breast plate)

Tsuki - The throat

Ki-Ken-Tai Ichi - The harmony of the three crucial elements to a Kendo cut or strike. Ki = the spirit (Shout), Ken = the sword (strike), Tai = the body (Stamp). All of these elements must be executed at once in order for a Kendo strike to be valid. Lit. The spirit, the sword, the body, as one.

Ashi Sabaki - Footwork

Fumi-komi - The stamp on the floor at the moment of a strike

Shiai - Competition (tournaments)

Keiko - Practice

Before and after the Practice

Mokusoe - The call for meditation before and after practice

Mokusoe yamae - The call for the end of meditation before and after practice

Rei - A bow, this can be performed standing or sitting

Seiza - Traditional kneeling, the form of sitting in Kendo

Shinzeni rei - Turning and bowing to the teacher (sensei)

Shomen ni rei - Turning and bowing to the Dojo flag at the end of the hall

Sonkyo - Traditional start to a fight or drill, kneeling or more commonly squatting

Osame toh - Putting away of the sword after a practice or drill, performed whilst in Sonkyo postion During the practice (Drills and exercises)

Suburi - lit. To swing, practise cuts done in the air against an invisible opponent (like shadow boxing)

Men Uchi - Strikes to the partners head

Kote Uchi - Strikes to the partners wrist

Dou Uchi - Strikes to the partners body

Tsuki Uchi - Thrusts to the partners throat (advanced levels only)

Kiri-kae-ashi - A continuous cutting exercise. Consisting of one straight cut to the middle of the head, followed by a body check (Tai-atari), finished with a pattern of four forward cuts to the left and right sides of the head and five backward cuts to the left and right sides of the head. Repeated twice, and then finished by a single strike to the middle of the head. This is a major warm up exercise in Kendo.

Uchi-Komi Geiko - A drill where a senior grade stands and receives cuts from an attacking junior grade. The senior presents openings and targets clearly for the junior to hit.

Kakari Geiko - A drill where a senior grade stands and receives attacks from an attacking partner. Similar to Uchi-Komi Geiko, however in this drill the senior does not present targets. Their partner must make their own openings and strikes unassisted.

Ji-Geiko - Free practice, (sparring) held between two fighters.

Waza Geiko - technique practice, techniques (waza) are dictated by the Sensei.

Shiai Geiko - competition practice

Advanced terms and names of equipment parts

Kensen - The tip of the sword

Monouchi - The cutting edge of a sword

Tsuba - The thumb guard of the sword

Tsuka - The handle of the Sword

Suru - The string that holds the Shinai together

Men gane - the metal face grate of the protective helmet (Men)

San bon shobu - Three point match

Ippon gachi - One more point

Arigato Gozaimashita - Thankyou very much (polite way to finish a drill or practice)

Onegai Shimasu - Please help me, or please practice with me (polite way to start a drill or practice)

This list is not exhaustive, but is intended to give the beginner a reference for the most important terms used during Kendo. For more concise dictionaries on Kendo termanology please visit the BKA website. Dictionaries are available to buy from them direct. These terms will of course be explained to you during a practice, so don't worry if you can't remember them all by heart straight away.