Beginners’ Japanese


“Sensei” is the Japanese word for the teacher on the mat.

The instructor is referred to as Sensei

The founder of Aikido Morihei Ueshiba, is known as “O-Sensei” or great teacher


“O ne gai shi mas” – At the beginning of class we bow to “O-Sensei”, then bow to the Sensei on the mat and say this greeting which means “please’ – in this context “please practice”

“domo arigato gozaimashita” – At the end of class we bow to “O’Sensei”, then bow to Sensei and say a very polite “thank you” (generally, the longer a phrase is the more polite it is)

Practice and Posture

When practicing with a partner we bow to each other before and after training together as a mark of respect.

Tori is the person performing the technique.

Ukei is the person receiving the technique (usually the attacker).

Kamae is posture

Hanmi – half body posture

Migi – Right

Hidari – Left

Tai Sabaki (body movement)

Irimi – Entering body (step forward)

Tenkan – Pivot on the front foot

Tsugi ashi – Following feet (move the front foot forward, draw the rear foot up


Ukemi (receiving body) – break fall which can be Mae (forwards) Yoko (sideways)

Ushiro (backwards

Shikko – knee walking

Introduction to techniques

An aikido technique is described by the attack, followed by the name of the technique. Sometimes it is specified whether the technique should be sitting or standing. Most techniques have two forms.

  1. Omote –  in front, positive, irimi
  2. ura –  behind, negative, tenkan
  3. Suwariwaza – sitting techniques
  4. Tachi waza –  standing techniques
  5. Hanmi handachi – sitting technique, standing attack
  6. Katatedori – wrist held by one hand
  7. Aihanmi – (agreeing posture) right takes right or left takes left
  8. Gyakuhanmi – right takes left or left takes right
  9. Katadori – shoulder holding
  10. Ryotedori ryotemochi – both wrists held
  11. Morotedori – one wrist held by two hands
  12. Ushiro – behind


  1. Shomenuchi – vertical cut down
  2. Yokomenuchi – side cut down
  3. Tsuki – punch
  4. Jo dan – upper level (punch to face)
  5. Chu dan – middle level (punch to the knot on the belt
  6. Ge dan – lower level


              Jo– stick / staff

              Bokken – wooden sword

              Tanto – wooden knife


  1. Ikkyo – first technique (circling arm)
  2. Nikyo – second technique (wrist twist)
  3. Sankyo – third technique (turning wrist and forearm)
  4. Yonkyo – fourth technique (cutting forearm while applying pressure to a nerve)
  5. Gokyo – fifth technique (applied to the wrist)
  6. Rokyo – sixth technique (applied to the elbow)
  7. Iriminage – entering body throw
  8. Kotegaeshi – little wrist turn
  9. Shihonage – four direction throw
  10. Kaitennage –body turn throw Uchi inside (under) Soto outside
  11. Tenchinage – heaven and earth throw

Aikido Concepts

               Tegatana (hand blade)

               Ki – energy

               Tanden – centre, point below the navel which is the centre of ki

               Kokuho – breath power

               Atemi-strike to distract uke

               Ma ai – distance, space or being in the right place at the right time

               Zanshin – finishing, spirit at the end of the technique


  1. Ichi
  2. Ni
  3. San
  4. Shi (or Yon)
  5. Go
  6. Rokkyu
  7. Shichi
  8. Hachi
  9. Kyu
  10. Ju