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Pronunciation Guide  Colors  Numbers  Ranks & Titles  Dojo Courtesies  Dojo Commands

The serious Karate student will find that knowledge of the language, culture and history of the people who created this art is invaluable to their study.


The key to correct pronunciation of Japanese lies in the vowel sounds.  There are five and they are always pronounced the same way.

A as in father
E as in eight or long A sound
I as in unique or long E sound
O as in go
U as in rude

Consonants are pronounced the same as in English with the following exceptions:

G is always hard as in Go
R is half way between the English R and T sounding something like L



White         Shiroi
Purple        Murasaki
Yellow        Kiiroi
Orange       Orenji
Blue            Aoi
Green         Midori
Brown        Chairo
Black          Kuroi
Red             Akai

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1          Ichi (sho)
2          Ni
3          San

4          Shi (yon) 
5          Go      
6          Roku  
7          Shichi (nana) 
8          Hachi     
9          Ku       

10        Ju    
11        Juichi   

12        Juni

20                    Niju
21                    Nijuichi
 30                    Sanju
 40                    Yonju
 50                    Goju
 60                    Rokuju
100                   Hyaku
 500                  Gohyaku
 1,000               Sen
 5,000               Gosen
 10,000             Ichiman
 100,000           Juman

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Mudansha - Kyu Ranks
Jukyu        10th
Kukyu        9th
Hachikyu  8th
Nanakyu    7th 
Rokyu        6th 
Gokyu        5th 
Yonkyu      4th 
Sankyu       3rd 
Nikyu         2nd 
Itkyu          1st

Yudansha - Dan Ranks
Shodan       1st
Nidan          2nd
Sandan       3rd 
Yondan      4th 
Godan        5th 
Rokudan     6th
Nanadan     7th
Hachidan    8th
Kudan         9th
Judan          10th

Kyu - The 10 ranks before black belt.  The mudansha grades.
Dan - The 10 grades or steps of black belt level.  The yudansha ranks.
Mudansha - A person who holds a kyu rank.
Yudansha - A person who holds a dan rank.
Karateka - A student of Karate
Sempai - One's senior.  A form of address for your senior.

Kohai - a junior person or student
Sensei - A teacher.  A title of respect for someone who has gone before.
Kyoshi - An honorary title usually given to nanadan and hachidan
Hanshi - A master instructor.  An honorary title given to kudan and judan

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Ikaga desu ka - How are you
Genki desu, arigato - I am fine, thank you
Anata wa ikaga desu ka - And how are you
Domo arigato gozaimasu - Thank you very much (most polite form)
Arigato gozaimasu - Thank you very much
Arigato - Thank you (very casual form, not to be used to a senior)
Domo - Thanks.  Sorry.  (Very casual form)

Do itashimashite  - Not at all.  You are welcome
Ohayo-gozaimasu - Good morning
Konnichi wa - Good afternoon
Konban wa - Good evening
Oyasumi-nasai - Good night
Dozo - Please (do this).  (Very casual)
Gomen-nasai  - Excuse me (informal form, not to be used to a senior)
Hajime shaste kudasai  - Permission to begin, please
Kudasai  - Please give me the favor of (polite form)
Omedeto-gozaimasu - Congratulations
Onegai-shimasu - I humbly request.  Please teach me.
Sayonara - Good bye (do not use to a senior)
Shitsurei-shimasu  - Excuse me.  Good bye (when departing from someone who is your senior)

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Hajime - Begin
Hayaku - Hurry up.  Quickly
Ki o tsuke - Attention
Matte - Wait.  Stop.
Mawatte - Turn
Moichido - One more time.
Mokuso hajime - Meditation begin
Mokuso yame - Meditation end
Naotte - Return to the original position (usually yoi-dachi)
Narande - Line up.
O-tagai ni rei - Bow to each other
Rei - Bow
Sensei ni rei - Bow to the teacher
Shomen ni rei - Bow to the front
Suware - Sit
Tate - Sit up
Yame - Stop
Yasume - Rest
Yoi - Ready

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