Tips on learning the Japanese names for techniques

Discussion in 'Ju Jitsu' started by proteinnerd, Dec 4, 2015.

  1. proteinnerd

    proteinnerd Valued Member

    Hi Guys,

    My previous 30 odd years of training have been in styles (TKD and Hapkido with a few years of jujitsu thrown in) where none of them have used traditional Korean or Japanese names for the techniques. They have all pretty much been of the mindset that you are there to learn the style, not another language.

    I've found a new school with an instructor I like that is part of the Koshinryu Jujutsu Australia organisation. The only trouble is, they use the Japanese terms for techniques especially during gradings.

    From my Hapkido training I know a lot of the techniques (but its also great as I'm learning new stuff I've never done many throws! lol).

    The biggest challenge is learning the damn names of techniques in Japanese. They aren't really drilled into us in class, but during gradings, the technique is called and I just stand there cause I don't know what the hell a Ude-hishigi-waki-gatame is but tell me you want to see a cross the body armbar-under and its on.

    Any tips on how to learn or associate the names with the techniques?
  2. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Valued Member MAP 2017 Gold Award

    There are a few apps especially judo ones that are free and have gifs of the technique. Good starting reference. is an amazing site too.
  3. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    Good advice Chadderz.

    I had the same problem with the Japanese names for techniques in Aikido because they are not the actual names for them, so learning the names for the techniques from judo was really helpful.
  4. Latikos

    Latikos Valued Member

    What I did was pretty much vocabulary learning.
    Then, when for example (and an easy one, I know) I knew what "gari", "soto" and "o" was, I'd knew what "O-Soto-Gari" was.

    And it works the other way around as well (a little anyway): We were doing a technique on Monday of which we didn't know the name then, but knowing some vocabulary I was able to figure it out anyway (only "Kanuki-Gatame; so nothing too special there as well).

    But to be fair: When I joined my first JJ-class and the Japanese names were to come from every direction I was so annoyed not to know them, that I learned the names at home a lot as well.
    I'm in the lucky position though, that I actually like doing that, whereas most people don't seem to :D
    After a few months I knew way more names then the others, just because I enjoyed learning stuff like that :eek:
    And still do :eek:
    Yes, I know, I'm weird ;)
  5. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Valued Member MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I have zero interest in the Japanese names. I'll pick it up as I go along. I also have no interests in the belt. In fact I'd rather be the white belt that smashes everyone :p
  6. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool the merc with the mouth MAP 2017 Moi Award

    Get a written syllabus and revise.

    If you learn some of the constituent words, the combinations will make more sense.
  7. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    This can be a real problem. i have difficulties with phonological mediation (the processing of sound in the brain) this makes it almost impossible to learn words in non European languages as the tones rhythms and infections are so different from what I grew up with.

    To remember the sounds breaking them down phonetically and creating memory pictures can help. Asian lady on a motorbike (ho chi min), tea bag (ooo the sound you make when you realy want a cup of tea, Stilton (chese), tomato in Australian (to MAAATA).

    ho-ooo-che-maataa - this relies on recruiting different types of memory system to maximize the chances of things sticking. daft and rude are good, sometimes what you remember is coming up with the way to remember it.

    Also if you are learning new techniques learn the translations of the technique names in your native tongue first. and use this to refer to the technique in your head. then once you are familiar with the technique attach the Japanese name to it.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2015
  8. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    In clubs that insist on passing grades before they will teach you new stuff, a belt is a necessary evil if you want to continue to learn.
  9. Kai-M

    Kai-M New Member

    Here are two ideas for you – see if either of them work for you?

    Firstly, actually one of the best ways to learn foreign vocabulary is to associate it with body movement (called “iconic gestures”) (read more here: So martial arts is ideal for this. You would just keep repeating the Japanese name to yourself as you perform the techniques.


    This is true. Even better, if you can get hold of a list with the associated kanji, they are little pictures which your brain actually processes in a different way to English words. You don’t have to memorise the kanji at all though, but they can just be a helpful visual prompt to help you learn the words.

    It will also help you to recognise where the same concept is coming up in different places. (btw the examples I'm going to use are aikido / karate terms - what you are learning could be a bit different, but I hope it gives you some idea anyway . . . ?)

    For example, you will realise that the “ate” in “shomen-ate” 正面当て (forward strike to the head) is the same as the ate in atemi当て身(strike to a vital point on your uke’s body).

    (Men 面 is “face” or “surface”, so shomen 正面is the front of the head, and yokomen 横面 is the side of the head.)

    And the mi身in atemi is the same as the mi in ukemi 受け身(breakfall) (literally “receiving-body”).

    And the uke in ukemi is the same as uke 受けyour opponent (literally the one who receives your technique).

    Also you will realise things like the gaeshi in kote-gaeshi小手返しis the same as kaeshi in kaeshi waza 返し技(counter techniques). Because kaeshi literally means “a reversal” or “a return of something”. So kote-gaeshi has a meaning along the lines of reversing or returning the wrist.

    It’s just that the k softens to a g when it’s used in the middle of a compound word.

    The same thing (k changing to g) happens in keri-waza蹴り技(kicking techniques) and yoko-geri横蹴り(side kick).

    Hope this does not sound over-complicated, but if it is, pls feel free to take it or leave it! With anything like this, it has to be whatever suits your personal learning preference in the end.

    In any case, I would agree with Dead_pool and Latikos that whichever approach you go for, the answer really is just to dedicate some time to learning the words. It's really worth it though - will just save you so much thinking time and effort when you can understand the names - especially in a stressful situation such as a grading, as you say - rather than trying to decipher them every time . . .

    Last edited: Dec 28, 2015
  10. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Valued Member MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Luckily I'm not part of those clubs. I think that if that's the case them the belt and grading should be free.
  11. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    I agree with you in principle - but then I run my club not for profit and have very low overheads. I know of another instructor who runs not for profit with hall rental of £ 900 a month. I also know other instructors who make a living from teaching. Running a Martial arts business is difficult and hard work.

    In this context, I think that charging for gradings is a legitimate way to generate income, provided that it is not done in an abusive way.
  12. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool the merc with the mouth MAP 2017 Moi Award

    As long as the fees are upfront and open, it ain't a problem, clubs need cash flow to stay open, I'd prefer a higher monthly fee, and no yearly membership or grading fees, but that does put of newbies. My Judo club has recently increased their rate for the first time in over ten years, and people are complaining 4 pound a two hour class is too much, the same people who have expensive cars, holidays and expensive Gi's, theirs nothing wrong with teachers making money.

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