Sandoval Freestyle Karate’s Martial Arts Glossary “K”

Discover Japanese Terms Used in Karate Beginning with “K”

Welcome to Sandoval Freestyle Karate’s karate glossary, where we’ve listed the most common karate terminology one will encounter. If you cannot find the term you’re looking for or would like to learn more, please contact us today!

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This is a form of karate that was founded by Masutatsu Oyama in 1964. It is a form of full contact, stand-up karate and has approximately 12 million practitioners worldwide.


Its literal meaning is “empty hand”, and it is a martial art originally developed in Okinawa’s Ryukyu Islands. It is known as a striking art where practitioners use knees, kicks, punches, and elbows; open hand techniques such as palm-heel strikes and knife-hands are also used. Certain types of karate also focus on grappling moves.


A sequence of movements that represent different defensive and offensive moves. Kata postures are based on idealized combat applications and should be practiced regularly by all students.


This should not be confused with the word kamae, which means posture. Kamae-te is an instruction given by a sensei to his students. For example, a sensei looking to get students to assume a straddle stance would say, “Kiba-dachi kamae-te!”


A battle cry used by martial artists either before, during, or after performing a technique. It can also be a word used to describe fighting spirit. There are mental imagery techniques that ask students to imagine starting a kiai in the hara or dantien-Chinese, so the cry should begin in the diaphragm rather than in the throat.


This word refers to posture in karate. It is differentiated from tachi, which means stance. While tachi refers to the body’s position from the waist down, kamae refers to the entire body’s posture and is said to encompass a practitioner’s attitude.


This is occasionally called a straddle stance and involves keeping both feet wide and parallel, with a person’s weight kept low and central. The back should be straight and the feet should be pointed slightly inwards. It requires strong tension and is not used in all karate styles.


This is known as “the way of the sword” and involves the use of bamboo swords and protective armor. It has had a major influence on modern karate despite the fact that few karateka ever practice it.


The name given to someone who practices karate.


A back stance that involves bending the rear leg strongly at the knee. The karate style used dictates whether the front leg should be straight or slightly bent. It is known to be an excellent defensive stance due to the amount of energy one stores in the rear leg.


This word has a different meaning depending on the martial art. In karate, it means power and/or focus. It comes from the Japanese verb kimeru, which means “to decide”.


Karate sparring; its literal meaning is “meeting of the hands”. It is practiced as self-defense training and as a sport in its own right. There are kickboxing and full-contact forms of kumite amongst others, and it can be practiced as free sparring or as structured kumite.

Kizami Tsuki

A punch involving the lead arm; it should not be confused with a jabbing punch.


Refers to the foundations of Japanese martial arts, such as karate. It means “fundamentals” or “basics” in Japanese. Practitioners must master kihon in order to reach an advanced level, and it also helps karateka show the correct attitude and spirit at all times.