Terminology & Theory

Please note, this page is constantly being updated, so do check back regularly for more terminology.

An important part of learning a martial art is understanding both it’s origin – in our case Asia, specifically Japan, China and Okinawa Prefecture – and the theoretical elements that make up the foundations art.

Below we’ve highlighted some basic terminology used in the Dojo, as well as basic Wado theory.

Please be aware that, as with English, similarly pronounced words can have vastly different meanings. Words are transliterated to what might be the closest way to pronounce them properly. The kanji (symbols) behind each word give much deeper meaning, so I thoroughly recommend that you research into that if you enjoy languages.



Wado Ryu Karate Do

Wa – Peace ; Do – Way ; Ryu – School

Kara – Empty ; Te – Hand

Roughly translatable as – The way of peace school for the empty hand way

Explanation – Wado is the style of Karate we practice, created by the founder, Ohtsuka-Hironori 10th Dan Meijin.


Zan – Remain ; Shin – Mind

Translatable as – Remaining mind

Explanation – A state of mind where your awareness is concentrated on your opponent and surrounding. Essentially, the situation at hand.


Ki – Spirit, feeling, intention ; Ai – Harmony

Translatable as – Spiritual harmony

Explanation – the “shout” that is often a used stereotype of many martial arts. Its use is to summon and focus energy during a technique, but can also effectively scare or confuse an opponent if timed effectively. Controlled breathing should be used. This should be monosyllabic – ei , oh, ya – as you don’t physically yell out ‘kiai’.



Do – Way ; Jo – Place

Translatable as – “Place of the way”

Explanation – the training place of Japanes martial arts. See Kodokan.