Top ten words I have trouble translating into English

Hey all,

I’m experimenting with included a little bit of blogging into the TKD@CMU website. Here is a post I thought might go well here.

So I’ve written before about the feeling of using English as my second Karate language. Well, here are the top culprits. I only speak Karate Japanese (like restaurant Spanish or opera Italian) with a little Sushi Japanese mixed in, but there are some concepts which are much better (and more succinctly) explained with Japanese words. In no particular order:

  1. Bunkai
    1. The application of a kata
  2. Oyo
    1. The advanced application of a kata, includes a throw
  3. Zanchin
    1. Watchfulness/awareness. Say you’re in a fight. You know the guy down. Bad zanchin is turning your back on her to walk away. Good zanchin is keeping her in your line of sight until you are safely sure she is not getting up.
  4. Kime
    1. Intent. No matter how fast the combination, no matter how hurried your mind, if every move does not have kime, you are not doing Shito-Ryu right. Kime is the pause between punches in the first diagonal move of Jeon; its the definition of the technique practiced in tachikata dai son; its what gets your punches scored in a kumite match.
  5. Skidome
    1. This is a block. In this block, you take your extended arm and lower your elbow until your fist is even with your shoulder (where an uchi uke (inward block) or yoko uke (outward block) leave it). This is a block to a chudan (belly) punch. It is seen in Pinan (Heian for Shotokan people) Shodan when you first turn to the back of the room.
  6. Sanchin dachi
    1. Place one foot forward. Place your back foot with big toe hips width away from your front heel. Kick out the heel of your back foot and bend yuor knees. Twisting against the floor straighten your knees so you feel tension in yor thighs. This protects well against groin kicks.
  7. Zenkuts dachi
    1. Long Front stance. Feet hip width apart, back foot two hip widths behind front foot. Weight forward until front knee is over your big toe. I have discovered so many different kinds of front stances I desperately want to use the Japanese word just to distinguish my style’s from others’.
  8. Block Types (Rolling Rocks Hate Tenacious Kittens)
    1. Rysui
    2. Raka
    3. Hangeki waza
    4. Tenin
    5. Kushin
      1. Maybe I’ll explain these later.
  9. Kata
    1. A formal sequence of movements which teach responses to attacks, new moves and self-discipline.
  10. Kumite
    1. Refereed, controlled and disciplined fighting. Just saying fighting can lead to many kinds of confusion. In most cases a scoring technique stops the match until the referee has awarded points.

There are three problems I keep on coming upon with these words: 1) their English equivalents have style specific variations (6-7, 10) they sound way to spiritual/mushy-gushy in English (3 and 4), 3) their English translations need too many words to be effective (1-2, 4-7). I find it is much easier for me to use the Japanese words so I know I am saying exactly what I mean, rather than a rough translation that my students will find confusion or will misinterpret. Anyway, I love Shito-Ryu!

Inspirational Quote:

“I will never build only one of anything important. All important systems will have redundant control panels and power supplies. For the same reason I will always carry at least two fully loaded weapons at all times.” Old theme, new content on Shadowmere forum board “If I were an evil overlord” or “When I rule the world”. I grew up with this on my mom’s work wall.

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