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Step onto the tatami with the confidence of a judo warrior!

Whisper to the winds, young judo enthusiasts, and let the language of this ancient art embolden your spirit.

These 30 must-know judo terms will take your mat talk from novice to judo master.

Are you set to wield the words of judo? Bow, grip tight, and let’s roll!

Must-Know Judo Terms, Phrases and Slang:

  1. Ashi-waza
  2. Dan
  3. Dojo
  4. Gi
  5. Hajime
  6. Ippon
  7. Judo
  8. Kata
  9. Kuzushi
  10. Matte
  11. Ne-waza
  12. Osoto-gari
  13. Randori
  14. Rei
  15. Sankaku
  16. Sensei
  17. Shime-waza
  18. Tatami
  19. Tori
  20. Uke
  21. Waza-ari
  22. Yoko-shiho-gatame
  23. Zori
  24. Atemi
  25. De-ashi-barai
  26. Harai-goshi
  27. Juji-gatame
  28. Nage-waza
  29. O-goshi
  30. Tsuri-komi-goshi

#1 Ashi-waza

A category of foot and leg techniques in Judo used to off-balance and throw an opponent. These techniques are fundamental for controlling an adversary’s lower body during a match.

#2 Dan

Refers to the ranking system used in Judo and other martial arts to signify a practitioner’s level of expertise; Dan levels begin after achieving black belt, indicating advanced proficiency.

#3 Dojo

The designated training space for martial arts practice, including Judo; a dojo is a place of learning and discipline where judokas hone their skills and respect for the art.

#4 Gi

The traditional uniform worn by practitioners of Judo, consisting of pants, a jacket, and a belt; the gi is designed to withstand the rigors of grappling and throwing techniques.

#5 Hajime

A command given by the referee to commence a Judo match or resume action; it signifies the start of combat or a return to active competition following a pause.

#6 Ippon

The highest score a Judoka can achieve in a match, indicating a perfect throw, securing a hold for 20 seconds, or opponent submission; it immediately ends the contest.

#7 Judo

A modern martial art, Olympic sport, and effective form of self-defense; Judo focuses on throws, groundwork, and the principle of using an opponent’s force against them.

#8 Kata

In Judo, a kata is a formalized sequence of movements which represent various offensive and defensive postures. These sequences are practiced as a way to study the principles of attack and defense, and they are performed with a partner in a pre-arranged manner.

#9 Kuzushi

The concept of off-balancing an opponent before executing a throw in Judo. Kuzushi is fundamental to performing effective throws and is achieved through a combination of movement and force application.

#10 Matte

Used by the referee to temporarily halt a match. “Matte” signals the competitors to stop their current action, often for safety reasons or to reset the match.

#11 Ne-waza

Translates to “ground techniques.” Ne-waza encompasses all Judo techniques applied when both contestants are fighting on the ground, including pins, joint locks, and strangleholds.

#12 Osoto-gari

A powerful Judo throw classified as a leg technique (ashi-waza), where the practitioner reaps the opponent’s outer leg to execute the throw. It’s a common technique learned by beginners.

#13 Randori

Free sparring practice in Judo where practitioners apply various techniques with a resisting partner. Randori helps Judokas to apply techniques with timing and adaptability in a dynamic environment.

#14 Rei

A bow, which is an essential form of etiquette in Judo. “Rei” represents respect and is performed at the beginning and end of practice sessions, matches, and when entering or leaving the dojo.

#15 Sankaku

A term referring to triangular techniques in Judo, such as sankaku-jime (triangular strangulation) where the legs are used to form a triangle around the opponent’s neck and arm to apply a choke.

#16 Sensei

A Japanese term used to refer to or address the teacher or instructor in Judo. “Sensei” literally means “one who has gone before,” indicating someone who guides students through their martial arts journey based on their greater experience.

#17 Shime-waza

Refers to choking techniques used in Judo to subdue an opponent by restricting their air flow or blood circulation. These techniques require precise application and control to avoid serious injury.

#18 Tatami

The traditional mat used in Judo and other martial arts, offering the necessary padding to safely practice throws and falls. Tatamis provide both comfort and protection during rigorous training sessions.

#19 Tori

In Judo, the “Tori” is the person performing a technique during training or competition. They are responsible for executing the throw, hold, or submission effectively and safely.

#20 Uke

The “Uke” is the person who receives the Judo techniques performed by the Tori. They play a crucial role in practicing defensive and falling techniques and must work in harmony with the Tori.

#21 Waza-ari

Awarded for a throw that is not quite the perfect Ippon, where the opponent is thrown with control and force but lands on their side. Two Waza-ari scores in a match are equivalent to one Ippon, resulting in victory.

#22 Yoko-shiho-gatame

A side four-quarter hold down in Judo, where the Tori controls the Uke from the side, immobilizing them with weight distribution and grips. It’s a powerful pinning technique used in ground fighting.

#23 Zori

Traditional Japanese footwear resembling flip-flops, made from straw, wood, or synthetic materials. Zori are worn by Judokas around the dojo (training hall) to keep the training area clean and to protect the feet outside the mat area.

#24 Atemi

Strikes aimed at the body to vital points, utilized in Judo’s self-defense forms rather than in regular competition. Atemi techniques can be crucial in kata, demonstrating the martial art’s comprehensive approach.

#25 De-ashi-barai

A foot sweep technique where one competitor displaces the advancing foot of an opponent, leading to a throw. It’s a fundamental move that relies on timing and understanding of the opponent’s motion.

#26 Harai-goshi

A core judo throw that involves sweeping the opponent’s legs with the back of one’s own thigh. This powerful and popular technique blends fines element of strength and timing for effective execution.

#27 Juji-gatame

A widely recognized and effective armlock where one immobilizes an opponent’s arm between their legs, forcing a submission. Juji-gatame demonstrates the intricate ground-work aspect of Judo, or Ne-waza.

#28 Nage-waza

The set of throwing techniques in Judo which involve unbalancing and projecting an opponent onto the mat. Mastery of nage-waza is essential for advancement in Judo and successful competition.

#29 O-goshi

One of the most fundamental hip throws in Judo, where the practitioner lifts the opponent over their hip. Emphasizing proper hip placement and force, it’s a technique often taught to beginners.

#30 Tsuri-komi-goshi

A Judo throw classified under hip techniques (koshi-waza). In this technique, the judoka uses one hand to lift the opponent (tsuri means “lifting”) and the other hand to pull (komi) while turning and fitting the opponent’s body across the hip (goshi) for the throw. This throw is effective in using both hands dynamically to control and execute the technique.


What are some Judo terms for beginners?

“Ashi-waza,” “Gi,” and “Ippon” are some Judo terms beginners should start with. These refer to foot techniques, the traditional uniform, and a match-winning point, respectively.

What are some funny Judo terms?

While Judo is a serious sport, “Uke,” as the person who “receives” the throw, can sound amusing, especially in a dojo filled with enthusiastic beginners trying to pronounce it.

What is a famous Judo phrase?

“Maximum efficiency with minimum effort,” is a famous Judo phrase, encapsulating the art’s philosophy of using an opponent’s energy against them and striving for mental and physical harmony.

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