Goju-ryu icon Chuck Merriman analyzes five more karate terms you need to know. Those karate terms are kumite, mokuso, rei, reishiki and sensei, all of which are crucial to advancement in the Japanese martial arts.

In the first half of this article, goju-ryu instructor and Black Belt Hall of Fame member Chuck Merriman discussed five karate terms you should know: bunkai, bushido, dan, dojo and kata. In this conclusion, he addresses five more essential karate terms — kumite, mokuso, rei, reishiki and sensei — that will benefit practitioners of all Japanese martial arts. (Go here now to read Part 1.)

Karate Terms #1: Kumite

Misunderstood meaning: sparring

Actual meaning: grappling or engagement of hands

Why it matters: Composed of two roots — kumi (grapple) and te (hand) — kumite refers to the instant a fight actually begins. It's when you and your partner first make contact, Chuck Merriman says. “When you think about it, you've got to be standing right in front of each other when you touch. It's important to understand the real meaning of the word to better understand what happens during oyo bunkai."

Karate Terms #2: Mokuso

Misunderstood meaning: meditation

Actual meaning: reflection and contemplation

Why it matters: Practicing mokuso gives you an opportunity to get in the proper mind-set to train, Chuck Merriman explains. “It's not meditation in the sense of going off into another world. It's reflecting on your past training and contemplating the training you're about to do."

Karate Terms #3: Rei

Misunderstood meaning: bow

Actual meaning: spirit or soul

Why it matters: “For somebody practicing karate for exercise or sport, rei is merely a salutation," Chuck Merriman says. “These days, people bow by nodding their head and slapping the sides of their legs, but that's not the proper way do it." The bow must come from the abdominal area because that's where the tan tien (the seat of the soul) is. “If rei is 'soul,' obviously the bow has to be done from there," he adds.

Karate Terms #4: Reishiki

Misunderstood meaning: spirit

Correct meaning: manners, etiquette or correctness

Why it matters: “[It refers to] the correct attitude — why you're training and always keeping your mind on the path or way," Chuck Merriman says. For example, you're expected to know and demonstrate proper etiquette in the kohai-sempai (junior-senior) relationship. “Your sempai always precedes you. You open the door and let him go first. Before you take care of yourself, you always make sure he's taken care of."

Karate Terms #5: Sensei

Misunderstood meaning: teacher

Correct meaning: guide

Why it matters: Because it's composed of the roots sen (before) and sei (life), the literal translation of sensei is “before in life," Chuck Merriman says. “A sensei is somebody who guides another person. For example, if you went to climb a mountain, you'd probably need a guide. Why? Because the guy has climbed that mountain before, and he made it."

It's the same thing with karate. The sensei was once at the same stage of training you're at, and he can show you the way up. If you understand what his role is, you will have a better idea of what you can expect from him and what he can expect from you, he says. “Think of it this way: A sensei is behind you, pushing you forward, not standing in front of you, pulling. Ultimately, it's your responsibility to progress."

Conclusion

Whether you practice for exercise or are a fanatic who's interested in every nuance of the art, it's essential to comprehend the true meaning of the karate terms that describe what you do, Chuck Merriman contends. “If you understand [them], it fills you with a feeling of having something more than just the ability to kick, punch and block." And that's what practicing karate is really all about.

Story by Sara Fogan • Photos by Rick Hustead

BONUS!

The Meaning of Karate

Some karate students misunderstand even the name of their art, Chuck Merriman says. In the beginning, karate was derived from the characters kara (China) and te (hand), he says, but Japan changed the meaning of kara to “empty." And over time, the hand emphasis of the art's name has been replaced by kicks.

Kicks are more spectacular for spectators, he says, and in tournaments they're awarded more points than hand strikes are. Consequently, students tend to work harder on improving their kicks and less on their hands.

All practitioners should review karate's roots, he says. “I tell my students, 'Karate is empty hand, not empty foot.'"

Read “Karate Terms: 5 Words You Need to Understand," which is the first half of this article with Chuck Merriman, here.

SUBSCRIBE TO BLACKBELT MAGAZINE TODAY!
Don't miss a single issue of the world largest magazine of martial arts.

Just like royalty has dynastic families that rule over nations, martial arts have dynasties that rule over the world of combat. So here's a list of our top five family dynasties in martial arts...


Keep Reading Show less

Having just concluded hosting the Hungary Grand Slam, the first international judo competition in eight months, it was announced Hungary will now host the 2021 Judo World Championships. László Tóth, head of the Hungarian Judo Association, said the event will take place starting on June 3 in Budapest.

The 2021 championships were originally slated to be hosted by Uzbekistan with Hungary to have hosted the 2022 tournament. The world championships will be a qualifying event for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

On Friday, October 30, ONE Championship presents ONE: Inside The Matrix. The event will feature World Championship contests across four divisions with some of the best and most exciting global stars.

The six-bout card from Singapore will air live and free on the B/R Live app starting at 8:30 a.m. EST/5:30 a.m. PST.

Click here to find out how to watch the event if you live outside of the United States.

A Card Full Of Finishers

If there is anything fans should know going into ONE: Inside The Matrix, it is to have their snacks ready because every contest will feature athletes who can finish bouts in the blink of an eye.

Two title challengers, Thanh Le and Iuri Lapicus enter their respective World Championship clashes with perfect finishing rates. However, both of their opponents, Martin "The Situ-Asian" Nguyen and Christian "The Warrior" Lee respectively, have finishing rates above 90%.

In the main event, both Aung La "The Burmese Python" N Sang and Reinier "The Dutch Knight" De Ridder have finishing rates of 92%.

And strawweights "The Panda" Xiong Jing Nan and Tiffany "No Chill" Teo have also finished more than half of their wins before going to the scorecards. In an evening of title tilts, every match for gold is filled with the possibility of a show-stealing ending.

Keep Reading Show less

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov defended his title at the company's "Fight Island" in Abu Dhabi Saturday defeating Justin Gaethje by second round submission, then promptly announced his retirement from mixed martial arts.

Gaethje employed a stick and move strategy that helped him avoid Nurmagomedov's relentless wrestling game until the end of the first round when the champion took him to the mat and easily passed his guard going for an armbar attempt. Though the bell sounded before Nurmagomedov could cinch in the armbar, he was instantly back to work in the second round taking Gaethje down, mounting him and wrapping his legs around the challenger's neck to fall back into a perfect triangle choke. Gaethje quickly tapped but, when referee Jason Herzog was slow to step in, he appeared to briefly go unconscious.

Reaction to Khabib Nurmagomedov retiring after UFC 254 win vs. Justin Gaethje | UFC Post Show www.youtube.com

Nurmagomedov, competing for the first time since his father passed away earlier in the year, immediately announced this would be his final fight. If he does stay away from the cage, he leaves the sport with an unblemished 29-0 record.

Free Bruce Lee Guide
Have you ever wondered how Bruce Lee’s boxing influenced his jeet kune do techniques? Read all about it in this free guide.
Don’t miss a thing Subscribe to Our Newsletter