Aikido, everyone's favorite defensive martial art, loves complicated lingo, and the names for techniques can often be long and confusing. However, you too can learn to speak rudimentary Japanese, at least enough to know the difference between "shomenuchi ikkyo omote-waza" and "yokomenuchi koshinage" (two techniques you probably would not want to confuse).

I have listed three "columns", for different "parts" of each technique name. If you can learn to recognize these in the midst of practice, you'll be well on your way to speaking the language of Aikido.

Column A -- Attacks:

Shomenuchi -- strike to the head
Yokomenuchi -- strike to the side of the head or neck
Katadori -- shoulder grab
Katatedori -- wrist grab
Ryotedori or ryotemochi -- two-handed grab, uke grabbing nage's left wrist with his left hand and nage's right wrist with his right hand
Morotedori -- two-handed grab, uke grabbing either of nage's wrists with both hands
Kosadori or Gyakutedori -- cross-hand grab
Ushirodori -- attack from behind
Tsuki or munetsuki -- punch

Column B -- Techniques:

Principles (hard to describe):
Ikkyo -- involves the elbow and shoulder
Nikyo -- involves a wrist twist
Sankyo -- another kind of wrist twist
Yonkyo -- squeezing pressure points on either side of the wrist
Geikyo -- backwards ikkyo

Throws:
Tenchinage -- "heaven and earth" throw
Shihonage -- "four corner" throw
Kaitenage -- "rotary" throw
Kokyunage -- "breath" throw
Iriminage -- "entering" throw
Koshinage --- hip throw
Kotegaishi -- wrist twist

Column C -- Directions:
Note -- these don't strictly apply to all techniques. All techniques can be contrived to have a "front" and "back", but in some this is very interpretive, depending on the teacher and student.

Omote-waza -- to the front
Ura-waza -- to the back

Now, pick one from each column. Keep in mind that not all techniques are popular at all dojos, and I have left out a few of the more exotic names that are rarely used. These are the names you are most likely to see in a normal Aikido class.

Happy training!

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