BJJ-J: Learning Japanese Through BJJ — Basics


Learning Japanese Through BJJ

One of the more interesting reasons why I like training at MY Team Okinawa is that the classes are taught in both English and Japanese due to the unique diversity of the gym.  It’s a great situation for both beginners and advanced language learners.  Beginners of both Japanese and English are able to learn and use simple phrases in real context because the same words are used all the time (ex. grab the sleeve, push the leg, etc.) and advanced learners are able to converse with native speakers in a low-key, completely no pressure environment.

So let’s start with the basics! Covered in this post are body parts, parts of the gi, and basic directional words and verbs.

*This is not intended to be an exhaustive list but rather an introduction to the most commonly used Japanese words in BJJ. If you would like to see something added to this list (or notice a mistake!), please feel free to write it in the comments.

Body Parts

Head: 頭(あたま)atama

Chin: 顎(あご)ago

Neck: 首(くび)kubi

Chest: 胸(むね)mune

Arm: 腕(うで)ude

Hand: 手(て)te

Hips: 腰(こし)koshi

Leg/Foot: 足(あし)ashi

Knee: 膝(ひざ)hiza

Shin: 脛(すね)sune

Parts of the gi

Lapel/collar: 襟(えり)eri

Sleeve: 袖(そで)sode  /  Sleeve lining: 袖裏(そでうら)sode ura

Pants: ズボン zubon  **Note: In Japan, the word “pants” does exist — but it refers to underwear (i.e. “panties”)

Belt: 帯(おび)obi

Basic directional words

Above/on top: 上[に](うえ[に])ue [ni]

Below/under: 下[に](した[に])shita [ni]

[In] front [of]: 前[に](まえ[に]) mae [ni]

Back/behind: 後ろ(うしろ)ushiro

Beside/to the side/side-to-side: 横(よこ)yoko

Left: 左(ひだり)hidari  /  Left side: 左側(ひだりがわ)hidari gawa

Right: 右(みぎ)migi  /  Right side: 右側(みぎがわ)migi gawa

Basic verbs

Push: 押す(おす)osu

Pull: 引張る(ひっぱる)hipparu

To lift/raise: 上がる(あがる)agaru

To lower: 下がる(さがる)sagaru

To grab/hold: 掴む(つかむ)tsukamu

To release/let go: 放す(はなす)hanasu  ***Not to be confused with 話す(はなす)which is also pronounced “hanasu” but means “to speak/talk”

And the most important verb in BJJ…

To shrimp: エビする  ebi suru  (or just “ebi”)

– – – – –

Sample sentences

Grab/Hold the lapel = 襟を掴む(えりをつかむ)eri o tsukamu

Push down on the head = 頭を下に押す(あたまをしたにおす)atama o shita ni osu

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