NGAExperience® Nihon Goshin Aikido

The Great Divide ~ Japanese Terminology

Why Nihon Goshin Aikido Uses English Terminology Instead of Japanese Terminology Like Other Associations


Nihon Goshin Aikido uses English terminology instead of Japanese terminology to describe techniques.


According to Shihan Weber:  "The approach that we have in our training is that since we are speaking to other English speaking people, and our main thrust is communication, we're speaking in language that is easy for them to understand.  There is no disrespect to the 'mother art' or to the original training aspect.  Mr. Bowe speaks fluent Japanese, but he believes that if you are communicating with fellow Americans that you should be using the language that is common to them." (transcribed from Steven Weber's Classical Techniques 2nd Set DVD @ 33:54).


Certainly anything that makes it easier for the new student to 'get started' in aikido is better than the alternative.   (In my mind, this is possibly why our particular school has not been too focused on ukemi at the onset of training.  In thinking of one 50-ish year old female student, I know this has worked for her.  I could not imagine her making 3 classes if she had to learn to roll first.  After a year in the system, she strikes me as one of the more dedicated students in the dojo, and while her ukemi is still not where it should be, she's steadily improving).   So I see the point; an easier start makes a finish more likely.  I read somewhere that an Aikido blackbelt is made 1 out of every 500 students in the typical association. To his credit, Shihan Bowe's decision to remove the language barrier has made our new student to black belt ratio much lower than the typical 1 in 500 average of other associations.


Still, in the greater interest of building a better Aikido community that is able to cross boundaries, I think it makes good sense for the senior student to work on learning the techniques by their Japanese names in addition to the names in our system.  


In this way, you will not be lost when you have opportunities to train in other Aikido styles.  


Possibly the easiest way to practice the Japanese terminology is to use it when you can in the dojo setting (at least sub-vocally).  In other words:  "Wheel Throw from a Single Wrist Cross Grab" could be called "Katate-Tori-Kaiten-Nage (literally:  "Single Hand Straight Grab Wheel Throw").


In Japanese, they seem to list the attack before the technique.  In our Nihon Goshin Aikido dojo, we do the opposite; naming the technique first followed by the attack (eg:  “Wheel Throw from a Straight Punch”).

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