Do I need to learn Japanese?
The short answer is no, you won’t need to learn Japanese. But you might just anyway.
We want our instructions to be as clear and understandable as possible. We use English as it’s the native language of our coaches and the majority of our students.
As such we will use English names for techniques because people will understand what a “right punch” is faster than what “kizami tsuki” is.
You don’t need to know if someone is attacking you with a “kizami tsuki” or a “seiken zuki“, you need to learn how to defend yourself from them.
You will still hear us using some Japanese from time to time, for example calling the training space a “Dōjō“, the coaches as “Sensei“, or the coloured belts an “Obi“. For the most part this is us simply respecting traditional Japanese customs.
What’s the long answer?
There is a case to be made for explicitly learning some Japanese, in this case martial arts related terms.
As students practice and involve themselves within any martial art they will encounter a variety of terms from a variety of languages. As Ju-Jitsu is a Japanese practice, our students will primarily be exposed to Japanese words.
So while learning Japanese is not a grading requirement, we feel it helps extend students learning by helping them to put them into context. It’s what makes the difference between learning Ju-Jitsu merely as a self-defence, and learning it as a martial art.
For the World Ju-Jitsu Federation (WJJF) it also serves an important extra purpose. The WJJF holds many seminars around the world so it is important that instructions can be delivered to as many people as possible. Japanese is thus used as a common language, meaning, the coaches do not need to be fluent in multiple other languages.
Like all WJJF clubs, we want our students to be able to attend other clubs and seminars without a fear of not understanding what is being said to them. Because of this a lot of WJJF clubs will give instructions in both their native language and Japanese. They will still use their native language first, but by using Japanese alongside their native language it extends their students learning. This is why we still use some Japanese as well.
If you would like to take a ‘crash course’ in some Japanese martial arts terms, we have a glossary page where we have written short explanations for a wide variety of words. You can find the Glossary by clicking here.