I believe that ukemi can be translated as receiving body (受け身). It is what uke (受け, whoever receives the technique) does when nage (投げ thrower) or tori (取り, grabber) applies a technique.

Am I correct in my assumptions?

Are my kanji correct?

Japanese SE: Etymology and meaning of ukemi (受け身?) as part of 合気道


2 Answers 2


Virmaior at japanese.se answered my question. Here is what he said:

Your kanji are correct. 受け身. You can also write it 受身.

The general meaning of 受け身, however, is not "receiving body" but "passive." Thus, the passive voice "it is written by him" (vs. active "he writes").

I am not familiar with your martial art, but I would guess that it means you take a passive rather than active role in the combat -- receiving the action of others and responding to it.

I have added it here for completeness sake. The full answer can be seen here.


Here is how the relevant terms are defined in the Kodokan New Japanese-English Dictionary of Judo:

uke ("receiver"; the thrown; uke) The person who receives a technique during repetition (uchikomi) or controlled (yakusoku) practice.

ukemi (breakfall) General term for breakfalls designed to protect the body when thrown.

ukeru (to receive) To receive a technique or attack from your opponent, or to have a technique applied to you.

Note that these are the definitions of these terms in a judo context, and 受け身 (ukemi) and 受ける (ukeru) more generally mean "passive one" and "to receive".

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