Category Archives: vocab

What we teach


At Viola Karate we teach traditional martial arts and training methods including:

Most importantly is budo (the martial way) 

What we Teach Kanji Description Memo
BuJutsu 武術 Martial Arts-skill, method, science of Japan – older/parent (warrior technique) mortal combat self-protection
Budo 武道 Martial Way – philosophical Life skills more modern 17th century+ self-perfection
Bugei 武芸 Art of War – Catchall term for Japanese fighting arts  embracing both budo/bujutsu  bu=martial gei=art military art
Martial Arts 武芸 Latin term “arts of Mars” (Mars/Roman god of War) it is the umbrella and generic term for fighting arts
Karate 空手 1 of many Japanese martial arts (judo, jujutus, akido etc.) meaning “empty hand” (developed in Okinawa) influenced by Chinese Kenpo
Shotokan 松濤館 A Japanese style of martial arts created by Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957) meaning the house of pine waves
Kumite 組手 Fighting: using martial arts skills  (waza) in realistic combat situations such as free sparring or block and counter. meaning crossing of hands
Goshin 護身 Real world self-protection techniques self-defense
jū-jutsu 柔術 Close combat used to neutralize an opponent in the form of pins, join locks, throws and submissions Jiu-jitsu is the Brazilian spelling
Tegumi 手組 Japanese wrestling, submissions and leverage kumite backwards
Kihon 基本 The fundamentals and building blocks of karate (blocks, punches, kicks, strikes, stances) Basics
Kata Karate forms required for advancement.  Memorized patterns of techniques that simulate an imaginary fight
Bunkai 分解 Analysis or disassembly of kata to fully understand its techniques to break down
Oyo 応用 Application of bunkai by extracting movements of the bunkai (personal and creative interpretation) apply, practical use
Kobudo 古武道 Okinawan weapons training including the bō (wooden staff) sai Old martial way

Mokuso #Focus


Mokuso 黙想

To Focus and Clear One’s Mind

Gabby Viola in “Mokuso” a position of focus performed in Seiza where students clear their minds and prepare to train.

At Allegheny Shotokan “Viola Karate” we teach our kids much more than punches and kicks.  We are martial wayists (budoka) or those who practice the martial way.  We prepare them for the real battles–Mental.  Mokuso is the Japanese term for meditation and we have adopted this practice to help clear our minds before we train. For our Norwin Ninjas we refer to this practice as “5-seconds of Shizuka” a Sensei Says skill.  Loosely translated it means, “5-seconds of silence” and helps calm the children down after a fun drill. Either way, Mokuso is practiced to help relieve stress, sharpen our minds, and channel energy.

Mokuso 黙想 is an opportunity to eliminate all the stress weighing you down and enter a state of peace.  This does not have any religious significance at our dojo, it is purely an exercise for controlling our emotions and concentration.

  • 黙 (mo/dama) Silent

  •   (so) Thoughts

While in your “silent thoughts” you should practice correct breathing.  This will help relive tension (stress).  It should be from your 腹 “hara” aka belly (not your stomach but more of a metaphysical area).  Why?  Your center is where your energy is stored.  If you observe a new born, or even animals you will notice the abdominal breathing. As adults, we tend to breath more from our chest.

Your tanden 丹田 (field) is a few inches below your navel (deep within the hara). Samurai believed that this is where your spirit lived.  It is essentially the body’s center of gravity.  The tanden acts as a reservoir of vital energy 気 (Ki Energy) and through correct breathing you can charge🔌 these batteries 🔋 so to speak.

FYI:  We typically perform Mokuso in 正座 “Seiza” which literally means proper/correct sitting in Japanese. (Kneeling on the floor and folding legs under the thighs and 尻 “shiri” (your butt 😂)  The tops of the feet are flat and big toes cross.

  • 丹 (tan) medicine (medical substance)

  • 田 (den) field

Physiologically the diaphragm controls the breathing.  So one should Inhale through the nose (slowly from deep within the center) and slowly exhale through your mouth.

Sensei Viola Sr. and Jack Sensei Bodell

This training also prepares you the concept of mushin 無心 (no mind).

  • 無 (mu) not or without

  • 心 (shin) heart-mind

Mushin is having a mind “not” fixed or occupied by thought or emotion…thus the mind is open to everything. In this state you can be to everything. Mushin is free from anger, fear, or ego during combat. In terms of Kumite, I like empathize this mindset as “no fear.”  You feel no pain, you are unstoppable.

I believe you can exhibit Mushin in all areas of training:  Calisthenics, Kihon, Kumite etc.

colin madden, xander eddy, ethan gaudi
Mushin (Free From Pain)

Mushin (No Fear) Shihan Viola #kumite in the 1960s 

In moments of silence, it is said we can discover a pure side of ourselves. Some call it living in the moment. This “void” is a difficult concept to grasp. In Japan there is an expression, “mizu no kokoro” which means “mind like water.” The idea is to “become one” with your attacker in order to make an “instant” reactions (just like still water reacts when its touched).

So practice emptying your cup…

bruce lee kumite


“Empty your mind, be formless shapeless — like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it become the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” -Bruce Lee




mokuso olympcs

Other ways to forge or train you mind. Read about Kangeiko.