In Aikido, different dojos seem to latch on to using either dori or tori when describing grabbing attacks. For instance one dojo might say:

Katate Dori

Another would say:

Katate Tori

Each dojo will profess that their way of saying / spelling it is the more traditional and correct. Is there a difference between these two similar terms, and if so which one is more correct for denoting a grab?

5 Answers 5


I know very little about Aikido and can only explain general facts about the Japanese language.

“Tori” and “dori” in these example are the noun form of the verb toru (取る; take, grab). In isolation, this noun form is read as “tori.”

Both Katate Tori and Katate Dori are compound words made of katate (片手; one hand) and tori. However, in Japanese, the first consonant of the second component of a compound word is often changed as k→g, s→z, t→d and h→b. This phenomenon is called rendaku (連濁). Note that I said “often,” not “always.” If rendaku occurs in your case, the compound word becomes Katate Dori. If not, it becomes Katate Tori.

There are some patterns when rendaku tends to occur and when it cannot occur as is explained in Wikipedia, but there is no absolute rule that explains everything. In the case of katate + tori, it is certainly possible to have rendaku here, so Katate Dori is a possible form. But this does not mean that rendaku must occur, so the form Katate Tori is also possible.

Often only one form survives and the other form dies out, in which case we can say that one form is correct and the other is incorrect in the modern language. In some cases, the version without rendaku and the version with rendaku both survive but mean different things. For example, both yamakawa and yamagawa are compound words made of yama (山; mountain) and kawa (川; river), but yamakawa means mountains and rivers whereas yamagawa means a river in a mountain.

But in your case, it seems that both forms are used in the same way judging from several webpages in English I found by web search. (I checked the pages in English because it is difficult to search this in Japanese, because when written in Japanese, both become 片手取り, as Andrew stated in his answer.) From this, I see no evidence that one is “more correct” than the other, whatever “more correct” means.

  • rendaku!!! I have been looking for that word since I took my linguistics class 8 years ago. Thank you. Jun 9, 2011 at 15:51
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    It may be right that both forms are correct, but another possibility is that the rendaku version is correct, and the one without rendaku appeared as a compromise with English readers. I often see romanized words like "maki sushi", which is wrong and is supposed to be "maki-zushi", but is transcribed as such because an English native may not understand that "sushi" changes to "zushi" by rendaku. This kind of "consideration" is only harmful.
    – user458
    Oct 10, 2011 at 15:05
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    @sawa: Thank you for the remark. I admit that I did not consider the possibility of incorrect transcription. I know almost nothing about Aikido, and while I know that some people read 片手取り as かたてどり, I do not know whether anyone reads it as かたてとり. Oct 10, 2011 at 15:59
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    Your answer is completely fine. By harmful, I meant whomover first transcribed 巻き寿司 as "maki sushi", and similar people.
    – user458
    Oct 11, 2011 at 2:29
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    According to Tsujimura in An Introduction to Japanese Linguistics, dvandva compounds such as やまかわ resist rendaku, while compounds in a modifier-head relationship such as やまがわ do not. So it seems that the distinction between the two may not be mere historical chance!
    – user1478
    Sep 21, 2013 at 2:47

The Japanese Wikipedia page for Aikido refers to the term as 片手取り, but doesn't give any information on how the word is read. The word also doesn't appear to show up in the dictionary.

So, essentially, there is a possibility that the ending is read -どり rather than -とり. A quick Google search brings up one or two results that explicitly say it's read as かたてどり, but nothing definitive. It seems clear, however, that there is no difference between かたてどり and かたてとり besides the one character in its spelling.

In my opinion, it would be read "dori", as it happens a lot in Japanese that consonants become voiced when used as a suffix like this.


Looking at goo.ne.jp's dictionary (based off 大辞泉):

1 手の中におさめる。手に持つ。

Source: http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/jn2/161480/m0u/%E5%8F%96%E3%82%8B/

With the last part of the definition meaning to hold in one's hand. This matches more closes with the definition of denoting a grab that you are referring to. I was not able to find どり denoting the same meaning, only a usage meant for the indication of volume:


Source: http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/jn2/160951/m0u/

I've also confirmed this in 大辞林, which lists definition 1 as:


"Hold in hand"


Tori and Dori are the same word. Because Dori is the voiced version of Tori, to a Japanese speaker there would be no perceived difference. However, katate dori would probably be easier to be spoken for a native speaker and thus would appear that they may be the more correct answer.

another more famous example of this is when you combine Ao and Sora together you get AoZora.

  • 3
    (1) /d/ is the voiced version of /t/. (2) I personally agree that katate dori is easier to pronounce than katate tori, but I do not know if this is a good reason to make a guess which form is “more correct.” At first, the repetition of /t/ sound obviously looked hard to pronounce, but after I noticed that the word 肩たたき katatataki (= kata + tataki; shoulder massage) is not katadataki, I fail to convince myself that my pronunciation preference toward katate dori means anything universal. Jun 9, 2011 at 3:02
  • @ito thanx for the correction, always forget which is unvoiced. On the tataki point, are there other times in which that changes to dataki? And I've only heard "iu-tori" and "<street>-dori" so i'm wondering if it is a verb/noun in front that dictates where it is voiced or unvoiced. This is all just supposition though on my part. On the easily spoken part, i may be that because it is easily spoken by everyone that people just use dori pronounciation, but there may not be a fast stead rule to use dori over tori. Jun 9, 2011 at 3:10
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    There is a word fukurodataki (袋叩き) which is a compound word of fukuro (袋; bag) and tataki (叩き; hitting; the same word as tataki in katatataki) and means “beat someone up by ganging up on” (translation from EDICT). I think that the reason iu-tori (言うとおり) does not cause rendaku is that it is not considered as a compound word but it is just a phrase of two words. Jun 9, 2011 at 16:30
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    To a Japanese speaker, there is a perceived difference between tori and dori.
    – user458
    Oct 10, 2011 at 14:56

If its talking about strength then my opinion would be that どり would be a better choice than とり. The reason for this is because just like ペラペラ (fluent) ベラべラ (chatter) ころころ (the sound of something rolling) ごろごろ( a louder sound of something rolling) and so forth tend to become voiced when its talking about exaggeration or strength. Another example ザザ (the sound of heavy rain). Where とり just sounds weaker in context in general. Any flaws to my theory?

  • I don't think it's about strength or sound, because とり/どり is not an onomatopoeia. Rather it's about 連濁.
    – chocolate
    Jun 1, 2016 at 7:24
  • I see, I was aware about the rendaku words such as hitobito tokidoki and what not however, I never really looked into what was happening. I read a single reading explaining it more and that changed my opinion on this. I hope to invest more time in Japanese morphology and phonology to see whats going on but thank you so much! Jun 1, 2016 at 8:13

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