We have many options to create artwork with Kung Fu characters on a wall scroll or portrait...
...We could also help you create an Kung Fu Asian Tattoo.
Quick links to words on this page...
| 1. Kung Fu / Gong Fu
2. Martial Arts / Wu Shu
3. Kung Fu San Soo / San Shou
4. Drunken Monkey Kung Fu
5. Laughing Dragon Kung Fu
6. Shaolin Kung Fu
7. Tai Chi Wing Chun Kung Fu
8. Wing Chun Kung Fu
9. Black Belt
10. Bruce Lee
11. Bravery / Courage
12. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
13. Dragon Snake Tiger...
14. Drunken Monkey
15. Drunken Fist
|16. Hung Gar
17. Inner Strength
18. Jackie Chan
19. Kajukenbo Slogan
20. Old Karate / Tang Hand Way / Tang Soo Do
21. Kenpo / Kempo / Quan Fa / Chuan Fa
22. Monkey Fist
24. Shaolin Generational Poem
25. Shaolin Chuan / Shao Lin Quan
26. Shaolin Temple
27. Shorinji Kempo / Kenpo
28. Strong bones come from hard knocks
30. Warrior Essence / Warrior Spirit / Martial
|31. Wu Xing Fist|
32. Wudang Fist
One of the most famous types of martial arts in the world - and not just because of Bruce Lee.
Some translate the meaning as "Accomplishment by Great Effort." I think this is partially true but directly translated it literally means "Merit/Achievement/Accomplishment Man." The word "fu" can sometimes mean "husband" or "porter" but in this case, it can only mean "man." However, few in China will think "man" when they hear the word "Gong Fu" spoken.
This term is also used for things other than martial arts. In fact, it's used to refer to a person with excellent skills in crafts that require a great deal of effort such as cooking, tea ceremonies, and calligraphy.
What a lot of people don't know is that the spelling of "Kung Fu" was actually taken from the old Wade Giles form of Romanization. Using this method, the sounds of the English "G" and "K" were both written as "K" and an apostrophe after the "K" told you it was supposed to sound like a "G." Nobody in the west knew this rule, so most people pronounce it with a "K-sound." And so Gong Fu will always be Kung Fu for most westerners.
Also, just to educate you a little more, the "O" in "Gong" has a sound like the English word "oh."
The popular Chinese dish "Kung Pao Chicken" suffers from the same problem. It should actually be "Gong Bao Chicken."
Historical note: Many will claim that Kung Fu was invented by the monks of the Shaolin monastery. This fact is argued in both directions by scholars of Chinese history. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that the Shaolin Monks brought the original fame to Kung Fu many generations ago.
Japanese note: While most Japanese martial artists will recognize these characters, Katakana is more often used to approximate the pronunciation of "Kung Fu" with "カンフー." Some will argue as to whether this should be considered a Japanese word at all.
See Also: Bruce Lee
武術 is the very Chinese way to express "Martial Arts." Some even use this word to directly describe Kung Fu. But this is a label that fits all disciplines from Karate to Kung Fu to Taekwondo.
Note: This also means Martial Arts with the same appearance in old Korean Hanja characters and is pronounced "musul" or "musur" in Korean.
While this is best if your audience is Chinese or Korean, this also means "martial arts" in Japanese.
功夫散手 is a martial arts title.
Oddly, there are multiple ways two spell/romanize this in English but in Chinese, it's written exactly the same.
Technically, the Mandarin romanizes as "gong fu san shou," for which you'll sometimes see it written "kung fu san shou" (k'ung is an old romanization for a word that sounds like gong with a vowel sound like "oh").
There is another martial arts style that spells this "Kung Fu San Soo." My guess is, this was supposed to approximate Cantonese pronunciation for which the scholarly romanization is generally agreed to be "gung fu saan sau."
醉猴功夫 / 醉猴功伕 is the title for Drunken Monkey Kung Fu (Gong Fu). The martial arts style inspired by the novel, "Journey to the West."
See Also: Monkey Fist
笑龍功夫 is the title for a Martial Arts studio (custom-made at by request of the owner of the studio).
Many will argue whether rank systems that include a "black belt" are used in pure Chinese martial arts systems. The argument goes that it's more a Japanese idea that's merged into the western versions of Chinese martial arts. However, in Wushu (often referred to as Kung Fu), it's said that all students started with white belts. Over the years of training, the white belt would get dirty, until finally appearing black with filth. Thus, more advanced students had darker belts.
If you want this title in Chinese, this would be the form.
Many people have no idea that Bruce Lee had a "real" Chinese name. In mainland China and Hong Kong he is known as "Li Xiao-Long." He kept his family name pronunciation (Li = Lee). 李小龍 is a common family name that also means "plum."
His given name "Xiao-Long" literally means "little dragon." 李小龍 is why you often see the character for dragon associated with Bruce Lee on various posters etc.
For a pronunciation lesson, the "X" in Romanized Chinese is pronounced like a "sh" sound but with your tongue at the bottom of your mouth. The vowel sound in "Long" is like the English "oh," not like the "ah" sound in the English word "long."
If you are a big Bruce Lee fan, you should know this information, and you should have this wall scroll hanging in your room or martial arts studio.
Note: Japanese use these same exact Chinese characters / Kanji to write Bruce Lee's real name (with different pronunciation - which is a bit like how the name "Bruce Lee" sounds in English).
See Also: Marital Arts
There are several ways to express bravery and courage in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. This version is the most spiritual. 勇氣 is the essence of bravery from deep within your being. 勇氣 is the mental state of being brave versus actual brave behavior. You'd more likely use this to say, "He is very courageous," rather than "He fought courageously in the battle."
The first character also means bravery or courage when it's seen alone. With the second character added, an element of energy or spirit is added. The second character is the same "chi" or "qi" energy that Kung Fu masters focus when they strike. For this reason, you could say this means "spirit of courage" or "brave spirit."
勇氣 is certainly a stronger word than just the first character alone.
Beyond bravery or courage, dictionaries also translate this word as valor/valour, nerve, audacity, daring, pluck, plucky, gallantry, guts, gutsy and boldness.
勇氣 is also one of the 8 key concepts of tang soo do.
While the version shown to the left is commonly used in Chinese and Korean Hanja (and ancient Japanese Kanji), please note that the second character is written with slightly fewer strokes in modern Japanese. If you want the modern Japanese version, please click on the character to the right. Both styles would be understood by native Chinese, Japanese, and many (but not all) Korean people. You should make your selection based on the intended audience for your calligraphy artwork. Or pick the single-character form of bravery/courage which is universal.
臥虎藏龍 is the movie title of the Kung Fu epic that was very popular in the west a few years back.
臥虎藏龍 is actually a re-ordering of an ancient Chinese proverb that refers to undiscovered talents.
The movie was one of the most popular Chinese foreign films to ever debut in the USA but received a lukewarm reception in China.
Note: This can be pronounced in Korean but it's not a commonly used term.
龍蛇虎豹鶴 is a list of the Chinese characters for the five animals of Shaolin Kung Fu in a comfortable order (meaning that they are in the proper order and will simply "feel right" to a Chinese person who views this arrangement).
醉猴 is the short title for Drunken Monkey (often used as a title for a style of martial arts or kung fu which mimics the movements of a drunk monkey). This martial arts style was inspired by the novel, "Journey to the West."
See Also: Monkey Fist
Drunken Fist is a traditional Chinese martial art / technique of Kung Fu.
It is a northern style of martial art that imitates a drunk person in its movements. Many staggering movements serve to deceive the opponent and keep them off-balance.
Some consider Drunken Fist to be among the harder styles of martial arts due to the need for powerful joints and fingers.
See Also: Drunken Monkey
洪家 is the martial arts title Hung Ga or Hung Gar.
The first character means flood, big, immense, or great but it can also be the surname, Hong or Hung.
The last character means family or home.
This can also be read as "The Hung Family" or "The Hung Household." This title is mostly associated as a style of Kung Fu.
內力 is the shorter version of inner-strength (can also be translated as "internal force"). The first character holds the meaning of "inner" or "internal." The second character means "power," "force" or "strength."
內力 is kind of a Kung Fu way of talking about an inner power or strength from within. 內力 is sort of a way to express "inner-chi." 內力 is clearly something that you might hear in a real Chinese Kung Fu movie.
While understood in both Chinese and Japanese, this can have a secondary meaning of "inner stress" in Japanese.
拳法功夫 is the Japanese slogan associated with Kajukenbo.
There is not a way to really write Kajukenbo in Japanese (as the "ka" for karate cannot be separated from the "kara" character it is supposed to represent - among a few other language issues). This slogan which reads, "fist law, kung fu" is often written on banners and patches for Kajukenbo clubs or dojos.
唐手道 is the alternate title for Karate-do. This title uses a character which represents the Tang Dynasty of China. Thus, this is often translated as the "Tang Hand Way" or incorrectly, "Tang Fist Way." I have also seen some call it "China Hand Way."
There is not a lot of information on this title but some believe that a simplified form of Kung Fu that started in China, and ended up very popular in Japan used this title initially. It was later changed in Japan to a different Karate title which means "Empty Hand" (as in, without weapons).
In Korean, this title represents a certain style of martial arts. From Korean, this is often romanized as "Tang Soo Do," "Tangsudo," "Dang Su Do," or "Dangsudo." The last two romanizations on that list are the official Korean government romanization, though martial arts schools tend to use other non-standard versions.
This form of martial arts can be translated in several ways. Some will call it "fist principles" or "the way of the fist," or even "law of the fist." The first character literally means fist. The second can mean law, method, way, principle or Buddhist teaching.
Kempo is really a potluck of martial arts. Often a combination of Chinese martial arts such as Shaolin Kung Fu with Japanese martial arts such as Karate, Jujutsu (Jujitsu), Aikido, and others. You may see the term "Kempo Karate" which basically means Karate with other disciplines added. In this way, Kempo becomes an adjective rather than a title or school of martial arts.
These facts will long be argued by various masters and students of Kempo. Even the argument as to whether it should be spelled "kenpo" or "Kempo" ensues at dojos around the world (the correct Romaji should actually be "kenpou" if you precisely follow the rules).
The benefit of Kempo is that the techniques are easier to learn and master compared to pure Kung Fu (wu shu). Students are often taught basic Karate moves, kicks, and punches before augmenting the basic skills with complex Kung Fu techniques. This allows students of Kempo achieve a level where they can defend themselves or fight in a relatively short amount of time (a few years rather than a decade or more).
Because the definition of this word is so fluid, I should make some notes here:
1. Purists in Okinawa will claim that "Okinawa Kenpo" or "Ryukyu Hon Kenpo" is the original and true version of this martial art from the old kingdom. There is actually little or no connection between Okinawa Kenpo and the way the word is used elsewhere.
2. In Chinese, where these characters are pronounced "quan fa" (sometimes Romanized as "chuan fa" because the Chinese-pinyin "q" actually sounds like an English "ch" sound), these characters do not hold the connotation of being a mixed martial art. It is simply defined as "the law of the fist."
3. In my Japanese dictionary, it oddly defines Kenpo as "Chinese art of self-defense." I personally don't feel this is the most common way that people perceive the word but just something you should know.
猿拳 is the Japanese martial arts title, "Monkey Fist," referring to Monkey-Style Kung Fu.
猿拳 is very similar to a Chinese term that uses a different first character (the characters for ape and monkey were reversed when Japan borrowed Chinese characters, so this would be "Ape Fist" if a Chinese person read it).
This literally means what you think, it's the "Monkey Fist" school of Kung Fu. A style that mimics the punches and movements of monkeys and apes.
Becoming popular during the Qing Dynasty, this style can trace its origins back to as early as the Song Dynasty. Some of the romance and popularity of this style comes from the novel "Journey to the West" which features the Monkey King and his fighting skills.
This novel and martial arts style has spawned a stream of Hong Kong movies featuring the Monkey King, and other Kung Fu style variations such as "Drunken Monkey" and "Monkey Stealing Peaches" (a technique of disabling your opponent by grabbing and yanking on his testicles).
Note: This kind of makes sense in Korean Hanja and Japanese Kanji but probably unknown by all Koreans and Japanese except those who have an interest in this form of Kung Fu.
The Shaolin monks of China have been practicing the art of Kung Fu for thousands of years. While there are many schools of Kung Fu in China, Shaolin are one of the more religiously devout and disciplined.
The title of Shaolin actually refers to a specific Buddhist monastery. It should be noted that the Shaolin were famous in China long before the Kung Fu TV show. Their fame in China is due to the monks' heroic and swift rescue an emperor during the Tang Dynasty. Most Chinese people are not keenly aware of the Kung Fu TV show, and have no idea who David Carradine is or anything about his character, Kwai Chang Caine.
Note: The literal meaning of these two characters is "little forest."
The fame of the Shaolin has spread all over Asia, as even though this is a Chinese title, the same characters are used in Japanese with the same meaning.
嵩山少林寺曹洞正宗傳續七十字輩訣福慧智子覺了本圓可悟周洪普廣宗道慶同玄祖清靜真如海湛寂淳貞素德行永延恆妙體常堅固心朗照幽深性明鑒崇祚忠正善禧祥謹志原濟度雪庭為導師引汝歸鉉路 is a poem, including title, that celebrates the tactics and virtues of the Shaolin Kung Fu Monks for future generations.
少林拳 is the title of the martial art (style of Kung Fu) that is taught to the monks and students in the Shaolin Buddhist Monastery. The addition of Chuan or Quan which means fist is what signifies that you are talking about this school or form of martial arts.
少林寺 is the full title of the Shaolin Temple.
This refers to the Buddhist monastery famous for its kung fu monks.
少林寺 is also known in Japanese where they use the same characters but romanize it as Shourinji or Shōrinji.
Some believe this monastery and temple represent the place where Bodhidharma sat with his face to a wall for nine years leading to his discovery of enlightenment and establishment of Buddhism.
少林寺拳法 is a specific type of martial arts in Japan that claims origins in the Kung Fu practiced in the original Shaolin Monastery of China.
The first three characters mean "Shaolin Monastery" and you might notice the Japanese is pronounced in a very similar way. 少林寺拳法 is because many words were "borrowed" from the original Chinese when Japan did not have a written language and simply absorbed Chinese characters into their language around the 5th century. When a Japanese word did not exist, the Chinese pronunciation was often absorbed as well as the written form.
The last two characters mean "fist law" or "method of the fist." It has long been argued as to whether the Japanese for these characters should be Romanized as "kempo" or "kenpo." The official method should be "kenpou" but it's common to drop the "u" that comes after the "o."
I imagine if you are looking for this title, you already know what it means, so the above is simply extra information that a student of Shorinji Kempo might want to know.
This Chinese proverb literally translates as: Without being knocked around a bit, [one's] bones won't become hard.
Figuratively, this means: One can't become strong without first being tempered by "hard knocks."
While true for everyone, this sounds like the "Iron Body" form of Kung Fu, where practitioners bodies are beaten (and often bone fractured) in order to become stronger.
For the rest of us, this is just about how we can be tempered and build character through the hardships in our lives.
不磕不碰骨頭不硬 is not a common title for a wall scroll in China.
This Character is pronounced "jian" in Chinese. When you say it, imagine that you are making the sound of a sword as it clashes with a metal shield. This might get you closer to the correct pronunciation in Chinese.
I actually wonder if this word came from the metallic ringing sounds of a sword in battle - but such knowledge is lost in history.
The sword is a symbol of a warrior. The one thing that a soldier in ancient China lived and died by. A warrior with his skills and sword proves himself of great value. A warrior who losses his sword instantly becomes worthless.
劍 is an excellent scroll for someone in the military (especially officers of all services - as well as enlisted NCO Marines since they still carry swords even if mainly for ceremonial purposes). Or perhaps someone who practices variations of kung fu or tai chi that involve weapons.
Please note that while this character is understood with the sword meaning in Japanese, you might be looking for the word "katana" which also means sword in Japanese but means "knife" in Chinese.
There are other ways to write sword, and here are a few...
If you are particular about the version you receive, please let me know when you place your order (Note: Special styles are only available from one of our master calligraphers).
We have a forum entry that addresses the many ways to write sword. You can find that here: 100 Ways to Write Sword - Deciphering Ancient Seal Script
This character is the essence or spirit of a warrior. This character is part of the word "wu shu" which is sometimes translated as "martial arts" or "kung fu."
In more modern speech and other context, this can mean military, martial, warlike, fierce, and perhaps violent but usually as a prefix for a longer word or phrase.
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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji(Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|功夫||kan fu / ku fu|
kanfu / kufu
|gōng fu / gong1 fu / gong fu / gongfu||kung fu / kungfu|
|bujutsu||wǔ shù / wu3 shu4 / wu shu / wushu|
|Kung Fu San Soo
|功夫散手||gōng fu sǎn shǒu
gong1 fu san3 shou3
gong fu san shou
|kung fu san shou
|Drunken Monkey Kung Fu||醉猴功夫 / 醉猴功伕|
|zuì hóu gōng fu
zui4 hou2 gong1 fu
zui hou gong fu
|tsui hou kung fu
|Laughing Dragon Kung Fu||笑龍功夫|
|xiào lóng gōng fu
xiao4 long2 gong1 fu
xiao long gong fu
|hsiao lung kung fu
|Shaolin Kung Fu||少林功夫||sho rin kan fu|
|shǎo lín gōng fu
shao3 lin2 gong1 fu
shao lin gong fu
|shao lin kung fu
|Tai Chi Wing Chun Kung Fu||太極詠春功夫|
|tài jí yǒng chūn gōng fu
tai4 ji2 yong3 chun1 gong1 fu
tai ji yong chun gong fu
|t`ai chi yung ch`un kung fu
tai chi yung chun kung fu
|Wing Chun Kung Fu||詠春功夫|
|yǒng chūn gōng fu
yong3 chun1 gong1 fu
yong chun gong fu
|yung ch`un kung fu
yung chun kung fu
|hēi dài / hei1 dai4 / hei dai / heidai||hei tai / heitai|
|bu ruu su ri|
bu ru su ri
|lǐ xiǎo lóng
li3 xiao3 long2
li xiao long
|li hsiao lung
|In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.|
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.
All of our calligraphy wall scrolls are handmade.
When the calligrapher finishes creating your artwork, it is taken to my art mounting workshop in Beijing where a wall scroll is made by hand from a combination of silk, rice paper, and wood.
After we create your wall scroll, it takes at least two weeks for air mail delivery from Beijing to you.
Allow a few weeks for delivery. Rush service speeds it up by a week or two for $10!
When you select your calligraphy, you'll be taken to another page where you can choose various custom options.
The wall scroll that Sandy is holding in this picture is a "large size"
single-character wall scroll.
We also offer custom wall scrolls in small, medium, and an even-larger jumbo size.
Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.
There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.
Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.
The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.