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Karate in Chinese / Japanese...

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Start your custom "Karate" project by clicking the button next to your favorite "Karate" title below...

See also: Martial Arts Words and Phrases

Quick links to words on this page...

  1. Karate
  2. Karate-Do
  3. Old Karate / Tang Hand Way / Tang Soo Do
  4. Tang Hand
  5. Goju Ryu Karate-Do
  6. Isshin Ryu Karate Do
  7. Kempo Karate / Law of the Fist Empty Hand
  8. Law of the Fist Karate / Kempo Karate
  9. Nippon Karate-Do Genbu-Kai
10. Shidokan
11. Shidokan Karate-Do
12. Shito-Ryu Ki-Me-Kan Karate-Do
13. Shotokan Karate-Do
14. Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do
15. Wado-Ryu Karate
16. Danketsu Karate-Do
17. Goju Ryu
18. Shorinji Kempo / Kenpo
19. Wado-Kai
20. Wado-Ryu


Karate

China kōng shǒu
Japan kara te
Karate Wall Scroll

The short, and widely-used-in-English version of karate-do without the "do" or "dao" on the end.


Literal meaning: Empty Hand.

Karate-Do

China kōng shǒu dào
Japan kara te dou
Karate-Do Wall Scroll

Credit is given that karate started in China but migrated and became refined, and vastly popular in Japan. The literal meaning of these characters is "empty hand method" or "empty hand way." Karate is a martial art that uses no blades of weapons other than the "natural weapons" that God gave to humans (fists and feet). The last character somehow became optional but the meaning of that character is "method" or "the way" as in Taoism / Daoism.

Old Karate / Tang Hand Way / Tang Soo Do

China táng shǒu dào
Japan kara te do
Old Karate / Tang Hand Way / Tang Soo Do Wall Scroll

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.

Tang Hand

China táng shǒu
Japan kara te
Tang Hand Wall Scroll

唐手 is a very seldom-used title for Karate. This title uses a character which represents the Tang Dynasty of China. Thus, this is often translated as the "Tang Hand" or incorrectly, "Tang Fist." I have also seen some call it "China Hand."


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).

I am sure that some will suggest a different history or argue a different origin. I think that nobody can be sure.

Note: Just like the more conventional Karate title, this one can have the "way" or "method" character added to the end, as in Karate-Do.

Goju Ryu Karate-Do

Japan gou juu ryuu kara te dou
Goju Ryu Karate-Do Wall Scroll

This is the title of the Goju-Ryu Karate-Do school of martial arts.

Isshin Ryu Karate Do

Japan i sshin ryuu kara te dou
Isshin Ryu Karate Do Wall Scroll

This is the full title for Isshin-Ryu Karate-Do.

The literal meaning is "one heart method empty hand way."

There are also other ways you can translate this, but if you are looking for this title, you already know that.

This would make a great wall scroll for your dojo or private studio, if you study this form of Japanese (technically from Okinawa) Karate.

Because this is a specifically-Japanese title, I strongly recommend that you select our Japanese Master Calligrapher to create this artwork for you.

Kempo Karate / Law of the Fist Empty Hand

China kōng shǒu quán fǎ
Japan kara te ken pou
Kempo Karate / Law of the Fist Empty Hand Wall Scroll

The first two characters mean "karate" - technically they express "empty hand."

The last two express "fist law" which is Romanized from Japanese as "Kenpo" or "Kempo."

That "empty hand" translation can be understood better when you grasp the idea that karate is a martial art without weapons (other than the weapons organic to your body, such as your foot, hand, fist, etc). When you practice karate, you do so with empty hands (no weapons).

Note: There is also an antiquated way to write karate. It has the same pronunciation but a different first character which means "Tang" as in the Tang Dynasty. Some dojos use that form - let us know if you need that alternate form, and we'll add it for you.

Law of the Fist Karate / Kempo Karate

China quán fǎ táng shǒu
Japan ken pou kara te
Law of the Fist Karate / Kempo Karate Wall Scroll

The first two characters mean "fist law" which is Romanized from Japanese as "Kenpo" or "Kempo."

The last two are a secondary way to express "karate."

Notes:
The more common way to express "karate" is literally "empty hand" (meaning "without weapons in your hand"). This version would be translated literally as "Tang hand" (as in the Tang Dynasty) or "China hand" (sometimes "Tang" means "China" in Japanese). Even though the character for "Tang" is used instead of "empty," it's still pronounced "kara-te" in Japanese.

This is not commonly used in China - so please consider it to be a Japanese-only title.

Many Japanese people will say the last two Kanji are the old and antiquated way to say Karate. This fact does not stop this title from existing, as these four characters are often seen in Kenpo / Kempo Dojos around the western world.

Nippon Karate-Do Genbu-Kai

Japanese Genbu Karate Club
China rì běn kōng shǒu dào xuán wǔ huì
Japan ni ppon kara te dou gen bu kai
Nippon Karate-Do Genbu-Kai Wall Scroll

This is the title for Nippon Karate-Do Genbu-Kai.
A Japanese karate association of the Genbu school.

Note that while this title does make perfect sense in Chinese, it is really a Japanese title. In fact, the first word is "Japanese/Japan."


If you'd like your martial arts school, dojo or club added to our calligraphy database for easy ordering of a custom calligraphy wall scroll, just post your request on our Custom Asian Calligraphy Request Forum.

Shidokan (Karate)

Japan shi dou kan
Shidokan (Karate) Wall Scroll

士道館 is the Japanese title for Shidōkan, a style of full-contact karate.

士道館 is a newer karate style, founded in 1980 by Yoshiji Soeno.

Shidokan Karate-Do

Japan shi dou kan kara te dou
Shidokan Karate-Do Wall Scroll

This is the full Japanese title for Shidōkan Karate-Do, a style of full-contact karate.

This is a newer karate style, founded in 1980 by Yoshiji Soeno.

Shito-Ryu Ki-Me-Kan Karate-Do

China mì dōng liú qì mù guǎn kōng shǒu dào
Japan shito-ryu ki-me-kan karate-dou
Shito-Ryu Ki-Me-Kan Karate-Do Wall Scroll

This is the title for Shito-Ryu Ki-Me-Kan Karate-Do.
A school of Karate.

Note that while this title can be pronounced in Chinese, it only makes complete sense in Japanese.

Shotokan Karate-Do

China sōng tāo guǎn kōng shǒu dào
Japan shou tou kan kara te dou
Shotokan Karate-Do Wall Scroll

These Japanese Kanji make up the title for Shotokan Karate.

This should be considered a Japanese-only title. It does make sense and is pronounceable in Chinese and Korean but only as a title for a building (perhaps a martial arts hall) surrounded by pine trees - followed by the characters for "The empty hand method" (kong shou dao / Karate-do). Also, the first two characters were simplified in both Japanese and Chinese. The third character was simplified in Chinese but not Japanese.

Upon request, we can offer the fully traditional Chinese version but be sure you know what you are asking for.

Note: This would be understood in Chinese and Korean Hanja by a person from those cultures who is familiar with martial arts and various schools of Japanese karate.

Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do

Japan ue chi ryuu kara te dou
Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do Wall Scroll

This is the title of the Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do school of Okinawan martial arts. Uechi actually means "higher stages of practice" in a Buddhist context.

Wado-Ryu Karate

Japan wa dou ryuu kara te
Wado-Ryu Karate Wall Scroll

和道流空手 is the Japanese martial arts title, "Wado-Ryu Karate."


See Also:  Wado-Kai

Danketsu Karate-Do

Japan dan ketsu kara te dou
Danketsu Karate-Do Wall Scroll

団結空手道 is the title for Danketsu Karate-Do, a dojo located in Stroudsburg, PA.

団結 (danketsu) means union, unity, or combination.

空手道 (karate-do) means "empty hand way".


If you need you martial arts school/dojo/academy added to my database, just give me the info (actual Chinese/Japanese text if you have it).

Goju Ryu

Japan gou juu ryuu
Goju Ryu Wall Scroll

剛柔流 is the title of the Goju-Ryu or Gōjū-Ryū school / style of Karate / Japanese martial arts.

Shorinji Kempo / Kenpo

China shào lín sì quán fǎ
Japan shourinji kenpou
Shorinji Kempo / Kenpo Wall Scroll

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.

Wado-Kai

Japan wa dou kai
Wado-Kai Wall Scroll

Wado-Kai is used as a title for styles of Karate and Aikido.

Breaking down the characters into the proper Japanese Romaji, you have "wa dou kai" or "wa dō kai." The meaning is roughly-translated as "Harmony Way Club" or "Peace Method Association." The first Kanji should probably be read as harmony, rather than peace in this case.


See Also:  Wado-Ryu

Wado-Ryu

Style of Karate or Jujitsu
Japan wa dou ryuu
Wado-Ryu Wall Scroll

Wado-Ryu is a style of Karate or Jujutsu (Jujitsu).
Note: Many will argue as to whether this is a style of Karate or Jujutsu.

While some find Wado-Ryu similar to Shotokan Karate, enough differences exist in perspective and technique that it stands by itself.

Breaking down the characters into the proper Japanese Romaji, you have "wa dou ryuu" or "wa dō ryū." The meaning is roughly-translated as "Harmony Way Style" or "Peace Method Style." The first Kanji should probably be read as harmony, rather than peace in this case.


See Also:  Wado-Kai




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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Karate 空手kara te / karatekōng shǒu
kong1 shou3
kong shou
kongshou
k`ung shou
kungshou
kung shou
Karate-Do 空手道kara te dou
karatedou
kara te do
karatedo
kōng shǒu dào
kong1 shou3 dao4
kong shou dao
kongshoudao
k`ung shou tao
kungshoutao
kung shou tao
Old Karate
Tang Hand Way
Tang Soo Do
唐手道kara te do / karatedotáng shǒu dào
tang2 shou3 dao4
tang shou dao
tangshoudao
t`ang shou tao
tangshoutao
tang shou tao
Tang Hand 唐手kara te / karatetáng shǒu
tang2 shou3
tang shou
tangshou
t`ang shou
tangshou
tang shou
Goju Ryu Karate-Do 剛柔流空手道
刚柔流空手道
gou juu ryuu kara te dou
goujuuryuukaratedou
go ju ryu kara te do
gojuryukaratedo
Isshin Ryu Karate Do 一心流空手道i sshin ryuu kara te dou
isshinryuukaratedou
i shin ryu kara te do
ishinryukaratedo
Kempo Karate
Law of the Fist Empty Hand
空手拳法kara te ken pou
karatekenpou
kara te ken po
karatekenpo
kōng shǒu quán fǎ
kong1 shou3 quan2 fa3
kong shou quan fa
kongshouquanfa
k`ung shou ch`üan fa
kungshouchüanfa
kung shou chüan fa
Law of the Fist Karate
Kempo Karate
拳法唐手ken pou kara te
kenpoukarate
ken po kara te
kenpokarate
quán fǎ táng shǒu
quan2 fa3 tang2 shou3
quan fa tang shou
quanfatangshou
ch`üan fa t`ang shou
chüanfatangshou
chüan fa tang shou
Nippon Karate-Do Genbu-Kai 日本空手道玄武會
日本空手道玄武会
ni ppon kara te dou gen bu kai
nipponkaratedougenbukai
ni pon kara te do gen bu kai
niponkaratedogenbukai
rì běn kōng shǒu dào xuán wǔ huì
ri4 ben3 kong1 shou3 dao4 xuan2 wu3 hui4
ri ben kong shou dao xuan wu hui
jih pen k`ung shou tao hsüan wu hui
jih pen kung shou tao hsüan wu hui
Shidokan (Karate) 士道館shi dou kan
shidoukan
shi do kan
shidokan
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.

Successful Chinese Character and Japanese Kanji calligraphy searches within the last few hours...

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A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

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single-character wall scroll.
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A professional Chinese Calligrapher

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.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

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.

A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

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.


Check out my lists of Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls and Old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.

Some people may refer to this entry as Karate Kanji, Karate Characters, Karate in Mandarin Chinese, Karate Characters, Karate in Chinese Writing, Karate in Japanese Writing, Karate in Asian Writing, Karate Ideograms, Chinese Karate symbols, Karate Hieroglyphics, Karate Glyphs, Karate in Chinese Letters, Karate Hanzi, Karate in Japanese Kanji, Karate Pictograms, Karate in the Chinese Written-Language, or Karate in the Japanese Written-Language.