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Kenpo in Chinese / Japanese...

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Kenpo / Kempo / Quan Fa / Chuan Fa

China quán fǎ
Japan kenpou
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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.

Shorinji Kempo / Kenpo

China shào lín sì quán fǎ
Japan shourinji kenpou
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This 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. This 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.

Law of the Fist Karate / Kempo Karate

China quán fǎ táng shǒu
Japan ken pou kara te
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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.

Kempo Karate / Law of the Fist Empty Hand

China kōng shǒu quán fǎ
Japan kara te ken pou
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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.

Mushindo

Japan mu shin dou
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This is the base title for Mushindo (without mind way). This is often coupled with a trailing word to make titles like Mushindo-Kai or Mushido-Kempo.

If you are looking for this title, you probably know more than I can tell you about this martial arts style.


Not the results for kenpo that you were looking for?

Below are some entries from our dictionary that may match your kenpo search...

Character Images Characters / Kanji
If shown, second row is Simplified Chinese
Pronunciation
Romanization
Simple Dictionary Definition
健保
see styles
健保 Mandarin jiàn bǎo / jian4 bao3
Taiwan chien pao
Japanese kenpo けんぽ
Chinese medical or health insurance
Japanese (abbreviation) health insurance;

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健歩
see styles
健歩 Japanese kenpo けんぽ
Japanese good walker; Takeho (female given name)

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建保
see styles
建保 Japanese kenpou / kenpo けんぽう
Japanese Kempou era (1213.12.6-1219.4.12)

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兼補
see styles
兼補 Japanese kenpo けんぽ
Japanese (noun/participle) carrying on a second line of work

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剣法
see styles
剣法 Japanese kenpou / kenpo けんぽう
Japanese fencing

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憲法
see styles
憲法
宪法
Mandarin xiàn fǎ / xian4 fa3
Taiwan hsien fa
Japanese kenpou / kenpo けんぽう
Chinese constitution (of a country); CL:部[bu4]
Japanese (n,adj-no) constitution;

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拳法
see styles
拳法 Mandarin quán fǎ / quan2 fa3
Taiwan ch`üan fa / chüan fa
Japanese kenpou / kenpo けんぽう
Chinese boxing; fighting technique
Japanese Chinese art of self-defence (defense)
More info / calligraphy:
Kenpo / Kempo / Quan Fa / Chuan Fa


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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.
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Allow a few weeks for delivery. Rush service speeds it up 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.

A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

The scroll that I am holding in this picture is a "medium size"
4-character wall scroll.
As you can see, it is a great size to hang on your wall.
(We also offer custom wall scrolls in larger sizes)

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.




If your search is not successful, just post your request on our forum, and we'll be happy to do research or translation for any reasonable request.

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

Doctor
I Love You
Loyality
Ninja
Ninjutsu
Ninpo
No Mind
Sexy
Success
Tiger
True Love

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See: Our list of specifically Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls. And, check out Our list of specifically old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.

The following table is only helpful for those studying Chinese (or Japanese), and perhaps helps search engines to find this page when someone enters Romanized Chinese or Japanese

Title
Characters 
Simplified
Traditional
Romaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Kenpo / Kempo / Quan Fa / Chuan Fa拳法
拳法
kenpou
kenpo
quán fǎ
quan fa
ch`üan fa
quan2 fa3
quanfa
chüanfa
chüan fa
Shorinji Kempo / Kenpo少林寺拳法
少林寺拳法
shourinji kenpou
shourinjikenpou
shorinji kenpo
shào lín sì quán fǎ
shao lin si quan fa
shao lin ssu ch`üan fa
shao4 lin2 si4 quan2 fa3
shaolinsiquanfa
shaolinssuchüanfa
shao lin ssu chüan fa
Law of the Fist Karate / Kempo Karate拳法唐手
拳法唐手
ken pou kara te
kenpoukarate
ken po kara te
quán fǎ táng shǒu
quan fa tang shou
ch`üan fa t`ang shou
quan2 fa3 tang2 shou3
quanfatangshou
chüanfatangshou
chüan fa tang shou
Kempo Karate / Law of the Fist Empty Hand空手拳法
空手拳法
kara te ken pou
karatekenpou
kara te ken po
kōng shǒu quán fǎ
kong shou quan fa
k`ung shou ch`üan fa
kong1 shou3 quan2 fa3
kongshouquanfa
kungshouchüanfa
kung shou chüan fa
Mushindo无心道
無心道
mu shin dou
mushindou
mu shin do
n/a

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

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