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Self Defence in Chinese / Japanese...

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Kenpo / Kempo / Quan Fa / Chuan Fa

China quán fǎ
Japan kenpou
Kenpo / Kempo / Quan Fa / Chuan Fa Vertical Wall Scroll

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.


China zì wèi
Japan ji ei
Self-Defense Vertical Wall Scroll

自衛 means self-defense in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.

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


If shown, 2nd row is Simp. Chinese

Simple Dictionary Definition


see styles
Mandarin quán fǎ / quan2 fa3
Taiwan ch`üan fa / chüan fa
Japanese kenpou / kenpo / けんぽう
Self-Defense Vertical Wall Scroll
Chinese boxing; fighting technique
Japanese Chinese art of self-defence (defense)



see styles
Mandarin zì wèi / zi4 wei4
Taiwan tzu wei
Japanese jiei / jie / じえい
Chinese self-defense
Japanese (n,vs,adj-no) self-defense; self-defence


see styles
Japanese mamorigatana / まもりがたな Japanese (irregular okurigana usage) sword for self-defense; sword for self-defence


see styles
Japanese kaishou / kaisho / かいしょう Japanese Vice-Admiral (Maritime Self-Defence Force of Japan) (defense)


see styles
Japanese kuusa / kusa / くうさ Japanese (Self Defense Force's Air Force) colonel (defence); lieutenant; major


see styles
Japanese kuushou / kusho / くうしょう Japanese (Self Defense Force's Air Force) general (defence); lieutenant; major


see styles
Japanese kuui / kui / くうい Japanese (Self Defense Force's Air Force) captain (defence); lieutenant


see styles
Japanese kuusou / kuso / くうそう Japanese noncommissioned officer of the Japanese Air Self Defense Forces (Defence)


see styles
Japanese sanbo / サンボ Japanese (abbreviation) self-defence (defense) (type of wrestling) (rus: sambo)


see styles
Japanese mamorigatana / まもりがたな Japanese sword for self-defense; sword for self-defence


see styles
Japanese youjinbou / yojinbo / ようじんぼう Japanese (1) bodyguard; bouncer; guard; (2) bar (e.g. on a door); bolt; (3) (orig. meaning) stick or pole used for self-defence


see styles
Japanese jieidan / jiedan / じえいだん Japanese (1) self defense group; self defence group; (2) self-protection


see styles
Japanese jieiken / jieken / じえいけん Japanese right of self defense; right of self defence



see styles
Mandarin zì wèi duì / zi4 wei4 dui4
Taiwan tzu wei tui
Japanese jieitai / jietai / じえいたい
Chinese self-defense force; the Japanese armed forces
Japanese (1) self-defence force; self-defense force; (2) Japan Self-Defence Force; JSDF


see styles
Japanese goshinjutsu / ごしんじゅつ Japanese art of self-defense (defence)


see styles
Japanese ittoukaisa / ittokaisa / いっとうかいさ Japanese captain (in the Maritime Self Defence Force)


see styles
Japanese taikennyuutai / taikennyutai / たいけんにゅうたい Japanese boot camp for new recruits (conducted by Japan's Self-Defence Force)


see styles
Japanese seitoubouei / setoboe / せいとうぼうえい Japanese (yoji) legitimate self-defence; legitimate self-defense


see styles
Japanese jieishudan / jieshudan / じえいしゅだん Japanese (noun/participle) measures to defend oneself (for self-defense) (defence)


see styles
Japanese goshinnojutsu / ごしんのじゅつ Japanese art of self-defense; art of self-defence


see styles
Japanese kajoubouei / kajoboe / かじょうぼうえい Japanese (yoji) excessive or unjustifiable self-defense (defence)


see styles
Japanese kaijoujieitai / kaijojietai / かいじょうじえいたい Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces (Defence)


see styles
Japanese jieishouboutai / jieshobotai / じえいしょうぼうたい Japanese self-defence fire brigade; fire brigade associated with building, company, etc.


see styles
Japanese nihonkaijoujieitai / nihonkaijojietai / にほんかいじょうじえいたい Japanese Japan maritime self defense force (defence)


see styles
Japanese nihonkoukuujieitai / nihonkokujietai / にほんこうくうじえいたい Japanese Japan air self defense force (defence)


see styles
Japanese mamorigatana / まもりがたな Japanese sword for self-defense; sword for self-defence

Search for Self Defence in my Japanese & Chinese Dictionary

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

Title CharactersRomaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Quan Fa
Chuan Fa
拳法kenpou / kenpoquán fǎ / quan2 fa3 / quan fa / quanfach`üan fa / chüanfa / chüan fa
ji ei / jieizì wèi / zi4 wei4 / zi wei / ziweitzu wei / tzuwei
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.

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Self Defence was last searched for by someone else on Mar 8th, 2018