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Your Chinese / Japanese Calligraphy Search for "Shorin"...

I've noticed you are searching for "shorin". There is a lot of confusion about whether it should be 少林 or 小林. The original Chinese Shaolin is 少林 but somehow in Japanese, it became 小林 (both versions are pronounced "Shorin" in Japanese). It is hard to say which one is correct. If you want a different first character from the titles shown below, please let me know by putting a note in the "Special Instructions" tab when you customize your calligraphy artwork.

Quick links to words on this page...

  1. Shorin-ryu Shidokan
  2. Shorin-Ryu
  3. Shorin Ji Ryu
  4. Shaolin
  5. Shaolin Temple
  6. Shidokan
  7. Small Forest
  8. Kung Fu / Gong Fu
  9. Kenpo / Kempo / Quan Fa / Chuan Fa
10. Northern Praying Mantis
11. Wudang Fist
12. Shaolin Chuan / Shao Lin Quan
13. Shaolin Kung Fu
14. Shaolin Martial Arts
15. Shaolin Chang Chuan
16. Dragon Snake Tiger...
17. Shorinji Kempo / Kenpo
18. Shaolin Generational Poem

Shorin-ryu Shidokan

Japan sho rin ryu shi dou kan
Shorin-ryu Shidokan Wall Scroll

小林流志道館 is the Japanese title Shorin-ryu Shidōkan.


Shaolin Style
Japan shou rin ryuu
Shorin-Ryu Wall Scroll

少林流 is the Japanese martial arts title "Shorin-ryu."

Though the first part of the title comes from the Shaolin (small forest) monks of China.
In Japan, this refers to the Okinawa School of Karate.

小Note that often in Japanese, the first Kanji of this title was changed to the version shown to the right. If you prefer this version, please click on the Kanji to the right instead of the button above.

Shorin Ji Ryu

Shaolin Temple Style
Japan shou rin ji ryuu
Shorin Ji Ryu Wall Scroll

少林寺流 is the Japanese martial arts title "Shorin-ji-ryu."

Though the first part of the title comes from the Shaolin temple of China. In Japan, this refers to the Okinawa school of karate.

Note: Sometimes this title is written without the "ji" or "temple" Kanji.


Little Forest
China shǎo lín
Japan sho rin
Shaolin Wall Scroll

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.

Shaolin Temple

China shào lín sì
Japan shou rin ji
Shaolin Temple Wall Scroll

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.


Japan shi dou kan
Shidokan Wall Scroll

志道館 is the Japanese title Shidōkan (sometimes pronounced Kokorozashi-do-kan).

志道館 is often associated with Shorin-ryu Shidokan (小林流志道館). Do not confuse this title with the newer 士道館 which is also romanized as Shidōkan.

Small Forest

China lín
Japan rin
Small Forest Wall Scroll

This character refers to a small forest, a grove, a thicket, or the woods.

In Chinese, this can be the surname Lin. It's also the lin in Shaolin (referring to the monks of the Shaolin temple).

The symbology of this character is two trees side-by-side. Take a look, you can see the tree figures.

Kung Fu / Gong Fu

China gōng fu
HK gung fu
Japan kan fu / ku fu
Kung Fu / Gong Fu Wall Scroll

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

Kenpo / Kempo / Quan Fa / Chuan Fa

China quán fǎ
Japan kenpou
Kenpo / Kempo / Quan Fa / Chuan Fa 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.

Northern Praying Mantis

China táng láng quán
Japan tou rou ken
Northern Praying Mantis Wall Scroll

This can be translated literally as "Praying Mantis Fist."
螳螂拳 is sometimes called Shandong Praying Mantis after its place of origin. It was created by Wang Lang and was named after the praying mantis, an insect, the aggressiveness of which inspired the style.
Shaolin records document that Wang Lang was one of the 18 masters gathered by the Shaolin Abbot Fu Ju, which dates him and Northern Praying Mantis style to the Song Dynasty (960–1279).
The fact that the word "Northern" is used in the English title has more to do with where this style came from (Shandong is in northern China) but "north" is absent from this Chinese title.

Note: 螳螂拳 is also a title in Japanese - however, only a Japanese person who practices or is familiar with "Praying Mantis Fist" style would recognize it.

Wudang Fist

China wǔ dāng quán
Wudang Fist Wall Scroll

This title means Wudang Quan or Wudang Fist.

Wudang (sometimes romanized as Wutang or Wu Tang) refers to a Mountain range in northwest Hubei. The Wudang martial arts style refers to a version of Shaolin Kung Fu.

Shaolin Chuan / Shao Lin Quan

China shǎo lín quán
Shaolin Chuan / Shao Lin Quan Wall Scroll

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.

Shaolin Kung Fu

China shǎo lín gōng fu
Japan sho rin kan fu
Shaolin Kung Fu Wall Scroll

The Shaolin monks of China have been practicing the art of Kung Fu for thousands of years.

少林功夫 is the full title, "Shao Lin Kung Fu."

Shaolin Martial Arts

China shǎo lín wǔ gōng
Shaolin Martial Arts Wall Scroll

少林武功 is the title for "Shaolin Wu Gong" or "Shaolin martial arts."

Shaolin Chang Chuan

China shǎo lín cháng quán
Shaolin Chang Chuan Wall Scroll

少林長拳 is a combination of two titles. The first two characters mean little forest, as in the little forest of the Shaolin monks (shao lin = little forest). The second two characters mean "long fist."

This title is specific to a certain technique - if you are studying Shaolin Chang Chuan, then you are already aware of all the ramifications.

Dragon Snake Tiger
Leopard Crane

China lóng shé hǔ bào hè
Japan ryuu hebi tora hyou tsuru
Dragon Snake Tiger / Leopard Crane Wall Scroll

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).

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.

Shaolin Generational Poem

China sōng shān shào lín sì cáo dòng zhèng zōng chuán xù qī shí zì bèi jué fú huì zhì zǐ jiào běn yuán kě wù zhōu hóng pǔ guǎng zōng dào qìng tóng xuán zǔ qīng jìng zhēn rú hǎi zhàn jì chún zhēn sù dé xíng yǒng yán héng miào tǐ cháng jiān gù xīn lǎng zhào yōu shēn xìng míng jiàn chóng zuò zhōng zhēng shàn xǐ xiáng jǐn zhì yuán jì dù xuě tíng wéi dǎo shī yǐn rǔ guī xuàn lù
Shaolin Generational Poem Wall Scroll

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.

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

Title CharactersRomaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Shorin-ryu Shidokan 小林流志道館sho rin ryu shi dou kan
sho rin ryu shi do kan
Shorin-Ryu 少林流shou rin ryuu
sho rin ryu
Shorin Ji Ryu 少林寺流shou rin ji ryuu
sho rin ji ryu
Shaolin 少林sho rin / shorinshǎo lín / shao3 lin2 / shao lin / shaolin
Shaolin Temple 少林寺shou rin ji
sho rin ji
shào lín sì
shao4 lin2 si4
shao lin si
shao lin ssu
Shidokan 志道館shi dou kan
shi do kan
Small Forest rinlín / lin2 / lin
Kung Fu
Gong Fu
功夫kan fu / ku fu
kanfu / kufu
gōng fu / gong1 fu / gong fu / gongfu kung fu / kungfu
Quan Fa
Chuan Fa
拳法kenpou / kenpoquán fǎ / quan2 fa3 / quan fa / quanfa ch`üan fa / chüanfa / chüan fa
Northern Praying Mantis 螳螂拳tou rou ken
to ro ken
táng láng quán
tang2 lang2 quan2
tang lang quan
t`ang lang ch`üan
tang lang chüan
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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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.

A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

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.

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 Shorin Kanji, Shorin Characters, Shorin in Mandarin Chinese, Shorin Characters, Shorin in Chinese Writing, Shorin in Japanese Writing, Shorin in Asian Writing, Shorin Ideograms, Chinese Shorin symbols, Shorin Hieroglyphics, Shorin Glyphs, Shorin in Chinese Letters, Shorin Hanzi, Shorin in Japanese Kanji, Shorin Pictograms, Shorin in the Chinese Written-Language, or Shorin in the Japanese Written-Language.