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Quick links to words on this page...
| 1. True to Yourself
2. Sincere / True Sincerity
3. To thine own self be true
4. ...And this above all to thine own self be true.
5. Be True to Yourself
6. My True Love
7. True Heart
8. True Friend
9. Be True to Yourself
10. True Love
11. My True Love
12. True Friend
13. True Religion / Buddha Truth
14. True / Real / Genuine
15. Dream Come True / Enjoy Success
16. True Emptiness Yields Transcendent Existence
17. True Victory is Victory Over Oneself
19. Honesty / Fidelity
20. Intense / Serious
23. Reality / Realistic
25. Fantasy / Illusion
|26. Tempering Makes Strong Steel
27. Loyalty / Faithful / Devoted
28. Sincerity and Devotion
29. Truth Goodness and Beauty
30. Pursue Your Dreams / Follow Your Dreams / Chase Your Dreams
31. Shin Buddhism
32. Reality and Illusion
34. Power of Understanding and Wisdom
35. Dojo / Martial Arts Studio
36. Pursue Your Dreams / Follow Your Dreams / Chase Your Dreams
37. Intense / Serious / Deep / Profound
39. Keep Your Feet on the Ground
40. To Know Hardship, One Must Experience It
42. Only the sleepless know the length of night
43. You are who you hang out with.
44. Maintain An Army For 1000 Days, Use It For An Hour
46. Strong bones come from hard knocks
47. Daodejing / Tao Te Ching Chapter 81
48. Once in a Lifetime
49. Crisis equals Danger plus Opportunity?
52. Allah / God of Islam
54. Christianity / Christian
56. Lingering Mind
57. Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33
58. In Wine there is Truth
59. Kung Fu / Gong Fu
60. Kenpo / Kempo / Quan Fa / Chuan Fa
61. Tiger Rumor
真誠 is the true essence of sincerity. It takes strength of personality to be truly sincere without over-doing it. Speaking of strength, this is probably the strongest way to convey the idea of sincerity in the Chinese language without over-doing it.
The first character literally means true, real, and genuine. While the second character means sincere and honest.
While these two characters literally read as "true heart" or "genuine heart," the understood meaning is sincerity, devotion, sincere, or heartfelt. Some will extend the meaning to be like, "true love." Basically, it's the idea of doing something or treating someone with genuine feelings.
真心 is valid and has the same meaning in both Chinese characters and Japanese Kanji.
Note: While not too common, this can be the female given name "Mami" in Japanese.
真愛 is literally "True Love" in Chinese.
The first character means "real," "true" and "genuine." The second character means "love" and "affection."
During the customization of your calligraphy wall scroll, there is a place to add an inscription. You might want that inscription to be your names in Chinese down the side of your wall scroll, or perhaps just below these two main characters (just $9 extra). A nice gift to celebrate an anniversary or marriage!
我心真愛 is a slightly poetic way to express this sentiment to someone.
The meaning is "My True Love" but the characters directly translate as "I/Me/My Heart/Mind True/Real Love."
Note that Chinese grammar and construction are different, so this sounds very eloquent and artsy in Chinese.
In Korean Hanja, the third character should be written differently, just let me know when you place your order if you want that version - it will still make sense in Chinese. This phrase makes sense in Korean but not commonly used.
真 is a simple way to express the idea that something is real, true, truth or genuine.
Occasionally, this character is used to refer to a Buddhist sect that originated in the 13th century.
真 is commonly used as a compound with other characters to create ideas like "true love." It's also used like the English "really" or "truly," to say "really good" or "He is really knowledgeable." Those phrases start with "他真的是..." (note second character is this one).
There are two ways to write this character, shown here is the most common way in China; however, a slight stroke variation is used in Korean Hanja. If you want that version, just let us know when you place your order.
See Also: Honesty
According to Soothill 眞空妙有 means:
The true void is the mysteriously existing; truly void, or immaterial, yet transcendentally existing.
眞空妙有 is the state of being absolutely nonexistent after removing all errant worldly influences. 眞空妙有 is achieved when all forms of existence is seen for their real nature.
This is a complex Buddhist concept. Feel free to add to the conversation about this concept here: Asian Forum: Shinku Myou
This proverb is often translated as, "True victory is victory over oneself."
However, literally, Kanji by Kanji, it means, "True victory [is] my/self victory."
My Japanese friends rate this very highly for a wall scroll.
See Also: Know Thy Enemy Know Thyself
信 is another character that expresses the idea of honesty. It can also mean truth, faith, believe in, fidelity, sincerity, trust and/or confidence.
Some have included this in the list for the Bushido, although "makoto" is probably more common/popular.
Note: In some context, this character can mean letter; news or envoy. However, alone, it will generally be read with the honesty-meaning.
See Also: Loyalty Trustworthiness Trustworthy
相信 is the Chinese way to say believe.
This specifically means to be convinced that something is true or to accept something as true or real.
This can also be translated as "convinced of," "have trust in," "have faith in"
This Japanese title means "right heart style" or "true mind method."
The first character means right, correct, greater, or true.
The second character means heart, mind, soul, or essence.
The third character means style, method, or some will translate it as school.
Please note, there is more than one martial arts school that romanizes as Shoshin-Ryu.
現実性 is a Japanese word that expresses the idea of reality or coming to understand what is true and real. This can also be translated as realistic, practical, or feasible.
See Also: Illusion
幻想 is illusions or fantasy in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
This can also refer to delusion or daydreaming. It sort of means a dream or idea that cannot be true or real ( at least not in this realm).
忠實 is a Japanese way to write "Loyalty" - it also contains the ideas of being faithful, devoted, true, and obedient.
The second character is a modified form only used in the Japanese lexicon, however, Chinese speakers can easily guess the meaning.
This is also a virtue of the Samurai Warrior
See our page with just Code of the Samurai / Bushido here
至誠 is the idea that you enter into something with the utmost sincerity and fidelity. Ideas such as devotion, honesty, and "one's true heart" are also contained in this word.
至誠 is a universal word as the Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and Korean Hanja are all identical.
夢を追い続ける is the Japanese way to express "Follow Your Dreams." If you have dreams that you want to pursue and make true, this is the phrase for you.
The first character is "dream" or "dreams." The rest of the characters establish the idea of chasing or pursuing.
Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.
See Also: Pursuit of Happiness
Known in the west as "Shin Buddhism," this is a school of Japanese "Pure Land Buddhism." This form is also known as "True Pure Land Buddhism" or "Jodoshinshu" (jōdoshinshū).
If you are looking for this title, you probably already know the rest of the story.
See Also: Pure Land Buddhism
金魚 is the title for goldfish in Chinese and Japanese.
There was a time in ancient China when only the Emperor could possess the true yellow-gold colored fish. 金魚 is why alternate coloration such as orange, black, red, and white were bred. Many believe this is why colors other than yellow-gold are more common for "goldfish" found in pet shops today.
悟性 means the power of understanding and insight in Chinese.
It is often associated with Neo-Confucianism. In that regard, it means to realize, perceive, or have the perception of man's true nature. It can also mean to find your soul, the soul of others, or the soul of the world. Some will translate this simply as the state of being "savvy."
In Japanese, this is often translated as wisdom and understanding.
道場 is the Japanese term for a room or hall in which martial arts are taught. This word is often spelled "dojo" which has become a word in the English lexicon. However, the true Romaji is "doujou" or "dōjō."
Please note: The Chinese definition of these characters is quite different. In Chinese, this is a place where Buddhist or Taoist mass is held. It could also be the place where spiritual or psychic events are performed.
The first two characters mean "to pursue," "to track down," or "to search for."
The last two mean dreams. This version of dreams refers to those with an element of reality (not the dreams you have when you sleep but rather your aspirations or goals in life).
This title will tell everyone that you want to make your dreams come true.
See Also: Pursuit of Happiness
This Chinese word is the form of intense that describes a person who is deep, serious, and a true thinker.
If you find yourself contemplating the world and coming up with profound ideas, this might we the word for you. In some context (especially Korean), it can mean seriousness, gravity, or acuteness.
In Japanese, this can mean "serious problem," or can be a rare given name, Misa. You should not use this if your audience is Japanese.
吸入 is a Chinese, Japanese, and old Korean word that means inhale, inhalation, or to breathe in.
吸 by itself can mean to inhale or suck in.
入 means to enter (in this case, the body) so it clarifies that this is true inhalation of air into the body.
If you need a reminder to breathe (slow down and take a deep breath) this may be the word you want hanging on your wall.
This four-character proverb suggests that you should be practical, realistic, and grounded. Some translate this as a suggestion to be down-to-earth.
The first character means "feet."
The second means "step on" or "stand."
The third means "solid," "real," or "true."
The last character means "ground," "earth," or "terra."
Literally this means, "[keep your] Feet Standing [on] Solid Ground."
This Chinese proverb literally translates as: [One who has] not been a monk [does] not know [the feeling of a] cold head.
I need to explain that a Chinese Buddhist monk always has a shaved head, and thus a cold head in winter.
Figuratively, this means: One cannot know the true meaning of hardship until one has experienced it oneself.
This is an idiom in Chinese, so the figurative meaning is what people perceive when they hear or read this phrase. Just as in English, when someone says, "The grass is always greener," one will think about the idea of jealousy, rather than the quality of one's lawn.
青 is nature's color. This character can refer to forest green, greenish-blue, or greenish black.
This character and color represent nature, youth, young people.
In the same way, we refer to green bananas and the rookie being green, the same is true in Chinese and Japanese, where, in a certain context, this can mean immature, unripe, or young.
In Japan, this can also be a female given name "Haru." It can also be used as a given name (for either sex) in China.
This literally translates as: [Only one who does] not sleep, learns how long the night is; [Only by] long acquaintance [does one] learn a person ['s true] character.
Basically, this proverb suggests that we really need to experience something intimately and for a long time to really know everything about it.
This can also be translated as, "Spending years with someone is the only way to know them."
Note: Sometimes this proverb is split into just the first or second idea alone (first 5 or last 5 characters only).
This Chinese proverb literally translates as: [One who is] close to gold [is] like gold [and one who is] close to jade [is] like jade.
Figuratively, this means:
A good environment produces good people.
People are in influenced by the company they keep.
Basically, if you hang out with good people, you are likely to become or stay good yourself. The opposite also being true. 挨金似金挨玉似玉 is like the moral version of "You are what you eat."
Note: In Japanese, they have a similar phrase, 類は友を呼ぶ (rui wa tomo o yobu) Birds of a feather flock together. However, this is not a good meaning, so we're not offering it for wall scrolls.
Nothing could be more true. When I was in the Marine Corps, we trained for years for combat that often lasts only hours.
This Chinese proverb also reminds me of a common phrase used in the military to describe combat: "Weeks of total boredom, punctuated with five minutes of shear terror."
This may have some roots in Sun Tzu's The Art of War. Though I can not find this passage in his writings.
On the subject of the Art of War, if you have a favorite passage, we can create a custom calligraphy scroll with that phrase.
醒悟 / 省悟 is a Chinese word that expresses the idea of reality or coming to understand what is true and real.
The first character means to wake up, awaken, comprehend, introspect, or visit.
The second character means to comprehend or understand (be enlightened).
The meanings of Chinese words are not necessarily the sum of their parts. In this case, at best, you can derive that the characters express "understanding what is real" or "knowing what is real." Any Chinese person will perceive this word in a similar way to how we use "reality" in English.
Note: The first character can also be written in a different form as shown to the right. Same meaning in Chinese, either way it's written.
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.
信言不美美言不信知者不博博者不知善者不多多者不善聖人無積既以為人己癒有既以予人矣已癒多故天之道利而不害聖人之道為而不爭 is the Mawangdui version of Daodejing chapter 81.
It can be translated this way:
Credible words are not eloquent;
Eloquent words are not credible.
The wise are not erudite;
The erudite are not wise.
The adept are not all-around;
The all-around are not adept.
The sages do not accumulate things.
Yet the more they have done for others,
The more they have gained themselves;
The more they have given to others,
The more they have gotten themselves.
Thus, the way of tian (heaven) is to benefit without harming;
The way of sages is to do without contending.
Sincere words are not showy;
showy words are not sincere.
Those who know are not "widely learned";
those "widely learned" do not know.
The good do not have a lot;
Those with a lot are not good.
The Sage accumulates nothing.
Having used what he had for others,
he has even more.
Having given what he had to others,
what he has is even greater.
Therefore, the Way of Heaven is to benefit and not cause any harm,
The Way of Man is to act on behalf of others and not to compete with them.
And a third translation:
True words aren't charming,
charming words aren't true.
Good people aren't contentious,
contentious people aren't good.
People who know aren't learned,
learned people don't know.
Wise souls don't hoard;
the more they do for others the more they have,
the more they give the richer they are.
The Way of heaven provides without destroying.
Doing without outdoing
is the Way of the wise.
This Japanese title can be translated as "for this time only," "chance meeting," "one meeting, one opportunity," "never again," or "one chance in a lifetime."
The characters literally mean "one time one meeting" - of course, the Kanji characters have meaning far beyond a direct translation like this.
Some might use this proverb to talk of an opportunity that presents itself just once in your life. It could also be the single chance-meeting with your true soul mate. Basically an expression for any event that might happen once in a lifetime.
This is primarily a Japanese title, however, there is also a Traditional Chinese (and old Korean) version of this proverb. Just the last character is different.
The traditional form was used in Japan before WWII and in Korea prior to 1900. This title is somewhat known in China.
If you want the older traditional form, just click on the character to the right.
Separately, the first character here does mean "danger" or "to endanger" and the second character can mean "opportunity."
However, I want to debunk a myth that was propagated by some westerners who did not have a clear understanding of Asian languages...
While often, Chinese/Japanese/Korean compound words (words of two or more characters) are the sum of their parts, this is not always the case. The compound is often understood with a completely different meaning than the two characters individually.
Many have said that the Chinese/Japanese/Korean word for Crisis is made up of the characters for "danger" and "opportunity." 危機 is true when phrased this way.
However, it's not absolutely correct to say that "danger + opportunity = crisis" in Asian cultures.
If I tell you that...
Bovine creature + Guy behind the plate in baseball = Locomotive protection
...you would think I was mad. But consider that "cow + catcher = cowcatcher," which is the device that used to be found on steam engines to protect them if they hit an animal on the tracks. When we hear the word "cowcatcher" we don't separate the words into their individual meanings (necessarily).
The same is true with the word for crisis in Chinese/Japanese/Korean. While you can separate the characters, few Asian people would automatically do so in their minds.
The final answer:
It is a half-truth to say, "danger plus opportunity equals crisis" in Chinese/Japanese/Korean. Use this statement and concept with caution.
Also, the second character can mean "secret" or "machine" depending on context so I guess you have to say "a dangerous machine = crisis" or "danger + a secret = crisis." Both of these are only slightly more ridiculous than the first premise.
PS: 危機 is probably not a great word for a scroll, unless you have a special use for it.
Loyalty is staying true to someone. It is standing up for something you believe in without wavering. It is being faithful to your family, country, school, friends or ideals, when the going gets tough as well as when things are good. With loyalty, you build relationships that last forever.
1. This written form of loyalty is universal in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
2. There is also a Japanese version that is part of the Bushido Code which may be more desirable depending on whether your intended audience is Japanese or Chinese.
3. This version of loyalty is sometimes translated as devotion, sincerity, fidelity, or allegiance.
地 is the single-character element and title of the planet Earth in Chinese, old Korean Hanja and Japanese Kanji.
Because this is a single-character, the definition is a little ambiguous, and can have many meanings depending on the context in which it is used. These meanings include: earth, ground, land, soil, dirt, place, territory, bottom (of a package, book, etc.), earth (one of the Japanese five elements), the region in question, the local area, skin, texture, fabric, material, weave, base, background, one's true nature, narrative (i.e. descriptive part of a story), real life, actuality, etc.
In Japanese, this Kanji can be pronounced several ways, including chi, ji, tsushi, or tsuchi.
地 is also an element of the Japanese version of the five elements (the original Chinese version uses a different version of earth).
真主 is how Chinese Muslims refer to God (it literally means "True Master").
Oddly, in China, two different names for God have emerged. Even though Muslims, Christians, and Jews all worship the same God of Abraham.
In Arabic, the word Allah is just the Arabic way to say, God. Arab Christians pray to Allah, just like Arab Muslims. Somehow in China, the title of God diverged.
If you are curious, there are millions of Muslims throughout China but especially in the northwest portion of China known as Xinjiang. Here you will find descendants of Turkmen, Persian, Arab, and other ethnicities. Some are mixed with Han-Chinese blood; others appear to be pure Turkmen. Many have fair complexions, green eyes, and light hair but all are citizens of China. A visit to Xinjiang will shift your paradigm and blow away all of your stereotypes about what it means to be Chinese.
刀 is the Japanese Kanji for "sword." This refers to the style of sword carried by warriors, samurai, and shogun of ancient Japan.
With the pacification of Japan, such swords are now only used for ceremony and decoration. The true art of sword-smithing is all but lost in Japan with new sword production dedicated to making inexpensive replicas for the tourist and foreign market.
For those of you that want to ask whether I can get you a real antique sword. Let me tell you that most real Asian swords were melted down after WWII in Japan, and during the Great Leap Forward in China. Any remaining swords are family heirlooms that nobody will part with.
Please carefully note that the Japanese kanji character shown above is only for a Japanese audience. In China, this character means "knife." See our other entry for "sword" in Chinese.
Note: This can mean knife, sword, or blade in Korean, depending on context.
See Also: Sword
基督教 is the Chinese, Japanese and Korean word for "Christianity." Just as in English, this word is often used to mean "Protestant" but includes Catholics in the true definition.
It is the word used to refer to the whole "Christian religion" or "Christian Faith" and therefore, it can be translated as "Christianity." However, used as an adjective in regards to a person, it would translate as "Christian." But more like saying "His religion is Christianity" rather than a noun form.
If you break it apart, the characters mean Base/Foundation Leading/Supervising Religion/Teaching. It makes more sense in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. The first two characters together are translated as "Christ." So you can also say this means "Christ's Religion" or "Christ's Teachings" when directly translated, or in reverse, "The Religion of Christ" or "The Teaching of Christ."
Notes: The last character has a slight difference in one stroke - however, in calligraphic form, this will not be apparent. This entry can easily be read by any Korean person who knows Hanja characters (Chinese characters used in Korean).
孔子 is how to write the name of the great sage, known in the west as Confucius. His real name is Kongzi (The name Confucius is a westernized version of his name - his family name is Kong, and "zi" was added as a title of distinction). He lived some 2500 years ago in Qufu, a town in modern-day Shandong Province of Northern China (about 6 hours south of Beijing by bus). He was a consort to Emperors, and after his death, the impact of his philosophies still served to advise emperors, officials, and common people for generations. Also during these thousands of years, the Kong family remained powerful in China, and the Kong estate was much like the Vatican in Rome. The Kong estate existed as if on sovereign ground with its own small garrison of guards and privileges of a kingdom within an empire.
This was true up until the time the Kong family had to flee to Taiwan in 1949 when the Red Army took victory over the Nationalists during the Revolution. The home of Confucius was later razed and all statues defaced or stolen during the Cultural Revolution. Finally, after years of smearing his name and image, it is once again okay to celebrate the teachings of Confucius in mainland China.
First off, this should only be used in context of Japanese martial arts. In Chinese, it's a rather sad title (like a broken heart). In Chinese, the first character alone means destroyed, spoiled, ruined, injured, cruel, oppressive, savage, incomplete, disabled. However, in Japanese, it's remainder, leftover, balance, or lingering.
The second character means heart, mind, soul, or essence in both languages.
殘心 is one of the five spirits of the warrior (budo), and is often used as a Japanese martial arts tenet. Under that context, places such as the Budo Dojo define it this way: The spirit of zanshin is the state of the remaining or lingering spirit. It is often described as a sustained and heightened state of awareness and mental follow-through. However, true zanshin is a state of focus or concentration before, during, and after the execution of a technique, where a link or connection between uke and nage is preserved. Zanshin is the state of mind that allows us to stay spiritually connected, not only to a single attacker but to multiple attackers and even an entire context; a space, a time, an event.
In modern Japan (and Simplified Chinese), they use a different version of the first character, as seen to the right. Click on this character to the right instead of the button above if you want this modern Japanese version of lingering mind / zanshin.
知人者知也自知者明也勝人者有力也自勝者強也知足者富也強行者有志也不失其所者久也死而不亡者壽也 is referred to as passage or chapter 33 of the Dao De Jing (often Romanized as "Tao Te Ching"). These are the words of the philosopher Laozi (Lao Tzu).
The following is one translation of this passage:
To know others is wisdom;
To know oneself is acuity/intelligence.
To conquer others is power,
To conquer oneself is strength.
To know contentment is to have wealth.
To act resolutely is to have purpose.
To stay one's ground is to be enduring.
To die and yet not be forgotten is to be long-lived.
To understand others is to be knowledgeable;
To understand yourself is to be wise.
To conquer others is to have strength;
To conquer yourself is to be strong.
To know when you have enough is to be rich.
To go forward with strength is to have ambition.
To not lose your place is to be long lasting.
To die but not be forgotten -- that's true long life.
A third translation of the second half:
He who is content is rich;
He who acts with persistence has will;
He who does not lose his roots will endure;
He who dies physically but preserves the Dao will enjoy a long after-life.
During our research, the Chinese characters shown here are probably the most accurate to the original text of Laozi. These were taken for the most part from the Mawangdui 1973 and Guodan 1993 manuscripts which pre-date other Daodejing texts by about 1000 years.
Grammar was a little different in Laozi's time. So you should consider this to be the ancient Chinese version. Some have modernized this passage by adding, removing, or swapping articles and changing the grammar (we felt the oldest and most original version would be more desirable). You may find other versions printed in books or online - sometimes these modern texts are simply used to explain to Chinese people what the original text really means.
This language issue can be compared in English by thinking how the King James (known as the Authorized version in Great Britain) Bible from 1611 was written, and comparing it to modern English. Now imagine that the Daodejing was probably written around 403 BCE (2000 years before the King James Version of the Bible). To a Chinese person, the original Daodejing reads like text that is 3 times more detached compared to Shakespeare's English is to our modern-day speech.
While on this Biblical text comparison, it should be noted, that just like the Bible, all the original texts of the Daodejing were lost or destroyed long ago. Just as with the scripture used to create the Bible, various manuscripts exist, many with variations or copyist errors. Just as the earliest New Testament scripture (incomplete) is from 170 years after Christ, the earliest Daodejing manuscript (incomplete) is from 100-200 years after the death of Laozi.
The reason that the originals were lost probably has a lot to do with the first Qin Emperor. Upon taking power and unifying China, he ordered the burning and destruction of all books (scrolls/rolls) except those pertaining to Chinese medicine and a few other subjects. The surviving Daodejing manuscripts were either hidden on purpose or simply forgotten about. Some were not unearthed until as late as 1993.
We compared a lot of research by various archeologists and historians before deciding on this as the most accurate and correct version. But one must allow that it may not be perfect, or the actual and original as from the hand of Laozi himself.
酒后吐真言 / 酒後吐真言 is a nice Asian proverb if you know a vintner or wine seller - or wine lover - although the actual meaning might not be exactly what you think or hope.
The literal meaning is that someone drinking wine is more likely to let the truth slip out. It can also be translated as, "People speak their true feelings after drinking alcohol."
It's long-believed in many parts of Asia that one can not consciously hold up a facade of lies when getting drunk, and therefore the truth will come out with a few drinks.
I've had the experience where a Korean man would not trust me until I got drunk with him (I was trying to gain access to the black market in North Korea which is tough to do as an untrusted outsider) - so I think this idea is still well-practiced in many Asian countries.
Please note that there are two common ways to write the second character of this phrase. The way it's written will be left up to the mood of the calligrapher, unless you let us know that you have a certain preference.
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
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.
These four characters together relay the meaning that can be expressed in English as, "When three people say there's a tiger running in the street, you believe it."
Of course, there is an ancient story behind this idiom...
三人成虎 is actually a proverb that resulted from a conversation that occurred around 300 B.C.
The conversation was between the king of the Wei kingdom and one of the king's ministers named Pang Cong.
It was near the end of one of many wars, this time with the Zhao kingdom. Pang Cong was to be sent by the king to the Zhao kingdom with the king's son who was to be held hostage. It was common at the time for a king to make his son a hostage to secure stable peace between warring kingdoms.
Before minister Pang Cong departed, he asked his king, "If one person told you there was a tiger running in the street, would you believe it?."
"No," the king said.
The minister continued, "What if two people told you?"
The king replied, "Well, I would have my doubts but I might believe it."
The minister continued, "So, what if three people told you that there is a tiger running in the streets?"
The king replied, "Yes, I would believe it, it must be true if three people say it."
The minister then reminded the king, "Your son and I are now traveling far away to live in the distant Zhao kingdom - much farther from your palace than the street. Rumors may fly about me in my absence, so I hope your majesty will weight such rumors appropriately."
The king replied, "I have every trust in you, do not worry"
While the minister was gone, the king's enemies gossiped about minister Pang Cong on many occasions. At first, the king thought nothing of these comments and rumors. But slowly as the rumors mounted, the king began to suspect ill of his minister.
Some time later when peace was well-established, the minister and prince were freed and returned to the kingdom of Wei. The king received his son, BUT DID NOT EVEN SUMMON MINISTER PANG CONG TO THE PALACE!
Hopefully this story will help you see how dangerous words can be when used to promote rumors, or create ill will. And perhaps will inspire you to not believe everything you hear.
There is also a secondary suggestion in this idiom that gossip is as ferocious as a tiger. Some Chinese people who don't know the ancient story above may believe that this scroll means that rumors are as vicious as three tigers.
Note: This proverb appears in my Korean dictionary but is not well-known in Korea.
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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|
|True to Yourself||真實的自己|
|zuò zhēn shí de zì jǐ
zhen1 shi2 de zi4 ji3
zhen shi de zi ji
|chen shih te tzu chi
|To thine own self be true||己に忠実なれ||onore ni chuujitsu nare|
onore ni chujitsu nare
|...And this above all to thine own self be true.||尤其要緊的你必須對你自己忠實|
|yóu qí yào jǐn de nǐ bì xū duì nǐ zì jǐ zhōng shí
you2 qi2 yao4 jin3 de ni3 bi4 xu1 dui4 ni3 zi4 ji3 zhong1 shi2
you qi yao jin de ni bi xu dui ni zi ji zhong shi
|yu ch`i yao chin te ni pi hsü tui ni tzu chi chung shih
yu chi yao chin te ni pi hsü tui ni tzu chi chung shih
|Be True to Yourself||自分自身に忠実である||jibun jishin ni chuujitsu de aru |
jibun jishin ni chujitsu de aru
|My True Love||真実の愛||shin jitsu no ai|
|True Heart||真心||mago koro / magokoro||zhēn xīn / zhen1 xin1 / zhen xin / zhenxin||chen hsin / chenhsin|
|Be True to Yourself||做真實的自己|
|zuò zhēn shí de zì jǐ
zuo4 zhen1 shi2 de zi4 ji3
zuo zhen shi de zi ji
|tso chen shih te tzu chi
|shinai||zhēn ài / zhen1 ai4 / zhen ai / zhenai||chen ai / chenai|
|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...
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.
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 True Kanji, True Characters, True in Mandarin Chinese, True Characters, True in Chinese Writing, True in Japanese Writing, True in Asian Writing, True Ideograms, Chinese True symbols, True Hieroglyphics, True Glyphs, True in Chinese Letters, True Hanzi, True in Japanese Kanji, True Pictograms, True in the Chinese Written-Language, or True in the Japanese Written-Language.