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See also: Martial Arts Words and Phrases
12. Okinawa Karate
16. Wado-Ryu Karate
空手 is the short and widely-used-in-English version of karate-do without the “do” or “dao” at the end.
Literal meaning: Empty Hand.
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.”
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.
拳法唐手 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 of saying 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.
The literal meaning of 空手道 is “empty hand method” or “empty hand way.”
Credit is given that karate started in China but migrated and became refined and vastly popular in Japan.
Karate is a martial art that uses no blades or weapons other than the “natural weapons” 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.
Karate-Do reached Korea, where it is known as 공수도 which can be romanized as “Kong Soo Do” or “Gong Su Do.”
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).
空手拳法 is the Kanji title for Kempo Karate.
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.
一心流空手道 is the full title for Isshin-Ryu Karate-Do.
The literal meaning is “one heart method empty hand way.”
There are other ways to 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.
鬆濤館空手道 art the Japanese Kanji that 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 familiar with martial arts and various schools of Japanese karate.
和道流空手 is the Japanese martial arts title, “Wado-Ryu Karate.”
See Also: Wado-Kai
Japanese Genbu Karate Club
日本空手道玄武會 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 contact me.
鬆林流空手道 is the Japanese title for the Matsubayashi-Ryu Karate-Do school of martial arts.
If directly translated, it means “Pine Forest Style Empty Hand Way.”
1. 松林流 can be pronounced Matsubayashi-Ryū or Shōrin-Ryū. This can be confusing as Shōrin can also represent 少林 which refers to the Shaolin (little forest) style.
2. 松 can also be written in the traditional form of 鬆.
唐手道 is the alternate title for Karate-do.
This title uses a character, 唐, 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.”
Many in Korea refer to and romanize these characters as “Tang Soo Do” (당수도) where these characters refer to a kind of Korean style of Karate.
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).
Note: When used in Korean, this is pronounced 당수도. This title 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.
Style of Karate or Jujitsu
和道流 or Wado-Ryu is a style of Karate or Jujutsu (Jujitsu).
Note: Many will argue 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
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
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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|
|Karate||空手||kara te / karate||kōng shǒu|
|Law of the Fist Karate|
|拳法唐手||ken pou kara te|
ken po kara te
|quán fǎ táng shǒu|
quan2 fa3 tang2 shou3
quan fa tang shou
|ch`üan fa t`ang shou
chüan fa tang shou
|Karate-Do||空手道||kara te dou|
kara te do
|kōng shǒu dào|
kong1 shou3 dao4
kong shou dao
|k`ung shou tao
kung shou tao
|Danketsu Karate-Do||団結空手道||dan ketsu kara te dou|
dan ketsu kara te do
Law of the Fist Empty Hand
|空手拳法||kara te ken pou|
kara te ken po
|kōng shǒu quán fǎ|
kong1 shou3 quan2 fa3
kong shou quan fa
|k`ung shou ch`üan fa
kung shou chüan fa
|Isshin Ryu Karate Do||一心流空手道||i sshin ryuu kara te dou|
i shin ryu kara te do
|Kakuto Karate||格闘空手||kaku tou kara te|
kaku to kara te
|Shidokan Karate-Do||士道館空手道||shi dou kan kara te dou|
shi do kan kara te do
|Shidokan (Karate)||士道館||shi dou kan|
shi do kan
|Japanese Karate Association||日本空手協會|
|ni hon kara te kyou kai|
ni hon kara te kyo kai
|rì běn kōng shǒu xié huì|
ri4 ben3 kong1 shou3 xie2 hui4
ri ben kong shou xie hui
|jih pen k`ung shou hsieh hui
jih pen kung shou hsieh hui
|shou tou kan kara te dou|
sho to kan kara te do
|sōng tāo guǎn kōng shǒu dào|
song1 tao1 guan3 kong1 shou3 dao4
song tao guan kong shou dao
|sung t`ao kuan k`ung shou tao
sung tao kuan kung shou tao
|Okinawa Karate||沖縄空手||oki nawa kara te|
|chōng shéng kōng shǒu|
chong1 sheng2 kong1 shou3
chong sheng kong shou
|ch`ung sheng k`ung shou
chung sheng kung shou
|Karate Ni Sente Nashi||空手に先手なし||karate ni sente nashi|
|Snow Leopard Karate-Do||雪豹空手道||yukihyou karate|
|xuě bào kōng shǒu dào|
xue3 bao4 kong1 shou3 dao4
xue bao kong shou dao
|hsüeh pao k`ung shou tao
hsüeh pao kung shou tao
|Karate-Do Shinyo-Kai||空手道心養会||kara te dou shin you kai|
kara te do shin yo kai
|Wado-Ryu Karate||和道流空手||wa dou ryuu kara te|
wa do ryu kara te
|Goju Ryu Karate-Do||剛柔流空手道|
|gou juu ryuu kara te dou|
go ju ryu kara te do
|Nippon Karate-Do Genbu-Kai||日本空手道玄武會|
|ni ppon kara te dou gen bu kai|
ni pon kara te do gen bu kai
|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
|Shito-Ryu Ki-Me-Kan Karate-Do||糸東流氣目館空手道|
|shito-ryu ki-me-kan karate-dou|
shito-ryu ki-me-kan karate-do
|mì dōng liú qì mù guǎn kōng shǒu dào|
mi4 dong1 liu2 qi4 mu4 guan3 kong1 shou3 dao4
mi dong liu qi mu guan kong shou dao
|mi tung liu ch`i mu kuan k`ung shou tao
mi tung liu chi mu kuan kung shou tao
|Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do||上地流空手道||ue chi ryuu kara te dou|
ue chi ryu kara te do
|Matsubayashi-Ryu Karate-Do||松林流空手道||matsu bayashi ryuu kara te dou|
matsu bayashi ryu kara te do
|Tang Soo Do|
Tang Hand Way
|唐手道||kara te do / karatedo||táng shǒu dào|
tang2 shou3 dao4
tang shou dao
|t`ang shou tao
tang shou tao
|Wado-Ryu||和道流||wa dou ryuu|
wa do ryu
|wa dou kai / wadoukai / wa do kai|
|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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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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The wall scroll that Sandy is holding in this picture is a "large size"
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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.
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