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The name Kempo Karate in Chinese / Japanese...

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See also: Martial Arts Words and Phrases

Kempo Karate / Law of the Fist Empty Hand

 kōng shǒu quán fǎ
 kara te ken pou
Kempo Karate / Law of the Fist Empty Hand Scroll

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.

Law of the Fist Karate / Kempo Karate

 quán fǎ táng shǒu
 ken pou kara te
Law of the Fist Karate / Kempo Karate Scroll

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.

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.




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

Title CharactersRomaji (Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Kempo Karate
Law of the Fist Empty Hand
空手拳法kara te ken pou
karatekenpou
kara te ken po
kōng shǒu quán fǎ
kong1 shou3 quan2 fa3
kong shou quan fa
kongshouquanfa
k`ung shou ch`üan fa
kungshouchüanfa
kung shou chüan fa
Law of the Fist Karate
Kempo Karate
拳法唐手ken pou kara te
kenpoukarate
ken po kara te
quán fǎ táng shǒu
quan2 fa3 tang2 shou3
quan fa tang shou
quanfatangshou
ch`üan fa t`ang shou
chüanfatangshou
chüan fa tang shou


Dictionary

Lookup Kempo Karate in my Japanese & Chinese Dictionary


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