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大丈夫 is a Chinese, Korean, and Japanese title that means, a manly man, a man of character, a great man, or fine figure of a man.
In Japanese, this can also be used to mean safe, all right, alright, OK, sure, or "no problem." Basically, used in Japanese for something of that is undoubted or very acceptable.
The first two characters mean everyone or anyone but change to "no one" with the addition of a negative verb.
The third through fifth characters express the idea of to believe, to believe in, to place trust in, to confide in, or to have faith in.
The last character makes the sentence negative (without the last character, this would mean "trust everyone," with that last character it's "trust no one").
This is as close as you can get to the phrase "trust no man" in Japanese, though no gender is specified.
Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.
無法信任 is the kind of thing you expect to hear in a spy movie.
"Trust no one, 007!"
The first two characters express the idea of "no way" or "cannot."
The last two characters mean "trust."
The characters must go in this order due to Chinese grammar issues and in order to sound natural.
Note: 無法信任 is not an ancient Chinese phrase by any means. It's just that we received a lot of requests for this phrase.
無法信任 is as close as you can get to the phrase "trust no man," though technically no gender is specified.
聖人 can mean saint, sage, or holy man.
Note: There is more than one way to express this idea. This one really matches "Holy man" because the second character means "human" or "person" (therefore, this could equally mean "Holy woman").
This Chinese proverb means is a way to express, "Time and tide wait for no man."
The literal meaning of these Chinese characters is, "Years don't [for] oneself wait." In more natural English, it's more like, "Years will pass by, with or without you."
There is also an alternate version, 时不我待, which literally means, "Time doesn't [for] oneself, wait." In natural English, it's more like, "Time waits for no man."
This Japanese proverb means, "time flies like an arrow." It's very similar to the English idiom, "time and tide wait for no man," or "life is short."
The Kanji breakdown:
光陰 = Time (the cycle of light and dark).
矢 = Arrow
の = are
如し = Alike
Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.
人格者 is a Japanese and Korean title that means, "person of character."
人格者 is unisex, so it can also be used to mean, "man of character," or "woman of character."
This Japanese proverb suggests that a wise man is willing to change his mind but a fool will stubbornly never change his.
The first word is 君子 (kunshi) man of virtue, person of high rank, wise man.
The second word is 豹変 (hyouhen) sudden change, complete change.
The last part す (su) just modifies the verb to a more humble form.
The "fool" part is merely implied or understood. So if wise and noble people are willing to change their minds, it automatically says that foolish people are the ones unwilling to change.
信任 means belief or trust in Chinese characters, old Korean Hanja, and Japanese Kanji.
It can also mean, to have confidence in, or credence.
恐れず is probably the best way to express "No Fear" in Japanese.
The first Kanji and following Hiragana character create a word that means: to fear, to be afraid of, frightened, or terrified.
The last Hiragana character serves to modify and negate the first word (put it in negative form). Basically, they carry a meaning like "without" or "keeping away." 恐れず is almost like the English modifier "-less."
Altogether, you get something like, "Without Fear" or "Fearless."
Here's an example of using this in a sentence: 彼女かのじょは思い切ったことを恐れずにやる。
Translation: She is not scared of taking big risks.
Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.
刺客 is the most sophisticated way to write "assassin" in Chinese, Korean and Japanese.
The unsophisticated way just means murderer.
This can also mean: "Place Strict Standards on Oneself in Public Service."
This Chinese proverb is often used to express how one should act as a government official. Most of us wish our public officials would hold themselves to higher standards. I wish I could send this scroll, along with the meaning to every member of Congress, and the President (or if I was from the UK, all the members of Parliament, and the PM)
The story behind this ancient Chinese idiom:
A man named Cai Zun was born in China a little over 2000 years ago. In 24 AD, he joined an uprising led by Liu Xiu who later became the emperor of the Eastern Han Dynasty.
Later, the new emperor put Cai Zun in charge of the military court. Cai Zun exercised his power in strict accordance with military law, regardless of the offender's rank or background. He even ordered the execution of one of the emperor's close servants after the servant committed a serious crime.
Cai Zun led a simple life but put great demands on himself to do all things in an honorable way. The emperor rewarded him for his honest character and honorable nature by promoting him to the rank of General and granting him the title of Marquis.
Whenever Cai Zun would receive an award, he would give credit to his men and share the reward with them.
Cai Zun was always praised by historians who found many examples of his selfless acts that served the public interest.
Sometime, long ago in history, people began to refer to Cai Zun as "ke ji feng gong."
This literally means "fear nothing" but it's the closest thing in Chinese to the phrase "fear no man" which many of you have requested.
This would also be the way to say "fear nobody" and can also be translated simply as "undaunted."
This literally translates as: Only after you have a baby, you would appreciate your parents (feel the way they do, etc).
This is a bit like the "walk a mile in another man's shoes" saying. Basically, it's about you cannot fully understand the plight of others until you experience it yourself. It also shows appreciation for the plight of parents.
This Japanese proverb can also be translated a few more ways:
No man knows what he owes to his parents till he comes to have children of his own.
One knows not what one owes to one's parents till one comes to have children of one's own.
Only after you have a baby, you will appreciate your parents or feel the way they do.
Only after becoming a parent yourself do you realize how much you owe [how indebted you are] to your own parents.
勇者無畏 is a complete sentence that means literally "Brave People Have No Fear" or "A Brave Person Has No Fear" (plural or singular is not implied).
We translated "No Fear" into the two variations that you will find on our website. Then we checked Chinese Google and found that others had translated "No Fear" in the exact same ways. Pick the one you like best. A great gift for your fearless friend.
See Also: Fear No Man
This literally means "No Fear." But perhaps not the most natural Chinese phrase (see our other "No Fear" phrase for a more complete thought). However, this two-character version of "No Fear" seems to be a very popular way to translate this into Chinese, when we checked Chinese Google.
Note: This also means "No Fear" in Japanese and Korean but this character pair is not often used in Japan or Korea.
This term appears in various Chinese dictionaries with definitions like "without fear," intrepidity, fearless, dauntless, and bold.
In Buddhist context, this is a word derived from abhaya meaning: Fearless, dauntless, secure, nothing and nobody to fear. Also from vīra meaning: courageous, bold.
This title represents the oneness of heaven and humanity. It conveys the idea that man is an integral part of nature.
You can also read this as "heaven and man in unity," or "nature and man in unity." The "man" is really "people" or "humans" and is not gender-specific in Chinese.
This literally means "strong man" but is more commonly used as a title for sumo wrestlers.
In Japanese, this is a Rikishi.
力士 is also used in Chinese and old Korean with the same meaning. Occasionally, this will also be used to refer to a strong or mighty man, hero, demigod etc. But anyone in the CJK world will first think of a sumo wrestler before the more literary usage as a strong man or demigod.
This speaks to the cunning character of a sly rabbit. Such a rabbit will not have just one hole but rather a few entrances and exits from his liar.
About 2,250 years ago a very rich man told his assistant to go and buy something wonderful that he did not yet posses. He was a man that already had everything, so the assistant went to a local village that owed a great deal of money to the rich man. The assistant told the village elders that all debts were forgiven. All the villagers rejoiced and praised the rich man's name. The assistant returned to the rich man and told him he had purchased "benevolence" for him. The rich man was mildly amused but perhaps a bit confused by the action.
Some time later, the rich man fell from the favor of the Emperor, and was wiped out without a penny to his name. One day he was walking aimlessly and stumbled into the village in which the debts had been forgiven. The villagers recognized the man and welcomed him with open arms, clothed, fed, and gave him a place to live.
Without trying, the man had become like the sly and cunning rabbit. When his exit was blocked, he had another hole to emerge from - and was reborn. This story and idiom comes from a book titled "The Amendment" - it's unclear whether this man actually existed or not. But the book did propel this idiom into common use in China.
Still today this idiom about the rabbit is used in China when suggesting "backup plans" alternate methods, and anyone with a good escape plan.
法輪 is the Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja title, "The Eternal Wheel of Life," in Buddhism.
Also known as the wheel of the law, or Buddha-truth which is able to crush all evil and all opposition. It is likened to Indra's wheel which rolls on from man to man, place to place, age to age.
Colloquially used in some sects to mean preaching or spreading Buddha-truth.
This Chinese proverb literally translates as: Receive on blow, [and one] learns a lesson; Receive ten blows, [and one] becomes a great Zhuge [Liang].
You must first understand that a man named Zhuge Liang was one of the great strategists and philosophers in Chinese history. He's known as a man of great wisdom.
Figuratively, this phrase means:
One can learn much from failure or "hard knocks."
The first character is the spirit or essence of a warrior. The second character means soldier, officer, or official. 武士 is also used appropriately enough to describe a piece of a chess game. This can also be translated as soldier, cavalier, palace guard, or samurai and sometimes as knight. I've occasionally seen this translated as strong man or tough man (gender not necessarily implied).
By far, this is the most common way to write warrior in Chinese characters, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
Note: In Japanese, this is Bushi, as in Bushido.
刻舟求劍 is an originally-Chinese proverb which serves as a warning to people that things are always in a state of change.
Thus, you must take that into account, and not depend on the old ways, or a way that may have worked in the past but is no longer valid.
This idiom/proverb comes from the following story:
A man was traveling in a ferry boat across a river. With him, he carried a valuable and treasured sword. Along the way, the man became overwhelmed and intoxicated by the beautiful view, and accidentally dropped his prized sword into the river. Thinking quickly, he pulled out a knife and marked on the rail of the boat where exactly he has lost his sword.
When the boat arrived on the other side of the river, the man jumped out of the boat and searched for his sword right under where he'd made the mark. Of course, the boat had moved a great distance since he made the mark, and thus, he could not find the sword.
While this man may seem foolhardy, we have to take a great lesson from this parable: Circumstances change, so one should use methods that can handle the change. In modern China, this is used in business to mean that one should not depend on old business models for a changing market.
This proverb dates back to the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC) of the territory now known as China. It has spread and is somewhat known in Japan and Korea.
菩提達摩 is the Chinese and Japanese title for Bodhidharma.
This refers to a man commonly known as Damo, reputed as the founder of the Chan (Zen) Buddhism. His original name is believed to be Bodhitara (菩提多羅).
Note: In Japanese, they tend to write the last character as versus . If you choose the Japanese master calligrapher, expect it to be written in the Japanese version.
聖者 is the religious way to express the idea of "Saint" in Chinese, Korean Hanja, and Japanese Kanji.
Some may translate this as "Holy man" or "Holy person."
勇士 is the Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja for brave warrior, a brave person, hero, or brave man.
In Japanese, this can be a given name, Yuuji.
愛情 is a universal word in Japanese, Korean and Chinese which means love and affection.
Some may translate this as "love between a man and a woman."
Depending on context, it can mean utter devotion or favorite.
旅 is the single Chinese character, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja for trip, travel, or journey.
In older context, this could refer to an army brigade or a 500-man battalion from the Zhou-dynasty Chinese army.
羅漢 is the title Lohan, achiever of Nirvana.
This can also be a place name and surname Rakan in Japanese.
In the Buddhist context, this can be arhan, arhat, saint, or perfect man of Hīnayāna. It can refer to the 16, 18, or 500 disciples appointed to witness to Buddha-truth and save the world.
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 literally translates as:
[One who has] not been a monk [does not] know the suffering of [being on a] vegetarian diet.
This is a bit like the "walk a mile in another man's shoes" saying. Basically it's about you cannot fully understand the plight of others until you experience it yourself.
超人 is the Chinese title for the comic book hero, Superman.
In Japanese, this can also refer to a superman or superwoman but may refer to Nietzsche's ideal man of the future or the "Ubermensch" or "overman."
超人 is also a word in old Korean Hanja but more a generic term for a super or excellent person or hero.
哲 is a Japanese name that is often romanized as Tetsu.
The meaning of the character can be: philosophy; wise; sage; wise man; philosopher; disciple; sagacity; wisdom; intelligence.
哲 can also be romanized as: Yutaka; Masaru; Hiroshi; Tooru; Tetsuji; Choru; Satoru; Satoshi; Akira; Aki.
移山 is the Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja for, "to remove mountains," or "to move a mountain."
Figuratively, this means you can accomplish the impossible by sheer persistence.
移山 is the short form of a proverb about a man who had much persistence, and was able to move a whole mountain (a bucket of soil at a time).
英雄 is the best way to write hero in Chinese and Japanese - especially for calligraphy. 英雄 is also the name of the Chinese movie titled Hero starring Jet Li.
The first character means brave (it can also mean British or English but not in this case).
The second character means heroic but also suggests a male person.
My Japanese dictionary also defines this as "a great man."
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.
仙 means immortal (as in a being or person).
In some context, it can mean hermit, ascetic, man of the hills, or wizard. The Buddha is often put in this category.
In Chinese mythology and folklore, there is a famous group of eight immortals (八仙).
The 楞嚴經 (Śūraṅgama Sūtra) speaks of many kinds of immortals including walkers on the earth, fliers, wanderers at will (into space or into the deva heavens), beings with the ability to transform themselves into any form, etc.
愚公移山 is the Chinese proverb (also somewhat known in Japan and Korea) for, "the silly old man moves a mountain."
Figuratively, this means, "where there's a will, there's a way."
Based on a fable of Lord Yu (愚公). He moved the soil of the mountain in front of his house. After years of effort, he finally moved the entire mountain.
The moral of the story: Anything can be accomplished if one works at it ceaselessly.
The Japanese version of this is 愚公山を移す (gu kou yama wo utsu su). But better to get the Chinese version, since this is originally a Chinese proverb.
See Also: Nothing Is Impossible
This can be translated as the warrior's spirit or warrior's soul. The first two characters can be translated as "warrior" or literally "brave soldier/man" although some will translate this word as "hero." Therefore, this is also how to say "heroic spirit."
The second two characters mean vigor, vitality, drive, spirit, mind, heart, mental essence and psychological component. Basically "your soul."
We have two versions of this phrase. The only difference is the first two and last two characters are swapped. The version here suggests that you admire or like the idea of the spirit of a warrior. The other version suggests that you are the warrior or hero.
菩提樹 is the full title of the Bodhi tree (a fig tree) under which Siddhartha Gautama (the legendary man and who established the Buddhist religion), achieved enlightenment.
Sometimes this is referred to as "the tree of enlightenment." If you don't have a Bodhi tree to sit under, maybe you can achieve your enlightenment under a wall scroll with this title.
The Bodhi or 菩提 is the moment of completion in Buddhism.
It is when all things become known, and you have completed your journey to enlightenment.
The reference is to the Bodhi tree where Siddhartha Gautama (the legendary man and who established the Buddhist religion), achieved enlightenment. Sometimes this is referred to as "the tree of enlightenment" but if you want the full version with the character for tree on the end, please see our other entry.
This figuratively means, "Without a teacher, how can we learn/mature?"
This is a philosophic pondering by Han Yu, a Tang Dynasty essayist and philosopher (618-907 A.D.). This Chinese proverb can be translated as, "Knowledge is not innate to man, how can we overcome doubt?" or, "We are not born with knowledge, how does one achieve maturity?."
This infers that we need the guidance of a teacher if we wish to learn, mature, and become better.
It's very uncommon (some will say taboo) to say, "I love you" in Japanese culture. It's especially awkward for a man to tell a woman this in Japanese. Everyone is more likely to say "Watashi wa anata ga suki desu" or "I like you" (literally, "I regarding you, have like."
If you have to say, "I love you" in Japanese, this selection of Kanji and Hiragana shown to the left is the way.
Depending on the romanization scheme you use, this man's name can be spelled Laozi, Lao Tzu, or Lao Tze. In older English usage, he was known as Laocius. He is believed to have lived around 500 B.C.
He was a Chinese philosopher, founder of Daoism/Taoism, credited with being the author of the sacred and wise book of Daoism/Taoism.
There is a theory that Lao Tzu's soul traveled to India and was reborn as the Buddha.
釋迦牟尼 is a transliteration of "Shakyamuni" or "Sakyamuni" in Chinese, Japanese, and old Korean.
The perceived meaning of the name is roughly translated as, "Sage of the Sakyas."
This same Buddha is also known as "Siddhartha Gautama," "Gotama Buddha," "Tathagata," or simply, "The Supreme Buddha."
釋迦牟尼 is the legendary man and prince who eventually established the Buddhist religion.
Note: Occasionally Romanized as "Siddhattha Gotama."
This combination of characters is sometimes seen and used in South Korea and Japan as well (with the same meaning).
Note: 釋迦牟尼 came from the Sanskrit शाक्यमुनि and can also be romanized with diuretics as Śākyamuni.
The first character means war, warfare, or battle.
The second character means soldier, officer, man or pawn.
戰士 is how to write "fighter" in Chinese, ancient Japanese Kanji and old Korean Hanja. 戰士 can also mean soldier or warrior but there are better terms for those two ideas. This one is more specifically "fighter" or "one who fights." 戰士 is an odd selection for a wall scroll, unless you are a boxer, ultimate fighter, or otherwise participate in combat sports.
Other translations include combatant or champion.
Note that after WWII, the first Kanji was reformed/simplified. This modern Japanese version is shown to the right. If you want this version, click on the Kanji to the right, instead of the button above.
This can be translated as the spirit or soul of a warrior. The first two characters can be translated as vigor, vitality, drive, spirit, mind, heart, mental essence and psychological component. Basically "your soul."
The second two characters mean "warrior" or literally "brave soldier/man" although some will translate this word as "hero." Therefore, this is also how to say "soul of a hero."
Note: This title is best for Chinese and old Korean. It does make sense in Japanese but is not a common or natural Kanji combination in Japanese.
We have two versions of this phrase. The only difference is the first two and last two characters are swapped. The version here suggests that you are the warrior or hero. The other version suggests that you admire or like the idea of the spirit of a warrior.
This old Chinese proverb has been translated many different ways into English. As you read the translations below, keep in mind that in Chinese, heart=mind.
Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.
Nothing is impossible to a willing mind.
Nothing is difficult to a willing heart.
Where there is a will, there is a way.
Nothing in the world is impossible if you set your mind to do it.
A willful man will have his way.
If you wish it, you will do it.
A determined heart can accomplish anything.
All things are possible to a strong mind.
永遠の愛 is a great way to write "Eternal Love" in Japanese.
The first two characters mean eternal, eternity, perpetuity, forever, immortality, and permanence.
The third character is a possessive article which sort of makes this selection mean "Love, of the eternal kind."
The last character is "love."
Cultural note: Most of the time, it is taboo to use the word "love" in Japanese. For instance, a Japanese man will say, "I like you," rather than, "I love you," to his spouse/girlfriend. However, this entry for eternal love is acceptable because of the way it is composed.
This entry is only appropriate if your audience is Japanese. We also have a Chinese version of this eternal love.
Beyond "benevolence" 仁 can be also be defined as "charity" or "mercy" depending on context.
The deeper meaning suggests that one should pay alms to the poor, care for those in trouble, and take care of his fellow man (or woman).
仁 is one of the five tenets of Confucius. In fact, it is a subject in which Confucius spent a great deal of time explaining to his disciples.
I have also seen this benevolent-related word translated as perfect virtue, selflessness, love for humanity, humaneness, goodness, good will, or simply "love" in the non-romantic form.
仁 is so important to me that I named my second daughter with this character. Her name is "Renni" which means "Benevolent Girl."
This is also a virtue of the Samurai Warrior
See our page with just Code of the Samurai / Bushido here
花木蘭 is the name of the famous Chinese woman warrior Hua Mulan.
She was made famous in the west by Disney's animated movie, "Mulan."
Most of the historical information about her comes from an ancient poem. It starts with a concerned Mulan, as she is told a man from each family is to serve conscription in the army. Her father is too old, and her brother is too young. Mulan decides to take the place of her father. After twelve years of war, the army returns and the best warriors are awarded great posts in the government and riches. Mulan turns down all offers, and asks only for a good horse for the long trip home. When Mulan greets visiting comrades wearing her old clothes, they are shocked to find the warrior they rode into battle with for years was actually a woman.
These four characters together translate in English to a strong form of "profound" or "written with a forceful hand."
But there is much more to the story...
The deep meaning behind this proverb comes from a man named Wan Xizhi who lived in the third century.
He was a great writer and calligrapher whose writing style influenced generations of other writers and calligraphers.
He once wrote words on a piece of wood to be taken to an engraver.
When the engraver began to carve the characters into the wood, he found that Wang Xizhi's writing had penetrated the wood about 3/8 of an inch.
Thus people believed that his words were so powerful, and so profound this it caused the ink from his brush to penetrate the wood deeply.
The proverb literally means "penetrated wood three fen" (fen is an ancient Chinese measurement a little over to 1/8 of an inch or almost 4mm).
美 is often used to describe the beauty of a woman. However, when applied to a man, it can mean handsome. It's also the first character in the word for "beauty salon" which you will see all over China and Japan.
This can be used as the given name for a girl (spell it or say it as "Mei" or "May").
For a bit of trivia: The title for the "USA" in Chinese is "Mei Guo" which literally means "Beautiful Country." This name was bestowed at a time before Chairman Mao came to power and decided that China didn't like the USA anymore (even though we fought together against the Japanese in WWII). But these days, Chinese people love Americans (but have distaste for American politics and policy). But I digress...
美 is also how "Beautiful" is written in Japanese Kanji and Korean Hanja. 美 can also mean: very satisfactory; good; to be pleased with oneself; abbreviation for the USA; fine; handsome; admirable; madhura; sweet; pleasant.
武蔵 is the short title for a man long in legend. Miyamoto Musashi is probably the most famous Samurai in all of Japanese history. While coming from a lower class, his new sword and fighting techniques put him on par with the best that feudal Japan had to offer. His long career started with his first duel was at age 13!
He is credited both with using two swords at once, and never losing a single battle in his career. After becoming a Buddhist, and getting older, like many old warriors, he took up a peaceful and solitary life until his death around 1645 A.D.
Note: Technically, Musashi is his given name, and Miyamoto is his surname. However, it's suggested that he assumed both of these names, and also had a few other names at childhood, as well as being given a Buddhist name. It's hard to know what to call him, as with most Kanji, there are multiple pronunciations. The characters for Musashi can also be pronounced "Takezō." But, everyone in modern times seems to know him by the name Musashi.
道 is the character "dao" which is sometimes written as "tao" but pronounced like "dow" in Mandarin.
道 is the base of what is known as "Taoism." If you translate this literally, it can mean "the way" or "the path."
Dao is believed to be that which flows through all things, and keeps them in balance. It incorporates the ideas of yin and yang (e.g. there would be no love without hate, no light without dark, no male without female.)
The beginning of Taoism can be traced to a mystical man named
Lao Zi (604-531 BC), who followed, and added to the teachings of Confucius.
More about Taoism / Daoism here.
Note that this is pronounced "dou" and sometimes "michi" when written alone in Japanese but pronounced "do" in word compounds such as Karate-do and Bushido. It's also "do" in Korean.
Alternate translations and meanings: road, way, path; truth, principle province.
Important Japanese note: In Japanese, this will generally be read with the road, way, or path meaning. Taoism is not as popular or well-known in Japan, so that Daoist/Taoist philosophy is not the first thing a Japanese person will think of then they read this character.
See our Taoism Page
太極拳 is the famous Taoist meditation and martial art exercise. The direct translation of these characters would be something like "grand ultimate fist" but that does not quite hit the mark for what this title really means.
An early-morning walk through any city in China near a park or open area will yield a view of Chinese people practicing this ancient technique.
The typical scene is an old man of no less than 80 years on this earth, with a wispy white beard and perhaps a sword in one hand. He makes slow moves that are impossibly smooth. He is steady-footed, and always in balance. For him, time is meaningless and proper form and technique is far more important than speed.
For the younger generation, faster moves may look impressive and seem smooth to the casual observer. But far more discipline and mental strength is needed to create perfectly smooth moves in virtual slow motion.
Note: There are two ways to Romanize these Chinese characters as seen in the title above. The pronunciation and actual characters are the same in Chinese. If you really used English sounds/words to pronounce this, it would be something like "tie jee chew-on" (just make the "chew-on" as one flowing syllable).
This is an ancient Chinese proverb about getting all the information from all sides so that you truly understand a situation.
A man named Wei Zheng lived between 580-643 AD. He was a noble and wise historian and minister in the court of the early Tang Dynasty.
The emperor once asked him, "What should an emperor do to understand the real-world situation and what makes an emperor out-of-touch with reality?"
Wei Zheng replied, "Listen to both sides and you will be enlightened; listen to only one side and you will be left in the dark."
Then Wei Zheng went on to site examples of leaders in history that were victorious after heeding both sides of the story, and other leaders that met their doom because they believed one-sided stories which often came from flattering lips.
Please note that there is an unwritten rule when the same character appears twice in the same phrase, the calligrapher will alter the appearance so that no two characters are exactly alike in the same piece. This calligraphy has two repeating characters that will be written differently than they appear here.
This 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.
This Chinese proverb comes from an old story from some time before 476 BC. About a man named Qi Huangyang, who was commissioned by the king to select the best person for a certain job in the Imperial Court.
Qi Huangyang selected his enemy for the job. The king was very confused by the selection but Qi Huangyang explained that he was asked to find the best person for the job, not necessarily someone that he personally liked or had a friendship with.
Later, Confucius commented on how unselfish and impartial Qi Huangyang was by saying "Da Gong Wu Si" which if you look it up in a Chinese dictionary, is generally translated as "Unselfish" or "Just and Fair."
If you translate each character, you'd have something like,
"Big/Deep Justice Without Self."
Direct translations like this leave out a lot of what the Chinese characters really say. Use your imagination, and suddenly you realize that "without self" means "without thinking about yourself in the decision" - together, these two words mean "unselfish." The first two characters serve to really drive the point home that we are talking about a concept that is similar to "blind justice."
One of my Chinese-English dictionaries translates this simply as "just and fair." So that is the short and simple version.
Note: This can be pronounced in Korean but it's not a commonly used term.
This both means and sounds like "Islam" in Mandarin Chinese.
The first three characters sound like the word "Islam," and the last character means "religion" or "teaching." It's the most general term for "Islam" in China. The highest concentration of Muslims in China is Xinjiang (the vast region in northwest China that was called The East Turkistan Republic until 1949 and is sometimes called Chinese Turkistan, Uyghuristan). Here you will find Uygurs, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz and others that are descendants of Turkmen (possibly mixed with Persians and Arabs). Many of their ancestors were traders who traveled the silk road to buy and sell spices, silk, and exchange other goods from the Orient and the Middle East.
I spent some time in Xinjiang and got to know this community. They are strong people who can endure much. They are friendly and love to have a good time. I was a stranger but treated by villagers (near China's border with Afghanistan) as if I was a good friend.
However, I have heard that it's best not to cross them, as in this land, the law is the blade, and everything is "eye for an eye." The Chinese government has little control in Xinjiang with almost no police officers except in the capital of Urumqi (so it's a 60-hour roundtrip train ride to seek the aid of law enforcement in most cases).
While few seem to be devout, there are at least small mosques in every village. And you will never see a man or woman outside without a head covering.
It should be noted that these people are all citizens of China, but they are officially of the Caucasian race. A visit to Xinjiang will change your idea what it means to be Chinese.
This is the Mawangdui version of Daodejing chapter 81.
During the Tang Dynasty, a man named Jia Dao (born in the year 779), a well studied scholar and poet, went to the capital to take the imperial examination.
One day as he rides a donkey through the city streets, a poem begins to form in his mind. A portion of the poem comes into his head like this:
"The bird sits on the tree branch near a pond,
A monk approaches and knocks at the gate..."
At the same time, he wondered if the word "push" would be better than "knock" in his poem.
As he rides down the street, he imagines the monk pushing or knocking. Soon he finds himself making motions of pushing, and shaking a fist in a knocking motion as he debates which word to use. He is quite a sight as he makes his way down the street on his donkey with hands and fists flying about as the internal debate continues.
As he amuses people along the street, he becomes completely lost in his thoughts and does not see the mayor's procession coming in the opposite direction. Jia Bao is blocking the way for the procession to continue down the road, and the mayor's guards immediately decide to remove Jia Bao by force. Jia Bao, not realizing that he was in the way, apologizes, explains his poetic dilemma, and awaits his punishment for blocking the mayor's way.
The mayor, Han Yu, a scholar and author of prose himself, finds himself intrigued by Jia Dao's poem and problem. Han Yu gets off his horse, and addresses Jia Bao, stating, "I think knock is better." The relieved Jia Bao raises his head, and is invited by the mayor to join the procession, and are seen riding off together down the street exchanging their ideas and love of poetry.
In modern Chinese, this idiom is used when someone is trying to decide which word to use in their writing or when struggling to decide between two things when neither seems to have a downside.
This Chinese proverb means "Be undaunted in the face of repeated setbacks." More directly-translated, it reads, "[Overcome] a hundred setbacks, without flinching." 百折不撓 is of Chinese origin but is commonly used in Japanese, and somewhat in Korean (same characters, different pronunciation).
This proverb comes from a long, and occasionally tragic story of a man that lived sometime around 25-220 AD. His name was Qiao Xuan and he never stooped to flattery but remained an upright person at all times. He fought to expose corruption of higher-level government officials at great risk to himself.
Then when he was at a higher level in the Imperial Court, bandits were regularly capturing hostages and demanding ransoms. But when his own son was captured, he was so focused on his duty to the Emperor and common good that he sent a platoon of soldiers to raid the bandits' hideout, and stop them once and for all even at the risk of his own son's life. While all of the bandits were arrested in the raid, they killed Qiao Xuan's son at first sight of the raiding soldiers.
Near the end of his career a new Emperor came to power, and Qiao Xuan reported to him that one of his ministers was bullying the people and extorting money from them. The new Emperor refused to listen to Qiao Xuan and even promoted the corrupt Minister. Qiao Xuan was so disgusted that in protest he resigned his post as minister (something almost never done) and left for his home village.
His tombstone reads "Bai Zhe Bu Nao" which is now a proverb used in Chinese culture to describe a person of strength will who puts up stubborn resistance against great odds.
My Chinese-English dictionary defines these 4 characters as, "keep on fighting in spite of all setbacks," "be undaunted by repeated setbacks" and "be indomitable."
Our translator says it can mean, "never give up" in modern Chinese.
Although the first two characters are translated correctly as "repeated setbacks," the literal meaning is "100 setbacks" or "a rope that breaks 100 times." The last two characters can mean "do not yield" or "do not give up."
Most Chinese, Japanese, and Korean people will not take this absolutely literal meaning but will instead understand it as the title suggests above. If you want a single big word definition, it would be indefatigability, indomitableness, persistence, or unyielding.
This in-stock artwork might be what you are looking for, and ships right away...
The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji(Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|Man of Character||大丈夫||dai jou bu / daijoubu / dai jo bu / daijobu||dà zhàng fu|
da4 zhang4 fu5
da zhang fu
|ta chang fu
|Man of Remarkable Character|
|Trust No One|
Trust No Man
|誰も信じるな||dare mo shin ji ru na|
|Trust No One|
Trust No Man
|wú fǎ xìn rèn|
wu2 fa3 xin4 ren4
wu fa xin ren
|wu fa hsin jen
|yè wèn / ye4 wen4 / ye wen / yewen||yeh wen / yehwen|
|Iron Man||鋼鐵俠||gāng tiě xiá|
gang1 tie3 xia2
gang tie xia
|kang t`ieh hsia
kang tieh hsia
|Teach A Man To Fish||授人以魚不如授人以漁|
|shòu rén yǐ yú bù rú shòu rén yǐ yú|
shou4 ren2 yi3 yu2 bu4 ru2 shou4 ren2 yi3 yu2
shou ren yi yu bu ru shou ren yi yu
|shou jen i yü pu ju shou jen i yü|
Handsome Young Man
|美青年||bi sei nen / biseinen|
|Time and Tide Wait for No Man||歲不我與|
|suì bù wǒ yǔ|
sui4 bu4 wo3 yu3
sui bu wo yu
|sui pu wo yü
|鳥人||chou jin / choujin / cho jin / chojin|
|Time and Tide Wait for No Man||光陰矢の如し|
|kouinya no goto shi|
koinya no goto shi
|Person of Character||人格者||jinkakusha|
|A Wise Man Changes His Mind (but a fool never will)||君子豹変す||kun shi hyou hen su|
kun shi hyo hen su
|信任||shinnin||xìn rèn / xin4 ren4 / xin ren / xinren||hsin jen / hsinjen|
|No Fear||恐れず||oso re zu / osorezu|
Strength of Character
|gouki / goki||gāng yì / gang1 yi4 / gang yi / gangyi||kang i / kangi|
|Assassin||刺客||shikaku / shikyaku||cì kè / ci4 ke4 / ci ke / cike||tz`u k`o / tzuko / tzu ko|
|Work Unselfishly for the Common Good||克己奉公||kè jǐ fèng gōng|
ke4 ji3 feng4 gong1
ke ji feng gong
|k`o chi feng kung
ko chi feng kung
|Fear No Man|
|wú suǒ wèi jù|
wu2 suo3 wei4 ju4
wu suo wei ju
|wu so wei chü
|No man knows what he owes to his parents|
till he comes to have children of his own
|子を持って知る親の恩||ko wo motte shiru oya no on|
|yǒng zhě wú wèi|
yong3 zhe3 wu2 wei4
yong zhe wu wei
|yung che wu wei
|mui||wú wèi / wu2 wei4 / wu wei / wuwei|
|Oneness of Heaven and Humanity||天人合一||tiān rén hé yī|
tian1 ren2 he2 yi1
tian ren he yi
|t`ien jen ho i
tien jen ho i
|Sumo Wrestler||力士||ri kishi / rikishi||lì shì / li4 shi4 / li shi / lishi||li shih / lishih|
|A sly rabbit has three openings to its den||狡兔三窟||jiǎo tù sān kū|
jiao3 tu4 san1 ku1
jiao tu san ku
|chiao t`u san k`u
chiao tu san ku
|Eternal Wheel of Life||法輪|
|hourin / horin|
horin / horin
|fǎ lún / fa3 lun2 / fa lun / falun|
|Wisdom from Hard Knocks||挨一拳得一招挨十拳變諸葛|
|ái yī quán dé yī zhāo ái shí quán biàn zhū gě|
ai2 yi1 quan2 de2 yi1 zhao1 ai2 shi2 quan2 bian4 zhu1 ge3
ai yi quan de yi zhao ai shi quan bian zhu ge
|ai i ch`üan te i chao ai shih ch`üan pien chu ko
ai i chüan te i chao ai shih chüan pien chu ko
|Warrior||武士||bu shi / bushi||wǔ shì / wu3 shi4 / wu shi / wushi||wu shih / wushih|
|Mark the boat to find the lost sword|
Ignoring the changing circumstances of the world
|kè zhōu qiú jiàn|
ke4 zhou1 qiu2 jian4
ke zhou qiu jian
|k`o chou ch`iu chien
ko chou chiu chien
|jí yǎ / ji2 ya3 / ji ya / jiya||chi ya / chiya|
|Bodhidharma||菩提達摩 / 菩提達磨|
菩提达摩 / 菩提达磨
|bo dai daru ma|
|pú tí dá mó|
pu2 ti2 da2 mo2
pu ti da mo
|p`u t`i ta mo
pu ti ta mo
|Time Waits For No One||歳月人を待たず||sai getsu hito o ma ta zu|
|Brave Warrior||勇士||yuu shi / yuushi / yu shi / yushi||yǒng shì / yong3 shi4 / yong shi / yongshi||yung shih / yungshih|
|Love and Affection||愛情|
|aijou / aijo||ài qíng / ai4 qing2 / ai qing / aiqing||ai ch`ing / aiching / ai ching|
|旅||ryo / tabi||lǚ / lu:3 / lu:||lü|
|Adventure Lover||冒険野郎||bou ken ya rou|
bo ken ya ro
|功夫||kan fu / ku fu|
kanfu / kufu
|gōng fu / gong1 fu / gong fu / gongfu||kung fu / kungfu|
|If you have not been a monk, how can you know what it is like to be a vegetarian?||不當和尚不知齋戒苦|
|bù dāng hé shang bù zhī zhāi jiè kǔ|
bu4 dang1 he2 shang bu4 zhi1 zhai1 jie4 ku3
bu dang he shang bu zhi zhai jie ku
|pu tang ho shang pu chih chai chieh k`u
pu tang ho shang pu chih chai chieh ku
|Superman||超人||chou jin / choujin / cho jin / chojin||chāo rén / chao1 ren2 / chao ren / chaoren||ch`ao jen / chaojen / chao jen|
|哲||tetsu||zhé / zhe2 / zhe||che|
|Nothing is Impossible with Persistence||移山||isan||yí shān / yi2 shan1 / yi shan / yishan||i shan / ishan|
|Spiritual Warrior||霊戦士||rei sen shi|
|Hero||英雄||ei yuu / eiyuu / ei yu / eiyu||yīng xióng|
|Power of Understanding and Wisdom||悟性||gosei||wù xìng / wu4 xing4 / wu xing / wuxing||wu hsing / wuhsing|
|Immortal||仙||sento / sen||xiān / xian1 / xian||hsien|
|Where There is a Will, There is a Way||愚公移山||yú gōng yí shān|
yu2 gong1 yi2 shan1
yu gong yi shan
|yü kung i shan
|勇士精神||yǒng shì jīng shén|
yong3 shi4 jing1 shen2
yong shi jing shen
|yung shih ching shen
|The Tree of Enlightenment|
The Bodhi Tree
|bodaiju||pú tí shù|
pu2 ti2 shu4
pu ti shu
|p`u t`i shu
pu ti shu
|Bodhi - Awakening Enlightenment||菩提||bodai||pú tí / pu2 ti2 / pu ti / puti||p`u t`i / puti / pu ti|
|We are not born with knowledge, how does one achieve maturity?||人非生而知之者熟能無惑||rén fēi shēng ér zhī zhī zhě shú néng wú huò|
ren2 fei1 sheng1 er2 zhi1 zhi1 zhe3 shu2 neng2 wu2 huo4
ren fei sheng er zhi zhi zhe shu neng wu huo
|jen fei sheng erh chih chih che shu neng wu huo|
|I Love You||愛してる||ai shi te ru|
|老子||roushi / roshi||lǎo zǐ / lao3 zi3 / lao zi / laozi||lao tzu / laotzu|
|sha ka mu ni|
|shì jiā móu ní|
shi4 jia1 mou2 ni2
shi jia mou ni
|shih chia mou ni
战士 / 戦士
|sen shi / senshi||zhàn shì / zhan4 shi4 / zhan shi / zhanshi||chan shih / chanshih|
|Soul of a Warrior||精神勇士||jīng shén yǒng shì|
jing1 shen2 yong3 shi4
jing shen yong shi
|ching shen yung shih
|To a Willing Heart, All Things Are Possible||有志者事竟成 / 有誌者事竟成|
|yǒu zhì zhě shì jìng chéng|
you3 zhi4 zhe3 shi4 jing4 cheng2
you zhi zhe shi jing cheng
|yu chih che shih ching ch`eng
yu chih che shih ching cheng
|Eternal Love||永遠の愛||ei en no ai|
|Benevolence||仁||jin||rén / ren2 / ren||jen|
|huā mù lán|
hua1 mu4 lan2
hua mu lan
|入木三分||rù mù sān fēn|
ru4 mu4 san1 fen1
ru mu san fen
|ju mu san fen
|美||bi||měi / mei3 / mei|
|Musashi||武蔵||mu sashi / musashi|
|道||michi / -do||dào / dao4 / dao||tao|
|Tai Chi Chuan|
Tai Ji Quan
|tai kyoku ken|
|tài jí quán|
tai4 ji2 quan2
tai ji quan
|t`ai chi ch`üan
tai chi chüan
|Listen to Both Sides and be Enlightened, Listen to One Side and be in the Dark||兼聽則明偏聽則暗|
|jiān tīng zé míng, piān tīng zé àn|
jian1 ting1 ze2 ming2, pian1 ting1 ze2 an4
jian ting ze ming, pian ting ze an
|chien t`ing tse ming, p`ien t`ing tse an
chien ting tse ming, pien ting tse an
|In Wine there is Truth||酒后吐真言 / 酒後吐真言|
|jiǔ hòu tǔ zhēn yán|
jiu3 hou4 tu3 zhen1 yan2
jiu hou tu zhen yan
|chiu hou t`u chen yen
chiu hou tu chen yen
|Unselfish: Perfectly Impartial||大公無私|
|dà gōng wú sī|
da4 gong1 wu2 si1
da gong wu si
|ta kung wu ssu
|yī sī lán jiào|
yi1 si1 lan2 jiao4
yi si lan jiao
|i ssu lan chiao
Tao Te Ching - Chapter 81
|Push or Knock||反復推敲|
|fǎn fù tuī qiāo|
fan3 fu4 tui1 qiao1
fan fu tui qiao
|fan fu t`ui ch`iao
fan fu tui chiao
|Undaunted After Repeated Setbacks||百折不撓|
|hyaku setsu su tou|
hyaku setsu su to
|bǎi zhé bù náo|
bai3 zhe2 bu4 nao2
bai zhe bu nao
|pai che pu nao
|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.
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