I am frequently asked about the Chinese characters that are on the Shin Ho Kwan black belts (3rd Dan and up). I thought that for this week’s post I would answer these questions.
As most of you know, Shin Ho Kwan does not allow tips to be worn on any black belts (why is another post). In the 90’s I decided that it would be nice to have something on our belts in place of tips. It didn’t take me long to decide what to put on them. Back when I worked with Grandmaster Ahn I would constantly run into two sets of Chinese Characters, mostly when I would look at his old photos. When I would ask him about the meanings of these characters, he would usually give me a very brief and vague translation. So eventually I decided that if I wanted to find out what these characters meant, I would have to do a little work on my own. This is how Grandmaster Ahn has taught me from the first day I started working for him. He intentionally would give me vague answers, so I would have to figure things out for myself. Then once I did, he would answer my question and talk to me about what I came up with and why it was different (if it was).
Below are a few old pictures with these two sets of characters. It should be mentioned that these characters were also on the entrances of his old schools.
心 – This is the Chinese character Xin and is pronounced Sim (심) in Korean. It means (in this context): heart and/or mind
身- This is the Chinese character Shen and is pronounced Sin (신) in Korean. It means (in this context): body.
鍛- This is the Chinese character Duan and is pronounced Dan (단) in Korean. It means (in this context): to forge or temper.
練- This is the Chinese character Lian and is pronounced Yeon (연) in Korean. It means (in this context): to practice.
Together these characters mean: To forge the body and mind through practice.
精 – This is the Chinese character Jing and is pronounced Jeong (정) in Korean. It means (in this context): energy.
神- This is the Chinese character Shen and is pronounced Sin (신) in Korean. It means (in this context): spirit.
修 – This is the Chinese character Xiu and is pronounced Su (수) in Korean. It means (in this context): to cultivate.
養 – This is the Chinese character Yang and is pronounced Yang (양) in Korean. It means (in this context): to grow.
Together these characters mean: To cultivate and grow energy and spirit.
So as a whole, taken in the context of Taekwondo, they mean:
“Through the practice of Taekwondo an individual will forge their bodies and minds, and will grow and cultivate their energy and spirit.”
This is just one possible translation. I encourage all of you to translate these characters yourself and see what you come up with. After all, you learn more by discovering the answer to a question yourself than having it handed to you.
Something to think about…..