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.

First Set:

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.

Second Set:

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.”

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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…..

by Master Sean Pearson

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Written by Sean Pearson

Throughout his career, in an effort to become a truly well-rounded martial artist in both practice and philosophy, Master Pearson has studied a wide variety of martial arts: Taekwondo, Kali, Kyudo, Iaido, Aikido, Judo, Jodo, Bando and Tai Chi. He holds dan rankings in six of these arts and master ranks in three of them. To this same end he has studied and achieved national recognition as a wilderness survival instructor, a certified hypnotherapist, and a lecturer in Neuro Linguistic Psychology.

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