(Characters of Martial Arts) Where to practise a martial art…

The martial arts of East Asia are often (but not always) practised in martial arts halls, but they often use different names and characters. The most common term is the Japanese term usually associated with Karate -the ‘dojo’. The Chinese characters are ‘道場’ ‘Dao Chang’ -Dao was looked at in a previous post, meaning ‘the way’ or ‘road’. And ‘chang’ means ‘place’ so I think to Chinese people a ‘dao chang’ is a ‘a place of the way’ with religious, particularly Taoist, implications.

Besides, I suspect ‘dojo’ doesn’t strickly mean ‘place of the way’ to Japanese, but rather it is an abbreviation of the characters of ‘Karate Do Place’ as the suffice to karate -‘do’ is the same character -道. Confused?

So where do Kungfu guys practise martial arts? Well, if you do taijiquan it might just as well be in a park, but the hall is often referred to as the ‘Kwoon ‘ (館). This is Cantonese mind you. I’d studied some Taijiquan and Bajiquan in Shenyang, North East China many years ago, but that was all done outside, there was no ‘Guan (館)’, which is the mandarin equivalent. They do say that Northern Kungfu is all long kicks and the Southern fist is all close and short -no martial arts hall was big enough for the flying kicks of Northern Praying Mantis!

By the way, 館 is a common character in Chinese, Korean and Japanese all with similar meanings, something like ‘hall’ or ‘building’. It’s the same suffix in all three languages on words for ‘library’ (Toshokan/ Tushuguan / Toseogwan) -perhaps that’s why students study so hard in Asian culture -it’s the ‘Book Reading Kwoon’.

Now, regarding another martial art I studied -Taekkyon -the name of the hall escapes me. I think it was something ‘jang’, which I guess is also the ‘場’ character, but some research on the net was futile.

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