Kanji for David and Goliath concept?
January 3, 2008 1:44 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a cool Kanji/Hanji nickname that I will use to identify my Kendo/Kumdo equipment bags.

The ideal meaning of the characters would be something reminiscent of David vs Goliath. Due to space, I'm limited on the number of characters I can use. Ideally one character, but no more than three, and I'm willing to sacrifice translation precision for less characters.

Some things I've considered have been dragon slayer (lacks underdog theme), giant slayer (giant translated into big person, not necessarily higher skilled), and warrior (generic and lacks underdog theme), but I would like to stay closer to the David vs Goliath theme if possible. If there were a figure in Chinese/Korean/Japanese mythology that is equivalent to David using their name would be acceptable too.

In general, anything that conveys the concept of a smaller, less experienced person conquering a larger, more experienced foe. I'd appreciate any help in either translating, or pointing me to reliable translation sources. Thanks!
posted by forforf to Writing & Language (8 answers total)
Everybody stand back.

I know Google-fu.

Kingfisher Woodworks
sells beautiful martial arts weapons that can be inscribed, and has guides to inscriptions online.

[you'll have to search on the linked pages for these]
The philosophical concepts inscriptions include kankei - "strength in spite of smallness".

The training concepts inscriptions include jiryoku kosei - "attaining success by overcoming difficulty".

I am not affiliated with the vendor (nor even a customer), and I definitely cannot vouch for the accuracy of the inscriptions.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 2:41 PM on January 3, 2008

This is probably not what you want:

頑張って (pronounced "gambatte") means "You can do it! Keep trying!" It's the imperative form of the verb 頑張る "ganbaru" which means "to persist".

When people in Japan shout encouragements to someone in a contest, especially athletics, that's what they usually say. The reason I suggest it is that they are particularly likely to shout it to those who are behind in the race or contest.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:41 PM on January 3, 2008

It is very common for those peddling kanji-labeled objects to botch the translations.

The "kankei" given above is this: 簡勁. The second kanji means "strong". But the first means "simplicity, brevity". And the combination together isn't Japanese. That two-kanji sequence isn't a word, and 簡 kan alone isn't a word.

The one they say is "jiryoku kosei" is 自力更生. 自力 is actually jiriki "self-made". 更生 kousei means "reorganization".

Do not trust gaijin bearing kanji, for they are usually liars. (Especially if they're tattoo artists!)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:10 PM on January 3, 2008

If you do choose to go with "gambatte", it's important to note that the third mora is hiragana small-tsu っ, not big-tsu つ. That's really, really important. Big-tsu is pronounced "tsu". Small-tsu is the typographical convention representing a glottal stop, a brief pause. Using a big-tsu would convert it to nonsense "gambatsute".
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:25 PM on January 3, 2008

心技体 would be a popular sports/martial arts slogan in Japan. "Heart-technique-body" doesn't translate well, but I'm sure you can grok the gist from the literal translation (it's not like it has any inherent meaning in Japanese, either)
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:26 PM on January 3, 2008

How about 應龍 (yinglong), the dragon warror of the Yellow Emperor who was the only one able to defeat the giant war-god Chi Lou at the Battle of Zhuolu.
posted by Abiezer at 3:51 PM on January 3, 2008

一寸法師 (Issun Boushi) also known as One inch boy, is a japanese legend similar to Tom Thumb.
posted by clearlydemon at 4:05 PM on January 3, 2008

Response by poster: thanks all ... all responses have been useful so far.
RikiTikiTavi (my fav cartoon when I was a kid btw), that's a great find. I found something similar, but was uncertain on how accurate the translations were. Still, I'll look more into it.

SCDB, DrFed, Abiezer, and clearlydemon - thanks, if I can't find a closer match I'll prob choose on of your suggestions.

Also, I'm mainly interested in the characters making sense in a language, whether Japanese or Chinese (any dialect) ... but I also don't want to just be random characters that don't mean anything other than a gaijan put together random characters (per SCDB's warning)

Thanks all, it's appreciated.
posted by forforf at 5:27 PM on January 3, 2008

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