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What's in a name!?

  • LiiKan" is really two separate Chinese words, Lii and Kan, from one of the multitudes of dialects (Officially there are only 8 primary languages!). They are the names of two Ba Gua symbols, which are from the Chinese classic book known as the  I Ching. 

Ba Gua Trigrams
The Lii and Kan symbols represent respectively, the fire and water elements of the Five Element / Energy Phases Theory. However, they are also used to represent the two Fire and Water elements of the Three Dancing Wu Li Masters that are the basis of Yin-Yang theory and the polarization of energy fields.

The Japanese language also has the word Kan. In some dialects it means school, but it also means 'Long Life'.


  • Liikan Jitsu is based on Shorinjitsu, which is the shortened style (nick)name for Shorinji Kempo Jiu Jitsu. Shorinji Kempo means Chinese Boxing hence the more familiar description of Kung Fu - Jiu Jitsu. Liikan Jitsu has since been augmented and extended to include a variety of other influences, particularly modern security and psychology disciplines. The order of the words Lii and Kan in the English language means that Jiu Jitsu (Water) is the primary component, in which Kung Fu (Fire) describes the type (flavour) of Jiu Jitsu practiced.

  • Jiu Jitsu (Ju Jutsu) is variably translated as soft, compliant, yielding, gentle or flexible (Jiu)  techniques (Jitsu) and is the main term used for techniques. Other terms which were more widely used during the earlier Japanese history are Yawara and Te (hand) or, Tai (body) Jitsu. 

Jitsu is also the word used in Shiatsu (Japanese acupressure system) for 'Hard' as in the manner in which the massage and healing technique should be applied. This would vary according to the need for sedation or activation/stimulation of the body system or patient in general.
  • Waza is actually the main term used to refer to techniques. Originally this termed was translated into English as: 'Tricks'.  Given the nature of the systems taught and the schools' teaching methods often seemed more like a collection or 'box of tricks', this was perhaps often a more appropriate term. This is exactly the type of comments that Uyenishi & Jigoro Kano made when explaining what his system (Kodokan Judo) and approach was about, and why he started to develop it.

  • Kung Fu 
    Kung Fu simply means something that you achieve through hard work, but these days (at least in the west) is generally used for referring to the fighting / Martial Arts.
  • Wu Shu is the Chinese name for Martial Arts and the name currently promoted by the Chinese authorities in preference to Kung Fu, which is the more popular term.

Wu - the Chinese character  is an ideogram that portrays the Chinese Martial Arts philosophy. Wu has two parts: 

Wu Zhi
Zhi -  means Do not do, whilst

Wu Ge
Ge - resembles an ancient weapon and gives the idea of Fighting. 


Thus, it means DO NOT FIGHT.

  • All in a name - Kung Fu, Wu Shu, Jiu Jitsu, ju Jutsu, Kung Fu Jiu Jitsu, Shorinjitsu or Liikan Jitsu - at the end of the day it is just as Bruce Lee stated many times, 'It is just a name!'


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