Always Striving for Inner Strength in Chinese / Japanese...

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  1. Always Striving for Inner Strength

  2. Inner Strength

  3. Inner Strength / Self-Improvement

  4. Inner Strength is Better than Outward Appearance

  5. Inner Strength / Inner Well-Being and Health

  6. Perseverance / Fortitude


Always Striving for Inner Strength

 zì qiáng bú xī
Always Striving for Inner Strength Scroll

自強不息 is a proverb or idiom that suggests that the pursuit of self-improvement is eternal. It can also be a suggestion to strive unremittingly in life.

The first two characters mean inner strength with the idea of self-improvement. The last two characters mean “never rest” or “striving without giving up.”

Some will translate these four characters as “Exert and strive hard without any let-up.”

Inner Strength

 nèi lì
 nai ryoku
Inner Strength Scroll

內力 is the shorter version of inner strength (can also be translated as “internal force”). The first character holds the meaning of “inner” or “internal.” The second character means “power,” “force,” or “strength.”

內力 is a Kung Fu way of talking about an inner power or strength from within. This is a way to express “inner chi.” This is something that you might hear in a real Chinese Kung Fu movie.

While understood in Chinese and Japanese, this can have a secondary meaning of “inner stress” in Japanese.

Inner Strength

 nèi zài lì liàng
Inner Strength Scroll

內在力量 is the slightly-verbose way to say inner strength.

The first two characters mean “intrinsic” or “inner.” The second two characters mean “power,” “force” or “strength” (especially physical strength). 內在力量 is more a short phrase rather than just a word in Chinese and Korean. This can sort of be understood in Japanese but it's not normal/proper Japanese.

Inner Strength / Self-Improvement

 zì qiáng
Inner Strength / Self-Improvement Scroll

自強 is the kind of inner strength that applies to a person who has will-power and can inspire themselves to do great things.

自強 can also be the creed of a person that always pursues self-improvement.

Other translations: self-strengthening, striving for improvement, self-improvement, striving to become stronger, and self-renewal.

Inner Strength is Better than Outward Appearance

 naimen no tsuyosa ha gaiken no yosa ni masaru
Inner Strength is Better than Outward Appearance Scroll

内面の強さは外見の良さに勝る is a Japanese proverb that literally translates as “inner/internal strength/power [versus] outward-appearance [the] merit/virtue/good quality [does] excel/surpass/exceed/outweigh.”

More naturally in English, this would be “Inner Strength Outweighs Outward Appearance.”


Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.

Inner Strength is Better than Outward Appearance

 biǎo zhuàng bù rú lǐ zhuàng
Inner Strength is Better than Outward Appearance Scroll

表壯不如里壯 literally translates as: [Better to be] strong inside than [to be] strong outside.

The ancient original meaning was:
[An] able [husband] outside [working to support a family is] not as good as [an] able [wife] inside [working and saving to take care of the family].

The current meaning is:
Inner strength is more important than outward appearance.

Inner Strength / Inner Well-Being and Health

 nèi jiàn
Inner Strength / Inner Well-Being and Health Scroll

內健 is an old Chinese word meaning inner strength or inner health.

It's the idea of health and well-being starting or residing inside yourself. Also defined as fortitude within the context of good health.

Perseverance / Fortitude

 jiǎn rěn
 ken nin
Perseverance / Fortitude Scroll

堅忍 means persistent, steadfast, fortitude, and/or perseverance.

The first character means strong, solid, firm, unyielding, or resolute.
The second character means to beat, endure, or tolerate.
Together they speak of the strength from within yourself. Some may also translate this as long-suffering in a more Biblical sense.

堅忍 is a common term in Chinese and Korean Hanja but a little less commonly used in modern Japanese Kanji. For that reason, this selection is best if your audience is Chinese or Korean.


忍忍 Note that when writing this as Kanji, Japanese will tend to write the second Kanji a little differently. If you select our Japanese master calligrapher, please expect the form where the little horizontal stroke crosses the vertical stroke. See differences in the images to the right. Technically, they are both the same character, and will be read the same in either language.




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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji (Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Always Striving for Inner Strength自強不息
自强不息
zì qiáng bú xī
zi4 qiang2 bu2 xi1
zi qiang bu xi
ziqiangbuxi
tzu ch`iang pu hsi
tzuchiangpuhsi
tzu chiang pu hsi
Inner Strength內力
内力
nai ryoku / nairyokunèi lì / nei4 li4 / nei li / neili
Inner Strength內在力量
内在力量
nèi zài lì liàng
nei4 zai4 li4 liang4
nei zai li liang
neizaililiang
nei tsai li liang
neitsaililiang
Inner Strength
Self-Improvement
自強
自强
zì qiáng / zi4 qiang2 / zi qiang / ziqiangtzu ch`iang / tzuchiang / tzu chiang
Inner Strength is Better than Outward Appearance内面の強さは外見の良さに勝るnaimen no tsuyosa ha gaiken no yosa ni masaru
Inner Strength is Better than Outward Appearance表壯不如里壯
表壮不如里壮
biǎo zhuàng bù rú lǐ zhuàng
biao3 zhuang4 bu4 ru2 li3 zhuang4
biao zhuang bu ru li zhuang
biaozhuangburulizhuang
piao chuang pu ju li chuang
piaochuangpujulichuang
Inner Strength
Inner Well-Being and Health
內健nèi jiàn / nei4 jian4 / nei jian / neijiannei chien / neichien
Perseverance
Fortitude
堅忍
坚忍
ken nin / kenninjiǎn rěn / jian3 ren3 / jian ren / jianrenchien jen / chienjen
In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.


Many custom options...


Perseverance / Fortitude Scroll
Perseverance / Fortitude Scroll
Perseverance / Fortitude Scroll
Perseverance / Fortitude Scroll


And formats...

Perseverance / Fortitude Vertical Portrait
Perseverance / Fortitude Horizontal Wall Scroll
Perseverance / Fortitude Vertical Portrait
Dictionary

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A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

The wall scroll that Sandy is holding in this picture is a "large size"
single-character wall scroll.
We also offer custom wall scrolls in small, medium, and an even-larger jumbo size.

A professional Chinese Calligrapher

Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.

There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.

A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.


Check out my lists of Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls and Old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.

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