My father just obtained his 3rd kyu, and with it, a brown belt he's going to wear until he gets a black one. It's a tradition in our dojo to get a brown belt embroidered either with a Japanese saying or one's name. He chose the former and wanted to get a belt embroidered with 「剣は 鋭く気は円く」. However, as he does not speak Japanese, nor can he read hiragana, he mistook the 「く」for "line-ending-signs" and submitted the text to be embroidered without them. It'd be a lot of hassle and/or money to get it corrected; does the embroidering on the belt make sense as it is?

  • I am not a native speaker, but this looks a bit awkward to me since removing the く characters changes the grammar and hence the nuance of those two words. I think people who are familiar with the phrase in question would understand you are referring to that, however they would realize the く characters were omitted. Depending on how expensive it was, I'd consider redoing it.
    – Locksleyu
    Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 21:19

1 Answer 1


Interestingly, the altered one happens to make sense to me as a verse.

The original sentence reads "剣は鋭【するど】く 気は円【まる】く" using kun-yomi, but the altered one can be read as "剣は鋭【えい】 気は円【えん】" using on-yomi, which basically has the same meaning as the original one. It may not be very natural as ordinary Japanese prose, but it's similar to how people have to read 漢文, so it looks convincing enough to me. I don't know it makes sense as a real classic Chinese sentence, though.

Note that you definitely need a small space (or comma) between 鋭 and 気, and no space elsewhere. Otherwise, it would look like one ungrammatical line including a strange word "鋭気".

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