I dabble in Shodo and I am designing a calligraphy to give as a gif to a martial arts master.

He is French, and his name is Pierre (Pierre, just like all other derivatives of Latin "Petrus", like Peter, Pietro, Pedro, Piotr... all come from a root word meaning Stone... in fact in French Pierre translates to Peter as a personal name, and to "stone" when used as a word for a thing).

So I wanted to write a Kanji combination to express the concept of Stone Master, and I come up with:


My question: what would the effect on someone who is fluent in Japanese?

I understand this is not a common word, but I just want to be sure that it is not demeaning/funny/inappropriate (I expect him to hang it in his dojo where it will be also seen by some Japanese person in the future).

I also appreciate any suggestion about something that is - in your opinion - better/more appropriate/more "honorific" for the same concept, as long as, if possible, it is written in Kanji only, which works better for me when doing Shodo.

Further remarks:

According to this (but take in account that I had to use Google Translator because I do not know Chinese at all) "石主" in Chinese it is some sort of mythical figure.

Final (?) note

Thanks everybody, in the end I went for a different idea altogether

  • English "master" has a lot of meanings, so could you be more specific about its meaning? Are you just trying to say "Master Pierre", or are you trying to say something more fantasy-like, say, "Pierre, The Master of Stone"? Or something else?
    – naruto
    Jan 15, 2019 at 11:14
  • My question: what would the effect on someone who is fluent in Japanese? That is a tough question because over 99% of Japanese-speakers would not even know that "Pierre" means "stone" in the first place. Even I, who is among the remaining 1%, would not know what 「石主」 meant without an explanation. Upon seeing 「石主」 with no explanation, most Japanese-speakers (myself included) would think it means "the owner of some kind of stone".
    – user4032
    Jan 15, 2019 at 12:01
  • @naruto: "Master" in the sense of "Teacher", "Expert". He is a Martial Art master, and this is what we are trying to celebrate. "Stone Warrior" would be also acceptable, but we are his students so I thought that something implying excellency at the art, more than proficiency on the battlefield would be better.
    – p.marino
    Jan 15, 2019 at 12:22
  • @l'électeur - the "inner joke' about Pierre/Stone is something that does need to be immediately understood by a casual Japanese user: we will explain "why there is a stone in the title" directly to him (also, one of the probable visitors is a Japanese Martial Artist who moved to France ages ago and is fluent in French). I am just concerned about something that does not sound silly. In this sense "owner of a stone" is not what we want to convey , and so I would appreciate some suggestion to make it more "solemn".
    – p.marino
    Jan 15, 2019 at 12:25
  • @everyone: maybe "石戦士" would be less ambiguous, sound like a badass fantasy character and be more appropriate?
    – p.marino
    Jan 15, 2019 at 12:30

2 Answers 2


The kanji 主 means "master (of a slave)", "master (of a pet)", "owner", "governor", etc., but it does not mean he is an expert of something. If you simply want to say "grand master (of martial art)", let's use 師範 (shihan), which is a simple and nice term for that concept. It can be used also as an honorific name suffix, just like "sensei".

So we get 石師範, which sounds like "(Grand) Master Stone" or "Stone-sensei" to me. This is still confusing and actually a little funny because almost no Japanese people can associate "Pierre" with "stone", but there is nothing we can do for that. If you are willing to explain that part, it should pass as a meaningful wordplay. Someone who is fluent both in Japanese and French should notice the intention.

石戦士 does sound like "Stone Fighter", and I imagine something like "a golem with a sword" :)


Depending on the particular martial art, 師傅 or 師父 could be appropriate. These are the kanji / hanzi spellings of the common title shifu used to refer to one's martial arts instructor in Chinese (related Wikipedia page). The second spelling has overtones of fatherliness as well, if that's a sense you'd like to add (or avoid).

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