The word setsu is made of two characters that are
most often translated as meaning conforming to the
rule or standard, but can also be interpreted in terms
of the self as discipline or self-restraint.
more closely at the first character, setsu, the top
two elements symbolize the bamboo Kaicho Nakamura
refers to in his discussion. They express division
(being two) which can also express order, as in the
ordered division of bamboo, which in turn can express
time (as in discreet extensions) and the concept of
restraint and integrity that lead to self-order. Also
implied is flexibility, which is inherent within bamboo
and implied by the use of this pictorial element.
are two other sub-character elements, the one on left
being interpreted as "good." It represents
a sift (to separate large from small particles) within
a sleeve or form used to filter, thus suggesting selection
of the good.
bottom element (sub-character) to the right represents
a bending or kneeling person. Originally this represented
taking the proper place at a table, which has been
abstracted to mean being proper.
The second character, or "do,"
also has meaningful interpretations.
top element can be interpreted to mean a house over
an object or a stone (the derivation being unclear),
which is an abbreviation for the character meaning
bottom element is a hand which can leads to the interpretion
of measurement. Thus, together the elements of "do"
mean "degree" drawn from measurement of
to Setsu Do Motsu: A Lecture on Karate-do
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