What is "Musa?"

Customers, friends and internet trolls alike ask us all the time, “What’s a Musa?”

Some assume it’s an acronym for “Military USA,” or even “Made in the USA,” but the reality is, Musa means “Warrior” in Korean and it pays homage to one of the store’s founders’ heritage as well as all of our partners’ history as combat veterans of the United States Military.

We have however, received numerous messages recently from folks who saw our “Musa” calligraphy designs and chimed in with “Hey that’s not Korean; it says ‘wushi’ in Chinese!!” or “Hey that’s not Korean; it says ‘Bushi’ in Kanji (Japanese)!”

Interestingly, we noticed that most of the outrage comes from non-Asians who may have spent a semester abroad, or folks just really into Anime looking to flex their limited knowledge of the Asian culture.

So we thought we’d take a moment for a brief East Asian cultural knowledge drop. You may be telling yourself, “Why should I care?!” Well there’s a good chance you may know a buddy in the barracks or at your local watering hole who just got some sick Asian ink when it really says “chicken noodle soup,” and you can impress them with your well-rounded knowledge of another culture.

So technically, none of the comments from the internet-outrage guys are wrong… they just lack cultural context.

So here it goes…

First, the calligraphy that is commonly known as “Chinese Calligraphy” actually pre-dates the modern notion of China way back when the East Asian continent was divided into separate nations and borders that don’t resemble what they are today.

Many of them spoke different languages but they all used the same writing system.

How is this possible?

It’s because this calligraphy was not phonetic like the Western alphabet system, but rather it’s symbol/definition based. So, the same calligraphy that will mean “Warrior” to anyone who can read it, will actually sound differently depending on which part of Asia the speaker/reader is from.

Those who speak Mandarin will read it “wushi,” those who speak Japanese will read it “bushi,” and those who speak Korean will read it “Musa.” But, the most important thing is that the Warrior spirit is universal and no matter how you say it, wear it or ink it. It’s what’s on the inside that defines a Warrior.

Now that you are fully educated on the subject, feel free to go forward and rock some Asian calligraphy on your apparel or body parts and if someone feins outrage of your cultural appropriation you can kill them with knowledge…


The Asian Admin at The Musa Store

Bruce Webb October 21, 2019

I served on 2 tin cans, I was a Snipe, a Bilge Rat. I grew up in a military family & by that I mean father & uncles on both sides, all of them. I am writing this thanking Y’all for the above ink pics. When my daughter came home w/ Asian calligraphy I asked her if she checked w/ a Chinese person familiar w/ the dialect she was showing to see if it really meant what she was told it meant. Her answer was no but she was sure. When I said how do you know it doesn’t mean something ridiculous then? Thanks for the memory, I still wonder if that ink really means Happiness. I guess ignorance really is bliss.

Joseph Riley October 21, 2019

Thank you for the education. I hope those upset ones learned as well. God Bless.

Mark Fitzgerald October 21, 2019

Rock on. Love the photo

Garrett Chan October 21, 2019

The etymology of the character WU/MU/BU is interesting too. In Chinese it’s composed of 2 characters, the word STOP (zhi3) (which itself was originally a foot pictogram) combined with word LANCE/HALBERD (ge1). So the implication is that a warrior is someone who can stop the invader’s lances – a true warrior is a protector and a defender.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published