Chinese Terminology

This is a small glossary of Chinese terms that are used frequently amongst Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and Chinese Martial Arts practitioners.  I do not require my students to learn these terms, but I want to make them available to anyone who is interested in learning them.

  • Ba Men (八門) which literally means, "8 doors."  This refers to 8 basic moving patterns that are foundational concepts for Tai Chi movements and techniques.  These 8 doors are commonly compared to the "Bagua" or "8 trigrams" of the Chinese Yin-Yang theory.  The 8 doors are as follows:
    • Peng - Means to ward off
    • Lu - Means to yield or roll back
    • Ji - Means to press or squeeze
    • An - Means to press or push
    • Cai - Means to pluck, grab or control
    • Lie - Means to split
    • Zhou - Means to use the elbow
    • Kao - Means to bump
  • Ba Shi which means "8 Stances."  These stances are common in Northern Chinese Martial Art styles including Tai Chi.  They are generally practiced to develop strong legs to give a practitioner a strong base from which to draw power for martial techniques.
  • Bagua (八卦)which means "eight symbols" or "eight trigrams." They are related to Tai Chi philosophy and are, as wikipedia puts it, "...eight diagrams used in Taoist cosmology to represent the fundamental principles of reality, seen as a range of eight interrelated concepts. Each consists of three lines, each line either "broken" or "unbroken," representing yin or yang, respectively. Due to their tripartite structure, they are often referred to as "trigrams" in English"  
  • 八卦 Bāguà—The eight trigrams
    乾 Qián
    兌 Duì
    離 Lí
    震 Zhèn
    巽 Xùn
    坎 Kǎn
    艮 Gèn
    坤 Kūn
    Heaven/Sky Lake/Marsh Fire Lightning Wind Water Mountain Earth
    天 Tiān 澤(泽) Zé 火 Huǒ 雷 Léi 風(风) Fēng 水 Shuǐ 山 Shān 地 Dì
     
  •  Baihui is a very important acupuncture point on the top of the head which means "100 Meetings" and is focused on during some Qi Gong exercises.  
  • Chin Na (擒拿, Qin Na) refers to the joint locking and controlling side of Chinese martial arts.  Chin Na consists of techniques designed to force an opponents joints, muscles, and tendons to move in ways that inflict pain and allow the person applying the techniques to control, immobilize, or break their opponent's body to neutralize an attack.  Chin Na is an important part of Tai Chi pushing hands at an advanced level, but is not necessary to know to enjoy the health benefits of Tai Chi.
  • Da (打) simply means to hit or strike, as in punching, palm strikes, and so on.
  • Dan Tian (丹田)  means "elixer field."  
    • Xia Dan Tian (丹田) of lower elixir field is an area in the lower belly (about an inch and a half below your bellow button) that can store your qi energy and is focused on frequently in Qi Gong practice to help cultivate more qi.
    •  Zhong Dan Tian (丹田) The middle elixir field located in the solar-plexus region. 
    •  Shang Dan Tian (丹田) The upper elixer field.  Also referred to as the third eye.  This is an important point in Qi Gong practice.
  • Gong Fu or Kung Fu (功夫) literally means "energy/hard work, time/patience."  It is commonly misunderstood to mean a particular style of martial art, but it actually refers to anything that takes a large amount of time, patience, and energy to accomplish.  For example, if someone is learning to play the piano that is their kung fu because it will require a lot of time and energy to become proficient in that art. The concept of Kung Fu applies to the martial arts as well, but in the west we tend to assume it is exclusively a martial arts term or a particular style of martial arts and it is not. 
  • Gong Fu Guǎn (功夫馆) a training place for Chinese martial arts.
  • Huiyin is another important acupuncture point that is used frequently in Qi Gong exercises located in the perinium.
  • Jing or Jin ( 勁) is the term for Chinese martial art power
  • Jing () means "essence" and in Traditional Chinese Medicine it is believed that human jing is what the body uses to produce qi.  The quicker the essence or jing is drained the quicker the body ages and dies.  Certain Qi Gong practices are focused on developing and refining qi to convert it back into essence to produce longevity.
  • Laogong () another essential acupressure point that is used when practicing Qi Gong or Tai Chi located in the center of the palm.  It is believed that qi is both emitted and absorbed through this point.
  • Li () means "power" as in power from muscular strength.  
  • Qi ()simply means energy.  Anything that has energy or can give energy is said to have Qi.  Electricity, for example is called Dian Qi or "electrical energy" in Chinese and the weather is called Tian Qi or "heaven energy."  Qi is believed to be the energy of the universe that keeps everything going and on a personal level it is believed to be the energy that keeps a human body alive.  Much of the purpose to Qi Gong practice is to cultivate this energy and store it in the Dan Tian so it can be harnessed and used for various purposes such as longevity, health, strength, enlightenment, and so on. 
  • Qi Gong or Chi Kung (氣功) means "energy work" and includes an exercises that are meant to develop qi in the human body.  These exercises include certain breathing practices that are combined with movements or static postures and have become very popular for the calming effects they have on the mind and body.
  • San Bao () means "three treasures" and refers to one's essence (jing), energy (qi), and spirit (shen) the cultivation of which is the main focus of many styles of Qi Gong.
  • San Shou or San Da (, 打) refers to freestyle sparring where one can practice applying there techniques with another in a fighting situation.
  • Shi San Shi (十三) refers to the 13 postures or moving patterns that Tai Chi Chuan is based on including the eight doors (Ba Men) and the five steps (Wu Bu).
  • Shuai Jiao (摔角) refers to Chinese wrestling and consists mostly of take-downs and throws.
  • Tai Chi or 'Taiji (太極) (literally "great pole") is a Chinese cosmological term for the "Supreme Ultimate" state of undifferentiated absolute and infinite potentiality, contrasted with the Wuji (無極) "Without Ultimate"' (Wikipedia) and is based on the concepts on yin and yang.
  • Tai Chi Chuan or Taijiquan (太極拳) literally means "supreme ultimate fist" and is a fighting style based on the concepts of Tai Chi.
  • Taolu (套路) is a set of martial arts techniques that are practiced to refine fighting skills and better understand the concepts of an art.  Often this term is shortened to simple "Lu" which basically means "road," but is understood in Chinese martial arts to refer to a prearranged set of techniques practiced in a specific sequence.  For example the Old Frame Chen Style Taiji Long Form is called "Lao Jia Yi Lu" which literally means "Old Frame First Road"  They are commonly called forms or, in Japanese styles of marital arts, katas. 
  • Ti () means "kick."
  • Tui Shou (推手) refers to "push hands" which is a training method in Tai Chi Chuan as well as other internal martial arts designed to develop sensitivity to an opponents attacks and to help refine the practitioner's ability to find openings in the opponents defense.  Usually in beginning push hands practice the main point is to try to take the opponent off balance, but in more advanced stages joint locks, take downs, and knee wrestling techniques are used to attack the opponent.
  • Wu Bu () literally means "five steps" which, in Tai Chi Chuan, refers to the five directional stepping practices that are used to learn better body positioning in relation to an opponent.  These five stepping practices are a part of the 13 basic postures of Tai Chi Chuan. 
  • Wu Tiao (調) refers to the 5 regulations of Qi Gong practice which are regulating the Body, Breathing, Mind, Qi, and Spirit.
  • Wushu (武) literally means "martial techniques" and is a more proper term to use when referring to Chinese martial arts than "kung fu."  Many westerners mistakenly believe that the term wushu refers only to flashy martial arts forms that are great for competitions, but have little practical use.  This belief, however, is incorrect.  The term wushu refers to all forms of Chinese martial arts which include both the traditional fighting styles and the modern competition styles.


Yang Style Tai Chi 108 Long Form:
The Yang Style Tai Chi 108 Long From is split into 3 sections and each section can be practiced individually or they can be combined and practiced as one long form with no pauses.  When practiced slowly and continuously, this form usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes to complete

It is important to note that there are several different ways to count the moves in the long form which causes some people to call this a 103 movement form, others 108, others 113, etc.  The way we count it yields 108 movements.

The names of those moves are as follows:


  1. Begin Taiji
  2. Grasp Sparrow’s Tail: Ward off, Rollback, Press, Push
    1. Video 1
    2. Video 2
  3. Single Whip
  4. Raise Hands and Step Forward
  5. White Crane Spreads Its Wings
  6. Left Brush Knee and Push
  7. Playing the Lute
  8. Left Brush Knee and Push
  9. Right Brush Knee and Push
  10. Left Brush Knee and Push
  11. Playing the Lute
  12. Left Brush Knee and Push
  13. Turn Body and Chop with Fist
  14. Step Forward, Parry, and Punch
  15. Seal Tight (Apparent Close Up)
  16. Embrace the Tiger and Return to the Mountain
  17. Close form/Transition form (Cross Hands) (End of 1st part of form/ beginning of 2nd part)
  18. Grasp Sparrow’s Tail: Ward off, Rollback, Press, Push
  19. Single Whip
  20. Fist Under Elbow
  21. Step Back and Repulse Monkey: Left
  22. Step Back and Repulse Monkey: Right
  23. Step Back and Repulse Monkey: Left
  24. Diagonal Flying
  25. Raise Hands and Step Forward
  26. White Crane Spreads Its Wings
  27. Left Brush Knee and Push
  28. Needle at Sea Bottom
  29. Fan Through the Back
  30. Turn Body and Chop with Fist
  31. Step Forward, Parry, and Punch
  32. Step Forward, Grasp Sparrow’s Tail: Ward off, Rollback, Press, Push
  33. Single Whip
  34. Wave Hands Like Clouds: Right
  35. Wave Hands Like Clouds: Left
  36. Wave Hands Like Clouds: Right
  37. Single Whip
  38. High Pat on the Horse
  39. Right Separation Kick
  40. Left Separation Kick
  41. Turn Body and Left Heel Kick
  42. Left Brush Knee and Push
  43. Right Brush Knee and Push
  44. Step Forward and Punch Down
  45. Turn Body and Chop with Fist
  46. Step Forward, Parry, and Punch
  47. Right Heel Kick
  48. Right Strike Tiger
  49. Left Strike Tiger
  50. Right Heel Kick
  51. Twin Fists Strike Opponent’s Ears
  52. Left Heel Kick
  53. Turn Body and Right Heel Kick
  54. Turn Body and Chop with Fist
  55. Step Forward, Parry, and Punch
  56. Seal Tight (Apparent Close Up)
  57. Embrace the Tiger and Return to the Mountain
  58. Close Form/Transition Form (Cross Hands) (End of 2nd part of form/ beginning of 3rd part)
  59. Grasp Sparrow’s Tail: Ward off, Rollback, Press, Push
  60. Single Whip
  61. Parting Wild Horse’s Mane: Right
  62. Parting Wild Horse’s Mane: Left
  63. Parting Wild Horse’s Mane: Right
  64. Grasp Sparrow’s Tail: Ward off, Rollback, Press, and Push
  65. Single Whip
  66. Fair Maiden Weaves with Shuttles: Left
  67. Fair Maiden Weaves with Shuttles: Right
  68. Fair Maiden Weaves with Shuttles: Left
  69. Fair Maiden Weaves with Shuttles: Right
  70. Grasp Sparrow’s Tail: Ward off, Rollback, Press, and Push
  71. Single Whip
  72. Wave Hands Like Clouds: Right
  73. Single Whip
  74. Snake Creeps Down: Left
  75. Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg: Right
  76. Snake Creeps Down: Right
  77. Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg: Left
  78. Step Back and Repulse the Monkey: Left
  79. Step Back and Repulse the Monkey: Right
  80. Step Back and Repulse the monkey: Left
  81. Diagonal Flying
  82. Raise Hands and Step Forward
  83. White Crane Spreads Its Wings
  84. Left Brush Knee and Push
  85. Needle and Sea Bottom
  86. Fan Through the Back
  87. Turn Body and White Snake Spits Out Its Tongue
  88. Step Forward, Parry, and Punch
  89. Grasp Sparrow’s Tail: Step Forward, Ward off, Rollback, Press, Push
  90. Single Whip
  91. Wave Hands Like Clouds: Right
  92. Single Whip
  93. High Pat On the Horse
  94. Palm Thrust
  95. Turn Body and Right Heel Kick
  96. Step Forward and Punch Down
  97. Grasp Sparrow’s Tail: Step Forward, Ward off, Rollback, Press, Push
  98. Single Whip
  99. Snake Creeps Down: Left
  100. Step Forward Seven Stars
  101. Step Back and Ride the Tiger
  102. Turn Body and Swing Over Lotus
  103. Bend the Bow and Shoot the Tiger
  104. Turn Body and Chop with Fist
  105. Step Forward, Parry, and Punch
  106. Seal Tight (Apparent Close Up)
  107. Embrace the Tiger and Return to the Mountain
  108. Cross Hands; Close Taiji

Yang Style Tai Chi 13 Saber Form
This is traditionally the first short weapon form that is taught in Yang Style Tai Chi and is usually practices with a Yang Tai Chi Saber, although it can also be practiced with a Chinese broadsword (Dao).  This form is not described in a series of postures like most forms, but instead is described by a poem that is meant to convey the feeling or spirit of the moves contained in the form.  The poem is given in 13 lines of poetry (thus it is called the 13 Saber Form) and each line of the poem corresponds to several postures of the form.

In this series I have split of the 13 lines of the form into smaller segments and I have tried to separate movements that stand alone well, to make it easier to learn.  The movements and sequence have not been altered, they have simply been split into about 25 lessons plus an intro lesson.  Each video covers one of the segments of this form and shows the movements from several different angles.  The movements in the video are labeled by the line of the poem from which they came and a number indicating the posture in that line.  For example, the first move of the form will be called, "Line 1: Move 1." The second move of the form will be called, "Line 1: Move 2."  The second move of the third line will be called, "Line 3: Move 2" etc.




For your reference, below, I have copied the Yang Tai Chi 13 Saber Poem as found on the International Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan Association's website.  (Excluding the pinyin version of each line) (http://www.yangfamilytaichi.com/about/forms/saber-13)  And I have inserted links under each line of poetry to the videos that correspond to that line.

  1. 七星跨虎交刀势 (Seven stars to Mount the tiger, Wielding saber forms.)
  2. 腾挪闪展意气扬  (Spring-and-clear to Daze-and-strike with Will and spirit raised.)
  3. 左顾右盼两分张  (Looking leftward, Gazing right, the Two components spread.)
  4. 白鹤亮翅五行掌  (White crane displays its wings to Palm the five-fold states.)
  5. 风卷荷花叶里藏  (Breezes turn the lotus bloom to Hide it in the leaves.)
  6. 玉女穿梭八方势  (Treasured maidens work their shuttles facing eightfold ways.)
  7. 三星开合自主张  (Triple stars open, close, Extending to their will.)
  8. 二起脚来打虎势  (Double legs arising come and Strike the tiger pose.)
  9. 披身斜挂鸳鸯脚  (Drape the body, hang aslant, and Kick like doting ducks)
  10. 顺水推舟鞭做篙  (With the current, push the boat, the Whip can be a pole.)
  11. 下势三合自由招  (Lower posture, Thrice combining, freedom calls to roll.)
  12. 左右分水龙门跳  (Leftward, rightward cleaving streams, the Dragon gate to crest.)
  13. 卞和携石凤还巢  (Old Bian-He retrieves his stone and Phoenix returns to nest.)






Yang Style Tai Chi Simplified 24 Form
This is a short form that is used frequently for competitions and by practitioners who do not have a lot of time to practice the long form.  It does not contain all of the postures that are found in the long form, but gives a good general sampling of the most prominent moves of the long form.

The names of these moves are as follows:
  1. Begin Taiji
  2. Parting the Horse's Mane: 3x
  3. White Crane Spreads Its Wings
  4. Brush Knee and Push: 3x
  5. Playing the Lute
  6. Step Back and Repulse the Monkey
  7. Grasp Sparrow's Tail, Ward off, Rollback, Press, Push: Left
  8. Grasp Sparrow's Tail, Ward off, Rollback, Press, Push: Right
  9. Single Whip
  10. Wave Hands Like Clouds
  11. Single Whip
  12. High Pat on The Horse
  13. Right Heel Kick
  14. Twin Fists Strike Opponent's Ears
  15. Left Heel Kick
  16. Snake Creeps Down and Rooster Stands on One Leg  ~ Left
  17. Snake Creeps Down and  Rooster Stands on One Leg ~ Right
  18. Fair maiden Weaves with Shuttles: Left and Right
  19. Needle and Sea Bottom
  20. Fan Through the Back
  21. Turn Body, Parry, Punch
  22. Seal Tight (Apparent Close Up)
  23. Cross Hands
  24. Close Taiji

Chen Syle Tai Chi 27 Postures form:
This is a short form that can be used as in introduction to Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan) for beginners or by practitioners who do not have a lot of time to practice the old frame long form (Lao Jia Yi Lu).  It is based on old frame Chen style and does not contain all of the postures that are found in the old frame long form, but it does gives a good general sampling of the most prominent moves of the long form.  This form was created by my master and the head master of the academy, at which I trained in China.  Therefore, it is a special form that you will not see performed often in competitions.
  1. Begin Taiji (Tai Ji Qi Shi)
  2. Buddha's Warrior Attendant Leaves the Temple (Jin Gung Chu Miao)
  3. Lazily Tying Coat (Lan Zha Yi)
  4. Buddha’s Warrior Attendant Pounds the Mortar (Jin Gung Dao Dui)
  5. White Crane Spreads Wings (Bai He Liang Chi)
  6. Diagonal Posture (Xie Xing)
  7. Brushing Knees (Lou Xi)
  8. Step to Both Sides (Ao Bu)
  9. Cover Hand Thrust Punch: Left (Yan Shou GongQuan)
  10. Double Pushing Hands (Shuang Tui Shou)
  11. Stepping Back and Wrapping Upper Arms (Dao JuanGong)
  12. Turn Back Quickly (Shan Tong Bei) (Flashing Turnto Back)
  13. Cover Hand Thrust Punch (Yan Shou Gong Quan)
  14. Six Sealing Four Closing (Liu Feng Shi Bi)
  15. Single Whip (Dan Bian)
  16. Cloud Hands (Yun Shou)
  17. High Pat on Horse (Gao Tan Ma)
  18. Right Heel Kick (Zuo Deng Yi Gen)
  19. Left Heel Kick (You Deng Yi Gen)
  20. Parting the Horse’s Mane (Ye Ma Fen Zhong)
  21. Dragon Rolling Downward (Que Di Long)
  22. Step Forward to Seven Stars (Shang Bu Qi Xing)
  23. Step Back to Ride the Tiger (Xia Bu Kua Hu)
  24. Turn Back and Wave Double Lotus (Zhuan ShenShuang Bai Lian)
  25. Cannon Right in Front (Dang Tou Pao)
  26. Buddha’s Warrior Attendant Pounds the Mortar(Jin Gung Dao Dui)
  27. Close Taji Form (Tai Ji Shou Si)