Terminology

  • Abdominal Breathing - the type of breathing for tai chi practice. With the ‘in’ breath, the belly expands. This breathing contracts the diaphragm, air enters the lungs but the chest does not rise. Also known as ‘diaphragmatic breathing’ it is a natural and relaxed form of breathing seen in all mammals.

  • An - a downward push. One of the Eight Energies, and is demonstrated in Grasp Peacock’s Tail.

  • Ba Duan Jin - Eight Pieces of Brocade Qi Gong set. Originally consisting of twelve exercises, it was shortened to eight movements. Its purpose to to cultivate silk-like movements.

  • Bagua - Eight Trigrams, literally meaning ‘Eight Divinations’, derived from yin and yang. The eight trigrams correspond to the eight basic techniques of Peng, Lu, Ji, An, Cai, Lie, Zhou and Kao.

  • Bai Hui - The Hundred Convergences (or Meetings) Bai meaning one hundred, Hui meaning meeting place and is a pressure point on the crown of the head, in line with the apex of the ears. It is the point that should be ‘suspended from the crown’ with a string.

  • Beijing 24 - developed from the Long Form in 1956, Beijing 24 was the result the Chinese Sports Committee asking four Tai Chi teachers - Chu Guiting, Cai Longyun, Fu Zhongwen, and Zhang Yu - to create a simplified form - one that the masses could learn and practice. This form was promoted by the People's Republic of China for general exercise, and was also taught to internees in Communist re-education camps.

  • Bow Stance - one of the tai chi stances, with the front leg carrying 70% of weight. Feet are shoulder width apart, with the back foot at 45 degrees.

  • Bubbling Well - or Bubbling Spring (Yong Quan) is a pressure point in the foot. It is located on the sole of each foot where the kidney meridian emerges. Bubbling Spring is the only acu-point on the sole of the foot, the lowest and most yin part of the body which is in continual contact with the yin energy of the earth.  The point lies in the depression that appears when the toes are curled. Located between the second and third toes, about one third of the distance between the base of the second toe and the heel.

  • Cai (Tsai) - to pluck or grab. One of the Eight Energies. It includes a pull down energy to unbalance the opponent.

  • Cat Stance (Empty Cat Stance) - one of the tai chi stances, narrower than Bow Stance. The back leg, foot at 45 degrees, has 90% weight. The front foot is ready to attack with a kick if necessary.

  • Chen Style Tai Chi - the oldest of the tai chi families, developed by Chen Wangting (1580 - 1660)

  • Chi (Qi) - vital energy which circulates in all living things. It is an invisible and immaterial force but is shown in manifestations - tingling in the fingers, a certain ‘energy’ within.

  • Dantian (Dantien) (‘Elixir Field’) - energy centres in the body important in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qi Gong and Tai Chi. The three Dantians store and generate Qi.

  • Dantian Breathing - deep breathing.

  • Dantian Qi - Qi that is stored in the lower dantian.

  • Double Weighted - when weight is equally distributed between the legs, not common in tai chi practice as ‘full’ and ‘empty’ needs to be distinguishable.

  • Eight Extraordinary Energies - represent the body’s deepest level of energetic structuring.

  • Fajin (Fa Chin) - a tai chi technique to issue explosive power or energy.

  • Gong - an achievement or skill from effort, practice, hard work, perseverance and patience.

  • Horse Riding Stance - Legs are wide, knees bent and back straight, tailbone tucked in. Weight is distributed evenly through the legs.  Feet face forward.

  • Huan - slow, relaxed.

  • Ji - to press or squeeze. One of the Eight Energies and is demonstrated in Grasp Peacock’s Tail.

  • Jian - straight sword OR strong, solid, unyielding

  • Jin (Chin) - integrated strength or sensitivity, internal force, power or kinetic energy. Tai Chi cultivates Jin rather than Li (muscular strength) or crude strength.

  • Jing Essence - the most dense physical matter and is stored in the kidneys. Jing, Qi and Shen are considered the Three Treasures

  • Jing Qi - Essence Qi. Qi that has been converted from Jing

  • Jing Shen - spirit, vigour, vitality and/or drive

  • Kao - shoulder strike or bump. One of the Eight Energies.

  • Kua - groin, hip crease. It is the area of the natural fold which stretches up diagonally, near the hip flexor.

  • Lao Gong - pressure point in the palm, also known as the Palace of Toil.

  • Li - muscular power, strength or force

  • Lie - to split, break open. One of the Eight Energies. It is demonstrated in Part Wild Horse’s Mane

  • Lineage - an uninterrupted line of masters and worthy students who pass on specific knowledge to the next generation. A true lineage can be traced back to the creator of a specific tai chi style or martial art.

  • Lu - rollback or absorbing, leading the opponent’s attack past oneself. One of the Eight Energies and is demonstrated in Grasp Peacock’s Tail.

  • Martial Arts - various systems developed for fighting, usually without weapons. Tai Chi postures are based on the Chinese martial art of kungfu. Tai Chi is known as an ‘internal’ martial art. It uses the principle of the soft over the hard and the use of one’s internal energy over external muscle.

  • Meditation - training the mind to experience inner stillness. Tai Chi is often referred to as ‘standing meditation’ or ‘moving meditation’.

  • Meridians - pathways through which Qi circulates around the body. Also known as ‘vessels’ or ‘channel’s.

  • Mindfulness - being in the present moment, bringing focus to the body, the breathing, the awareness of ‘being’, to the energies around and within us. Living ‘mindfully’ means to accept without judgement, to be curious, open and accepting.

  • Ming Men (Gate of Life) - pressure point, located approximately opposite the navel, between the kidneys, at the level of the second lumbar vertebrae. 

  • Naturalism - a Taoist concept the longevity and happiness are achieved by following the soft, yielding and constantly changing ways of nature.

  • Nei Gong (Inner Work) - the methods of breathing, meditation and spiritual practice associated with Taoism and Chinese martial arts. Qi Gong is a form of non-martial Nei Gong and Tai Chi is a form of martial Nei Gong.

  • Peng (pronounced ‘Pong’) - Ward Off. One of the Eight Energies and is demonstrated in Grasp Peacock’s Tail.

  • Peng Jin - expansive energy, like a balloon being inflated

  • Push Hands - a partner (or solo) technique that allows students to learn how to respond to external stimuli. Among other things, training with a partner allows a student to develop listening power (ting jing), the sensitivity to feel the direction and strength of a partner's intention.

  • Qi (Chi) - vital energy which circulates in all living things. It is an invisible and immaterial force but is shown in manifestations - tingling in the fingers, a certain ‘energy’ within.

  • Qi Gong (energy work) - meaning cultivation of energy. Primarily practised to calm the mind, to relax and to restore energy. Qi Gong is generally not based on martial arts. Exercises are repeated a number of times. There are a number of different types of Qi Gong: Health or Medical Qi Gong, Vitality or Longevity Qi Gong, Intellectual Qi Gong, Martial or Warrior Qi Gong and Spiritual Qi Gong. Qi Gong can consist of individual exercises, or a series of set exercises. Examples of individual Qi Gong exercises: Rooster Crowing in the Morning, Birds Flying Home, Separating Heaven and Earth, The Archer, Warrior Punch. Examples of a set of Qi Gong exercises: Shibashi, Daoyin Yangshen Gong, Baduanjin (Eight Pieces of Brocade), Five Animal Frolics.

  • Rooting - maintaining connection to the ground while redirecting or neutralising an incoming force. ‘Sinking’ the body, the energy into the earth, like roots from a tree growing strong to maintain stability.

  • Shaolinquan - Chinese martial art originating from Shaolin Temple

  • Shaolin Temple - a Chan Buddhist monastery in China, in the Henan Province. Now well known for its martial arts training, it was established more than 1500 years ago.

  • Shen - spirit energy, often translated as ‘the soul’, said to reside in the Upper Dantian.

  • Shibashi - literally meaning ‘eighteen’, these are sets of exercises, to be completed in a particular order. Originally devised in 1979 by Lin Hou Sheng. There are now three Shibashi sets, developed over the last few years.

  • Silk Reeling - a set of  internal (neigong) movement principles expressed in traditional styles of tai chi chuan.

  • Six Harmonies - comprising three external harmonies that describe the alignment of the body during tai chi practice and three internal harmonies that allow the flow and cultivation of energy.

  • Song - completely relaxed, physically and mentally. Releasing tension in mind and body. To ‘song’ the joints is to open and lengthen. Song helps the flow of Qi, as the meridians are open and unobstructed.

  • Sun Style - a style of tai chi created by the Sun Lutang (1860 - 1933). It is one of the youngest tai chi styles.

  • Tai Chi (Taiji, T’ai Chi) - an internal form of martial arts. The shortened form of ‘Tai Chi Chuan’. Tai Chi forms are based on a number of postures, linked with transitions, creating flowing movements. Often referred to as Standing Meditation, or Moving Meditation.

  • Tai Chi Chuan (Tai ji quan, or T'ai chi ch'üan) - literally meaning ‘Supreme Ultimate Fist’.

  • Tai Chi Form - a set of postures and transitions performed without pause, creating a sense of flow and calm.

  • Tai Chi Style - the origins of the tai chi form, whether it is Yang Style, Chen Style, Wu Style or Sun Style. There are now many hybrid styles, borrowing postures and concepts from a variety of tai chi families.

  • Tao (Dao) - literally meaning ‘The Way’ or ‘The Path’.

  • Taoism - a philosophical or spiritual belief that ties nature and all living things together. It emphasises simplicity, a natural order of things and being one with nature, valuing harmony, balance and peace.

  • Tao Te Ching - a Chinese classic, said to be the cornerstone of Taoism and written by Lao-Tzu (Laozi).

  • TCM - Traditional Chinese Medicine. It focusses on regulating Qi and includes therapies such as acupuncture, herbalism, massage and Qi Gong.

  • Three Treasures - refers to Jing, Qi and Shen, said to be the essential energies sustaining human life. Jing essence is refined, perfected. Qi is vitality, energy or force. Shen is spirit or soul.

  • Ting Jin - the ability to feel the energy of another person, particularly in Push Hands.

  • Triple Burner (Triple Heater) - Not a physical entity, Triple Burner comprises the Upper Burner, is located above the diaphragm, and includes heart and lungs, the Middle Burner, is located between the navel and the diaphragm and includes the stomach and spleen. The Lower Burner is located below the navel, and it includes the liver, kidneys, large intestine, small intestine and bladder. For more information, go to Shen-Nong.com

  • Vessel - another name for meridian

  • Ward Off (Peng) - One of the Eight Energies and is demonstrated in Grasp Peacock’s Tail.

  • World Tai Chi and Qi Gong Day - celebrating the practice of tai chi and Qi Gong around the world, from 10:00 - 12:00 on the last Saturday in April.

  • Wuji - the beginning of the tai chi form. Emptiness, before substantial.

  • Wudang Mountains - Home to Taoist temples and monasteries and believed to be the birth place of tai chi

  • Wu/Hao Style - a style of tai chi created by Wu Yuxiang (1812 - 1880). Wu Yuxiang was a student of Yang Luchan.

  • Wu Style - a style of tai chi created by Wu Jianquan (Chien-Chuan) (1870 - 1942), whose father was a student of the Yang family.

  • Wushu - literally meaning ‘martial technique’ and is divided into ‘External’ (hard) and ‘Internal’ (soft) form of training.

  • Wuwei - literally meaning ‘non-action’. Uncontrived, simple, natural. The essence of Taosim.

  • Yang - one half of the tai chi symbol, Yin and Yang. Denoted by the white tear drop.

  • Yang Style - a style of tai chi founded by Yang Luchan (Yang Fu Kui) (1799 - 1872) - learning the art from Chen Changzing

  • Yi - intention or thought. The mind (Yi) directs the movement (Qi).

  • Yin - second half of the tai chi symbol, Yin and Yang. Denoted by the black tear drop.

  • Ying Gong - hard Qi Gong.

  • Zhang Sanfeng (Chan San Feng) - Chinese Taoist who is said to be the creator of tai chi.

  • Zhang Zhuang - standing like a mountain, used in some Qi Qong practice.

  • Zhou - elbow strike. One of the Eight Energies.

For more terminology, search for The Taijiquan and Qi Gong Dictionary by Angelika Fritz.

ISBN 13:978-1546324102

ISBN 10:1546324100