My Taiji/Chinese Dictionary

A collection of terms learned during the study of Taiji.

Pronunciation: see Pinyin


Body Parts

  • kua (kwah) – the joint between leg and hip, at the front of the body


  • ting – “listening” (feeling movement with the hands, and generally being aware)
  • sung – relaxation


  • jing – power


  • ting jing – listening power

The Eight Gates (八門 bā mén):

P’eng (掤, py péng) – An upward circular movement, forward or backward, yielding or offsetting usually with the arms to disrupt the opponent’s centre of grav, often translated as “Ward Off.” Peng is also described more subtly as an energetic quality that should be present in every taiji movement as a part of the concept of “song” (鬆) or relaxation, providing the strength to maintain structure when pressed and still avoid tension.
(履, lǜ) – A sideways, circular yielding movement, often translated as “Roll Back.”
Chi (擠 (simpl.: 挤), jǐ) – A pressing or squeezing offset in a direction away from the body, usually done with the back of the hand or outside edge of the forearm. Chi is often translated as “Press.”
An (按, àn) – To offset with the hand, usually a slight lift up with the fingers then a push down with the palm, which can appear as a strike if done quickly. Often translated as “Push.”
Tsai (採, cǎi) – To pluck or pick downwards with the hand, especially with the fingertips or palm. The word tsai is part of the compound that means to gather, collect or pluck a tea leaf from a branch (採茶, cǎi chá). Often translated “Pluck” or “Grasp.”
Lieh (挒, liè) – Lieh means to separate, to twist or to offset with a spiral motion, often while making immobile another part of the body (such as a hand or leg) to split an opponent’s body thereby destroying posture and balance. Lieh is often translated as “Split.”
Chou (肘, zhǒu) – To strike or push with the elbow. Usually translated as “Elbow Strike” or “Elbow Stroke” or just plain “Elbow.”
K’ao (靠, kào) – To strike or push with the shoulder or upper back. The word k’ao implies leaning or inclining. Usually translated “Shoulder Strike,” “Shoulder Stroke” or “Shoulder.”

The Five Steps (五步 wǔ bù):

Chin Pu (進步 jìn bù) – Forward step.
T’ui Pu (退步 tùi bù) – Backward step.
Tsuo Ku (左顧 (simpl.: 左顾) zǔo gù) – Left step.
You P’an (右盼 yòu pàn) – Right step.
Chung Ting (中定 zhōng dìng) – The central position, balance, equilibrium. Not just the physical center, but a condition which is expected to be present at all times in the first four steps as well, associated with the concept of rooting (the stability said to be achieved by a correctly aligned, thoroughly relaxed body as a result of correct Tai Chi training). Chung ting can also be compared to the Taoist concept of moderation or the Buddhistmiddle way” as discouraging extremes of behavior, or in this case, movement. An extreme of movement, usually characterized as leaning to one side or the other, destroys a practitioner’s balance and enables defeat.

Resources – Drills (push hands page)
The 13 Postures are peng (ward-off), lu (roll-back), ji (press), an (push), cai (pull-down), lie (split), jou (elbow), kao (shoulder stroke), jin (advance), tui (retreat), gu (look left), pan (look right) and ding (central equilibrium).

Simplified Chen Style Tai Chi Set” (bold=more descriptive terms than I currently have)
1. Preparing Form
2. Buddha’s Warrior Pounds Mortar
3 .Lazy about Tying Coat
4. White Crane Spreads its Wings
5. Hook and Right Palm Strikes
6. Knee lift Double Palm Push
7. Wade Forward, Palm Strike to Both Sides
8. Fist of Covering Hand & Arm
9. Double Push Hand
10. Punch At Elbow
11. Three Steps Back
12. Change Palms Three Times
13. Part the Wild Horse’s Mane
14. Standing on One Leg
15. Double Palm Push to The Right Side
16. Single Whip
17. Cloud Hands
18. High Pat On Horse
19. Kick with Right & Left Leg
20. Kick With Right Heel
21. Lean With Back, Elbow Strike
22. Green Dragon Goes Out of Water
23. Monkey Offering Fruit
24. Palm Push to The Left
25. Single Whip
26. Double Leg Stump
27. Jump Turn and Palm Strike
28. Back Fist Strike
29. The Dragon On the Ground, Drop Stance
30. Step Forward With 7 Stars, Cross Block
31. Step Back and Mount The Tiger
32. Turn Body and Wave Lotus Kick
33. Cannon Fist
34. Buddha’s Warrior Pounds Mortar
35. Closing Form

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