In this section you will find traditional Chinese ideogrammes about Martial Arts and Chinese philosophy, their official transcriptions into pinyin and their translations.
Thank you to Jean Terrière, sinologist, interpreter and Federal Trainer at the French Wushu Federation, without whom this article would never have seen the light of day.
山水 ShanShui is a classical subject of Chinese painting. In Chinese, the word ‘landscape’ is made up of two characters :
- the "Shan" character 山 meaning mountain, the Yang part, which represents the stable element, vigour, rest, the backbone of the world, it is the pathway to heaven.
- the "Shui" character 水 meaning the Yin part, which represents, living running water which brings nutrients the earth.
The Mountain opposes Water, as the vertical the horizontal. It is the demonstration of Yin and Yang, like night and day, empty and full and these principles are the basics of Tai Chi Chuan.
"Be still like a mountain and move like the water in a river. Through practice, your legs will develop roots and you will be able to stand as still as a mountain. One hand can turn into ten hands, ten hands into thousands, like water surging downstream in a river, it can wash away everything in its way”
Grand Master Tung Ying Jie (1897-1961)
The mountain is not uniquely Yang in nature and Water is not uniquely Yin. From mist and clouds, considered to be emptiness, shapes emerge, just as the silence in music leaves space for the note’s resonance to be heard. The empty reveals the full and sound gives form to silence, as the mist and clouds allow Water and the Mountain to evolve in their opposites : Yin and Yang.
The image of the Mountain always represents the active force Yang. The image of Water always represents the receptive gentleness Yin, which will evolve and become its opposite.
The change in movement is the perpetual exchange of Yin and Yang, from emptiness to fullness.
Mist and silence, therefore, become places of transformation. Here you find the circular image of Tai Chi, the symbol of Yin and Yang which finds its balance in a never-ending movement of transformation.
陰 Yin (simplified type 阴)
Yin corresponds to that which cannot be seen :darkness, shadow, night, humidity, something hidden, secret, the earth, the cold, the North, Winter. From a martial point of view, it is breathing in, softness, suppleness, defence, closure, stepping back, shrinking, absorbing and stocking…
陽 Yang (simplified type 阳)
Yang corresponds to that which can be seen: the light, the day, the sun, the fire, the heat, the sky, the South, the Summer …
From a martial point of view, it is breathing out, hardness, rigidity, throwing, straightening up, repelling, expressing…
The Chinese thought pattern is based on complementary duality yin/yang which rules the universe. and stems from observing nature, birds, animals, Heaven and Earth.
Yin and Yang engender everthing that exists in the world. There is no yin without yang and no yang without yin, nor night without day, nor summer without winter. The Chinese Martial Arts salute is a sign of recognition, of politeness but also the symbol representing the union of Yin, left hand open and Yang, right hand a closed fist.
The way, the path, the road, the way things work. The Tao or Dao, is a Chinese philosophical term (pronounced dō in Japanese).
It is often translated as « the principle ». By extension, a large number of disciplines and arts or oriental crafts have the word « dao » as a suffix, «the art of » : "cha dao", the art of tea, "kongshoudao" or "karaté-do", "the art of the empty hand".
The term Tao can also denote the parth of the mercenaries or the warriors, the wushutao, better know by its Japanese name, bushido. In Japan it is also the « path » to follow to master an art which leads to unity.
The same ideogramme, (dō), is generally used as a suffix for Japanese Martial Art names: karatedō, aikidō, kendō, jūdō, budō, iaidō, kyūdō, etc., but also for the kadō « path of flowers », another name for ikebana, the art of floral arrangement, or the shodō « path of writing », Japanese calligraphy.
In Chinese Martial Arts a tao is a sequence of movements, the way leading to the mastering of the art. In Chinese, this type of exercise is also called the tao lu.
氣 Qi (simplified type 气)
It is the breath of life which works and circulates according to the binary rhythm : inhale, exhale. This is what makes living beings tick and which gives shape to all things and all beings.. There is no demarcation between human beings and their environment. The breath is one, neither fixed, nor static, it circulates permanently, it is the vital energy which enlivens the whole universe. It is not necessarily visible, it can be a person’s temperament, the atmosphere of a place, of work of art…
谭添 Tan Tien
Tan Tien in Chinese or Hara in Japanese. One of the 3 energy centres of the body. It is also called the « field of cinnabar » or the « field of the elixir of life ». The 3 centres are situated behind and under the navel for the Tan Tien and, for the 2 others, behind the celiac plexus and between the eyebrows.
The hip or, more precisely, the coxofemoral joint as well as the sacroiliac
推手 Tuishou Push Hands.
Exercise for two, push hands, face to face. One of the basic exercises est the application of the 4 martial principles of Tai Chi Chuan called : 棚 péng ward off, 擄/掳 lǔ pull, 挤 jǐ press, 按 àn push
Big, extrême, supreme
The pinnacle, the summit, the apogee, the highest degree, the ridge tile which holds up the building
the fist, the clenched hand, boxing.
Cyclical principle of man between heaven and earth. It is represented buy the symbol opposite. Symbol of yin and yang.
太極拳 Tai Chi Chuan
Tai-Chi-Chuan (Larousse), Taï-Chi-Chuan ou Taï-Chi (flammarion), (erroneous transcription de T'ai Chi Ch'uan ou bien taiji quan (太極拳, simplified type 太极拳, pinyin : tàijí quán) is an Internal Chinese Martial Art. Translated as « boxing of the supreme pinnacle » or « shadow-boxing ». Another common translation is « eternal youth boxing », the supreme pinnacle could be translated less literally by « immortailty » (the supreme goal of the taoists). It is a Chinese Martial Art (Wushu) belonging to the group of internal styles, in the same way as Hsing, I Ch'uan et le Bagua zhang.
Westerners often regard Tai Chi Chuan as a sort of « gymnastics ». It is a Martial Art in the sense that :
- the movements are inherited from the martial tradition (dodges, parries, punches, grips…).
- the movements were worked on by the warriors to develop different essential qualities for combat such as stability, composure, concentration ...
- Apart from the first sequence of slow movements which are taught to beginners, there are other faster set of movements, forms with arms, knife, sword, staffs, perch…..armed duels, push hand duels as well as combats in the practice of tuishou.
杨氏太极拳董Tai Chi Chuan Yang Style Tung
Its our Tai Chi school, Yang Style, Tung Family.
Tha Master of our school is Master Tung Kai Ying.
Sacred buddhist mountain which groups together famous Chinese monasteries renowned for their association of Chan Buddhism with the Martial Arts, Shaolin quan.
Between 618andt 907, under the Tang Dynasty, in Shaolin, martial techniques flourished
The One, the Unity.
At the beginning everything was One.
Heaven and Earth were one, then a titan called Pengu separated them which made two, the duality
Two as Heaven and Earth or as the Yin and Yang principle which controls the Universe
Three is the trio of Man between Heaven and Earth
work, merit, effort, exercise, discipline.
famille, maison, école.
family, home, school.
內家 Nei jia
外家 Wai jia
The pictogramme « wu » represents a « halberd ». The idea is of a guardian’s arm.
It prevents thieves or demons from entering and harming contents or the physical integrity of the inhabitants (aggression, illness). The ideogramme has taken on a more general meaning. It denotes the act of mobilising the means required for preservation of one’s life, one’s belongings or those of a State.
art, the term « art » is to be understood in the old way, he ( the craftsman) who acquired a trade through a long and rigourous apprenticeship.)
Chinese Martial Art comprising the internal school Nei jia.
This school comprises, Tai Chi Chuan, Pa Kua Chuan, Hsing I Chuan.
The external school Wai Jia comprises le Bai He Quan, le Shaolin Quan.
听 Ting, 转 Zhuan, Na, Fa
Ting, to listen with one’s body not with one’ ears. Zhuan, to turn, to deflect ; Na, to master, to control, then Fa to express.
4 principles Tai Chi Chuan practice. You can turn if you have the ability to listen, you can express if you have the ability to master.
"Qi Gen Zai Jiao, Fa Yu Tui, Zhu Zai Yu Yao, Xing Yu Shou Zhi"
extracts from "The Treaty on Taiji quan" by Zhang Sanfeng.
Translation: "Energy takes root in the feet, manifests itself in the legs, is controlled by the waist and takes form in the hands ».
"This principle is about the control of energy by the waste.
This reference to energy is an allusion to the lower Tantien, situated in the waist where energy is transformed.
Beyond energy, the notion of control by the waist applies to all the gestures of the Tai Chi Chuan Form, as well as to those of daily life, that is to say the general mechanics of the body
If you have difficulty with a movement, check first to see if the problem is not coming from the waist.
Point of convergence of all the lines of force running through the body, the waist is the motor of all gestures.
"Wei Lu Zhong Zheng Shen Guan Ding"
Wei: tail, Lu: door, Wei lu: coccyx
Zhong: centre, Zheng: right, correct Zhongzheng: right, just, impartial
Shen: spiritual force, Guan: enter, Ding: top of the head.
"Get the coccyx in line so that energy flows up to the top of the head". Translation by Master WANG.
Correctly centre the extremity of the door.
However, at the extremity of the coccyx is the Hui Yin point (meeting of Yin), which normally should be vertical to the Bai Hui point (the 100 meetings) at the top of the head.
The axis in question is the line connecting Bai Hui and Hui Yin, an axis which is vertical in the practice of Tai Chi Chuan.