Chinese Martial Arts Terminology


It is very likely that as you search your way through the minefield of information that is available in the field of Taijiquan, Qigong and Chinese Martial Arts that you will have encountered differing conventions on how words are written and spelt. Don’t let these things disturb or upset you, they are simpler that you may first imagine.


Understanding Chinese Martial Arts Terminology: Essentially the Chinese language, which is depicted in images or characters which have their origins in representing the things they refer to in pictorial images, proved difficult for non-Chinese to understand. Initially the convention was the “Wade-Gillis” system but subsequently we (the non-Chinese) have adopted the “Pinyin” systerm which adopts a less phonetic approach but is closer to how the native Chinese speaker would say the various words.

Understanding Chinese Martial Arts Terminology

Below is a basic table which outlines the three systems of representing the various terms of Chinese Martial Arts along with some key relative subjects:

Pinyin                                         Wade-Giles                        English

Baguaquan                                 Pa Kua Ch’uan                   8-Diagrams Boxing

Baguazhang                                Pa Kua Chang                   8-Diagrams Palms

Baihequan                                   Pai Ho Ch’uan                   White Crane Boxing

Baimeiquan                                 Pai Mei Ch’uan                 White Eyebrow Boxing

Beihouquan                                Pei Hou Ch’uan                 Northern Monkey Boxing

Beiquan                                       Pei Ch’uan                          Northern Boxing

Cailifoquan                                 Ts’ai Li Fo Ch’uan               Choi Lee Fut Boxing

Cangquan                                   Ts’ang Ch’uan                     Hidden Boxing

Chanquan                                   Ch’ang Ch’uan                    Long Boxing

Chaquan                                     Ch’a Ch’uan                         Insert Boxing

Chaquan                                     Ch’a Ch’uan                         Cha Boxing, Crossing Boxing

Chengpai Baguazhang             Ch’en P’ai Pa Kua                Chen Style Baguazhang

Chengshi Baguazhang             Ch’en Shih Pa Kua               Chen Style Baguazhang

Chenshi Jianghua                      Ch’en Shih Chiang               Simplified Chen Style

Chenshi Laojia                           Ch’en Shih Lao                     Chia Old-Frame Chen

Chenshi Xinjia                            Ch’en Shih Hsin                   New-Frame Chen

Dachengquan                            Ta Ch’en Ch’uan                  Great Achievement Boxing

Damo                                          Tamo                                     Bodhidharma

Dao                                              Tao                                         The Way

Daodejing                                   Tao Te Ching                        The Class Way of Virtue

Daojiao                                        Tao Chiao                             Daoism

Dashenquan                               Ta Shen Ch’uan                   Great Monkey Boxing

Duanquan                                   Tuan Ch’uan                        Short Boxing

Emeishan                                    E Mei Shan                           Emei Mountain

Feihequan                                   Fei Ho Ch’uan                      Flying Crane Boxing

Fohanquan                                 Fo Han Ch’uan                     Buddhist Monk Boxing

Fujian                                           Fukien                                   Fujian Province

Fushi Taijiquan                           Fu Shih T’ai Chi                    Fu Style Taijiquan

Fuzhou                                        Fuchou                                  Capital of Fuijan Province

Gongfu                                        Kung Fu                                Work, Accomplishment

Gouquan                                    Kou Ch’uan                           Dog Boxing

Guangdong                                Kuantong                              Guangdong Province

Guangzhou                                 Kuangchou                          Canton

Guoshu                                        Kui Shu                                National Art

Hebeipai Xingyiquan                 Ho Pei P’ai Hsing I              Hebei Style Form-Will Boxing

Heihuquan                                  Hei Hu Ch’uan                    Black Tiger Boxing

Jiequandao                                 Ch’eh Ch’uan Tao                Jeet Kune Do (Way of the Intercepting Fist)

Jiulong                                         Chiulung                              9 Dragons, Kowloon

Lao Zi                                           Loa Tsu                                Lao Tse (Author of the Daodejing)

Liuhe Bafaquan                         Lie Ho Pa Fa Ch’uan           6 Harmonies- 8 Methods Boxing

Longxingquan                           Lung Hsing Ch’uan              Dragon Boxing

Luohanquan                               Luo Han Ch’uan                 Arhat (Monk) Boxing

Meihuaquan                               Mei Hua Ch’uan                 Plum Blossom Boxing

Mizongquan                                Mi Tsung Ch’uan                Secret founder Boxing

Nanquan                                      Nan Ch’uan                        Southern Boxing

Neijia                                             Nei Ch’a                              Internal School, Internal Arts

Pangxiequan                                P’ang Hsieh Ch’uan           Crab Boxing

Qigong                                          Ch’i Kung                             Energy work/Exercise

Qinna                                            Ch’in Na                              Grappling, Capture

Qixing Tanglangquan                 Ch’i Hsing T’ang                 7-Stars (Praying) Mantis

Quan                                             Ch’uan                                 Fist/Boxing

Quanfa                                         Ch’uan Fa                            Fist Way

Quanshu                                      Ch’uan Shu                         Fist Art

Shuaijiao                                      Shuai Chiao                        Wrestling

Sunshi Taijiquan                         Sun Shih T’ai Chi                Sun Style Taijiquan

Taijiquan                                      T’ai Chi Ch’uan                   Grand Ultimate Boxing

Tanglangquan                             T’ang Lang Ch’uan             (Praying) Mantis Boxing

Waijia                                            Wai Chia                             External School, External Arts

Wudangshan                               Wu Tang Shan                   Wudang Mountain

Wugong                                        Wu Kung                            War Work, Martial Work

Wushi Taijiquan                          Wu Shih T’ai Chi                Wu Style Taijiquan

Wushu                                          Wu Shu                               War Art, Martial Art

Wuyi                                              Wu I                                     Martial Art Skill

Xianggang                                   Hsiang Kang                        Fragrant Harbor, Hong Kong

Xingyiquan                                  Hsing I Ch’uan                    Element-Will Boxing

Xinyiquan                                    Hsin I Ch’uan                      Heart-Will Boxing

Yangshi Taijiquan                      Yang Shih T’ai Chi               Yang Style Taijiquan

Yijing                                            I Ching                                  Book of Changes (Zhouyi)

Yingxingquan                             Ying Hsing Ch’uan               Eagle Boxing

Yingzhao Fanziquan                  Ying Chao Fan Tzu              Eagle-Talon Continuous Attack Boxing

Yiquan                                         I Ch’uan                                 Mind Boxing, Will Boxing

Yongchunquan                          Yung Ch’un Ch’uan              Eternal Spring Boxing, Wing Chun

Zhongguo                                   Chung Kuo                            Central Kingdom, China

Zhonghua                                   Chung Hua                            China

Zhouyi                                         Chou I                                     Book of Changes (Yijing)

Zirangquan                                 Tzu Jang Ch’uan                    Natural Boxing

Zuibaxianquan                           Tsui Pa Hsien                        Drunken 8 Immortals Boxing

Zuiquan                                       Tsui Ch’uan                           Drunken Boxing

Author: Ronnie Robinson

Images: Ronnie Robinson