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Tai Ji Chuen:  The characters mean Supreme Ultimate (principle of Yin and Yang) Fist.

Romanized:  Wade Giles  -  T’ai Chi Ch’uan

                    Pin Yin        -  Tai Ji Quan

                    also (incorrectly) popularly known as - Tai Chi.


These phonetics are for Mandarin dialect. In the Cantonese dialect it is pronounced Tai Gik Kuen.


Ba Gua Zhang: The characters mean Eight Trigram Palms. The eight trigrams are representations of yin and yang taken in combinations of three. The eight trigrams are put together to create the hexagrams of the I Jing (Book of Changes). It is also written Pa Kua Chang.


Wing Chun: the characters mean Song of or Eternal Springtime. In as such it is a woman’s name. In Mandarin it is pronounced Yung Chun.


Hsing-I: the characters mean mind(will) and shape(form). In Pin Yin it is written Xing I


Escrima: the term means skirmish in Spanish. This is a regional term for Philippine martial arts. Other regional terms for Philippine martial arts are Kali and Arnis. Escrima / Kali / Arnis encompasses a variety of styles and methodologies native to the Philippine Islands, and show a variety of influences from Indonesia, China, Japan, and Europe. The Philippine martial arts of Escriima / Kali / Arnis are primarily focused on weapons use, but also include open hand technique.


Chi Gung: the term is made up of characters that mean air/breath/gas and effort/work I loosely translate it to mean aerobic exercise for health and meditative purposes. This is a whole class of exercises of which there are many different routines and approaches. Most people practice Tai Ji Chuen as a form of Chi Gung. This is what is meant by the common usage of the term Tai Chi. This sort of exercise has its roots in Chinese traditional medicine. 


Romanized:    Wade Giles   -  Ch’ih Gung

                      Pin Yin         -  Qi Gong


Kung Fu: the term actually means any skill developed over time, but because of Bruce Lee, movies, etc. it has a worldwide connotation of Chinese martial art. Kung Fu is the Cantonese pronunciation, in Mandarin it is Gung (Gong) Fu. The term Chuen Fa (Ch’uan Fa in W-G) means a method of the fist. Wu Shu means martial art. The term is used in Communist China, but there it is a demonstration and performance art intended to be an Olympic sport rather than a fighting method. Kuo Shou means national art and is used to designate Chinese martial arts in Taiwan.


Transliterating Characters

What most people do not realize is that there are three ways to Romanize Chinese Characters. They each have their own conventions. The three systems are Wade-Giles, Yale, and Pin Yin. Wade-Giles dates to the 18th Century CE and uses an apostrophe to distinguish between phonemes. Pin Yin is the method developed by the Communist Peoples Republic of China. Yale was developed in the 1930’s at Yale University for the U.S. Army and is not commonly used anymore. Depending on which method used there are three differing ways to transliterate Chinese characters. Very often people will mix the conventions in conversation or an article, book, etc unwittingly.

Here are some relevant phonemes and their representations (Mandarin dialect).


Ch phoneme    =  Ch’ (Wade-Giles), Q (Pin Yin)

J phoneme       =  Ch (Wade-Giles), J (Pin Yin)


T phoneme      =  T’ (Wade-Giles), T (Pin Yin)

D phoneme   =  T (Wade-Giles), D (Pin Yin)