Basic Chinese Terminology for Students of Chinese Kung Fu

While there's certainly a learning curve to learning Chinese Kung Fu (particularly the internal arts), it can also be a bit challenging for those of us that cannot speak directly to our Shifu without an interpreter. But, as Master Hu is always making efforts to speak with us in English, we need to spend a minute to try and speak with him. The following is (hopefully) the first in a series of posts about Chinese terminology that is commonly used in kung fu practice. I am using the commonly-employed Pinyin system here (a Romanization of the Chinese character system).

Punches:
1. Chopping Fist: pǐ quán 劈拳
    associated organ: lung, fèi 肺
    associated element: metal, jīn 金

2. Drilling Fist: zuān quán 钻拳
    associated organ: kidneys, shèn 肾
    associated element: water, shuǐ 水

3. Crushing Fist: bēng quán 崩拳
    associated organ: liver, gān 肝
    associated element: wood, mù 木

4. Cannon Fist: pào quán 炮拳
    associated organ: heart, xīn 心
    associated element: fire, huǒ 火

5. Crossing Fist: héng quán 横拳
    associated organ: spleen, pí 脾
    associated element: earth, tǔ 土

Body parts:
Head: tóu 头
Nose: bí zi 鼻子
Mouth: kǒu 口
Ear: ěr 耳
Shoulder: jiān 肩
Back: bèi 背
Waist: yāo 腰
Abdomen: dù zi 肚子
Crotch/inquinal area/thigh: kuà 胯
Knee: xī gài 膝盖
Foot: jiǎo 脚

If you need help with pronunciation of the 5 tones employed in Mandarin, I highly recommend checking out the DianHua app, which has a (paid) add-on that provides audio of each word, as well as ChinesePod.com (no, I'm not paid by either of them—I just like their practical approach to learning Mandarin). And while the above list is based off of our experience of trying to understand our teacher, I would highly recommend visiting the website of Andrea Falk, who has done a great service to the English speaking kung fu community by putting together her own set of Chinese-English dictionaries. Big thanks!

—J. Matthew Brand, L.Ac.