Kicks and Punches

More Taijiese: vocabulary for blows with the hands and feet. These terms are good to know both for understanding the names of movements and for taking instruction in Chinese. Mostly, these terms are useful for bare-hand forms.

脚     Quán     Fist

quan

Sun-style punch by Gao Jiamin, Ban Lan Chui (73-step)

Quan (pronounced like chuan) means fist, but it also refers to bare-hand martial arts, often translated as boxing. In English, the Chinese martial arts—Kung fu, Tai Chi—used to be called Chinese boxing. Taijiquan (sometimes written as Tai Chi Chuan) is bare-hand Tai Chi (no weapons), and its techniques involve the use of hands and feet to block and strike.

抱拳   Bào quán      Clench the fists

 

This phrase, bao quan, in everyday Chinese means to cup one hand around the other as a gesture of respect. Bao means embrace. But in the context of the martial arts, bao quan means to make fists, a gesture more threatening or defensive than polite.

捶 Chuí              Beat, hammer

Quan (fist) may be used to refer to a punch, but Chui is the more common word for a blow with the fist. There are several variations on the punch.

撇身捶       Piē shēn chuí               Fist across the body

Pie means cast away, or fling aside. Shen means body. In Tai Chi, the phrase pie shen chui refers to a backhand punch. Pie shen chui is sometimes (strangely!) translated as “draping” the fist across the body.  In the older forms, the back fist is sometimes called pie shen quan.

栽锤 Zāi chuí  Punch down

Zai means insert, literally, or plant in the ground. In Tai Chi, zai chui is a punch downward, as if to punch an opponent who is already on the ground.

指裆锤 Zhǐ  dāng  chuí   Punch to the groin

Zhi means point (it is also the word for finger), so literally, zhi dang would be pointing to the crotch, and sometimes it’s translated that way. But who points at the crotch in a fight? In Tai Chi, zhi dang chui is a blow aimed at the crotch with the fist.

Strikes with the hands are not always punches:

穿掌   Chuān zhǎng      Strike with extended fingers

Chuan is pierce, a word also used in swordplay. Zhang is palm, and chuan zhang may be called Piercing Palm, or Pierce with Palm. Chuan zhang is not a strike with the palm or heel of the hand but with straight(extended) fingers (usually palm-up).

Other specific punches are named in the various empty-hand forms, especially the Chen-style form called Pao Chui, or Cannon Fist. But the terms above are the most common and useful to know.

Blocks with the hands include:

搬     Bān        Deflect

拦     Lán        Block

Ban means shift (move something heavy) but in Tai Chi it refers to a backfisted block, whereas Lan (which actually does mean block) usually refers to a block with the open hand. The move called ban lan chui is sometimes translated as block, parry, punch. I first learned it as deflect downward, intercept and punch, a mouthful, though a literally accurate translation.

脚          Jiǎo        Foot, leg

Jiao, the word for foot or leg, can also refer to a kick in Tai Chi. The two most common are:

分脚      Fēn jiǎo               Toe kick

蹬脚      Dēng jiǎo            Heel kick

Fen is the verb for separate, so the toe-kick is often called separate (right or left) foot. Deng is literally to step on. Either way, as usual, the translation makes for odd English. Why not just call them fen jiao and deng jiao? Those are the proper Chinese names for the toe kick and heel kick in Tai Chi. Note that these two words are pronounced like fun and dung.

A few more kicks:

摆莲         Bǎi lián                Crescent kick

拍脚         Pāi  jiǎo               Slap kick

擦脚         Cā jiǎo                 Brush kick

旋风脚      Xuàn fēng jiǎo              Whirlwind kick

踢二起                Tī  èr qǐ        Double jump kick

二起脚                èr qǐ jiǎo       Jump kick

The last two terms are used for the same kind of kick. Though it is often called the double jump kick, it is actually more like a double kick jump. Both feet leave the ground and first one foot, then the other, kicks while you’re in the air. The second name above is a more accurate description, literally two (er) raise (qi) leg/foot (jiao).


BlueLake225BLUE LAKE  by Elizabeth Buhmann

Richmond, Virginia, 1968. Regina Hannon’s family was destroyed by the loss of a sister she can barely remember. When she learns that the death was once investigated as murder, Regina sets out to find the truth about tragedy reaching back to the early years of the century. Stirring up old heartache and fury, she is blindsided by unexpected danger. Read the book…


 

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