Thursday, September 6, 2007

Don't do Tai Chi, do Tai4ji2quan2 instead!

If you to China hoping to learn Tai Chi, you will probably end up studying something entirely different!

The correct word is 太極拳 • Tai4ji2quan2 which some people translate as Shadow Boxing. Tai4ji2quan2 combines exercise and fighting skills and it contains rich ancient Chinese philosophy. It integrates concepts from several martial arts (武術 • wu3shu4), from 氣功 • qi1qong1, Chinese medicine and from the elements of yin and yang.

If you want to learn Tai4ji2quan2, , say from a teacher, this is what you should say:

我想學太極拳 wo3 xiang3 xue2 tai4ji2quan2

If you would like to practice with a friend or on your own, then say:

我想練太極拳 wo3 xiang3 lian4 tai4ji2quan2

If you just want to "do" some Tai4ji2quan2, then say:

我想打太極拳 wo3 xiang3 da3 tai4ji2quan2

There are several styles of Tai4ji2quan2, most of them named after the name of their founders. One of these is the Yang Style.
I came across the list of the movements that comprise the traditional Yang slow style. I think it would be interesting to use this list to practice some Chinese pronunciation.

This style comprises 81 movements. Let's start with the first 10:

(1) 預備式 • yu4bei4 shi4 • Preparation position
(2) 太極拳起式 • tai4ji2quan2 qi3 shi4 • Commencement of Taijiquan
(3) 攬雀尾 • lan3 qiao1 wei3 • Grasp the bird’s tail
(4) 單鞭 • shan4 bian1 • Single whip
(5) 提手上式 • ti2 shou3 shang4 shi4 • Step forward and raise hands
(6) 白鶴亮翅 • bai2he4 liang4 chi4 • White stork spreading its wing
(7) 摟膝拗步 • lou1 xi1 ao3 bu4 • Brush knee and twist step
(8) 手揮琵琶 • shou3 hui1 pi2pa2 • Play the fiddle
(9) 左右摟膝拗步 • zuo3you4 lou1 xi1 ao3 bu4 • Brush knee and twist step
(10) 手揮琵琶 • shou3 hui1 pi2pa2 • Play the fiddle

It's time stop so you can practice your tai4ji2quan2 movements and your Chinese pronunciation.
Happy learning!

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