Glossary


A great A-Z of martial arts words and phrases, compiled by our Instructors.



General Terms

Acupressure
In this process, the channels through which Chi, or life energy, flows are opened by putting pressure on or by massaging certain areas of the body.

Dan
A term used in the Japanese, Okinawan and Korean martial arts for anyone who has achieved the rank of at least first-degree black belt.

Do
"Way" or "Path." When this term is used as a suffix to a particular style of the Japanese martial arts, it is indicative of more than just a means of combat. 'Do' indicates a discipline and philosophy with moral and spiritual connotations, with the ultimate aim being enlightenment.

Five Elements
Metal, Wood, Earth, Water and Fire. Metal cuts Wood, Wood enters Earth, Earth holds Water, Water puts out Fire and Fire melts Metal. Used in pressure point fighting.

Focus
A state of mind which is cultivated by the martial artist giving the ability to concentrate only on ones goal.

Gi (Ghee)
A Japanese term for a martial arts uniform. (Karate, Judo)

Hsing-I (XingYi)
"Form of mind." An internal system of Kung Fu emphasising linear movement.

Hung Gar
A major style of Southern Chinese Kung Fu characterised by very hard, strong techniques and stable horse stances.

I
"Will," "mind," or "intent."

Jeet Kune Do
"Way of the intercepting fist." A collection of basic mental and physical concepts, observations of combat manoeuvres, and philosophies of attitude gathered and developed by the late Bruce Lee.

Jitsu
"Fighting art"

Judo
"Gentle Way." A Japanese art of self-defence and a sport with Olympic recognition. Judo is a method of turning an opponent's strength and overcoming by skill rather than sheer strength.

Jujutsu
"Art of Gentleness." Literally, the technique or the art of suppleness, gentleness. All of these terms, however, represent a single principle, a general method of applying a technique using the human body as a weapon in unarmed combat. Also known as Jiu Jitsu.

Karate
"Empty Hand" or "China Hand." An unarmed method of combat in which all parts of the anatomy are used to punch, strike, kick or block.

Kendo
"The way of the sword." The modern art and sport of Japanese fencing. The object of a Kendo contest is to deliver scoring cuts to an opponent's predetermined target areas.

Kenjutsu
"Art of the sword." An aggressive method of swordsmanship practiced by the Japanese feudal warriors in which the combatants pitted naked blade against naked blade.

Kung Fu
A generic term for a majority of the Chinese martial arts. Kung Fu has two major divisions. The Southern styles display a clear preference for techniques of strength and power, whereas the Northern styles employ soft, open movement.

Master
A title bestowed on a martial artist who has attained advanced rank after long years of study.

Method of Strategy
The phrase used by the famous warrior Miyamoto Musashi to refer to the state of mind necessary to fight.

Pa Kua
"Eight Trigrams." One of three internal methods of Kung Fu. It is composed of various circling and linear postures named after and based on the movements of the snake, stork, dragon, hawk, lion, monkey and bear.

Qi (Chi)
"Spirit," "air," "breath," or "spirit energy." A biophysical energy generated through breathing techniques studied in Kung Fu. Ideally, Chi can infuse a person with tremendous vitality and make him or or her extremely powerful in action, much more so than power developed through the muscular system alone.

Sambo
Modern Russian Grappling Art.

Samurai
The swordsmen of feudal Japan who were impeccable at a wide variety of martial arts practices, particularly the sword, and served and Lord and Fief. Masterless Samurai were known as 'Ronin'.

Savate
"French Hand and Foot Fighting." A method of fighting to the knockout, once popular with the aristocracy of France.

Shaolin
"Young Forest" or "Small Forest." A method of Kung Fu based on eight postures and five animal forms: dragon, snake, tiger, crane and leopard.

Shiatsu
Japanese term for acupressure. Commonly known to Westerners as a type of massage.

Sifu
"Teacher" or "Instructor."

Tae Kwon Do
"Way of hands and feet." The primary form of Korean unarmed combat, named during a conference of Chung Do Kwan masters in 1955. It is considered the most popular martial art in the world.

Wushu
"War Arts." A Chinese term broadly encompassing 'martial arts'.

Yang
"Active" or "Positive." In Ying-Yang theory, the positive aspect associated with what is described as centrifugal, expansive and extroversive.

Yin
"Passive" or "Negative." One of the fundamental metaphysical elements of Yin-Yang whose balance is believed to be the centre of existence.

Zanshin
A state of mind which is cultivated by the martial artist of complete awareness and alertness, anticipation of success in combat.

Zen
The discipline of enlightenment related to the Buddhist doctrine that emphasises meditation, discipline, and the direct transmission of teachings from master to student.

Wing Chun Terms

Ba Gua Zhang
Translated as Eight Trigram Palm. One of the three Nei Jia Quan or internal styles of China. The other two styles are XingYi Quan and Taiji Quan. The practice of Ba Gua generates Qi (internal energy) for both health and combat purposes. Ba Gua Zhang uses palm techniques exclusively.

Bien Kuen

Whipping punch.

Bong Sau
Wing arm.

Cham Jam Chung Siin
Taking back centre with sinking elbow.

Cham Jam Jum Sau
Taking back centre with sinking elbow.

Chi Sao
"Sticking hands." An exercise used in Wing Chun Kung Fu that develops sensitivity to the hands and arms.

Ching Cheung
Palm fingers up.

Ching San Ma
Long stepping.

Chut Kuen (Mei Jam Punch)
Taking back centre punch.

Dai Cheung
Low palm.

Dai Wang Cheung
Low angled palm.

Dan Bin Ma
Short stepping.

Durk Sau
Cutting down in angle (related to Hoi Hap).

Faan Sau
Forward pressing movement.

Fei Jam Fong Hei Yeung Jee
Elbow out and outward movement of the fingers.

Fook Sau
Bridging arm.

Gaun Sau Mai Jam
Cutting through movement with elbow in.

Gow Cha Sau
Crossing arms.

Hoi Hap
Opening and closing.

Hoi Sik
Opening of the form (feet).

Huen Sau
Turning of the wrist.

Huen Sau Da Ping Cheung
The pulling action followed by horizontal, fingers sideways, palm.

Huen Sau Go Wang Cheung
Pulling action followed by upward angled palm.

Juen Bei Seurk Sau
Bringing down the arms and cutting movement.

Juen Ma
Turning.

Juen Ma Chut Kuen
Turning and punching with elbow in punch.

Jut Sau
Jerking movement.

Orn Cheung
Downward palm.

Sau Kuen
Closing of the fist.

Sau Sik
Closing of the form.

Tan Sau
Palm up position.

Tie Bei
Lifting of the elbows.

Tiu Sau
Parallel piercing movement while taking centre.

Toi (Tok) Sau
Uplifting movement.

Wu Sau
Fingers straight up position.

Yat Tan Sam Fook
One time Tan Sau, three times Fook Sau.

Zhi Zi Ma
Zigzag stepping (45 degrees).
 

Escrima Concepts Terms

Arnis
"Harness of the Hand." A Filipino martial art, also known as Eskrima and Kali, centring around stick, blade and empty hand combat.

Tai Chi Chuan Terms

Chi
"Spirit," "air," "breath," or "spirit energy." A biophysical energy generated through breathing techniques studied in Kung Fu. Ideally, Chi can infuse a person with tremendous vitality and make him or or her extremely powerful in action, much more so than power developed through the muscular system alone.

Chi Kung
A breathing exercise that cultivates Chi and transmits it to all the bodily organs. Known in ancient China as "the method to repel illness and prolong life."

Tai Chi Chuan
"Grand Ultimate Fist." An internal system of Kung Fu, also called soft boxing, characterised by its deliberately slow, continuous, circular, well-balanced and rhythmic movements.

Tan Tien
"Sea of Chi." The psychic centre located just below the naval, which protects the centre of gravity and produces a reservoir of force upon which to draw. Also known as 'Tan Den'.