Chinese to English Terminology

In Kung Fu, we use many words that are designed to help us when making movements, doing techniques, doing stances, or giving respect. Below we have included a list of common terms used by the Kung Fu community to help you understand things more easily. Kung Fu has been a big part of Chinese culture for thousands of years. Over the centuries, many different styles of Kung Fu has emerged , developed and passed down from master to student. Traditionally upon being accepted as a disciple by the sifu(teacher) of a particular style, one becomes an immediate member of that Kung Fu family and part of a rich tradition which is full of meaningful rituals. Kung Fu styles has been taught in the manner of a family structure for thousands of years.

Titles

Chinese English
Si-Jo Founder Of System
Si-Tai-Gung Great Grandmaster
Si-Gung Grandmaster
Si-Sook-gung Grandmaster’s younger brother
Si-Bak Older Gung Fu Uncle (Sifu’s senior)
Si-Bak-Mo Older Gung Fu Uncle’s wife
Si-Sook Younger Gung Fu Uncle (Sifu’s junior)
Si-Sook-Mo Younger Gung Fu Uncle’s wife
Si-fu Teacher/Instructor
Si-Hing Older Brother
Si-Di Younger Brother
To-Di Student/Follower
Si-Tai Poo Great Grandmaster (Female)
Si-Poo Grandmaster (Female)
Si-Doo-Goo Older gung fu aunt
Si-Goo-Mui Younger aunt
Si-Je Older Sister
Si-Mui Younger Sister
Sing-San Instructors Husband
Si-Mo Instructors Wife
Moon San In the door-( new/inital students)
Yup Moon Dai Gee In Door Disciple
Yup Sut Dai Gee Inner Chamber Disciple

 

Ng Ying – Five Shapes

Chinese English
Fu Tiger
Hok Crane
Lung Dragon
Pao Leopard
Sare Snake
Ng Hong – Five Elements
Gum Gold
Mook Wood
Soy Water
Faw Fire
Tol Earth

Kuen Faat (Hand Movements)

Chinese English
Kuen Fist
Ping Choy Horizontal Punch
Yut Ji Choy Vertical Punch
Chop Choy Thrusting Punch
Gwa Choy Back Fist
Sao Choy Overhead Diagonal Punch
Bean Choy Whip Punch
Chun Tin Choy Heaven Piercing Punch
Ghat mok choy Squeezing wood punch
Soy long pow choy Water wave punch
Faw gin choy Fire arrow punch

Stances

Chinese English
Sei Ping Ma Four Level Horse
Ji Ng Ma Bow & Arrow
Dui Ma Cat Stance Kay
Tu Ma Hanging Horse
Quai Ma Cross stance
Nau Ma Twisting Horse
Tau Ma Stealing Horse
Lok Quei Ma Kneeling Horse
Sieh Ma Leaning Stance
Yee Gee Kim Yeung Ma Goat Capturing Stance

Before briefly explaining the the structure of a Kung Fu family, it must be mentioned that the Chinese culture with its tradition and customs is very different from the western culture. Due to the cultural differences many traditional practices and concepts within Kung Fuare usually either misunderstood or misinterpreted by many westerners. For example one of the most commonly misunderstood factor is how to address the members of a Kung Fu family. Like many other Asian countries, Chinese have a strict discipline on how to address people. According to the Chinese culture, calling ones elders by their first name is regarded very disrespectful. This also applies to the traditional Kung Fu schools. For example, if a student starts calling his teacher/sifu by his first name he/she is not only being very rude and disrespectful to the teacher but also not showing any respect towards the style, its ancestors and tradition. So the proper way to address the elders/seniors within a Kung Fu family is to use the appropriate titles which are shown above. For example the proper title for ones gung fu teacher would be Sifu. When referring or calling a senior member of the family such as the teacher or the grandmaster, one can use the family name or the full name followed by the appropriate title. For example Lam Cho sigung or Wong sifu. However, in the west the title is usually put before the name due to the structural differences in languages.

 The Chinese(Cantonese) term/title Sifu is used to address a master/teacher. This title like all the others listed above is not only explicit to Kung Fu but the whole Chinese community. The title sifu, for example can be used to address a skilled cook/chef or a poet. Sifu is more like a father figure, a mentor, a skilled person who is respected and admired within a community. A student must show upmost respect towards his/her sifu at all times. Your sifu will remain as your sifu doesn’t matter how advance you may become.The titles Si-Mo (wife) and Sing-San(husband) are used to address your sifu’s wife or husband respectively. I will write about the Master and Student/Disciple relationship as a separate subject in the near future.

 The title Sijo is used to address the founder of a system. For example in Hung Gar, Hung Hei Goon is credited as the founder of the system. In general the founder of the style (sijo) would be classified as the first generation of the particular style.

 The title Sigung is used to address ones Grandmaster. For example in Hung Gar, our Granmaster is Lam Cho (sigung). In general or in a simpler term Sigung or the grandmaster is the person who taught your sifu. The grandmaster’s(sigung’s) master(sifu) would be known as Si-tai-gung or the Great Grandmaster. In Hung Gar our Si-tai-gung would be/is Lam Sai Wing. Following in this order, each generation before would be known as Si-tai-tai-gung and Si-tai-tai-tai-gung and so on. For example our Great great granmaster or Si-tai-tai-tai-gung would be Wong Fei Hung.

 Si-bak is the title used to address your older Kung Fu uncle who is also your sifu’s senior Kung Fu brother. In the same manner, Si-sook is the title used to address your younger Kung Fu uncle who is also your sifu’s younger gung fu brother.

 The Kung Fu family members of the same generation would address each other as Si-hing (older brother), Si-di (younger brother). The female members Si-je (older sister) and Si-Mui (younger sister). It is important to bare in mind that the seniority between the younger and older class mates within a Kung Fu family is usually marked by the date one joins the school, not by age, superiority of skill or neither by ones physical appearances. Another important point to mention here is that as I stated above these tiles are not exclusive to the Kung Fu community. The distinction between the titels used or the formality within a gung fu family depends on your sifu. The list of titles/terms used above is by no means complete.