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Clarity in the Words: Languaging the Chinese Arts of Self Healing and Personal Vitality Enhancement

© Roger Jahnke OMD

If you have wondered whether Qigong and Ch'i Kung and Chi Gung are all the same thing, you are not alone. If you have wondered about the difference between T'ai Chi, Taiji and Taijiquan your questions are shared by millions. Why do some writers translate the Chinese character for energy or vitality as Qi and others as Ch'i?

There are two systems for translating Chinese characters into phonetic words. One is the Wade-Giles system developed by academic thinkers in the Western tradition. In the Wade-Giles system the capital city of China is phonetically spelled - Peking. The other is the Pin Yin system that has been developed by the Chinese in Mainland China. China's capital city in Pin Yin is phonetically spelled - Beijing.

Much of the confusion that people experience regarding the self healing and empowerment practices of China is due to these two systems of spelling and their phonetic sounds.

For example, there are many kinds of self healing exercises in China. These practices are generally called Qigong (Ch'i Kung in Wade - Giles). One of the most widely known forms of Qigong is Tai Ji Quan or Taijiquan (T'ai Chi in Wade - Giles). The character for energy and vitality Qi (Ch'i) is in neither T'ai Chi nor in Taiji. Ji (Chi) means ultimate, pure or absolute.

All of these words describe wonderful concepts. It may help you in your quest for self healing and spiritual balance to get the language clear.

Qi =

Chinese (Pin Yin) transliteration of the character which means energy, vitality, and breath

Ch'i =

European (Wade - Giles) transliteration of the character which means energy, vitality, and breath

Ji =

Chinese, Pin Yin, meaning ultimate, pure, absolute

Chi =

European, Wade-Giles, meaning ultimate, pure, absolute

Quan =

Chinese, Pin Yin for fist or boxing

Ch'uan =

European, Wade-Giles for fist or boxing

Gong =

Chinese, Pin Yin for practice, exercise, refine, cultivate

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About The Author
Roger Jahnke has been in the health field since 1967 beginning with body therapies, herbal medicine, Tai Chi, Yoga and meditation. He turned his attention seriously to Oriental medicine in 1972 with study at the North American College of Acupuncture in Vancouver, B.C., under Dr. Kok Yeung Leung who now has his school in France. In 1975 Roger transferred to the Tai Hsuan School of......more
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