The Meaning of “Tai Chi”
– What’s in a name?
Most scholarly publication on the subject use the “pinyin” romanization of the word (taijiquan). But the term “tai chi chuan” is still in popular use. Most anglophones do not know the correct pronunciation of the pinyin, and do not know that taijiquan is tai chi.
The first part of the word (taiji or tai chi), refers to the philosophical concept of yin and yang. The second part (“quan” or “chuan”) literally means “fist” or “martial art” but is also used to refer to exercise routines or systems.
There are several different ways of writing the same word. It is often abbreviated as “tai chi” or “taiji.”
The pronunciation is the same – “Tai jee chwan”
tai chi – common abbreviation
tai chi chuan – (Yale romanization)
t’ai4 chi2 ch’üan2 – Wade-Giles
t’ai chi ch’üan – W-G (no tones)
tàijíquán – pinyin:
taijiquan – pinyin (no tones)
taiji – pinyin abbreviation
太極拳 – traditional full form Chinese
太极拳 – modern simplified Chinese:
The concept of yin and yang is expressed in the tai chi symbol (Taiji tu) above.
“Tai chi chuan” may be defined as the exercise or martial art based on the theory of yin and yang.
Some translations of tai chi chuan (taijiquan):
•“fist of tai chi”
•“fist of ultimate polarity”
•“supreme duality martial art”
•“supreme ultimate fist”