Part of my newfound dedication to learning Chinese Mandarin whilst here at the Wugulun Kung Fu school, I thought to myself “what would have been really useful for me to have learned before I came to the school?”.

You see, because I’m not getting on a train or bus every other day or asking how much things cost, I couldn’t make much use learning the regular phrase books before I turned up. Instead, I need to know what orders or corrections are being barked at me whilst sweating in one of the stances or how to ask about the details of the moves being demonstrated. What I was looking for then, was a set of words/phrases which are commonly used in martial arts, so that’s what I’ve compiled here.

Much as I’d like to include phrases like “How much longer of this torture?” and “Surely we’ve done enough practice of that?”, I’ve kept the list practical.

If it helps just one person in a similar situation, it’ll be mission accomplished as far as I’m concerned.

Body Parts

head 头[頭] tóu
eye 眼睛 yǎnjing
nose 鼻子 bízi
mouth 嘴 zuǐ
neck 脖子 bózi
shoulders 肩头[-頭] jiāntóu
arm 手臂 shǒubì
elbow 臂肘 bìzhǒu
hand 手 shǒu
fist 拳 quán
palm 巴掌 bāzhang
waist 腰 yāo
hip 胯 kuà
back 后背[後-] hòubèi
leg 腿 tuǐ
knee 膝 xī
ankle 脚腕 jiǎowàn
heel 脚后跟[腳後-] jiǎohòugēn
toe 脚指头[腳-頭] jiǎozhǐtou



breath 鼻息 bíxī
inhale 吸 xī
exhale 呼 hū
lung 肺 fèi
stomach 肚 dù
pubic region 丹田 dāntián



straight 挺直 tǐngzhí
sink 落 luò
flexible 松动[鬆動] sōngdong
twist 拧[擰] níng
relax 放松[-鬆] fàngsōng
tense 紧[緊] jǐn
fast 快 kuài
slow 慢 màn
long 长[長] cháng
short 短 duǎn
shift (weight) 移动[-動] yídòng
balance (don’t rock) 不晃荡[-è•©] (bùhuàngdang)



stance or step 步 bù
horse stance 马[馬]步 mǎbù
man stance 丁步 dīngbù
empty stance 虚[虛]步 xūbù
one legged stance 独立[獨-]步 dúlìbù
pounce stance 扑[撲]步 pūbù
forward stance 弓步 gōngbù



Stick/Staff 棍 gùn
Sword 刀 dāo



practice, repeat 重复[-複] chóngfù
Can you show me that again? 你可以再示范一遍吗? Ni ke yi zai shi fan yi bian ma?
Does this look right? 这样看起来对吗? Zhe yang kan qi lai dui ma?


Special thanks go to Ibo and the students here who helped me compile the list. It’s only because of their patience and skill in interpreting my waving hands and sketches with twigs in the ground that this list was made.