Business English with Michael

Exploring the hidden vocabulary of Tai Chi

Exploring the Hidden Vocabulary of Tai Chi

I recently revisited an old hobby of mine, practicing Tai Chi. As I delved back into the graceful movements of the Yang international 24-step form, I found myself captivated by the useful vocabulary hidden in each posture name. These names aren’t typically taught in traditional ESL classes, but they can be incredibly useful for expressing yourself confidently and clearly in everyday English. In this blog post, I’ll explore five of these posture names and the valuable vocabulary they offer.

1. Grasp the Bird’s Tail (Lǎn què wěi 揽雀尾):
“Grasp” is a versatile word that means to hold onto or hold firmly with your hand or hands. It implies a secure hold on an object. For example, when you pick up a cup of coffee, you grasp the handle to hold it securely. However, “grasp” is more commonly used figuratively, to mean understanding or comprehending something.

For example, “It took me a while to grasp the concept, but I understand it now.”

2. White Crane Spreads its Wings (Bái hè liàng chì 白鹤亮翅):
“Spread” is a versatile word that can have various meanings. In the context of food, “spread” refers to a type of food that is typically spread over bread or crackers, like jam, butter, or cream cheese.

For example, “I like to have peanut butter as a spread on my sandwiches.”

Additionally, “spread” can mean to disperse or distribute something over a larger area. For instance, “The news spread quickly,” meaning the news became known to many people.

In the context of business, “spread” is often used to describe the distribution or allocation of risk across different assets, investments, or areas to reduce the overall risk associated with a particular investment or strategy. This practice is commonly referred to as “risk spreading” or “risk diversification.”

3. Step Back and Repulse Monkey (Dào niǎn hóu 倒撵猴):
“Repulse” is a less common word in everyday English, used to describe the feeling of being strongly disgusted or repelled by something. It implies that something is so unpleasant or offensive that it makes you want to avoid it.

For instance, “The bad smell in the room repulsed everyone,” indicates that the smell was so unpleasant that it made everyone want to leave.

4. Snake Creeps Down (Xià shì 下势):
“Creep” is a versatile word with multiple meanings. It can describe the action of moving quietly and slowly, typically to avoid being noticed. For example, “The cat crept up on the bird without making a sound.” “Creep” can also refer to a feeling of unease or fear. When something is described as “creepy,” it elicits discomfort or fear.

For instance, “The old, abandoned house gave me the creeps.”

5. Apparent Closing (Rú fēng shì bì 如封似闭):

“Apparent” is used to describe something that is easy to see, understand, or notice because it’s clear or obvious. It emphasizes that there are no hidden or confusing aspects, and what you see or know is clear and evident.

For example, “The apparent problem with the car was a flat tire,” indicating that the problem was clear and easily seen. “Her disappointment was apparent when she didn’t receive the job offer,” showing that her disappointment was clear and easy to notice.

Learning vocabulary through the names of Tai Chi postures not only enhances your English language skills but also connects you to the rich cultural heritage of this ancient martial art. So, the next time you practice Tai Chi, take a moment to appreciate the hidden linguistic gems within each posture’s name. They not only make your practice more engaging but also enrich your English vocabulary. Enjoy your journey of language and movement!

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