Complete glossary of Kung Fu terminology

About this glossary

This is the first part of a list of terms (with rapid definitions) related to what we talk in our tutorials, courses, guides, lessons and articles:

  • 6 Dragons Kung Fu
  • Kung Fu
  • Self-defense
  • Martial arts in general

We will constantly update this page.


  • baduanjin – It literally means “the 8 pieces of brocade”; it refers to a series of Qi Gong exercises (different from school to school) aimed at the psychophysical preparation (eg. to start training)
  • bang – It is what in our school we call the middle stick; it is a wooden (or metal) staff wich height is normally near to the one of a jian sword (something like the height of the practitioner’s leg)
  • Bei Quan – It is the ensemble of the northern Kung Fu styles of Kung Fu ( wrongly associated with the focus on the legs); see also Nan Quan
  • breakfalls – They are controlled falling methods present in a lot of martial arts and Kung Fu styles (useful also in daily life situations); their primary goal is to preserve the body integrity eliminating or limiting its damaging while entering in contact, for example, with the ground; during a combat, their secondary intent is, when possible, to allow the practitioner to gain a more favorable position (read Everything you should know about breakfalls)


  • chang gun – It is what in our school we call the longer stick; it is a wooden (or metal) staff wich height is normally near to the one of the practitioner with an arm raised
  • Chin Na (or Qinna or Chinna) – It is a set of advanced techniques (typical of various Kung Fu styles, first of all, Tai Chi) that allows the practitioner to block, damage or even take the life of the opponent; depending on the style they include more or fewer types of methods (pressure points, strangulations, etc.) but generally they refer to the capability to take and control of joints (breaking, dislocating, etc., read Chin Na)
  • chuan – See quan
  • Combat training – It is a special kind of workout focused on preparing an already technically instructed practitioner for the fight; it can be for sparring, self-defense, sports competitions, etc.
  • Constant Attention – In 6 Dragons Kung Fu, is a skill that, once acquired, allows the practitioner to passively and constantly scan the scenario where it is in search of dangers and opportunities (read Avert dangers: the concept of constant attention); the good thing is that the process of evaluation of the data recovered happens instinctively and in a completely relaxed manner (eg. while we are talking with friends, etc.)


  • dao – It is a slightly curved sword single-edged typical of Kung Fu (broadsword)
  • Dragon Motion – In 6 Dragons Kung Fu, it represents various types of swirling movements that allow the practitioner to hide the loading of the blows, to become more unpredictable, to better apply trapping techniques and much more (read Dragon Motion: the swirling movements)


  • explosive energy – See Fa Jing
  • external styles – See waijia


  • Fa Jing (or Fajin) – It is the explosive power that a good practitioner is able to release on his adversaries; it has nothing of supernatural and it requires a specific training (see Fa Jing: how to develop explosive power)
  • faints – Typical of expert-level fighters, they are movements that realistically simulates the beginning of moves that we will not execute at all (or at least differently in terms of space, timing, etc.); the goal is to deceive the adversary to force him to expose himself
  • form – See taolu
  • full-contact – A “full-contact” sports competition allows the contenders to hit at full power (but remaining into the limits of safety rules, read also Declared techniques, sparring and sport competition)
  • functional training – It is a type of workout characterized by exercises that are specifically focused on those body mechanics that are important to develop for combat (muscle memory, etc.)


  • Gong Bu – The position of the bow / arrow is a stable Kung Fu stance characterized by the frontal bending of one leg and the backward elongation of the other combined with the torsion of the torso toward the opponent (read The correct position of the bow / arrow (gong bu))
  • Gong Fu – See kung fu
  • gun – It is what in our school we call the long stick (read The basic equipment for training in 6DKF); it is a wooden (or metal) staff wich height varies between the practitioner’s shoulder / head and the ground


  • Internal styles – See neijia


  • jian – In Chinese culture, it is a straight double-edged sword (used for example in Tai Chi, Taiji)
  • jiaolian – In the Chinese language, this term means “instructor” (not only of Kung Fu)


  • kuen – See quan
  • kune – See quan
  • Kung Fu – Today it refers generically to the ensemble o the martial arts (more or less directly) connected to the last 4000-5000 years of Chinese culture (read Martial arts: all derive from Kung Fu?); the real meaning of the term “kung fu” (derived from gōngfu) is “hard work” and it can be connected to the acquisition of any kind of skill trough study and training (not necessarily related to martial arts)


  • lao shi – See master


  • Ma Bu – It is the famous horse stance, so called due to the fact that it is similar to the way we seat on a horse; it is characterized by a stable and symmetrical opening of the bent legs (read The correct position of the rider (ma bu))
  • master – In martial arts, this term refers to the figure of a person that for experience, skills and / or knowledge is able to teach the others; the real master is the one that has already done all the possible errors and that has gained the right teaching from each of them (read Measure ourselves with errors)
  • meditation – It is the search of mindfulness; its first approach is distracting us from our thoughts to focus on our breathing, then with the practice, it aims to a higher level, the mind emptiness (read Meditation method 1)
  • muscle chain – It is a way to sequentially connect the work of human body elements; the idea is to sum their power and exploiting the potential of otherwise excluded muscle groups; in 6 Dragons Kung Fu we have various types of muscle chains but the common aspect is that they are guided by the breathing (read Use the body power: the muscle chain)
  • muscle memory – It can be seen as a conditioning of our muscles to do better and better specific sequences of movements; the education of this type of mechanism is not suitable for the beginner due to the risk of interiorizing wrong / imprecise moves


  • Nan Quan – It is the ensemble of the southern Kung Fu styles (wrongly associated with the focus on the arms); see also Bei Quan
  • neijia – It refers to Kung Fu styles that are focused on Qi manipulation (the so-called internal, like Taiji, Xing Yi, Bagua Zhang, etc., read The use of Qi in the 6DKF’s meaning); see also waijia


  • openings – In combat terms, they are the ways to reach the targets that our opponent is covering with his guard (eg. his nose); a good fighter is always in search of openings in the space and time that his adversary is covering (they can be exploited or created actively)
  • overall view – In any type of scenario, it is the capability to visually catch, evaluate and elaborate all the relevant details in our vision field (instantly and without the need to focus on every single element); it is a skill at the base of the constant attention


  • Persistent Movements – In 6 Dragons Kung Fu, they refer to the capability to adapt the type of state of our body (solid, liquid, etc.) to the contact with the elements of the scenario (an obstacle, an opponent’s limb, etc., read Advanced concepts: the Persistent Movements)
  • pushing hands – see tuishou


  • Qi – It is the life force that pervades everything in the universe (read What is Qi? ); practicing Kung Fu, it is not important if someone believes or not in it, it is the right way to think (read The use of Qi in the 6DKF’s meaning)
  • qiang – It is a spear
  • Qi Gong – It is the study of the practices that favor the Qi development, recovering and maintaining (read What is Qi Gong?); it is deeply studied in various styles of Kung Fu, first of all, Tai Chi (Taiji)
  • quan (or chuan) – Literally, it means “fist” but in relation to a martial art, it indicates the ensemble of its technical knowledge
  • quick reasoning – In our school, when we talk about “quick reasoning”, we refer to the capability to make a logical tactical decision almost instantaneously (through experience and detachment); without this capability, the combat schemes would reduce only to “predictable instinct”


  • S.A.F.E. Method – It is an acronym to rapidly describe and remember the order of action of our self-defense method; the “S” stay for “safety” (prevention), the “A” for “argument” (negotiation), the “F” for “flee” (escape) and the “E” for “engage” (fight); read Personal defense: the S.A.F.E. method
  • Sanda – It is the sportive combat version of Kung Fu (with rules, etc., read What is the difference between real fights and combative sports?)
  • sanshou – Originally it was connected to the idea of free fight, this term is today mostly used to refer to Sanda combat sport (Chinese full contact kickboxing)
  • scenario – In our explanations, it always refers to the environment where a self-defense or combat situation (eg. a fighting cage or a bank during a robbery) occurs; in our method, we focus on maintaining constant passive attention on everything is and happens inside of it to exploit them at our favor (potentially we always are in a combat scenario)
  • shifu – See master
  • spacing – See spatial intelligence
  • spatial intelligence – Inside a combat scenario, it is one of the most important skills of a good fighter; it refers to the capability to measure, choose and manage things like times, spaces, trajectories (etc.) of action (read The most important skill in combat)
  • spatial memory – Inside a combat scenario, it is the capability to calculate positions of elements, continuity of movements (etc.) that we do not directly see
  • striking techniques – In martial arts, they represent the set of attack techniques with bare hands through impact (like punches, kicks, elbows, etc.; it does not include joint levers, throws, etc.)


  • taolu – They are the forms of Kung Fu (like the kata in Karate); a form is a logically ordered set of connected techniques to be executed in sequence; they were born to basically educate the students to the type of moves of a certain style and to pass the knowledge (nothing more, nothing less); it is important to stress that their mere study is absolutely insufficient to face a real fight (read Why martial arts do not work: 5 reasons)
  • throwing techniques – In martial arts, they represent the set of attack techniques that provides a full-body manipulation, that includes, for examples, a throw or a falling of the opponent (such as tripping, sweeps, etc.)
  • timing – Having good timing, in fighting terms, means to be able to do things like anticipate, follow, broke, control (etc.) the opponents’ pace; this extremely important skill, requires a reactive body, spatial intelligence, knowledge of combat dynamics, instinct and quick reasoning
  • ting jing – In Chinese martial arts, it refers to the capability to feel (principally) through tactile sensitivity and combat experience the intentions of our opponent (directions, goals, strength, etc.)
  • trapping – In martial arts (especially in Wing Chun and in Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do), it refers to the capability to intervene in the opponent’s action intercepting his action; (read Trapping)
  • tudi – Disciple, they are the nearest practitioners to become instructors, the ones that can aspire to succeed the master
  • tuishou – Also called “pushing hands” (in Tai Chi and in many other internal Kung Fu styles), it refers to a 2 practitioners training routine where the contact is maintained through the upper limbs; the idea is to learn to manage the flow of the opponent’s action (weight, inertia, etc.) to gain occasions of defense (eg. to do not be thrown) or attack (eg. to execute a Chin Na)


  • waijia – It refers to Kung Fu styles that are focused on improving the muscles performances and cardiovascular fitness (the so-called external, like Hung Gar, Shaolin Quan, etc.); see also neija
  • warrior’s breathing (or Ujjayi Pranayama) – It is a noisy type of breathing (that comes from Yoga) that we deeply implement for training, combat and relaxation purposes; it allows the practitioner to manage the thermal exchanges, to sync the muscle chain, to express higher power and much more (read Breathe Yoga: the warrior’s breathing)


  • xue sheng – The student


  • zhang – It is the palm of the hand

Author: Master Kongling

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