Translation of Qi.

JadecloudAlchemist

Master of Arts
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
1,877
Reaction score
82
Location
Miami,Florida
From the thread Ki is a hoax the thread became a little bit to negative for my taste. People who can not read Chinese characters known as Hanzi or Japanese characters known as Kanji can only rely on translations of the words. Some translations are made in error since certain characters have more than one meaning depending on the context,word in front or behind it and depending on the particular character.There are also those who wish to pray on the ignorant of the word and manipulate them.
I can read Japanese Kanji my Chinese reading of Hanzi is not the best but I do ok. My wife is a native Japanese speaker who can also read Kanji and give an insight meaning of what Japanese mean by the kanji written and the word used in daily activity. So lets look at the Kanji/Hanzi:

氣 This is the Hanzi/Kanji for Qi/Ki. Now what does the word Qi/Ki mean? First we have to look at its literal meaning. When Qi/Ki is composed of. It is made up of the words Mi,Chih,and Yun. Mi means Rice,Chih means Pot and Yun means steam. If we look at the orginal Simplified Chinese Hanzi we get 气 means Qi which translates as steam. However a more modern translation would be Energy. Because if we place a word in front of Qi like this Hanzi/Kanji: 天 it turns into:天氣 This translates literally as Heaven's Qi. In English it sounds mystical but if we look at it correctly we can see it simply means the Weather which is how the Japanese say"Tenki wa dou desu ka? Which means How is the weather?
This is really just one example and I can provide others as well.

But lets look at how we got to this mystical magical energy.
The Chinese and Japanese(who molded themselves after the Chinese) used Qi in a religious sense to explain different things. 神奇 This means Shen Qi. However it is different Hanzi/Kanji of Qi this means Magic spirit energy. You can see where some of the confusion can stem from.

When people say they can feel his Qi during battle the Hanzi is 生氣
This translates as feeling his anger a type of empathy.

Most of the time we are speaking about Human Qi or 人氣 Which translates as Ren Qi or in Japanese Jin/Nin Ki. This can be seen as mental human energy such as personality or any type of energy the human body generates.

The purpose of this thread was to present how the word is mistranslated and what the actual word means.

 

blindsage

Master of Arts
Joined
Mar 5, 2009
Messages
1,580
Reaction score
109
Location
Seattle, WA
So, are you just establishing the meaning and context of the word so people can have a better grasp? I'm still not clear from your explanation how it explains what most Americans think about when they hear qi. Is the qi being spoken of in martial arts a misunderstood translation? Is it being used in the mystical/religious sense? What is the specific context and translation of qi in terms of martial arts?
 
OP
J

JadecloudAlchemist

Master of Arts
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
1,877
Reaction score
82
Location
Miami,Florida
So, are you just establishing the meaning and context of the word so people can have a better grasp?

Alot of people who can not read the word or understand the idea of the word are confused with it. Alot of people are looking at it as some sort of unmeasurable,mystical energy. Since I can read the Hanzi/Kanji I feel I can give a better translation of the word.


I'm still not clear from your explanation how it explains what most Americans think about when they hear qi.
Most think of it as some sort of unmeasurable energy,magical,mystical etc etc.
But if we look at the word look at the words used in it as prefix and sufix we can clearly see the word means energy and the prefix and sufix of the word associated with it is speaking about what type of energy.
I think with culture differences the word was used and was translated as mystical,magical and who knows how much of the wording was meant as energy vs some strange occurance.

Is the qi being spoken of in martial arts a misunderstood translation
I have yet to meet any supernatural explanation or any supernatural claim in TCM school,Martial arts. The only supernatural claim is in a religious meaning. This can range in a universal oneness with some cosmic energy to being able to use Qi in a magic sense to cast spells and other things.
If we are to look at it in a martial stand point it would consist of exercise designed to harmonize mind and body,relaxing and controling the body,breath and mind. Learning how to root and keep balance. These things mastered would certainly give the appearance of someone who is highly skilled and IMO some might say a heighten sense of attainment.
 

wushuguy

Purple Belt
Joined
Jan 20, 2008
Messages
378
Reaction score
7
Location
NYC
qi, is one character. it can be combined with other characters like you demonstrated to gain different meanings, most chinese words are two characters combined.

but the qi that we usually refer to in martial arts, i think is like life energy. I remember once my sifu explained it to me that qi was like oxygenated blood. i think it's also related to our body's electrical systems. all of us have a slight electrical field that is measurable, the points of acupressure can be found with machines that measure voltage across a surface.

So while there is nothing magical or mystical as many would like the world to believe, qi is really a normal fact of life, perhaps what we may describe as oxygenated blood, or perhaps we can describe it like the quality of the electrical charge in our bodies, similar to the level of electricity stored in a battery... when no more qi the battery is empty, thus death. that may be why the chinese say qi is important to life.
 

Xue Sheng

All weight is underside
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
30,993
Reaction score
5,221
Location
North American Tectonic Plate
Jadecloud thank you for the translations.



TCM "magical/Mystical view"

Strong qi you are healthy
Weak qi you are sick
No qi you are dead.

Yup sounds pretty magical/mystical to me.

My wife could give all sorts of wonderful descriptions from the Traditional Chinese Medical POV and scientific POV on Qi. And translate all you want of Chinese both simplified and traditinal, she is a TCM Doc trained in China. However it is discussions like the previously mentioned thread "Ki is a hoax " and the types of responses in it that make her say who cares why should she waste her time (it is also why I have dropped out of just about all things Qi on MT). Also she thinks I'm crazy for posting here at all so she certainly won't

Now again I am risking being called jingostic again but so beit
 

wushuguy

Purple Belt
Joined
Jan 20, 2008
Messages
378
Reaction score
7
Location
NYC
Qi also can be translated into "breath" so I'd say if one had stopped breathing, they'd be dead. In chinese dead are sometimes called "mei qi" which could be translated as "no more breath"

Sometimes the usage of qi in a health perspective is somewhat ambiguous, whether it is talking about, breath, or one's energy level, some times it is mixed together. for example, if someone was diagnosed as "duan qi" it could mean shortness of breath or lacking of energy, but either case you can have the symptoms of both conditions.

TCM doesn't have any mystical aspects that I can think of. Actually it is more and more proven by science. Like the fact that one could measure voltage across on different point on their body and the voltage drops correspond to acupuncture points. Some places where one is injured we might say it is qi blockage so it creates coldness and pain. If we examine that place where we feel pain, often enough that spot feels colder than the areas around the pain. Joint pain is often like this (keeping the joints warm in our youth helps to reduce joint pains in our old age). TCM, is based on people's experience in dealing with medical conditions, and not from people's imaginations. Take vitamins for example. For a long time people couldn't accept that vitamins were a real thing, but after some time it is now generally accepted that vitamins are important for our nutrition. Anyway, whether one thinks qi exists, is totally up to them. But we shouldn't say a proven science is mysticism, perhaps it would be more wise to say, there's not enough evidence to convince someone.

For mysticism, probably as mentioned earlier, it might be those people who take qi in a religious fashion, or perhaps by those who believe Dragon Ball Z is factual.
 

mograph

Master Black Belt
Joined
Apr 10, 2008
Messages
1,431
Reaction score
461
Here are a few meanings that work for me:

1. When we meet people, we sometimes say "he has great energy". Sometimes we say "I'm low energy today". Replace "energy" with "qi" or "ki", and I think we have a meaning.

2. Sure our body runs on electrochemical processes, but what drives those processes? We could call it "Fred", but some call it "qi". What leads to increased circulation through relaxation or concentration? Could be Fred, could be qi.

3. If you've ever been with someone near death, it's pretty clear that their "life force" is low. As before, we could call it "Fred", but some call it "qi".

---- so I think we might be able to agree on what it is, but we disagree on what it can do, or what we can do with it. And that's fine ... as long as we're all on the same page.
 
OP
J

JadecloudAlchemist

Master of Arts
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
1,877
Reaction score
82
Location
Miami,Florida
It is my opinion the usage of life force as a translation of Qi is coming from yet another language other than Chinese in the 17th century up to the mid 19th century. We have Dutch,Polish,Portuguese and a good amount of writings in French.Up until the 1850's Westerners could not learn Chinese and only traders and priest were allowed to learn it. Looking at the popular book Chinese Healing arts by William R. Berk the orginal translator was John Dudgeon in 1895 borrows heavily from French sources how much information in English is scarce at best. Also looking at what was popular around the time was Vitalism so the translation of life force may have its root in there when explaining it into English. When looking into foreign words to use in English we should try to come as close as we can to the content of the foreign meaning. As shown in the thread Qi is a hoax alot of people have a preconceived notion of what the word Qi is yet the majority can not even read the word in its native language but rather go on someone else who can not read the word and so on.

It is like a child telling an adult what the word cat is though he can not read it he states the meaning based on his other childhood friend who is also wrong and that is the problem the West is having. But is not entirely the West fault it is the early miscommunication and translations. If you ask a Priest he may use the word Qi ask a TCM doctor he may use Qi but in the context they could have two different meaning similar to a Priest using energy and a doctor using the word energy.

The other problem lays in con artist. I am sure it existed in the Qing dynasty as well on foreign traders and tales of astonishment only made the Far East seem more mysterious. This mystique no longer has to exist in the form of Chinese performers but in the overweight white guy promising to knock you out from a far with his Qi power.

-Medicine:A history of healing by Roy Porter provides a great read about East meeting West.
 

still learning

Senior Master
Joined
Nov 8, 2004
Messages
3,749
Reaction score
42
Hello, The Five Sense's ....in a higher level?

Aloha,
PS: Police officers....in time builds "instincts" ....
 

Tensei85

Master Black Belt
Joined
May 16, 2009
Messages
1,097
Reaction score
29
Location
Michigan
It is my opinion the usage of life force as a translation of Qi is coming from yet another language other than Chinese in the 17th century up to the mid 19th century. We have Dutch,Polish,Portuguese and a good amount of writings in French.Up until the 1850's Westerners could not learn Chinese and only traders and priest were allowed to learn it. Looking at the popular book Chinese Healing arts by William R. Berk the orginal translator was John Dudgeon in 1895 borrows heavily from French sources how much information in English is scarce at best. Also looking at what was popular around the time was Vitalism so the translation of life force may have its root in there when explaining it into English. When looking into foreign words to use in English we should try to come as close as we can to the content of the foreign meaning. As shown in the thread Qi is a hoax alot of people have a preconceived notion of what the word Qi is yet the majority can not even read the word in its native language but rather go on someone else who can not read the word and so on.

It is like a child telling an adult what the word cat is though he can not read it he states the meaning based on his other childhood friend who is also wrong and that is the problem the West is having. But is not entirely the West fault it is the early miscommunication and translations. If you ask a Priest he may use the word Qi ask a TCM doctor he may use Qi but in the context they could have two different meaning similar to a Priest using energy and a doctor using the word energy.

The other problem lays in con artist. I am sure it existed in the Qing dynasty as well on foreign traders and tales of astonishment only made the Far East seem more mysterious. This mystique no longer has to exist in the form of Chinese performers but in the overweight white guy promising to knock you out from a far with his Qi power.

-Medicine:A history of healing by Roy Porter provides a great read about East meeting West.

Thanks for bringing this out!

Great read as well, I definitely agree.
 
Top