Written by Rachel

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Dialects & accents

The Chinese written language is pronounced differently by different people within China. e.g. my background is Hakka/Hokien whereas Hong Kong Chinese tend to be Cantonese.
This is akin to a Geordi accent relative to a Scouser?

Different alphabet

With Chinese certain problems occur when attempting to make it accessible to the West. The brushstrokes for taijiquan are rendered like this:

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They are not written using the Western alphabet.

Romanised Chinese

There is a Romanised version of Chinese created by Wade-Giles. Then there is the official Chinese version called Pinyin.

Tai chi?

The Wade-Giles spelling of taijiquan is rendered as t'ai chi ch'üan. Often simplified to tai chi. This is inaccurate on 2 counts:

  1. The 'chi' component is pronounced jee, not chee (and certainly not qi energy, also spelled 'chi' by Wade-Giles)

  2. Tai chi refers to the yin/yang diagram not a martial art


Chi being jee (not chee) is confusing?
Well, how is it any different from equivalent examples in English? e.g. Wind. Are you refering to the weather or to winding something? The vowel sound is different but the spelling is the same.
English has thousands of such examples. Cough. Bough. Though. Rough. 4 different ways of pronouncing ough...
Then there's bough and bow. Different spelling, but pronounced the same and means something totally different.


An unwillingness to change is akin to placing a foundation stone for dementia. Stubbornness, rigidity, fixity are all bad for your mental health. Embrace change. It is a major aspect of the taijiquan syllabus and how the art itself functions.

School name

So, why do we call ourselves Newcastle Tai Chi? Simple. It is the most common spelling/usage in the UK. It's a business decision/name. It isn't accurate or desirable but it is recognisable.


If you scour the internet, you'll find VERY FEW examples of taijiquan being taught as you are being taught. In the modern era it is a rarity indeed, even in Asia.
On Wednesday night I heard a teaching assistant at the workshop calling Sifu Waller's art "tai chi"... chee. This is very disrespectful.
As it says on our website, most people associate 'tie chee' with senior citizens tooling around in an Age UK class. Surely, that isn't how you see Sifu Waller's art?


We are being taught the real deal. The instructor sets this apart from the health students and other schools by insisting that we call it taijiquan. Not "tie chee".
Respect for your instructor, his skill, his teaching approach and the very art your body is acquiring should compel you to want to get the name right...
Take pride in what you are learning. Set it apart from what most people are learning in the UK. Be true to the art. To your instructor. To yourself.


If you want Sifu Waller to take you seriously as a martial artist, begin by getting the name of the art right...

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Page created 13 February 2020
Last updated 01 October 2020