Chinese Kung-fu 功夫 gōngfu – Part One

Although Kung Fu Panda I and II aren’t the truest depiction of the craft, the movie leaves us thinking : “Wow, I want to be the Dragon Warrior!” As cool as it is, Chinese Gong-fu 功夫 is quite difficult to master, and we’ll explore the different layers of the martial art in this blog series.

Basics
The Basics (基本功 jī běn gōng) are a vital part of any martial training, as a student cannot progress to the more advanced stages without them. Basics are usually made up of rudimentary techniques, conditioning exercises, including stances. Basic training may involve simple movements that are performed repeatedly; other examples of basic training are stretching, meditation, striking, throwing, or jumping. Without strong and flexible muscles, management of Qi or breath, and proper body mechanics, it is impossible for a student to progress in the Chinese martial arts. A common saying concerning basic training in Chinese martial arts is as follows:

nèi wài xiàng hé

wài zhòng shǒu yǎn shēn fǎ bù

nèi xiū xīn shén yì qìlì

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which can be translated as:

Train both Internal and External.

External training includes the hands, the eyes, the body and stances. Internal training includes the heart, the spirit, the mind, breathing and strength.

 Stances

Stances (steps or 步法bù fǎ) are structural postures employed in Chinese martial arts training. They represent the foundation and the form of a fighter’s base. Each style has different names and variations for each stance. Stances may be differentiated by foot position, weight distribution, body alignment, etc. Stance training can be practiced statically, the goal of which is to maintain the structure of the stance through a set time period, or dynamically, in which case a series of movements is performed repeatedly. The horse-riding stance (骑马步/马步 qí mǎ bù/mǎ bù) and the bow stance are examples of stances found in many styles of Chinese martial arts.

 

Meditation

In many Chinese martial arts, meditation is considered to be an important component of basic training. Meditation can be used to develop focus, mental clarity and can act as a basis for qigong training.

Use of qi

The concept of qi or ch’i (气 qì) is encountered in a number of Chinese martial arts. Qi is variously defined as an inner energy or “life force” that is said to animate living beings; as a term for proper skeletal alignment and efficient use of musculature (sometimes also known as fa jin or jin); or as a shorthand for concepts that the martial arts student might not yet be ready to understand in full. These meanings are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The existence of qi as a measurable form of energy as discussed in traditional Chinese medicine has no basis in the scientific understanding of physics, medicine, biology or human physiology.

There are many ideas regarding the control of one’s qi energy to such an extent that it can be used for healing oneself or others: the goal of medical qigong. Some styles believe in focusing qi into a single point when attacking and aim at specific areas of the human body. Such techniques are known as dim mak and have principles that are similar to acupressure.

Weapons training

Most Chinese styles also make use of training in the broad arsenal of Chinese weapons for conditioning the body as well as coordination and strategy drills. Weapons training (qìxiè 器械) are generally carried out after the student is proficient in the basics, forms and applications training. The basic theory for weapons training is to consider the weapon as an extension of the body. It has the same requirements for footwork and body coordination as the basics. The process of weapon training proceeds with forms, forms with partners and then applications. Most systems have training methods for each of the Eighteen Arms of Wushu (shíbābānbīngqì 十八般兵器) in addition to specialized instruments specific to the system.

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Find a JOB in Beijing

In recent years, many foreigners have flocked to Beijing to look for a job. More than half end up with English-teaching jobs that tend to pay more than most; a few find work with Chinese companies that pay Chinese wages; and the lucky few land jobs in non-Chinese companies that offer expat packages.

  • English Teaching Jobs

1) Full-Time Jobs

The biggest names in English education in Beijing are : EF (English First), Wall Street English, and Disney English. These companies have branches all over China and have a solid recruitment process. They support your visa application and some of them have housing plans as well. Salaries range from RMB 8000 – RMB 20,000 per month ($1,240 ~ $3,100) which puts you in the upper middle-class range.

The biggest inconvenience may be the working hours. Most centers open after 11am and go on until 10pm, and weekends are peak days. However, with bigger companies, you’ll be guaranteed a 40hours/week schedule or whatever was stated in your contract. (Don’t forget to read your contract closely!)

Application : It’s safe to apply for jobs with such bigger companies online. A few of them prefer candidates with at least 2 years of work experience and having a TEFL certificate means you start at a higher pay scale.

2) Part-Time Jobs

A lot of expats find that part-time 1-on-1 English tutoring is the way to go. It’s not hard to find a center that will pay RMB 200/hr ($32) and you’re in charge of your own schedule. Summer is peak season and recruiters put up job posts on any expat sites (e.g. cityweekend Beijing, thebeijinger, etc.)

A lot of people find that they make more money working part-time for two centers than a full-time job. The only downfall is that many of these centers will not support your visa.

  • Non-English Teaching Jobs

If you’re starting out from overseas and submitting job applications online, chances are, you’ll be doing that for a few months before realizing that without any GUANXI (connections), there’s very little hope.

Most expats in Beijing will tell you to bite the bullet and just get to Beijing to look for a job. The truth is, the job market for expats in Beijing is expanding but the competition is also very very steep. However, you’ll probably find a job you’re satisfied with in the first two months of your search. Finding the IDEAL job, however, is another story…

THE KEY : Attend all networking events in Beijing. The more popular networking groups are :

Internations : http://www.internations.org/

FC Club : http://www.fcclub.com/clubs/fcclubbeijing/

Chamber of Commerce groups

Even if you’re just out of college, MAKE A BUSINESS CARD for these events. Talk to anyone and everyone.

Here are some links to look for job posts:

http://www.amchamchina.org/jobs

http://www.chinajob.com/

http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/classifieds/jobs/jobs-available/

http://www.thebeijinger.com/classifieds/employment/Employment-Available

http://beijing.craigslist.com.cn/jjj/

 

TIP : When discussing salary, find out your monthly payment after taxes. Some foreign companies also offer health insurance and a roundtrip ticket home every year. If you’re also allowed a housing stipend – good for you.

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Please feel free to post questions on this post. We love giving free advice!

 

Away with Illegal Food Additives?

BEIJING – China claims to have detection methods for all food additives that can be legally used in the country.

In response to recent media reports that 60 percent of additives cannot be detected, the Ministry of Health on Monday said its methods to detect additive residues in food are basically the same as developed countries.
According to a notice issued by the ministry, qualified institutions can detect the more than 2,300 legal food additives and can carry out the inspection and supervision needs for the production and management of food additives.
The country tests for additives that have specific limits, such as preservatives, colorants and sweeteners, while it does not test for additives that are the same as natural substances in the food and have low safety risk.

The notice is apparently in response to recent reports – following an inspection of food safety laws by the standing committee of the National People’s Congress – that 60 percent of food additives in China cannot be detected.

However, food safety experts still have doubts.

“Some local quality supervision branches are not equipped with advanced detectors, and the number of detectors is insufficient,” said Sang Liwei, a food-safety lawyer and the China representative of the NGO Global Food Safety Forum.

Sang estimated that there are more than 400,000 food businesses in China, and in some places one technician is responsible for overseeing as many as 100 companies.

“Safe food relies on production, not supervision,” Yu Jun, deputy director of the Food Safety Commission Office of the State Council, said at the Third China Food Safety Forum on June 13.

Sang also said more attention should be paid to food production and processing rather than subsequent supervision to prevent the illegal use and abuse of additives.

He suggested establishing a real-name system for buyers of food additives to control the use of illegal chemicals and the overuse of legal ones.

The country implemented a real-name policy for the purchase of forbidden veterinary drugs in May.

The Ministry of Agriculture now requires local authorities to take the names of anyone buying items from a list of 151 commonly abused substances – including clenbuterol and melamine – additives at the center of recent scandals involving unsafe food.

Now, only if we can figure out what exactly is classified under LEGAL Food Additives…

Source : China Daily (http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2011-06/21/content_12740815.htm)

Best Chinese Online Dictionary – Top 3

If you’re serious about studying Mandarin Chinese, you’re always on the look-out for the best online Chinese dictionary.

FREE Chinese Online Dictionary – TOP 3

1. NCIKU.COM

http://www.nciku.com/
Nciku.com is our favorite because they seem to have the most comprehensive dictionary, a rich Chinese learning community (users can create blogs!), Chinese study aids for sale, and more. If you don’t know the pinyin of the word you’re looking up, try out their handwriting tool to look up difficult characters!
Their BEST feature by far is their example sentences — this is the best self-study way to learn Chinese. If you understand how a word is used in the language with tons of examples in all possible contexts, you can master the usage of that word!
One problem: Their system is often down so check our the Top 2 and 3 as alternatives…

2. MDBG

http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php
This dictionary is also very comprehensive, covering most words, phrases, idioms and proverbs of the language. The website also loads in milliseconds and is always dependable.
One thing it lacks – example sentences and a user community.
Because of the lack of a user community, you’re given only a few meanings of a word and very rarely, a context for its usage.

3. DICT.CN

http://dict.cn/
This dictionary is very simple to use and has pretty good example sentences. But it doesn’t let you handwrite characters to look up words. And, it’s usually loaded with ads which is always distracting. But the definitions are usually reliable!

神马都是浮云 shén mǎ dōu shì fú yún

Fun Chinese expression!!!!

Magic horse is just floating cloud | “‘Magic horse’ actually does not refer to a horse, but is rather a homophone of ‘shen me’ meaning ‘what.’ ‘Magic horse’ replaced its predecessor ‘xia mi’ as the most popular phrase in the Chinese Internet community shortly after its emergence. ‘Floating cloud’ here indicates ‘purely imaginary’ or ‘disappearing quickly.’ Altogether, the phrase means ‘nothing is worth mentioning.’”

神马 shén mǎ = magic horse (sounds like 什么 shénme = what)

都 dōu = all                                                                       浮云 fú yún = floating cloud

神马都是浮云 shén mǎ dōu shì fú yún = Magic horse is just floating cloud (literal meaning – this actually makes no sense)

什么都是浮云 shénme dōu shì fú yún = Everything is a floating cloud (literal meaning; but really means: Nothing is worth mentioning)

Get it?

 

Baby, where are you?: Abducted child-beggars in China

 

People in China generally know that most of the child-beggars on the streets of China  were kidnapped from other cities by underground gangs. Some of these child-beggars are even mutilated and tortured to gain more sympathy from the public.

Finally, someone’s doing something about it.

On January 25, 2011, Yu Jianrong, a famous human rights activist and sociologist, launched a Sina microblog in which he called on Chinese netizens to wield their camera lenses, expose child beggars and upload the pictures to the blog, a cause he believed can save the mistreated children and help battle such crimes.

The microblog has sent immense reverberations throughout the country’s cyberspace. 74,834 have followed the microblog and thousands offered their clues and pieces of evidence.

And some parents managed to spot their child from the thousands of posted pictures.

 

Picture of the kidnapped young boy called Yang Weixin, whose legs were viciously broken, was found by his mother online.

 

Hopefully this will make you think twice about giving money to child-beggars in China. Perhaps take your camera/smartphone out instead?

Here’s where you can post the pictures and comments about the next child-beggar you see :http://t.sina.com.cn/1932619445

(source: http://shanghaiist.com/2011/01/31/lost-children-sina-weibo.php)

qǐtǎo = beg

értóng = child

pāizhào = take a photo

jiějiù = rescue

 

 

Beijing Hukou

 

China Daily reported on Friday (Feb 18th) that in Beijing, children who do not have Beijing hukou, residency permit, will receive free physical examinations throughout 2011.

(article: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2011-02/18/content_12041355.htm)

This brings us to the issue of the “Hukou” meaning “residency permit.”

A Hukou 户口 or Huji 户籍 refers to the system of residency permits which dates back to ancient China, where household registration is required by law in People’s Republic of China and Republic of China (Taiwan). It officially identifies information such as a person’s place of residence, name, parents, spouse, and date of birth.

In big cities like Beijing, this Hukou is a hot issue; because it can determine where you live, where you can work and more. People from all over China move to Beijing to find work — it is THE city, after all. With a Beijing hukou, you can choose your preferred job freely, you can get welfare/social security benefits like Beijingers and most importantly, you can buy a government subsidized house. In China, stability and security is number one, and much like anywhere else, this starts with owning a home. The hukou applies to education, too — Beijingers’ kids can attend a local primary school without paying any “extra” fees that non-Beijingers do.

There are a few solutions to this problem :

1) New graduates can try to find jobs with the national ministries or State-owned enterprises, which typically offer a hukou to their hires. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to land those jobs. Successful applicants must excel in many rounds of exams and interviews. However, the trade-off with accepting the job might be a 5- or 10-year contract. The penalty for breaching those contracts is high.

2) Those who yearn for a hukou can buy one. Sales are illegal yet quite prevalent, particularly before the annual college graduation season. Sellers can be found on the Internet bulletin board systems (BBS) of universities in Beijing. They usually obtain hukous from companies that are qualified to offer them but not good enough to attract top job applicants.

3) Those not graduating this year can invest in Beijing to procure a local hukou. In Beijing, the owner of a certain-scale private enterprise can get a hukou, but normally this can cost more than 8 million yuan ($1.2 million). People with that kind of money usually don’t need the Beijing hukou, of course. Individuals of more modest means can invest in a suburban area, normally at a cost of 250,000 to 500,000 yuan.

4) Marrying a Beijinger is an easy way to get a hukou. As long as the spouse owns property in Beijing, the non-resident partner will get a hukou automatically after five to eight years of marriage.

5) Heroism is an odd and little-used route to the Beijing hukou. It’s tricky, even dangerous, but those who undertake heroic deeds in Beijing have been awarded the permit. For example, several workers who fended off thieves plundering national treasures were offered the Beijing hukou. But authorities caution that people should think twice before risking their safety.

6) Some people try to get a Beijing hukou by pretending to be overseas returnees with the help of certain overseas education agencies. According to a report by the Legal Mirror, an agency in Zhongguancun, Haidian district, can help clients get an authentic diploma from a state college in the Philippines, after paying 120,000 yuan for tuition. Overseas returnees can get a Beijing by finding a job, buying a house or starting a business.

(source : http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/metro/2010-03/08/content_9553266.htm)

Useful Vocab:

hùkǒu = permanent residence registration

hēishì = black market

fēifǎ = illegal

shèhuì bǎozhàng = social security

First Snow in Beijing 2011 (who cares if it’s fake?)

A late post, but a post nonetheless…

Feb 9th 2011. First snow in Beijing for 2011. We all knew it was a present (??) from the government, but it was still fun to play in the snow!

This reminds me of  Chinese expression – it’s a little outdated so you might only find it in written work.

yínzhuāngsùguǒ

It means to be clothed in snow, usually describes the view outside after a lot of snowfall.