Lee's translations of some of the core texts in our lineage. See below for a note on my approach to translation.
Writings from Cheng Manching (Zheng Manqing)
The Thirteen Treatises
So far, I've translated Treatises #11 and 13.
New Method for Self-Cultivation
I've translated a few bits from Zheng's New Method book:
Writings from the Yang family
I've worked on several of the texts passed down in the yang tradition
To date, all the texts I've translated have already been translated into English and some of these translations are quite good, and done by people with deeper taijiquan understanding and better Chinese language skills than me. So, why have I done and shared these translations?
I've found several problems trying to work with the existing translations:
- They attempt to explain the meaning of the text clearly as though it had originally been written in English.
- The translators sometimes add content or change the text to reflect the translator's own experience and understanding.
- The core taijiquan technical terms, such as qi and jin, are often translated rather than left as jargon. This can mean that readers miss the fact that a particular phrase references a technical term and instead think the phrase is purely descriptive. And worse, some translators take the same technical term and translate it multiple ways, making it even harder for a student to understand that multiple phrases refer to the same thing.
In my translations, I've taken a very literal, almost word-for-word, approach. This sometimes results in stilted phrasing, but that's ok -- I'm not trying to pretend that this is anything except a translation of a Chinese text intended for study. I've left all the jargon intact so that we know when a text refers to qi or jin , rather than leaving the reader to guess which term the translator decided to call "energy" this time around. Rather than putting my effort into the scene setting, overview, or anecdotal material, I'm much more interested in following the internal references, sometimes explicit and often implicit, to the larger universe of Chinese thought.
Transliteration schemes are always a challenge. I've adopted pinyin in my translations given that it is the international and academic standard, even as other ways of writing words and phrases are common in popular culture. Most of our website uses the popular transliterations (including the name of our school), but in this section, I consistently use pinyin. Thus, I write the name of the art as taijiquan rather than the more familiar tai chi chuan, Professor's name as Zheng Manqing rather than Cheng Man-ching, and refer to qi and jin rather than ch'i and chin.
These are works in progress -- I'm continuing to tweak and tune them. And if readers, especially those with deeper taijiquan understanding or chinese language skills, see mistakes or areas where my translation is misleading, I will very much appreciate comments, feedback, and correction.
Particular thanks to Helen Tartar, Fenway Yang, Louis Swaim, Richard Man, and Larry Welsh for their discussions and input to these efforts.