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In this essay you’ll learn to read Chinese martial arts words – well, a few, anyway – but it’s not really the vocabulary that places this in the “advanced” category. It’s more that most of the text is full of wax-on, wax-off Karate Kid statements, as the martial arts master talks about how putting oneself in a position of inferiority allows you to attain superiority.

Learn to Read Mandarin Chinese Free - Martial Arts Mastery EssayThis kind of “making logic out of illogical-sounding contradictions” is very typical of martial arts and Eastern mysticism, and most of this type of stuff comes strait out of Taoist philosophy.

There are two phrases I found grammatically difficult to get past, the first being 处于劣势, or as the text has it, 处于一种劣势. “处于” chǔ yú means to “be in a state of…”, or “to be in a position of…”. 劣势 liè shì means “inferior”. Put together, this translates into English as “to be at a disadvantage”, or in the case of 处于一种劣势, “to be at some kind of disadvantage”.

The second and more difficult phrase is found in the third paragraph: 以剑招之长补兵器之短. The thing that makes this sentence difficult is all the accursed nebulous words that have many meanings – we’ve got 以, 之, and 补 all smooshed together, and these words are the keys to unlocking the meaning of this sentence. So let’s break this down word by word and see if all the definitions together don’t give us a clue:

以 – – The definition of 以 that’s being used here is “by means of” or “by way of”
剑招 – jiàn zhāo – Swordsmanship maneuvers
之 – zhī – of
长 – cháng – length
补 – – “to make up for”
兵器 – bīng qì – Weapon
之 – zhī – of
短 – duǎn – shortness

Ah hah! Though this is still a little convoluted, once we know the meaning of 以 and 补 in this instance, this now becomes much simpler to read. It says: “By means of the ‘length’ of [my] swordsmanship maneuvers, [I] make up for the shortness of [my] weapon.” We can see here that “length” doesn’t really mean how “long” something is – “length” here means a high level of skill. The word “length” is just being used to juxtapose against the word “short”.

You’ll enjoy this if you’re an upper-intermediate or advanced reader, and are interested in some specialized vocabulary.

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剑客 – jiàn kè – Swordsman, fencer
武林泰斗 – wǔ lín tài dǒu – Martial arts master – lit: leading scholar in martial arts circles
请教 – qǐng jiào – Ask for guidance
多亏 – duō kuī – Thanks to
大为不解 – dà wèi bù jiě – Bewildered
兵器 – bīng qì – Department of Women, Family and Community Development
谱 – – Chart, table, register
处于 – chǔ yú – To be in a state of…
劣势 – liè shì – Inferior, disadvantaged
对阵 – duì zhèn – Poised for battle
招 – zhāo – Square up for a fight
补 – – To make up for
优势 – yōu shì – Advantage, superior
注入 – zhù rù – To pour into
敢于 – gǎn yú – To dare to
胜利 – shèng lì – Victory


一名剑客去拜访一位武林泰斗请教他是如何练就非凡武艺的。武林泰斗拿出一把只有一尺长的剑,说:“多亏了它,才让我有了今天的成就。”

剑客大为不解,问:“别人的剑都是三尺三寸长的,而你的剑为什么只有一尺长呢?兵器上说:剑短一分,险增三分。拿着这么短的剑无疑是处于一种劣势,你怎么还说这剑好呢?”

武林泰斗说:“就因为在兵器上我处于劣势,所以我才会时时刻刻想到,如果与别人对阵,我会是多么的危险,所以我只有勤练剑,以剑招之长兵器之短,这样一来,我的剑招不断进步,劣势就转化为优势了。”

的确,优势和劣势有时候并不是绝对的。把自己放在劣势,就是给自己压力,为自己注入进取的动力,敢于把自己放在劣势的人,最终就有可能把劣势转化成为优势,从而取得胜利

SHOW ENGLISH TRANSLATION »
A swordsman went to pay a visit to a martial arts master [literally: a leading figure in martial arts circles] to ask for guidance on how to train [so as to attain] exceptional martial skill. The martial arts master took out a sword that was only 1 foot long, and said: “Thanks to this, I’ve accomplished what I have today.”

Bewildered, the swordsman asked, “Other people’s swords are all 3 feet 3 inches long, so why is yours only one foot long? The weapons chart says that: if your sword is one-fold shorter, the danger to you is threefold greater. Using this short of a sword undoubtedly places you at a disadvantage, how can you say this is a good sword?”

The martial arts master said: “That’s precisely it – my weapon puts me at a disadvantage, so I must always be thinking that if I’m up against another person in a fight, the danger to me is greater, and all I have is my diligently practiced sword maneuvers, so the “length” of my maneuvers must make up for the shortness of my sword; thus, I’m always improving, and a disadvantage is transformed into an advantage.

Indeed, “advantage” and “disadvantage” really isn’t always set in stone. If you put yourself at a disadvantage, you put pressure on yourself, pouring into yourself the power to forge ahead; those who dare to place themselves in an inferior position, can perhaps in the end turn their disadvantage into an advantage, and thereby achieve victory.



One comment to "Martial Arts Mastery: Put Yourself at a Disadvantage"

  1. Oh, and please add other websites of different languages ( Please Do French ) and also do a dictionary of them. That would be great, thank you!


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