Usually in English descriptions of taijiquan, there are four words translated roughly as adhere, connect, stick, follow. The ones I’ve been confused about are “adhere” and “stick”. Those English words seem like synonyms. I’m not sure if 黏 – nian – is translated as “adhere” or “stick” or if 貼 – tie – is one or the other. However, the Chinese words as I understand them seem slightly more distinct. Tie has more of a verb connotation, like sticking a piece of tape to the wall. Nian seems more of an adjective like “sticky”, as in “sticky rice”. Taken together and with the other words, that seems to mean you first tie – stick used as a verb, while simultaneously you are also “connecting”, and right after that you are maintaining the connection – “sticky” and “following”.

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