A Thousand Li Glossary

A compilation of glossary terms from the A Thousand Li series, books 1–5.

Aura Reinforcement Exercise—Cultivation exercise that allows Wu Ying to contain his aura, trapping his chi within himself and making his cultivation more efficient and making him, to most senses, feel like someone of a lower cultivation level.

Body Cleansing—First cultivation stage where the cultivator must cleanse their body of the impurities that have accumulated. Has twelve stages.

Body CultivationUnlike ‘normal’ or soul cultivation, body cultivation is the process of making the immortal. Most soul cultivation strengthens the body, but body cultivation takes it a step further and attempts to make the body immortal itself. Can be used both as an ancillary form of cultivation and strengthening or as a method to achieve immortality itself.

Catty—Weight measurement. One cattie is roughly equivalent to one and a half pounds or 604 grams. A tael is 1/16th of a catty

Cì kè (or cike)—Translates as assassin. It also refers to a type of dark or heretical sect and a form of martial arts taught to assassins or those trained just to kill.

Chi (or Qi)—I use the Cantonese pinyin here rather than the more common Mandarin. Chi is life force / energy and it permeates all things in the universe, flowing through living creatures in particular.

Chi Points (a.k.a. Acupuncture Points)—Locations in the body that, when struck, compressed, or otherwise affected, can affect the flow of chi. Traditional acupuncture uses these points in a beneficial manner.

Core Formation—Third stage of cultivation. Having gathered sufficient chi, the cultivator must form a “core” of compressed chi. The stages in Core formation purify and harden the core.

Cultivation Exercise—A supplementary exercise that improves an individual’s handling of chi within their body. Cultivation exercises are ancillary to cultivation styles.

Cultivation Style—A method to manipulate chi within an individual’s body. There are thousands of cultivation exercises, suited for various constitutions, meridians, and bloodlines.

Dao—Chinese sabre. Closer to a western cavalry sabre, it is thicker, often single-edged, with a curve at the end where additional thickness allows the weapon to be extra efficient at cutting.

Dantian—There are actually three dantians in the human body. The most commonly referred to one is the lower dantian, located right above the bladder and an inch within the body. The other two are located in the chest and forehead, though they are often less frequently used. The dantian is said to be the center of chi.

Double Soul, Double Body Sect—an orthodox sect with an unorthodox approach to recruitment, dedicated to the development of individuals with unusual body and soul configurations.

Dragon’s Breath—Chi projection attack from the Long family style.

Dark Sects— Unlike heretical (unorthodox) sects or demon sects, dark sects are labeled as such as they indulge in evil acts to progress their cultivation. This may include assassination, poisoning of mortals, cannibalism, human sacrifice and other, darker deeds.

Elements—The Chinese traditionally have five elements—Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Within these elements, additional sub-elements may occur (example—air from Chao Kun, ice from Li Yao).

Energy Storage—Second stage of cultivation, where the energy storage circulation meridians are opened. This stage allows cultivators to project their chi, the amount of chi stored and projected depending on level. There are eight levels.

Huài dàn—Rotten egg

Hún dàn—Bastard

Jian—A straight, double-edged sword. Known in modern times as a “taichi sword.” Mostly a thrusting instrument, though it can be used to cut as well.

Jianghu (Jiāng hú)— is literally translated as ‘rivers and lakes’ but is a term used for the ‘martial arts world’ in wuxia works (and this one too). In modern parlance, it can also mean the underworld or can be added to other forms of discussion like ‘school Jianghu’ to discuss specific societal bounds.

Li—Roughly half a kilometer per li. Traditional Chinese measurement of distance.

Long family jian style—A family sword form passed on to Wu Ying. Consists of a lot of cuts, fighting at full measure, and quick changes in direction.

Medicinal BathsThe process of creating a bath in which an individual may steep their body within to strengthen and reinforce the cultivator’s body. Uses a variety of different spiritual herbs and recipes, often concocted to specific physiologies.

Meridians—In traditional Chinese martial arts and medicine, meridians are how chi flows through the body. In traditional Chinese medicine, there are twelve major meridian flows and eight secondary energy flows. I’ve used these meridians for the stages in cultivation for the first two stages.

Mountain Breaking Fist—Fist form that Wu Ying gained in the inner sect library. Focused, single, powerful attacks.

Nascent Soul—The fourth and last known stage of cultivation. Cultivators form a new, untouched soul steeped in the dao they had formed. This new soul must ascend to the heavens, facing heavenly tribulation at each step.

Northern Shen Kicking Style—Kicking form that Wu Ying learned at the outer sect library. Both a grappling and kicking style, meant for close combat.

Qinggong—Literally “light skill.” Comes from baguazhang and is basically wire-fu—running on water, climbing trees, gliding along bamboo, etc.

Iron Reinforced Bones—Defensive, physical cultivation technique that Wu Ying trains in that will increase the strength and defense of his body.

Sect—A grouping of like-minded martial artists or cultivators. Generally, Sects are hierarchical. There are often core, inner, and outer disciples in any Sect, with Sect Elders above them and the Sect patriarch above all.

Six Jades Sect—Rival sect of the Verdant Green Waters, located in the State of Wei.

State of Shen—Location in which the first book is set. Ruled by a king and further ruled locally by lords. The State of Shen is made up of numerous counties ruled over by local lords and administered by magistrates. It is a temperate kingdom with significant rainfall and a large number of rivers connected by canals.

State of Wei—The antagonistic kingdom that borders the State of Shen. The two states are at war.

Tael—System of money. A thousand copper coins equals one tael.

Tai Kor—Elder brother

Verdant Green Waters Sect—Most powerful Sect in the State of Wen. Wu Ying’s current Sect.

Wu wei—Taoist concept, translates as ‘inaction’ or ‘non-doing’ and relates to the idea of an action without struggle, that is perfectly aligned with the natural world.