Practice kung fu

炼功夫 or 练功夫

锻炼的炼 or 练习的练 ?

I've seen both versions floating about online but I've a feeling only one of them is correct and the other is just a common mistake, possibly even among native speakers.


According to Zhongwen Chinese Popup Dictionary, 炼 means "to refine, to smelt"; while 练 means "to practice, to train, to drill, to perfect (one's skills), exercise".

So obviously 练功夫 is more correct from a formal perspective, though both are possibly used informally.


As 练功 is a very common word, which could be shorthand for 练功夫. So, I think 练功夫 would be more common.

炼功夫 is a bit off, in my opinion, because 炼 in the sense of 锻炼 is usually for something physical like 锻炼身体,锻炼体魄, etc. 功夫 is kind of a skillset, not something physical.

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