In traditional Chinese culture “Learning courtesy comes before learning the art, and learning morality comes before learning the martial arts”, so the first lesson of learning Tai Chi and Qigong is not to learn the movement directly, but to learn Martial Arts etiquette.

The “Palm hold fist” salute is the most commonly used for the rituals of the martial artist. It originates in the traditional etiquette of the Chinese Han people, going back to the Zhou Dynasty more than 3,000 years ago.

How to salute:

One hand holds the fist and the other hand clenches the fist. Both of them

are closed in front of the chest. The fists are closed with four fingers and the thumb is slightly bent.

There are two types of “palm hold fist” salutes for martial artist:

1. Palm on the left and fist on the right;

2. Fist on the left and palm on the right.

The difference:

1.Palm on the left and fist on the right: a martial artist’s fist is stronger than the palm, and so the fist is restrained by the palm to as a sign that its strength is not offensive; the left hand holds the right fist naturally and without stress. Bow slightly, cupping one hand in the other before one’s chest, shaking slightly, naturally, neither too strongly, nor too high. This is called the “propitious salute”.

2.Fist on the left and palm on the right (ie, hands reversed): this is called the “infelicitous salute”. It is mostly used for mourning. In any other circumstances it would be a sign of disrespect.

Meaning:

1.The left palm signifies civilization, morality, intelligence, and physical fitness. The thumb is slightly flexed to indicate that it is not arrogant

2.The right fist signifies the Martial art .

The left palm and the right fist together represent being endowed with both civilization and the Martial art, being eager to seek knowledge, and respectfully asking higher seniors or masters to teach it.

The use of this salute throughout the world of Martial Arts indicates the common culture of all Kung Fu and Tai Chi masters and practitioners.

With the development of modern society, the “palm hold fist” salute is no longer used outside the Martial Arts, and has been replaced by the handshake known in the West. The traditional “Wanfu salute” once used by women has also disappeared.

Nowadays, traditional etiquette will only be seen occasionally, on special occasions.

However, when you see others wearing different clothes and performing different “traditional salutes”, don’t take it for granted that you should imitate them. Try to understand the meaning behind the etiquette so as to avoid jokes, or giving offense.

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