The Chinese Bow

Discussion in 'Kenpo' started by grissenko, Oct 22, 2003.

  1. grissenko

    grissenko New Member

    I was given the task of finding out all that I could about the Chinese Bow (not bow like in archery) by my sensei. I have searched for two days now, and I have been very unsuccessful. If anyone can offer any sources or insight, I would be most appreciative. Thanks!
  2. Andy Murray

    Andy Murray Sadly passed away. Rest In Peace.

    You mean the fist cupped in the palm?

    Bit rusty on my history, but I believe it's symbolic of Dynasty, and the hands represent the Moon and the Sun by their shape.

    Brains gone blank at the moment, I'll come back to you.
  3. tai-gip

    tai-gip New Member

    i thought it was a sign of offering your strength (the fist) to serve (the palm) the person you where bowing to as a sign of respect

    as opposed to the palm covering fist which is a plain greeting showing no ill will

    not sure though:)
  4. LilBunnyRabbit

    LilBunnyRabbit Old One

    I heard it was strength restrained.
  5. grissenko

    grissenko New Member

    It most literally means humility over strength. I just needed to know where it came from; its roots. Thank you all very much for your help.
  6. Andy Murray

    Andy Murray Sadly passed away. Rest In Peace.

    Hold on Grissenko, there's more to it than that.

    My old Sifu used to use a quote on this but it's gone clean out of my head.

    It's either Ming or Ching dynasty I believe, along the lines of 'Night and Day I honour you'

    Like I said, I'll come back to you when I find my brain. :(
  7. tai-gip

    tai-gip New Member then hit control f enter bowing its a zip file that extracts into notepad
    i cant vouch for the validity but sounds reasonable

    still reading through it while at work:)
  8. SoKKlab

    SoKKlab The Cwtch of Death!

    It (The Fist and The Palm) is also a revolutionary handsign of recognition from the Early Ching Dynasty etc (although it was used much earlier than that).

    Bit like the Freemasons really-Hey Noninoni and a Rata tat tat.
  9. Andy Murray

    Andy Murray Sadly passed away. Rest In Peace.

    Been researching this mongst some CMA peeps.

    While it's an old greeting, some believe it was changed from right palm over left fist to the reverse so it could be used while holding a weapon.

    I'm getting it a bit confused with another gesture in Wing Chun which is alledgedly supposed to mean up the Ming Dynasty and down with the Ching Dynasty or something like that
  10. Andy Murray

    Andy Murray Sadly passed away. Rest In Peace.

    Got this response from another forum-

    "This is what I was taught-take it as you like:
    The hands form the sun and moon which when written in chinese form the character 'Ming" the bow starts at the heart, meaning, "our hearts are for the Ming Dynasty-warrior and priest(fist and palm) fight together side by side, back to back(bringing the hands inward back of hands touching) we pull our country together(hands form fists and pull back to chamber)' might be true, might be folly, I like it. So that's what we teach."
  11. matsloth

    matsloth New Member

    chinese bow

    im a bit confused but the cuped hand represents the scolare symbolised by a book, and the fist a warrior (hiken)but i thought you were talking about the chinese bow as in long bow,the weapon,but back to scolar over warrior it represents the scolar first and the warrior after,meaning think before you strike or in kenpo fist law ,the law represented by a book(flat hand) cupping a fist as in fist law(kenpo),that how it was explained to me,maybe not gospel but i like it :) :D
  12. Flashing Dagger

    Flashing Dagger Valued Member

    You said that you were not talking about the "bow" as in the "bow and arrow stance" but the bow like a performer gives, right? In Kenpo we call the Chinese bow the Kenpo Salute or the Chinese salute with the right fist covered by the left palm open or closed. Like was stated before there is a symbolism that came from Buddist monks in China fighting to restore the Ming Dysnasty (sun and moon symbolism). There is also the scholar/warrior symbolism. The most common probably is part of the kenpo saying, "here is my weapon (fist) which I cover (closed left hand) because I come in friendship" In the long formal salute we begin with a closed left hand and end with an open left hand symbloising warfar. Maybe you should do a web search on "kenpo salute".

    Flashing Dagger.
  13. RubyMoon

    RubyMoon New Member

    I've also heard this referred to as a "Shaolin Salute" although that may have come from all those kung fu movies in the 70's.

    The gesture, as it was explained to me, simply combines two commonly understood gestures into a show of respect. Showing someone your fist is understood to mean you want to fight. Holding up an empty palm communicates, "stop" or "hold", i.e. "don't do that."

    Making a fist and covering it with your palm, therefore, says, "I don't want to fight with you." This shows respect to the other's abilities. When this is directed toward your Sifu, it is accompanied with a respectful bow. It is not necessary to bow to the Sifu of another school, but if you ask me it's a good practice anyway.
  14. matsloth

    matsloth New Member

    chinese bow

    hi it depends on what kenpo,in american kenpo (parkers style)there are only two meanings ,scholar over warrior,or sheilding fist,
    both with the same meaning,
    cheers matt
  15. God

    God New Member

    my teacher told me it meant "wisdom over strength".

    then later he told me that he was lying and it was representative of a knockout
  16. praying-mantis

    praying-mantis New Member

    As far as I know, it is a symbol for the moon and the sun, however more important is the meaning of

    Yin and Yang.

    Another thing is that this bow allows you to block an incoming strike, as you already got your hands in position.
  17. wolf ninja

    wolf ninja New Member

    hey im new here so i dont know much. do you guys know where i can get more info on kenpo. my email is reply.
  18. wingzero1216

    wingzero1216 New Member

    well from what i heard from my instructor the closed fist mean hard and the open hand means soft (yin and yang). as for the arm and foot movement that goes along with this bow i believe it means "i extend my hands and feet to you, kung fu." or something along that. well thats my 2 cents.
  19. mekosho

    mekosho New Member

    Okay, beginning last night, we started history and stories week at my dojo, and low and behold, the first bit of history we went over was the bow...
    According to my sensei (take it as you will) said that nowadays, of course we document everything on cd's, video etc, before that, we used typed text, before that, hand written..and way back when, what did they document there learnings or knowledge on? Scrolls, and that is what the closed fist originally signified, a rolled up scroll, and the hand over the fist signified that you shielded or valued your knowledge, and this is how, long before there were warrior monks, back when they were just priest with no martial arts training, this is how the scholars etc. would greet and enter into to talks...also commonly used was the bow...with both hands at the side...later, the two were incorperated...he (my sensei) also went over the one handed bow seen often in kung fu films etc...heres the condensed version...
    the budirhama (may not be correct spelling) came to china to teach people how to meditate and focus on thier faith, getting so frustrated that the priest could not physically do the meditation, got mad and went to live in a cave for 9 of the temple preist wanted him to come and teach them so bad, he cut off an arm, this made the Budirhama come back to teach the lo han a show of respect they all would bow course, but one could only bow with one hand. So, out of respect for the one who brought back the caught on!!!
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2004
  20. mekosho

    mekosho New Member

    Oh, and by the way, in Kosho Ryu Kempo, we wear our crest (you can view it at and it has the palm covered fist in the lower left side...nowadays the covered fist signifies "total domination" so therefore, it is on the crest or Mon in the last position, meaning we will try all else before we fight, but during war time...(and the the last time in history this was done was when Japan and the U.S. were at war) the location changes and the fist is put at the top of the patch meaning to attack without predjudice, attack and dominate...and that is why you may see some patches, even today with that change as there are war Mons out now to show support for U.S. troops over seas

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