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“抱拳礼”是什么意思?What does Holding Fist Represent in China?
   2014-06-11 10:09:52    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Qin Mei

Holding fist, or 抱拳礼(bào quán lǐ ) is a form of ritual derived from Chinese martial arts. Traditionally, it is practiced by:

  • Standing upright, with the body straight.
  • Clenching the right fist.
  • Straightening your left palm to have four fingers in a plane
  • Wrapping the left four fingers together around the right fist
  • Placing the two hands in front of your chest, without bringing the elbows up

Who is right? Who is wrong? You are the judge.

There are two traditional explanations for this practice.

1.The left palm with its 4 fingers represent the 4 nurturing elements: Virtue, Wisdom, Health, and Art; all of which symbolize the spirit of martial arts. The left thumb is slightly bent to imply one should never be arrogant or self-centered. The right fist symbolizes rigorous practice. Since the right hand is clenched in a fist, it symbolizes attack; while the left, being virtuous and disciplined, stops the attack and symbolizes self-discipline and restraint.

2. The left hand symbolizes the five major lakes of China and the fist represents the four seas surrounding the country. The two hands together show the unity of martial artists. This is exemplified in the saying 五湖四海皆兄弟 (wǔ hú sì hǎi jiē xiōng dì ), which literally means "The people of the five lakes and four seas are all brothers."

The salute is commonly used to express greetings, congratulations and good wishes. Situations in which the Holding Fist are used are as follows:

  • At every major event or festival, such as the Spring Festival. We often show respect through performing the Holding Fist when we meet our relatives, friends or colleagues.
  • On festive occasions, such as weddings or birthday parties, guests can "Hold Fist" to congratulate the hosts.
  • At farewell parties, people often "Hold Fist" while saying "Take care!" to one another. Occasionally, we "Hold Fist" to request forgiveness.

When we show our regards through holding fist, we also use special words and expressions, such as:

节日快乐 (jié rì kuài lè) Happy holidays

恭喜 (gōngxǐ) congratulations

久仰 (jiǔyǎng) I've heard so much about you.

保重 (bǎo zhòng) Take care!

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