The Wushu salute is the most basic Wushu etiquette any Wushu practitioner must first learn, even before one begins learning his first Wushu move. The Wushu salute is a general form of respect and is used when greeting and taking leave (at the beginning of a Wushu class and at the end of the class) from the master or your Wushu coach. Therefore, other than knowing it’s meaning, it is also important to know the origin of the Wushu salute we are using so widely now.
Uses and formation of the Wushu Salute from the past
The Wushu salute is an intrinsic part of the traditional Chinese Martial Arts and originated way back from historic imperial times. Other than showing mutual respect for one another, the Wushu salute had a practical sense of usuage.
In those days when war and violence were rampant, Chinese Martial Arts or Wushu Kung Fu (what I would like to term as the type of Wushu practise aimed for fighting use) was practised basically for self defence and attack. The Chinese are therefore often wary of another’s martial arts skills and possible unscrupulous motives. A Wushu salute, if adopted from the Westerners’ handshake form of greeting, would involve physical contact and may invite sneak attacks, making a Wushu salute too threatening. Therefore, the Wushu salute that we know currently was devised as there is no form of physical contact when greeting and under uncertain threatening circumstances, the Wushu salute can be used for greeting at a comfortable distance from one another.
Origins of the Wushu Salute used today
The ‘fist to palm’ Wushu salute that we use today was adopted from the Northern Shaolin Wushu salute and standardised by the People’s Republic of China in 1986. Though there were many other forms of Wushu salutes previous (Eg. The more popular Hung Kar Wushu salute), the Northern Shaolin’s form of Wushu salute was chosen due to its long history in Wushu Kung Fu and hosts of highly admirable monks, usually all masters of the Chinese Martial Arts in their own rights.
It is said that all Chinese Martial Arts originate from Shaolin, and after hundreds of years, even till today, the Shaolin Monks still maintain a high level of physical and spiritual attainment with Wushu Kung Fu as part of their training’s foundation. It is only agreeable that modern Wushu Salute should be adopted from its oldest and most honourable origin.
Uses of the Wushu Salute today
Today, as the world moved forward into an advance and modern society, Wushu is mainly practiced as a sport or for general physical well-being. The Wushu salute is more commonly used as a greeting and leaving a Wushu class with respect. Recognised and standardised by the international Wushu Federation, the Wushu salute is also used in Wushu competitions when competitors have to greet the judges before entering the competition arena and before leaving the arena.
Most Wushu practitioners also present a last Wushu salute to the judges when presented with their competition grades (on the spot) as a sign of acknowledgement and gratitude.
For basic information about the Wushu Salute, take a look at this article.