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Thread: Doc's Archive: Salute & Salutation

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    Default Doc's Archive: Salute & Salutation


    The American Kenpo Salute and Salutation is a combination of the "old and the new.” Divided into two parts (Salute and Salutation), that are interchangeable depending on the circumstances in which you choose to use them. The initial part is our salute and honors the originators of the science, the Chinese. Prior to the establishment of what was called "Shao-lin," an open left hand resting on a clenched right fist was used as a greeting salutation or salute just before the commencement of a set or form. There were several meanings to this gesture:

    (1) Respect to the originator of the particular system, including all who had studied before him, with him, and presently study under him. (2) Respect to those who would observe the movements. (3) Respect to both scholars and warriors who were practitioners alike, since the left hand (open) of this salutation represented the scholar and the right hand (clenched), the man who actually executed the science.

    During the period of the Shao-lin in the Ch'ing Dynasty, the meaning of the gesture changed when two additional movements were added. The change was that the left hand represented the sun, the right hand the moon. With this change, the combination of sun and moon represented the Chinese character Ming, thus meaning "revolutionary defenders for the cause of the Ming restoration." The two additional movements that were added to the sun and the moon were formed by placing the back of the hands together with both palms out. The fingers at this point were in a claw-like-fashion and raised to the chest and heart. This gesture meant,

    "We are against foreign invasion and our hearts are for China." The last movement was to clench both hands and draw them to the sides of the waist. This pulling gesture meant, "By pulling and working together we can take our country back." The Hungs, who were secret triad societies in China, perpetuated these movements. In short, "Scholar and warrior united together, back to back, pulling together, to defend against the foreign intruders.”

    The execution of this can be seen in and is explained in the book, "Ed Parker's Secrets of Chinese Karate."

    The first part of the greeting or “Salute” was preserved in recognition and respect to the traditions set forth by the Chinese. The concluding portion was added to tie in the heritage of the "old" with the logic of the "new" and innovative fighting science. There is a misconception this came from Mitose. These movements have always existed in one form or another in the Chinese, and were not new. Although Mitose did come to use the hand gestures, they were usually used independent of each other, and not in the inclusive pattern those of American Kenpo are familiar with.

    The second part of the greeting is the “Salutation” and interprets as an explanation of the original Kenpo Creed by Ed Parker that does not use the word "karate."

    I come to you with empty hands; (I am friendly and unarmed)

    I have no weapons. (Both hands are place together as they form the shape of a triangle.)

    But should I be forced to defend myself, my principles or my honor,

    (I now cover my weapon, my fist that is my treasure, for I do not wish to use it. Your left open hand is used to conceal your right clenched fist.)

    Should it be a matter of life or death or right or wrong, then here are my weapons, my empty hands.

    Now that I am being forced to use my weapon, to momentarily become an animal, I pray for forgiveness for what I may do. (Both hands are placed together as if praying.)

    The Salutation ends by outwardly circling the clawing hands and arms in an outward clawing movement coming to attention. (Warding away all evil in my presence and letting nothing deter me from my goal and moral convictions)

    The reasons for the Scholar/Warrior analogy are important. Within the Chinese Culture there was a very strong caste system in place. The truly educated were privileged and considered too "valuable" to fight in wars and conflict. Therefore it was the "warrior" who fought but who was directed by the "scholar" in the ways of Martial Science. That is, the warrior didn't always understand the methods of his fighting; all he knew was that it "worked." The scholars devised the methods and manner and the execution of the training and the implementation of the "fighting sciences," while the "warriors" went forth and performed as instructed.

    The combination of the "warrior and scholar" in a singular person was rare. Not because the scholar couldn't fight, (after all they had first hand knowledge,) but simply because the knowledge was so valuable, the chance could not be taken that they would be killed or injured in battle or conflict. So it is today. The truly scholarly teacher directs his students in the methods that will cause them to be successful, however because it is a true science, the student may not always understand "why" things work, only that they do. Some students will come to understand more than others based on simple things as intellect and personal conviction. The scholar and warrior insure the co-existence of each other. The warrior would not exist without the directions of the scholar, and without the warrior to train; the scholar would have no purpose.


    The Salute:

    1. Starting from an attention stance, execute a right upward thrusting vertical block, to an extended outward block, and step forward toward 12 o’clock with your right foot into a right front twist stance, and draw your extended outward block back, and left inward parry to your right clenched fist raised over your right shoulder just above the height of you right ear.

    The timing is simple. The right foot moves with the hands and your hands touch when your right foot plants forward in the stance.

    2. From the previous position, step through with your left foot into a left forty-five degree cat stance, adjusting your right foot accordingly, while you bring your left hand covering your right fist forward as if hammering with the right hand, stopping on your centerline with elbows anchored just below the height of your chin.

    The timing is similar to the first part. The left foot moves with the hands and the foot reaches its position at the same time as the hands.

    3. From the previous position, step through reverse with your left foot stepping into a right forward bow, adjusting your right foot accordingly, as you roll and place your hands back to back fingers pointed toward the floor. Your elbows will be pointed directly toward the sides.

    The timing is the left foot and the hands move together with the left foot planting with the hands getting into position.

    4. From the previous position, point the fingers toward your stomach as the beginning of a rolling motion with the hands. Continue the motion until the fingers point upward and continue rolling the hands until the backs of the hands separate and the fingers point forward and the hands are now open and palm up. From here, close the hands into clenched fists and execute two back-fists that continue into a rolling, and pulling backward elbows, as you pull your left foot to your right.

    The timing is, your backward elbows are executed with the stepping of your left foot, and they both culminate together.

    The Salutation:

    5. From the previous position drop both hands open down to your side, palms facing forward with the back of your hands brushing the front of your thighs, as you step out with your left foot into a horse stance. Now from your horse stance, circle your arms and open hands out away from the body and up above the head bringing the hands together palms forward with the left and right index fingers and thumbs touching, creating a triangle shape facing forward, and pause.

    Then bring the hands down to chin height in the right clenched fist left hand covering position, pause.

    The hands now drop to a position with both palms together fingers upward and your forearms touching your body, (in a “prayer” like position) pause.

    Now turn both hands palm forward left in front of your right. Execute two outward interlocking circling clawing hands with arms completely extended, wrists bent, and drawing your left foot to your right at the same time your circling hands make contact with your outer thighs.


    The salutation has four basic variations used by those in American Kenpo, but all variations use what is described above, in part or in a different sequence.

    In a form:

    1. The Salute and Salutation, in that sequence, are used only with the formal execution of forms in conjunction with identifying hand gestures.

    In a set:

    1. The Salutation and salute are utilized in reverse order, adjusted to represent the modern origin of the sets with the “new” Salutation coming first and the “old” Salute second. From a Horse Stance at the beginning and end of performing a Set begin with the “empty hand, salute, prayer section, (salutation) and then move to and finish with the clenched fist step out, (salute).

    Simple Salute:

    Utilized to show respect to administrators, teaching staff, upper classman, fellow students, the training facility, or as a simple greeting to other martial scientist.

    From an attention or feet together position, simply bring the right clenched fist to the left covering hand with a slight thrusting motion forward toward the person you are saluting. There is no footwork in a simple salute.

    Short Salute:

    This is sometimes used at the discretion of the student in informal circumstances where you would prefer to show more respect, but a full salute and salutation would not be appropriate. Here the full salute can be used without the second half salutation.
    "Nothing is more dangerous than the conscientiously ignorant, or the sincerely stupid." - Martin Luther King Jr.

    "Knowledge speaks but wisdom listens." - Ed Parker Sr.

    "It's much easier to quote, than to know." - Ron Chapél

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