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Gestures & Handshakes

Kung Fu Greetings - On the western adventure KUNG FU/ABC/1972-75 David Carradine played Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin monk who fled China and wandered the Old West in search of his brother.

Kwai Chang Caine - KUNG FU
Kwai Chang Caine ready to fight

During Caine's travels and in the flashback sequences on the show there were many fight scenes. Before a fight began, however, opponents would often bow to each other, especially those from the Shaolin Temple who in accordance to their training always bowed before fighting someone.

In the book "The Kung Fu Book of Caine" by Herbie J. Pilato (Tuttle, 1991) Kam Yuen, a technical advisor for the series explained that bowing is a matter of honor and respect. When you bow, you must always look into the eyes of your opponent. If you don't, you are being disrespectful.

David Chow the first technical advisor on the program added that one bows with hand to the side when bowing to a master. For someone of equal or less ability one "offers your heart and strength" as you look at your opponent while bowing. This is done by holding both hands in front of ones body: one hand open (to signify your heart) and one hand closed in a fist (to signify strength).

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