(by Ron Chapel msuacf.com)
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. Before the establishment of what was called “Shaolin,” 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.
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"The word kenpo translates as "fist law" or rather "the method of the fist." It is a broad term - like "martial arts" or "self defense" - that carries a complex and colorful history: it can be described as a Japanese word for a Chinese concept that was heavily influenced by the Okinawans, and uniquely interpreted by the Hawaiians. Better yet, kenpo would also be integral to the rise of martial arts culture in America." - Charles Russo
Striking Distance: Bruce Lee and the Dawn of Martial Arts in America - (page 94)