Red Fist: an important role in traditional Chinese martial arts

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The song of the fist says:

The knightly fist starts off exceptionally, with crossed punches to protect both sides.

The upward punch is a crucial pillar, while keeping the central position defended.

Push the elbow into the chest, turn the palms as fast as the wind.

Like wielding the sword without rest …

An arm sinks into the sea, with various stuff hidden in the sleeve.

These vigorous and powerful movements come from Red Fist, one of the main local fists in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province.

Red Fist is one of the main local fists in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. / CGTN Photo

Red Fist is one of the main local fists in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. / CGTN Photo

Originating in the Zhou and Qin dynasties (770 BC-207 BC), Red Fist is widespread in the Guanzhong region of Shaanxi. It plays an important role in traditional Chinese martial arts. Through the collection and arrangement by generations of heirs, he formed a system with rich content, diverse routines and comprehensive techniques. He is renowned for his professional excellence and moral integrity.

Originating in the Zhou and Qin dynasties, Red Fist is widely distributed in the Guanzhong region of Shaanxi province. / CGTN Photo

Originating in the Zhou and Qin dynasties, Red Fist is widely distributed in the Guanzhong region of Shaanxi province. / CGTN Photo

The “red” in the name implies that the fist is bloody and deadly, with blade-like movements inspired by the ancient battlefield. Later in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), it became an unarmed martial art due to the ban on weapons. Nonetheless, the movements are still deadly.

The Red Fist also has unique cultural characteristics and is the essence of Shaanxi martial arts culture. As chairman of Shaanxi HongQuan (Red Fist) Culture Research Association, Shao Zhiyong pledged to promote the Red Fist. In his opinion, the fist focuses on the balance between inner and outer forces. It is for both health and competition.

Shao Zhiyong is the president of the Shaanxi HongQuan Culture Research Association (Red Fist). / CGTN Photo

Shao Zhiyong is the president of the Shaanxi HongQuan Culture Research Association (Red Fist). / CGTN Photo

“I started practicing the Red Fist to be stronger as a child. I have continued to do it for almost six decades and it helps me a lot,” Shao said.

During practice, one should study the skills and understand the cultural connotations. Before accepting a disciple, the master examines his moral character and behavior to see if he is qualified.

“Learn the rituals before you go to the master. Know the moral before you practice the fist. We practice not to intimidate, but for justice, confidence and self-improvement,” Shao said.

Know the moral before practicing the fist. / CGTN Photo

Know the moral before practicing the fist. / CGTN Photo

The practice cultivates the body and the mores. It demands chivalry as well as politeness. It’s not just the movement, but also the mind that makes Red Fist foolproof.

In 2008, Red Fist was inscribed in the national intangible cultural heritage. As a representative heir, during his decades of practice, Shao has always been diligent in teaching and promoting the fist. With this tireless spirit, he contributed to the revitalization of traditional martial arts and the promotion of national cultures.

Shao Zhiyong is the representative heir of Red Fist. / CGTN Photo

Shao Zhiyong is the representative heir of Red Fist. / CGTN Photo


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