The Fist Bump

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The Fist Bump

07/19/2013 | Washougal, WA

Once used strictly by boxers to test each others strength and will, this versatile and easily-learned gesture has since been co-opted by mass culture.

The Fist Bump

If you do a giant gainer off a forty-foot cliff into a bubbling blue pool the size of a hot tub surrounded by jagged rocks and come up smiling then you deserve some acknowledgement. We may not be best friends or even know each other if we met on the street—we may hate each other. Still, I feel the need to acknowledge the doing of something that, when done wrong, has such obviously dire consequences. I too have a death drive albeit one that may be forever stuck in second gear.

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Choosing the right form of acknowledgement is paramount. The potential types of praise are wide ranging, existing on a continuum with the demure and potentially antagonistic head nod on one end to the wild exuberance of a spastic high five on the other. Factors of intimacy, feat, and surroundings must be accounted for; miscalculation can derail the energy of the event with the potential to send those involved into a spiral of shame. Fortunately there is a gesture that stands on solid middle ground, the fist bump. [Also known as fist pound, bro fist, spudding, fo’knucks Bust, pound dogg, props, or respect. Fist Bump, Wikipedia.]

Pugilistic in essence, the fist bump honestly conveys goodwill while giving each actor the ability to maintain a cool emotional distance. It is a safe play.”- AR

Once used strictly by boxers to test each others strength and will, this versatile and easily-learned gesture has since been co-opted by mass culture; sports stars of all stripes can be seen spudding, celebrities, grand parents, social workers, dog walkers, truck drivers, rodeo clowns, and airline pilots can all be seen giving props, even President Obama can be seen regularly giving respect to notable dignitaries. Fist bumps have acquired universal status, sign language slang of the first order, utilized alone and in gestures such as dap. [Dap is a form of handshake that has recently become popular in western cultures” Dap Greeting, Wikipedia. A video on the subject, The Dap Project, is a video documentary ca. 2006 from High School of Commerce, Springfield, MA.]

If you haven’t yet try it out, knock your own knuckles together, feel the connection. Experiment with your friends and family to find out when a fist bump is appropriate for you, and then branch out to neighbors and colleagues. The risks are low and there will come a time where the fist bump is assimilated into your communication resources, alongside those other venerable hand signs: the wave, handshake, high-five, thumbs up, middle finger, devil horns, and peace sign.

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As for the gainer guy, after our fist bump we sipped on beers while he explained that he normally does his gainers with a chest-mounted GoPro. I commented that I bet the footage was pretty amazing, and his buddy who was wearing bone-dry cutoff jeans reflected that the footage was indeed a, “mother fucker to see.” I wasn’t able to find the chest mount footage, but I am pretty sure the guy on the left in this video is the same guy that I shared a fist bump with, and I have to say this is a mother fucker watch.

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