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  • Writer's pictureSumbella

The power of a 'Pai-shou'

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

Note: about the word ‘Pai-shou’ in this post - Pai is pronounced like ‘Pie’ from Meat Pie in English, and shou is like ‘Show’ in ‘TV Show’). It means to clap hands, applause, or High-5. 

I had studied Chinese for years before I realised I had never used the word ‘High 5’. 

Not once during my lessons as a student in London, nor in China. 

But when I train or teach, I say and do ‘High-5’s’ frequently.

I do it with young learners and adults. 

Because as a trainer and teacher, I believe I have the power to affect the energy of a room and of my students.

I can affect the way time feels - fun, light and exciting, or heavy, boring and serious. 

It turns out, there isn’t a direct way to translate ‘High 5’ in Chinese*.

This is probably why I never heard or used it in a Chinese lesson. 

But in my sessions and teaching now, my students all know I use the word ‘Pai-shou’ a lot - literally meaning ‘to clap/hit hands’. 

Just a small ‘Pai-shou’ encourages my students when I see they’ve mastered something, or done something well. 

In my opinion a good pai-shou sets off a cycle of 3 important things:

  1. It gives you an energy boost. 

  2. It gives you a confidence boost. 

  3. It helps you do even more of what you were doing well. 

It is a powerful thing to hear praise and encouragement, especially from people we are close to, admire and love. 

And surprisingly, it’s a step we often miss: celebrating what we and our loved ones have done. Appreciating an achievement. Sharing success. 

So may this short post be a little reminder:

If not for yourself, then pai-shou somebody else's achievements today.

Give them an energy boost. Raise their confidence. And see them fly.



  1. There are a couple of ways to express ‘High 5’ in Chinese. One is a bit complicated in terms of pronunciation and characters (击掌 ji-zhang) - so I choose to use ‘Paishou’, which is easier to say, and literally means ‘clap hands’. It is often used for ‘applause’ in Chinese - but I also use it when showing I want to High 5 someone.

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