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tedehara
01-12-2002, 09:58 PM
National Public Radio reported:
A federal judge in Seattle today (1/11/02) ruled that judo contestants can be required to bow in competition. NPR's Melissa Block talked with John Holm, the stepfather of two of the three students who brought the case to trial. The students argued that the bowing is a religious ritual and violates some of their religious beliefs. Holm says they will appeal the judge's ruling.

NPR article (need audio player to hear) (http://search1.npr.org/search97cgi/s97_cgi?action=View&VdkVgwKey=%2Fopt%2Fcollections%2Ftorched%2Fatc%2Fdata%5Fatc%2Fseg%5F136212%2Ehtm&DocOffset=1&DocsFound=1&QueryZip=bowing+in+judo&Collection=zeus&Collection=C1&Collection=WEB&SortSpec=Date+Desc+Score+Desc&ViewTemplate=docview%2Ehts&SearchUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fsearch1%2Enpr%2Eorg%2Fsearch97cgi%2Fs97%5Fcgi%3Faction%3D FilterSearch%26QueryZip%3Dbowing%2Bin%2Bjudo%26Filter%3Dtopic%255Ffilter%252Ehts %26ResultTemplate%3Dsimple%255Fdate%252Ehts%26QueryText%3Dbowing%2Bin%2Bjudo%26C ollection%3Dzeus%26Collection%3DC1%26Collection%3DWEB%26SortSpec%3DDate%2BDesc%2 BScore%2BDesc%26ViewTemplate%3Ddocview%252Ehts%26ResultStart%3D1%26ResultCount%3 D10&)
I know some people find the act religiously questionable.

Exodus 20:4-5 KJ version
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visitng the iniquity of the fathers upon the childeren unto the third and fourth geneeration of them that hate me:

In the dojo I go to, bowing is optional. How does your dojo handle this? Or is this even an issue?

Abasan
01-12-2002, 10:13 PM
Bowing in Aikido or any other martial arts should not be miscontrued as supplication. It is one given in respect. Respect and gratitude to be able to practice and learn together at the same time taking care of each others well being.

Islam as with Christianity does not allow you to subjugate yourself unto others. It all depends on why you bow, since if God is worth His salt, he'll know the meaning of your heart and intentions instead of having to rely on your physical actions.

lt-rentaroo
01-12-2002, 10:19 PM
Hello,

In my dojo, if students prefer not to bow during the beginning of class, I'm OK with that. It seems that with some people it doesn't matter how many times you explain to them that bowing is done as a sign of respect for the founder of the art and also to other students, they still look upon bowing as a sign of worship. If you go along with this belief, do you also believe that Japanese people are in effect worshipping each other when they bow as a greeting?

Yes, in certain cases the action of bowing is used in a religious context. Aikido class, at least my class, is not a religious ceremony. I say we let all those who believe that bowing during class or a tournament is an act of worship continue to maintain their ignorant blissful thoughts.

I'm sure I will take much heat for this, but the question was asked. Happy Training.

p.s. Bowing has never been an issue during my classes; perhaps I'm lucky to have students who understand the cultural significance of bowing as a sign of respect.

guest1234
01-12-2002, 11:11 PM
The dojo where I primarily train now has a Muslim student (and great partner!:) ) who does not bow...it's not an issue. My last dojo it never came up, but it would not have been a problem, that was the most tolerant dojo on earth. My first, heavily fundamental Christian and Jewish in makeup, did not bow at all...

I have traveled a lot, living in some pretty different cultures, and personally have no problems with bowing. But I don't think that those who see it as a religious issue are being silly, any more than those who refuse certain medical treatments, or avoid eating certain foods, or refuse to kill any living thing. Just because it is not my belief, doesn't make it trivial; and if those who bow feel those who don't shouldn't see it as 'such a big deal' to bow, then maybe they also shouldn't see it as such a big deal to NOT bow. I am disappointed in the court that made that ruling.

unsound000
01-13-2002, 02:46 AM
If religious people go to Japan and meet people, then do they bow in return to meeting others? If they work out in a Japanese dojo, then shouldn't they bow? If they refused to bow to friendly Japanese people, then maybe no problem. If they refuse to bow in a dojo though, that would not go over very well. You should not be doing the art if you do not believe in the traditions of the art. It is wrong to just take the parts that you like and not the rest. We shouldn't say, "Oh, I am against this part of the art but this part is ok for me." We should not try to steal pieces of things from other cultures. We should try and appreciate the whole of what they offer. There is no point otherwise.

I would not personally be ok with sparring with somebody that did not bow first. I would take it more as a real fight without a show of respect. I do not think these people are being silly but I do think that if you want to try something new then you should not pick and choose the parts you like.

I read once about a religious person that would bow but not to the founder's picture. He would bow slightly off line with the picture. It was not noticable. I think this shows a respect for the tradition but also
put his own beliefs first. An outright refusal to bow is offensive but compromising this way still shows some respect, I believe. They should make an effort.

Originally posted by tedehara


I know some people find the act religiously questionable.

In the dojo I go to, bowing is optional. How does your dojo handle this? Or is this even an issue?

Edward
01-13-2002, 02:49 AM
I think bowing is an important part of Japanese Martial Arts. If you choose to study a foreign art, you should have enough open mindness to accept it with all its cultural implications.

Bowing has never been an issue at any of the dojos where I have trained, neither in Lebanon nor in Thailand. However, if I ever happen to instruct my own class, bowing would be compulsory.

Cheers,
Edward

Thalib
01-13-2002, 05:53 AM
It's not much of a problem, because most of us are easterners (asians) down here. Bowing has been in our culture for a while, not the Japanese way, but it is bowing nonetheless.

It is a sign of respect, nothing more, nothing less. I'm a muslim, my sensei is a muslim, and a lot of Aikidokas here in Indonesia are muslims. In my life, I only see one person refused to bow in sign of respect of the class, although I am irritated by it, I left it be.

My sensei, Hakim sensei, is really serious about bowing. How you bow reflects you personality. I mean there are other ways to show respect, but since this is the tradition, we respect it. In our dojo, our shomen has no picture of Osensei, and it won't be a problem either if there is.

Bowing is a sign of respect and a way to show thanks, it should not be a problem. But if it is for someone, a good explanation (which my sensei often does excelently) should be given. It is best that the person that explains it share the same view (religiously, if this was the problem). If the person still refuses, then we should respect that determination and let it be.

Aikido is ever evolving and expands to infinity.

guest1234
01-13-2002, 06:54 AM
You know, we've been throught the 'tradition' part of this discussion before...we also don't all wear hakamas the first minute we step on the mat (in fact, the folks who are often the most hard over on bowing come from dojos that have easily dropped the hakama-for-all tradition). Geishas are a part of Japanese culture...but no man I've trained with within reach of me would suggest that as a role for me...

You could also say, at least for the dojos in the US, that these are NOT Japanese dojos. They are in a country that was founded by those wanting religious freedom, that prides itself on upholding individual rights and freedoms, and it sounds somewhat un-American to insist someone violate their deeply held religious beliefs in order to take part in a judo competition.

As for Aikido dojos that insist on bowing, I supppose the student would just have to find a more tolerant place to train--it is the sensei's right to make the rules-- (unfortuantely outside the west coast there are often not a whole bunch of dojos in the same town). But if I were ever a sensei, I think I would not want to force others to choose between their religious beliefs and Aikido.

As for training with someone who does not bow...in my dojo that didn't bow, we exchanged a friendly greeting...the student who does not bow in my current place smiles and says 'hello'. I've had students bow, then get up and treat me in a very disrespectful manner once we began training. Bowing doesn't create respect, or caring, or even minimal ethical behavior. And it doesn't necessarily mean that it is there. I think a lot of folks bow in Aikido with nothing in their hearts, it is just an action they've learned to do, a habit.

Thalib
01-13-2002, 07:42 AM
Yes, I personally agree with you Colleen, that there are people who bow just for the sake of the shape of bowing. These people do not know what bowing really is, what it signifies.

It is only after I took a few Ki-no-Kenkyukai classes that I learn how to properly "rei". Now I can tell the difference between an empty "rei" and a meaningful and truthful one.

You will see that those people that bows to you and then treat you disrespectfully will also have an empty technique. These types of people will only care on the shape or on how to do a technique. They probably won't even bother studying the principles nor the philosophies behind the actual techniques.

Techniques are tools for learning the principles/philosophies/spirit. Without those qualities within the person, one will only merely be an empty shell.

unsound000
01-14-2002, 12:48 AM
I agree with much of what you say. Personally, I know a religious person that believed Harry Potter was the devil's work and that people that belonged to religions other than Christianity were going to hell. Now, for me this seems like the same kind of thinking and that is why I feel strongly against it. I believe in being open to other cultures and ways of doing things. When we are not open, then we tend to judge others. I mean to these people am I bad or not going to heaven because I do bow? Am I less somehow in their eyes? Because they judge themselves, they also judge me. It is confusing to me that they will not bow but they will train in an art that could potentially criple or kill another person. It is also sad to me that they limit themselves to only dojo's, teachers, competitions etc. that do not require bowing. I feel like they should judge people based on who they are not on bending at the waist. I guess I feel like they do not show tolerance for the Japanese way and you feel that we do not show them tolerance for their religious traditions. Interesting..



Originally posted by ca
You know, we've been throught the 'tradition' part of this discussion before...we also don't all wear hakamas the first minute we step on the mat (in fact, the folks who are often the most hard over on bowing come from dojos that have easily dropped the hakama-for-all tradition). Geishas are a part of Japanese culture...but no man I've trained with within reach of me would suggest that as a role for me...

You could also say, at least for the dojos in the US, that these are NOT Japanese dojos. They are in a country that was founded by those wanting religious freedom, that prides itself on upholding individual rights and freedoms, and it sounds somewhat un-American to insist someone violate their deeply held religious beliefs in order to take part in a judo competition.

As for Aikido dojos that insist on bowing, I supppose the student would just have to find a more tolerant place to train--it is the sensei's right to make the rules-- (unfortuantely outside the west coast there are often not a whole bunch of dojos in the same town). But if I were ever a sensei, I think I would not want to force others to choose between their religious beliefs and Aikido.

As for training with someone who does not bow...in my dojo that didn't bow, we exchanged a friendly greeting...the student who does not bow in my current place smiles and says 'hello'. I've had students bow, then get up and treat me in a very disrespectful manner once we began training. Bowing doesn't create respect, or caring, or even minimal ethical behavior. And it doesn't necessarily mean that it is there. I think a lot of folks bow in Aikido with nothing in their hearts, it is just an action they've learned to do, a habit.

Mares
01-14-2002, 05:24 AM
This is quite an intense discussion. From where I'm standing evereyone has made some good points. I personally would have a few reservations about training with someone who didn't bow. But I'm not sure what I would do. I have never encountered that problem.

Interestingly (is that a real word?) enough though if you re-read the first post, the step father who brought the case to trail alledgedly stated that bowing is a "religious ritual" and violates some of thier religious beliefs. I think the common theme throughout this thread is that our sort of bowing is a bow of respect to your partner not a religious bow.

Colleen, with all due respect, taking the above into consideration isn't the judges decisions somewhat justified?

Peter Goldsbury
01-14-2002, 06:19 AM
I have a bad feeling about a judge passing a judgement compelling people to bow in a dojo as a point of law.

In the dojo where I usually train here in Hiroshima, we gather round in a circle, in seiza, and bow to each other as a sign of mutual respect and 'thanks for the practice'--and usually we are all gaijin. But if someone does not want to bow, for ANY reason, that's OK.

When I was a student in England, I used to practise aikido with some students who were Muslim. They were mainly Iranian, but there were one ortwo Afgans. They were great to train with, for they had all the martial fervour of prewar Japanese and loved hard practice. Some of them went back to their own countries and were tortured to death for their Muslim (and political) beliefs. But bowing was never a problem. I think we bowed to each other before and after training because it was the custom and we genuinely came to love each other. But they were militant Muslims and I was once hauled over the coals for not following Muslim customs (I think I used the wrong hand to take food at a meal). They used the argument that they bowed when practising aikido because they respected Japanese culture: I should do the same with Muslim culture. I had no answer.

So I agree with Colleen's posts and find it hard to think of a situation in presentday aikido when one would bow in aikido for reasons other than mutual respect.

By the way, Colleen, do you plan to come to Aiki Expo? If so, I look forward to meeting you and to train together: to flesh out the posts, so to speak.

Best regards,

guest1234
01-14-2002, 09:02 AM
Dr Goldsbury: Yeah, watch that left hand, and for goodness sake, don't cross your legs!:eek:

I've had my space for the expo and my room reserved for about a year... and your classes were some that enticed me to sign up, so watch for a short, loud whitebelt who laughs if someone throws her hard... :D I'm looking forward to it! Besides, UNLV is the dojo I still call home in my heart.

Jon, thanks for an insight I hadn't before realized. I can't speak for all with restrictive beliefs, but I can at least speak for one (me) on how I feel about the few things about which I'm conservative: I'm of an older generation, and raised Irish Catholic to boot, so I'm sure that gives a picture of how I personally feel about, er, :o male-female relationships. But the fact that I would judge my behavior pretty harshly in this area, never led me to think anyone else (well, except whomever I was dating;) ) had to behave this way, or that they were 'sinners'. In my view, you sin when you violate your own beliefs, not those of others. (N.B., you may, however, be acting rudely in others' eyes, so it is always wise to explain your beliefs if they are very different).

So, I would never think of others as lesser, or being bad, if they don't follow my personal beliefs, but I would like to be allowed to follow them myself, or I indeed would be sinning. There's a line in a movie about St Thomas Moore, where he is urged to sign the proclamation regarding the King's divorce, as all the other nobles have (through rationalizing their actions). He replies "so I should sign for fellowship? and when after we die, and you are sent to heaven for your beliefs, and I to hell, will you join me there, for fellowship?'

Michael: It makes me nervous when the courts decide which religious beliefs are valid. But I'm pretty liberal.

guest1234
01-14-2002, 09:12 AM
PS,

Jon, I am more likely to kill or maim someone with my car, a 9mm, or my medical skills :eek: , than ever with my Aikido...

a lot of folks don't come to Aikido thinking of it as a form of deadly persuasion...:)

Magma
01-14-2002, 10:43 AM
I think it is important to recognize that the court in that case was not mandating bowing or not bowing, nor were they legislating religion. In fact, they were doing just the opposite. The question before the court was "does a requirement to bow in a martial arts competition/event violate a person's right to believe what they want to?" The court answered that there was nothing religious about the bow and therefore no question for the court to answer. In other words, the control was returned back to the event organizer to determine if bowing was required.

Unfortunately, I have seen this taken to an even further extreme: in one of the arts I study in, a father enrolled his son (15 yrs. old) for classes. Catching only the opening and closing of class (when he dropped off and picked up his son), the father complained about "those people speaking in tongues," and pulled his student out of the studio. Basically, he was reacting to opening class by calling out "Shomen ni rei... Sensei ni rei" and then the uttering of "Onegaishimasu" as class opened, for example. I don't think that the father understood that simply using another language was different from having some sort of spirit come over you where you began speaking the language without ever having studied it. I wondered what the father would say if someone pointed out all of the words that we use in our everyday life that are obviously from another language. (deja vu, ennui, etc.) Perhaps that is going a bit far, but the point does still hold.

I also think that we can argue this point without worrying about stepping on toes, since this is not a question of "is this a matter of my beliefs or my salvation?" Rather, this is a question of "is this religious?" There would be no difference between this discussion and one that questioned whether a hand-shake was carnal contact outside the bonds of marriage. In both cases the act has been thrust into a context where it does not belong simply because it resembles acts that do belong in that context (that is, bowing is present in religion, therefore ALL bowing must be religious; or hand holding is a part of expressing love between two married people, therefore ALL hand holding/shaking should be reserved for marriage.) Imagine having that discussion with someone and you can understand the look of confusion I get when this topic comes up.

"You mean you won't shake hands with me because you're not married to me? But... Bob, we're both men."

guest1234
01-14-2002, 12:47 PM
Bowing in class is not religious in your view, but that does not make it not religious in anothers...in fact, what do you think the bow that O Sensei led his class with meant to him, as long as we are being so traditional? Do you think he was 'just clapping to call attention to class starting', or because it is a part of Shinto prayer ritual, designed, I think, to call the attention of the gods?

Yes, the court ruled the organizers can require whatever they want to... so if they decide everyone has to share a ham sandwich before we start, since most of us have no religious issues with ham, that's OK, right? Jewish, Muslim, Adventists and some Buddhists should know we see no religious significance or prohibition to eating ham, and so should not have any problem with joining in that activity.

It would be our right to make that rule, as orgainzers, but why would we want to exclude those who have religious beliefs not our own? Those who do not wish to bow are not saying you shouldn't, they are just asking to be allowed their own beliefs, not change yours. If they can accept your wanting to bow, why is it so hard for you to accept their NOT wanting to bow? Why is the form more important than tolerance of other's religions and viewpoints?

A fair number of folks on another thread said it would be soooo unfair for a sensei to require you to hug your partners at the end of class...not because it violated your religious beliefs, but because you don't like it, a personal preference in behavior. So personal dislikes are reasons to not do what is asked as ceremony in the dojo, but religious beliefs are not?

For all of you who just have to bow in class or you wouldn't want to train with someone, is that how you are in life, as well? You bow to everyone on the street? Wear your hakama to work? Oh, I see, it is just something you do for Aikido on the mat. For me, Aikido is about accepting not excluding others, and changing me, not worrying about changing them. And of all the things I find important in the world, an empty bow for tradition's sake means little. A sincere greeting from someone who doesn't bow means the world.

Time to climb off my soapbox and get out to the flightline.

Magma
01-14-2002, 01:38 PM
How quickly this degenerates into a debate over beliefs on the mat, which is actually the opposite of what it should be.

CA, there are specific beliefs that you mention which can be stepped on in the course of planning an event. (BTW, I do not eat ham for religious reasons - but I am not Jewish nor Muslim... but I still understood your point about beliefs other than my own). However, there are others that are wholesale, sweeping categorizations based on inference, history, fear, or generalizations.

"Some people use candles for religious ceremonies, and other people use them to meditate... so if I light a candle, it's going to be for one of these purposes, too."

We end up with the anti-Amish: someone who HAS to use electrically powered lights rather than candles.

"O'sensei bowed to awaken the gods or rouse his ancestors, therefore if I bow, I am also trying to awaken the gods or rouse my ancestors."

Really?

Similarly, "The bible says don't bow to any graven image, to have no gods before God, so if I bow at all I am setting that thing up as an idol."

No, what counts as setting something up as an idol is... "setting something up as an idol." Notice that I am not defining what that is; each person would have to define that if they were concerned. However, it is these broad-shored absolutes that I find naive and closed-minded. You know what, maybe people could find a brace that didn't let them bend at the waist at all... ever. Need to pick up a small child? Sorry, can't do it. Why? Because you would be bowed over and you can't suffer that.

"Oh, in picking up that child you would be bowing for a different purpose than [praying to that child/raising the gods/invoking your ancestors/insert sin here]? But for some reason you can't see yourself doing that on the mats... hmm."

And just so we're clear, I respect everyone's beliefs. I do not accept all of them; in fact, some I find downright childish, some an affront to what I believe, and some naive. Others I find beautiful. But I respect them all. "Bowing equals Religion" I find naive... but believe it if you want. On the other hand, just because you believe it does not make it any less naive to me.

I'm not asking anyone to change their faith. All I am asking is don't ask me to change the art of Aikido. Bowing is a part of it, a part of the traditions. If someone can't handle that, then they can't handle the art.

Thalib
01-14-2002, 05:18 PM
I have learned over the years, when religion is involved, there is no use arguing.

I mean some people could sit down and have a nice discussion about their beliefs, even between different beliefs. But this is very rare, especially here in Indonesia. Discussions can be achieved among the academics, or the educated, which is still very low percentage-wise.

I'm a muslim, and I see a lot of mis-education and mis-use of the Islam religion. I see people using Islam for their political needs. I see people using Islam for inducing violence. How is this possible? The low education that the people have here make them vulnerable to the provoking thoughts of the religious leader (or people they see as a religious leader).

I'm not much of a religious person, but my sensei is. He is a quite religious muslim. I believe that he's probably the only one that could explain the significance of bowing without raising much controversy. If it was me, I would probably be brushed off easily.

If I was about to do sometype of explanation, trying to find a resolution to this matter, I would probably do it during a nice relaxing conversation over tea, coffe, or even beer... heheheheh... Now you see how religious I am...

deepsoup
01-14-2002, 05:27 PM
Originally posted by ca
Bowing in class is not religious in your view, but that does not make it not religious in anothers...

As usual, I agree pretty much entirely with Colleen, but I'd just like to add one comment:
In the case of some ( a smallish minority, I think ) muslims, bowing is a problem even if they appreciate that it has no religious significance whatsoever.

The way some people interpret the Koran, bowing is reserved solely for the purpose of prayer, and it is forbidden to bow for any other reason, regardless of whether it has religious implications or not.

I met such a gentleman at a judo dojo I visited a few years ago. While everyone else bowed, he shook hands with his partner before and after practicing, and after the end of the session he went over to sensei, shook his hand and thanked him sincerely for teaching the class.

This gentleman practiced hard and laughed often, in short he was an absolute joy to train with.

I believe the instructor would have been within his rights to refuse to teach someone who didn't bow, but I was very glad he had a more open mind than that. If he had done so, his dojo would have been a much poorer place.

Sean
x

Thalib
01-14-2002, 05:40 PM
That is quite a good explanation Orchard-san. You are quite a learned and an experienced person.

What you have said is all true. That's why I'm quite reluctant to try to convince people to bow. We live in the time of globalization now, we should always keep an open mind.

Edward
01-14-2002, 09:42 PM
As a Christian from the Middle East, I can assure you that we have never heard of any problem with a Muslim not wanting to bow whatsover, and I have practiced MA for over 17 years. The misconception is about bowing in Islam and it's wrong because Muslims do have many signs of humility while talking to others which very much resemble bowing. Most of the controversies I've read are about some fanatical Christians who want to follow both Old and New Testaments to the letter with all the contradictions they contain. This as about Christian arrogance, and non tolerance for other cultures and religions. Remember, we are the ones who persecuted almost every population and every religion in the world, starting with the Crusades, to slavery in Africa, to native Indians in both North and South America, not to mention South and South East Asia, and finally the Jews. The list is very long.

Going to an age of Globalization, we are all in danger now of loosing our identity. I'm not saying that Globalization is bad, but that we should conserve as much as possible of our traditions and others' traditions so that we don't end up as stereotypes.

Aikido is a Japanese Martial Art, and hand-shaking, hugging, kissing...etc. are in my view ridiculous and embarassing. The only acceptable way is bowing. You have a problem with bowing, there are Western Martial Arts such as Boxing, Greco-Roman Wrestling, fencing...etc. No body's forcing you to take up Aikido, and your presence in Aikido is not so necessary that Japanese tradition should be modified for your sake.

We as open-minded and responsible persons should bend to accomodate the art that we chose to practice, not vice versa.

Cheers,
Edward

guest1234
01-14-2002, 10:42 PM
Perhaps it is a US Muslim issue, or US-British Muslim issue... since Islam is the largest religion in the world, and even in Christianity (much smaller) the views differ widely by sect, perhaps you just did not run into those who did not bow. I was 24 before I met an Adventist; before then I would have said a person worshiping on Saturday was likely Jewish, and Christian would not have been a guess on the religion of someone who didn't eat meat. Perhaps you have just not yet met a Muslim who does not bow for religious reasons. But they do exist.

If we insist on being traditional, then how can you mock what the Founder believed, and religate what he considered vital and important, the religious prayers and ceremonies that he opened class with, to a there-is-nothing-religious- about-it status. His students say he felt strongly about wearing hakamas on the mat. How can you pick and choose what you want, and toss the rest? Is that how you honor his memory? Perhaps those who see a religious side to what you don't are actually seeing things much closer to the way O Sensei did, than you. Wouldn't it be better to just let each person greet you in the way he feels comfortable? Isn't insisting on everyone adopting Japanese culture, even if it violates their religious beliefs, being close-mineded and unwilling to accept diverve cultures and experience? How is saying 'if you won't do exactly as everyone else here does, then go somewhere else' promoting a wider appreciation of things foreign. If you are comfortable in your choices, then let others be comfortable in theirs; perhaps they will change, perhaps not, but you each are exposed to things different.

Edward
01-14-2002, 11:49 PM
Osensei's religious convictions were his own. They played a great part in the development of Aikido, this is an undenyiable fact, and as such must be acknowledged and respected.

Now we are not all expected to follow Osensei's eccentricities, eventhough I agree regarding the Hakama issue which should be worn by all Aikidoka regardless of rank in the same tradition as Kendo and other samurai arts.

But bowing is not particular to Aikido. This is the Japanese way of showing respect and is used in all Japanese Martial Arts. Clapping hands has been discontinued in most of the dojos because of its religious significance, and I fully agree with that. Not that I'm afraid that I will go to hell if I do, but that it's just insignificant to me.

But I am a traditionalist. I'm sure we will see a lot of this Christian Aikido, Muslim Aikido, Jewish Aikido...etc. in the future, and with all due respect, it's all nonsense.

Cheers,
Edward

unsound000
01-15-2002, 12:31 AM
Doitashimashite:) (Your welcome.) Thanks for your comments too. I'm Irish protestant so it's nice that we do not degenerate into fighting;) Message boards are horrible to get into deep differences in belief. Now Guiness and a pub...

Originally posted by ca


Jon, thanks for an insight I hadn't before realized. I can't speak for all with restrictive beliefs, but I can at least speak for one (me) on how I feel about the few things about which I'm conservative: I'm of an older generation, and raised Irish Catholic to boot, so I'm sure that gives a picture of how I personally feel about, er, :o male-female relationships. But the fact that I would judge my behavior pretty harshly in this area, never led me to think anyone else (well, except whomever I was dating;) ) had to behave this way, or that they were 'sinners'. In my view, you sin when you violate your own beliefs, not those of others. (N.B., you may, however, be acting rudely in others' eyes, so it is always wise to explain your beliefs if they are very different).

Chris Li
01-15-2002, 12:36 AM
Originally posted by Edward
As a Christian from the Middle East, I can assure you that we have never heard of any problem with a Muslim not wanting to bow whatsover, and I have practiced MA for over 17 years.

As a non-Christian, non-Jew, non-Muslim with over 20 years in the martial arts I can assure you that I have definitely heard of problems with Muslims who did not want to bow. Also I had a student who was an orthodox Jew with the same problem. Because you haven't met them doesn't mean that they therefore do not exist.


The misconception is about bowing in Islam and it's wrong because Muslims do have many signs of humility while talking to others which very much resemble bowing.

Whether it's a misconception or not is really a matter of religious faith. I have met any number of reasonable people who have problems with the bowing based on their faith. I choose not to interpret their religion for them.


Most of the controversies I've read are about some fanatical Christians who want to follow both Old and New Testaments to the letter with all the contradictions they contain. This as about Christian arrogance, and non tolerance for other cultures and religions.

I do know some Christians who had problems with some aspects of Aikido, but never any that had specific problems with bowing.

Aikido is a Japanese Martial Art, and hand-shaking, hugging, kissing...etc. are in my view ridiculous and embarassing. The only acceptable way is bowing. You have a problem with bowing, there are Western Martial Arts such as Boxing, Greco-Roman Wrestling, fencing...etc. No body's forcing you to take up Aikido, and your presence in Aikido is not so necessary that Japanese tradition should be modified for your sake.

I've spent over ten years training in Japan, and I've actually discussed this very issue with students of Morihei Ueshiba. Now, while I don't rule out the possibility that there are places with different policies, none of the dojo or teachers that I've trained with or are training with would have any problem at all with people eliminating the bow if the felt that it were in violation of their religious beliefs. Why be more Japanese than the Japanese themselves?

Best,

Chris

Edward
01-15-2002, 01:26 AM
Originally posted by Chris Li



I've spent over ten years training in Japan, and I've actually discussed this very issue with students of Morihei Ueshiba. Now, while I don't rule out the possibility that there are places with different policies, none of the dojo or teachers that I've trained with or are training with would have any problem at all with people eliminating the bow if the felt that it were in violation of their religious beliefs. Why be more Japanese than the Japanese themselves?



Chris

Thanks for pointing out this matter. At my dojo, our Japanese 7 Dan Shihan would, if asked, reply that it's not compulsory. Deep inside he would not be happy as I understood from him later. The matter is, it is very difficult for a Japanese to impose on a foreigner the Japanese way. Somehow they are shy or feel embarrassed. As Buddhists, they will always try to look and speak moderately.

To illustrate my point with an example not related to aikido, in Thailand where I live, most people do not wear shoes at home, while we foreigners do. When I go to visit a Thai at his home, whenever I ask, must I remove my shoes?, I will receive always the same reply, not necessary. Now if this person does not wear shoes at his home, why would he allow me to do it? These are Asian manners, so we should not abuse.

If I have good manners, I will just take off the shoes without asking.

Cheers,
Edward

Chris Li
01-15-2002, 02:22 AM
Originally posted by Edward
Thanks for pointing out this matter. At my dojo, our Japanese 7 Dan Shihan would, if asked, reply that it's not compulsory. Deep inside he would not be happy as I understood from him later.

And that's just my point - not compulsory. There's a huge difference between a preference that influences behavior and a compulsion that mandates behavior.

I go to a dojo run by two Japanese 7th dans on Saturdays, and they hardly bow at all :) .

The matter is, it is very difficult for a Japanese to impose on a foreigner the Japanese way. Somehow they are shy or feel embarrassed. As Buddhists, they will always try to look and speak moderately.

Although you'd find many Japanese who claim to be Buddhists, I think that you'll find very few who actually believe in Buddhism in more than an extremely superficial manner. Certainly not enough to worry about it when they're speaking.

IMO, the Japanese reluctance to impose some type of behavior is more related to a lower level of direct aggression than to anything else - including deep belief.

Best,

Chris

Magma
01-15-2002, 07:46 AM
Originally posted by ca
If we insist on being traditional, then how can you mock what the Founder believed, and religate what he considered vital and important, the religious prayers and ceremonies that he opened class with, to a there-is-nothing-religious- about-it status.
Because that is exactly the point. We have kept the traditions without keeping the religious significance. This does not make them somehow empty or meaningless; there are other significances that they have. What sort of significance? Whatever significance we bring to the traditions... which is why it seems so absurd to attach a meaning to something that then prohibits you from performing that exercise. A bow is what you make it, and if you choose to make it religious then don't complain that it violates your religion.

His students say he felt strongly about wearing hakamas on the mat. How can you pick and choose what you want, and toss the rest? Is that how you honor his memory?
I choose to not follow you down this path of turning this discussion into a debate over how to honor Ueshiba Sensei. That is non-topical, non-sequitor, and inflammatory.

Wouldn't it be better to just let each person greet you in the way he feels comfortable? Isn't insisting on everyone adopting Japanese culture, even if it violates their religious beliefs, being close-mineded and unwilling to accept diverve cultures and experience?
Um... no. Sorry, you just ask those questions with such an expectancy of "Isn't this right? Can't everyone see how right this is?" It is amazing to watch the diving-for-tolerance that goes on when a topic like this comes up. We end up climbing over ourselves to be tolerant... and more tolerant. I laugh because normally I will be one trying to be more tolerant myself. However, there are times when our number goal should not be "comfort," when we should not try to shape everything around us so that it fits our lives; there are times when what we need is exactly to be uncomfortable. This is a big reason that the Martial Arts are respected and make a positive change in people's lives, because they stretch people out of their comfort zones.

Steve
01-15-2002, 08:27 AM
Originally posted by ca
SNIP

If we insist on being traditional, then how can you mock what the Founder believed, and religate what he considered vital and important, the religious prayers and ceremonies that he opened class with, to a there-is-nothing-religious- about-it status. His students say he felt strongly about wearing hakamas on the mat. How can you pick and choose what you want, and toss the rest? Is that how you honor his memory?

SNIP


Personally, I don't practice aikido to honor anyone. I practice to make me a better person and because I enjoy it. I bow because I like the idea of showing respect to my mates in that way. I don't clap because clapping has a certain religeous texture that makes me uncomfortable. I never spell "founder" with an initial capital F because that gives him more importance as a human than any human desserves (excepting my Mother).

Magma
01-15-2002, 08:49 AM
Steve, I have to dispute what you said. It's my Mom that gets the initial capital... you were close. ;)

Oh, and by the way, I capitalize that leading 'M' religiously.

Religiously.

Ah, I crack myself up.

Abasan
01-15-2002, 10:12 AM
Mr Goldsbury - Last I heard, taking something with the left hand is not a persecutable offence. Just frowned upon. Maybe you met some idiots thats all. :rolleyes:

CA - cross legs? I love to cross legs, especially when my ankle acts up. I trust I won't end up in hell because of that. Just don't show your feet... considered disrespectful to Sensei and others around you.

ham - muslims don't eat ham (pork origin). They eat only slaughtered halal meat.

Edward - hugging's not too bad. OSensei liked to hug Sueneka Sensei (from Hawaii).


So... when are we going to form this 'Action Committee Against the Uncultured Behaviour of Not Bowing and Other Idiosyncracies'?

Edward
01-15-2002, 10:23 AM
Hi Colleen!

I understand you're in the military. How about the military salute? Do you have the option not to do it? Or replace it with a handshake, or a hug? Aikido is a Martial Art, right?

Cheers,
Edward

Edward
01-15-2002, 10:28 AM
Originally posted by Abasan


Edward - hugging's not too bad. OSensei liked to hug Sueneka Sensei (from Hawaii).




I wouldn't mind hugging at all if the class were to be constituted of sexy top models ;)
I just mind about hugging all these sweaty and smelly fellow males.

As for Osensei, no comments :)

Cheers,
Edward

Greg Jennings
01-15-2002, 01:54 PM
Originally posted by Magma
Steve, I have to dispute what you said. It's my Mom that gets the initial capital... you were close. ;)

Oh, and by the way, I capitalize that leading 'M' religiously.


The way I remember the rules from back in university, "Mom" would be appropriate when used as a substitute for her name. "mom" would be used when describing her relationship to you.

E.g., "Hi Mom, I'm home.!" vs. "This is my mom, Fionna".

Therefore, when I say "It was practiced by the Founder...", I capitalize. When I say "Morihei Ueshiba was the founder of aikido", I use the lower case.

But maybe the I am not remembering my grammer or perhaps the rules have changed.

Best,

MJO
01-15-2002, 05:04 PM
At my dojo, bowing is not meant to be religious. Bowing to the shomen is done as a small token of thanks to those who have passed along knowlege of their martial art skills from the past to present day. Beyond that, it is up to the individual.
I believe my instructor explains to every beginning student that there are traditional reasons for bowing. However, he feels that courtesy (respect towards learning the art and respect towards training with others) should be the common goal.
One aspect of bowing that we at AiBUKAN do practice is one of proper "structure."
This deals with the primary centers of balance: The head, center of chest, and hips/waist. Along with the six (physical) harmonies elbow-knee, shoulder-hip, head-waist, these centers are critical for proper body structure. Be it standing or in motion, techniques breakdown if the body is misaligned. The beginning student is shown what happens if he/she leans too far forward when bowing, and how to reposition their structure. Nothing more.
To each their own if one decides to start chanting some "O'Sensei-like" Elvis tunes...

Mares
01-15-2002, 07:06 PM
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
I have a bad feeling about a judge passing a judgement compelling people to bow in a dojo as a point of law.


I think this is slightly off the point and the topic, but about this point of law. I agree with you Peter and Colleen that is a shame when a judge must pass judgement on such matters. But The courts do not choose the cases brought before them they only judge them. Therefore my point being isnt' it a shame that we as members of society find it necessary to bring these matters to court, rather than a shame that judges make judgements on such cases.

I'd be interested to know your thoughts

Regards

Erik
01-15-2002, 07:39 PM
Originally posted by Mares
I think this is slightly off the point and the topic, but about this point of law. I agree with you Peter and Colleen that is a shame when a judge must pass judgement on such matters. But The courts do not choose the cases brought before them they only judge them. Therefore my point being isnt' it a shame that we as members of society find it necessary to bring these matters to court, rather than a shame that judges make judgements on such cases.

I'd be interested to know your thoughts


The following link is in regards to the case:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/49699_judo07.shtml

In my opinion, there are potential issues that surround this case. Suppose, instead of bowing, a prayer was said. In a private organization, such as a dojo, I think this would be fine. In my humble opinion in that realm just about anything goes.

Judo is different. It is a national sport and the US fields an Olympic team which would be expected to stand up under more substantive values and freedom of religion is one of them. Change bowing to prayer and I think the context of the case would change a great deal to most of us. Asking her to bow in this context is wrong.

To be honest, I think both sides are being lame. Firstly, who cares if they bow. It's no big deal, so the Judo organizations should relax and save some lawyer fees. Secondly, as an atheist I have to put up with all kinds of religious stuff that people take for granted. If I started filing suits over all of it I'd need 300 lives to get them all done.

PS: My understanding is that bowing and clapping is a Shinto ritual. Hence, the people in this case probably do have a legitimate point in that context. We may not see it that way, but once again, if you change bowing for prayer this issue becomes a bit murky and you can see why it wound up in court.

Thalib
01-16-2002, 07:40 AM
Originally posted by MJO
One aspect of bowing that we at AiBUKAN do practice is one of proper "structure."
This deals with the primary centers of balance: The head, center of chest, and hips/waist. Along with the six (physical) harmonies elbow-knee, shoulder-hip, head-waist, these centers are critical for proper body structure. Be it standing or in motion, techniques breakdown if the body is misaligned. The beginning student is shown what happens if he/she leans too far forward when bowing, and how to reposition their
structure. Nothing more.

Your dojo have similarities with ours. At first we didn't pay much attention to this, until my sensei, another aikidoka, and I started to take Ki-no-Kenkyukai classes. We realized that we've missed so much. Forget about "Ki" for a second, before those classes, we were even lacking in the concept of shin-shin-toitsu,unification of / one mind and body.

Now, the way we stand, the way we sit (in seiza position or not),the way we bow, even the way we lie down (even to sleep) is a very big significance.We have to keep our center at all times, keep our mind and body unified, and if already understood, extend our "ki".

Techniques are useless without these basic principles. I was basically humbled in a manner that all that I have learned are empty techniques. I was so high up in the clouds, that I was brought back down to earth.My sensei now takes bowing seriously, it is a practice of "ki",or at least unification of mind and body. By unification of mind and body, the body reflects the state of mind and even spirit. So when you bow, it is clearly a representation of your state of mind / spirit. Once you train in this, it is easily visible the truth that represents the person your perceiving. This also have something to do with Musashi's "kan" and "ken" from "The Book of Five Rings.

I try to practice these teachings in my everyday life, and it has helped me a lot with a few things. Dojo is the place where I learn, my life is the place where I practice it.My perceptions have changed for the better.

giriasis
01-16-2002, 08:30 AM
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
I have a bad feeling about a judge passing a judgement compelling people to bow in a dojo as a point of law.

Before I agree or disagree, being a law student I would love to read the judge's opinion.

Does anyone have case name, docket number, or case cite?

Anne Marie

Keith R Lee
01-16-2002, 09:57 AM
Here are the only 2 texts I could find on the web. I would have pulled the case straight from WestLaw but I don' think that many people have access to it. :p

Here you go:

The Canuck Case (http://www.bchrt.gov.bc.ca/akiyama.htm)
&
The US case (http://aboutlaw.com/firm/bow-html.htm)

Just to satisfy all those with a smattering of legalese.

Edward
01-16-2002, 10:18 AM
Jun!

It's your relatives who have been causing the controversy :D

Cheers,
Edward

cguzik
01-16-2002, 03:04 PM
Originally posted by Erik


...

Judo is different. It is a national sport and the US fields an Olympic team which would be expected to stand up under more substantive values and freedom of religion is one of them. Change bowing to prayer and I think the context of the case would change a great deal to most of us. Asking her to bow in this context is wrong.

...

PS: My understanding is that bowing and clapping is a Shinto ritual. Hence, the people in this case probably do have a legitimate point in that context. We may not see it that way, but once again, if you change bowing for prayer this issue becomes a bit murky and you can see why it wound up in court.

Erik,

I would agree with the statement that "If bowing in Olympic judo is a Shinto ritual then it should not be compulsory." However, I am not sure that bowing in Olympic judo really is a Shinto ritual. If the issue in the case were bowing to a kamidana then I would agree that it could be considered a Shinto ritual. But as I understand the case, the issue at hand is bowing to one's opponent before and after the judo match.

Bowing to one's opponent before and after a match is just a rule of the sport. There is nothing religious about it. To me, if a person's religious beliefs prohibit a certain behavior, and they want to participate in a sport that includes that behavior, then that person has a choice to make.

If I were a vegetarian due to being a Buddhist, and I wanted to join the county fair hotdog eating contest, I would be a very conflicted individual. But I would not ask the county fair to substitute tofu hotdogs just to accomodate me.

Now here is the part that still confuses me; I read in a related thread on another forum that the plaintiffs in this case are not Muslim or fundamantalist Christian but agnostic. They are not saying "bowing is a ritual that conflicts with my religion," they are saying "I should not be forced to participate in a behavior that has religious connotations/origins."

Furthermore, these kids are Japanese; I may be going out on a limb here, but I have the feeling this is more about these kids divorcing their cultural heritage than about violating their religious freedom.

Chris Guzik

Andy
01-16-2002, 05:36 PM
Originally posted by cguzik
If I were a vegetarian due to being a Buddhist, and I wanted to join the county fair hotdog eating contest, I would be a very conflicted individual. But I would not ask the county fair to substitute tofu hotdogs just to accomodate me.
What if you were a Buddhist vegetarian who wanted to join the county fair strongman competition which required everyone to eat a hot dog before every event since "that's the way we've always done it"? What if someone does some research and finds out that the hot dogs were there to provide the strongmen with nutrition through their events? Tofu dogs didn't exist back when the competitions were first started. Wouldn't it seem like it would be okay for you to ask if you could substitute a tofu dog for the hot dog?

Edward
01-16-2002, 10:53 PM
Perhaps this is irrelevant for the thread, but I would like to say that, bowing, as a form of greeting to others, is at a higher esthetical and civilizational level than the western equivalent of hand-shaking. I'm sure that in the future world, if we do not annihilate eachother that is, bowing would replace other forms of greeting.
It involves a certain aspect of respect and restrained friendliness not present in the handshake. Living for over 6 years in Thailand, I've come to feel uncomfortable with shaking hands of strangers, which I would rather reserve to close friends. After all you don't know where has this hand been, maybe poking a nose, or eating a mayonnaise sandwish :D

Seriously, I find much more meaning in bowing...

Cheers,
Edward

Magma
01-16-2002, 11:03 PM
Andy, I think you missed the point of that last post. No matter what the requirement, or the context, or its history, if a person has a conflict with it and cannot change it, they have to make a choice.

Now, regarding the hot-dogs-for-nutrition example you pose, can we agree that if at one time in the past the hot dogs were taken because of a nutrional need, but in recent times the need for that purpose has dwindled, the continued practice of eating hot dogs has a COMPLETELY different significance than what it did originally? (Wow, that is one LONG sentence). Be it tradition ("this is what we've always done"), a tribute to those that went before ("Old One-Eyed, Fuzzy Toed Jack ate this before he competed, and I think he set the bar for the performance of all the competitors that come after him..."), or whatever else, the meaning is different.

Just because bowing may have at one time been a religious overture for someone else does not change the bow that I make into a similar religious gesture. I just want to ask the person with a problem with bowing why it violates their beliefs. It certainly cannot be because of what someone else believes the bow means... I can believe that the handshake of a pretty girl conveyed more affection than it truly did, but unless she intended and believes that, too, then what I think doesn't matter.

So why does the person believe that bowing violates their religious faith? Are they choosing to worship something? And if so, that is their own choice, so they would be OK with that. Otherwise, if they are not worshipping something... then they are NOT WORSHIPPING SOMETHING.

The act does make the worship, the worship makes the act.

Hmm, otherwise, I could come up with a whole list of physical gestures that constitute belief structures:

(1) People walking with their left arm bent 90 degrees are showing their membership in the cult of Bob Dole. (2) Putting your feet up on a table demonstrates great piety insofar as you don't dare to trod on the earth with your unclean feet.

...wow, sometimes I go out there... just way, way out there...

tedehara
01-17-2002, 05:40 AM
Originally posted by giriasis


Before I agree or disagree, being a law student I would love to read the judge's opinion.

Does anyone have case name, docket number, or case cite?

Anne Marie

You can listen to the original NPR broadcast just click here! (http://search1.npr.org/search97cgi/s97_cgi?action=View&%20VdkVgwKey=%2Fopt%2Fcollections<br%20/>%20%2Ftorched%2Fatc%2Fdata%5Fatc%<br%20/>2Fseg%5F136212%2Ehtm&DocOffset=1&DocsFound=1&QueryZip=bowing+in+judo&Collection=zeus&Collection=C1&Collection=WEB&SortSpec=Date+Desc+Score+Desc&ViewTemplate=docview%2Ehts&%20SearchUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fsearch1<br%20/>%20%2Enpr%2Eorg%2Fsearch97cgi%2Fs<br%20/>%2097%5Fcgi%3Faction%3DFilterSear<br%20/>%20ch%26QueryZip%3Dbowing%2Bin%2B<br%20/>%20judo%26Filter%3Dtopic%255Ffilt<br%20/>%20er%252Ehts%26ResultTemplate%3D<br%20/>%20simple%255Fdate%252Ehts%26Quer<br%20/>%20yText%3Dbowing%2Bin%2Bjudo%26C<br%20/>%20ollection%3Dzeus%26Collection%<br%20/>%203DC1%26Collection%3DWEB%26Sort<br%20/>%20Spec%3DDate%2BDesc%2BScore%2BD<br%20/>%20esc%26ViewTemplate%3Ddocview%2<br%20/>%2052Ehts%26ResultStart%3D1%26Res<br%20/>ultCount%3D10&)

If you have an audio player, then you can listen to the audio report by clicking on the listen to segment link.

The report does not cite any specific docket number but does give the case name. It is the same (US) case that Keith cited and was the source for the article that Erik mentioned. James Akiyama et al vs United States Judo Incorporated et al

Tim Griffiths
01-17-2002, 07:36 AM
Originally posted by Abasan
Bowing in Aikido or any other martial arts should not be miscontrued as supplication. It is one given in respect.

The problem for Mrs Aikiyama (the mother of the
children) was that bowing comes from an act of
supplication, and is abhorrent for historical reasons,
and doesn't want her American children to be part
of that culture, not that is offends religious belife.
Being Japanese, she is presumably aware that it
isn't normally given religious significance.

Tim

giriasis
01-17-2002, 11:23 AM
Thanks for posting the links. (I do have WestLaw btw ;) )

This is my interpretation of what was said. I will try to put my interpretation in layman's terms.

The arbitration panel* is saying that the U.S. Judo Federation is not discriminating because the people bringing the action did not prove that the rule is a pre-text for discrimination. This means that the International Judo Federation did not create the rule to discriminate against people's sincerely held beliefs.

The panel also stated that the rule on its face is not discriminatory. This means that the wording itself does not contain language that indicates a discriminatory purpose.

And that even though the rule is not discriminatory on its face, the rule is not discriminatory as applied. "As Applied" means that even though the wording itself is non-discriminatory, but when the rule is applied in the real world it results in discrimination. To support this opinion the panel stated that this is rule used internationally and that this rule applies in Muslim nations, none of whom who have objected. And no objections based on religious discrimination has be brought forward until now. To the panel this indicated that the rule does not create a broad based form of discrimination being applied to Muslims, Christians. And also the panel stated that the people brining the claim did not put forward any facts or evidence to show that there was broad based discrimination.

In other words, the court is saying that the bowing in the Judo competition is not based in religion; therefore, can not violate their sincerely held beliefs. Bowing is an integral part to the sport of Judo which adds to its distinction from other sports like wrestling.

*I find it also interesting that this is not an opinion from a court but an arbitration panel decision. Fellow legal professionals please correct me, but because its an arbitration panel, it is not mandatory (primary) law? So this decision only applies to this particular case and has only persuasive but not controlling force in court?

Anne Marie

warriorwoman
02-10-2002, 02:51 PM
Hello All!
I find it interesting that this same discussion is being hotly debated on some other martial arts websites as well.

We can look at the "to bow, or not to bow" debate from a form vs. content perspective. The bowing can have content (if done with proper understanding), or it can merely be form, which for many it is. Unfortunately, we humans tend to use our religious convictions to separate rather than unite us with others.

Edward's analogy of Thais removing shoes before entering a home is a good one. Aside from being considerate about bringing outside dirt into another's home, in Thai culture to remove one's shoes implies a certain gesture of humility - like removing one's hat in the U.S. And, yes, they will protest "you don't have to!", but if you don't, you considered either arrogant, or forgiven as poorly raised. Perhaps we should try more to understand just what it is about the situation that makes us feel uncomfortable and less time trying to justify our need to not "go with the flow".

In some sword arts, when sitting in seiza, a person removes the katana and places it on the floor beside him with the blade facing the wrong way. Historically,this was to indicate to the host that you are placing yourself at a disadvantage if you should want to use the sword against him. Today, though you may be practicing in a dojo with a bokken, you still follow that etiquette, not because you may decide to kill your teacher, but because there is an implied difference between you and him/her by observing this act.

There are many examples of things that make us uncomfortable in our training and we each arrive at our own way of accepting, rejecting, understanding, growing with them. It's all part of the process of traing in martial arts. When we find something inconsistent with our value system, we always have the option to remove ourselves from that dojo or situation rather than demand that it adapt to our needs.
Respectfully,
janet dtantirojanarat
www.warriorwoman.org

guest1234
02-10-2002, 05:54 PM
Well, lost track of this for awhile...

Abasan: for most US males,at least heterosexual ones, crossing your leg results in showing the sole of your foot; usually only females cross their legs at the ankles, or at the knees with both feet sole-down toward the floor. Since it was a male I was replying to, I assumed he did not follow the female method, but I could be wrong... :eek:

Edward: The salute is taken from a martial tradition of extending good will and a show of confidence the other wouldn't kill you. As far as I know, there is no link to religion. The opening bow (NOT the one to your partner) is, however, directly taken from a religious tradition, and was meant in it's traditional form as a religious action, and as that can be seen (no matter what YOU think YOU are doing when YOU bow toward the kamiza) as part of a religious ritual.


But, while we are on the subject of what-does-the-military-do, I think you'd all agree that the military goes pretty firmly for a uniform look amongs its members. In the USAF, we have regs (well, ok, now they're instructions) that tell you the kind of make-up and underwear you may wear, not to mention how to wear your hair, and what your clothes will look like (how many of you put your suits together with a ruler in one hand?). BUT, the military has let that uniformity-is-everything issue slide in allowing Jewish males to wear a yarmulke (OK, THAT is definately mispelled), and right now are considering the request of a Muslim female to wear a head scarf (was it a hajib? I don't recall the word, sorry).
For everyone else, yes of course someone who has deeply held religous beliefs can always go somewhere else, or not train at all, if those beliefs are bothered by a bow with religious roots (and say what you will, that IS what it is from). But it is a shame, and I am glad no dojo I've ever attended would bar someone from attending because his religion conflicted with the bow. And for those who say 'but they are trying to force their beliefs on me', no, they are not. They are not insisiting YOU not bow, they are just asking that THEY not be forced to do so. If that makes you uncomfortable, perhaps you are not as certain in what that bow means as you originally thought.

Peter Goldsbury
02-11-2002, 02:36 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
[B]I have a bad feeling about a judge passing a judgement compelling people to bow in a dojo as a point of law.

A few further comments.

I have listened to the interview and noted the suggestion that bowing in judo is apparently shinto religious ritual. Okumura Shigenobu Sensei (9th dan Aikikai shihan) wrote somewhere that there was a kamidana at the Aikikai Hombu before the war. This was removed after the war, partly because prewar state Shinto had fallen into disrepute and also because the decision had been made to make aikido available to everybody, including non-Japanese. The practice of bowing before the kamiza was kept, but as a sign of respect and no longer had any religious significance.

During my daily life & activities here in Hiroshima I am bowed to, and bow back, probably a dozen times each day. I really do not think it is a Shinto ritual. It is a kind of greeting, a sign of respect, and a hangover of something that used to have more significance.

On the other hand, the Japanese do get very upset about honoring / not honouring criminals / patriots among the war dead at the Yasukuni Shrine and I could well imagine a Japanese person, possibly with memories about the war, getting upset on being told that bowing in judo was required as a Shinto ritual. Perhaps the court action was a typical response to the rigid attitude being displayed.

My unease is that the judge appears to have ruled that bowing was not a Shinto ritual, but was nevertheless required because it was part and parcel of 'non-religious' judo practice. To my mind this places unusual stress on the outer form at the expense of the inner attitude that the form is a sign of.

Best regards,

Magma
02-12-2002, 08:41 AM
ritual: n. 1. an established or prescribed procedure for a religious or other rite. 2. a system of religious or other rites. 3. observance of set forms of public worship (definition continues)

tradition: n. 1. the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.... 2. that which is so handed down (definition continues)

[Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, 1994]

While the practice of bowing may have roots in a Shinto ritual, its place today is that of tradition. I think that in common practice, the difference between these two classifications is that a person does a ritual because it is somehow required of them, while they keep a tradition because it is something that they want to do.

In order for a bow to have religious significance, that significance must be brought to the bow by the person performing the act. In other words, they themselves have to infuse the worship into the bow in order to move it from simple tradition to ritual. And if they do that, then quite simply it is their own damn fault. "You got yourself into this quandary, you get yourself out of it," is what I feel like telling them.

Yes, there are more important things to learn in the martial arts than tradition. However, there are things that can ONLY be learned THROUGH tradition, perhaps the most important things that one can learn from the arts.

Now, onto a question that I am researching myself right now:

We are all referencing Shinto as the root of the bowing traditions in Aikido. However, bowing seems more prevalent in eastern culture in general. Isn't the act of bowing something that the Shinto faith adopted?

Thalib
02-12-2002, 09:23 AM
I believe I have a reply in this thread somewhere that refers to bowing not as a religious ritual, but as an eastern culture.

As someone that is of South-east Asia, I do not take bowing as a religious ritual. If bowing was from a Shinto ritual, then how come it spans basically all of Asia.

In Indonesia, when we walk pass (quite close) in front of an elder, we bow until we clear their view.It doesn't have to be an elder, when passing in front of someone sitting down which posture is lower than you are, it is only polite if you try not to block their view (even if you still block their view, the effort itself is taken as politeness).

We lower ourselves in front of others as a sign of politeness to avoid arrogance. I take bowing in the martial arts as asking for mutual respect and trust.That's why, when I bow I don't look at the person.

shihonage
02-12-2002, 04:50 PM
Originally posted by Thalib
I believe I have a reply in this thread somewhere that refers to bowing not as a religious ritual, but as an eastern culture.

As someone that is of South-east Asia, I do not take bowing as a religious ritual. If bowing was from a Shinto ritual, then how come it spans basically all of Asia.

In Indonesia, when we walk pass (quite close) in front of an elder, we bow until we clear their view.It doesn't have to be an elder, when passing in front of someone sitting down which posture is lower than you are, it is only polite if you try not to block their view (even if you still block their view, the effort itself is taken as politeness).

We lower ourselves in front of others as a sign of politeness to avoid arrogance. I take bowing in the martial arts as asking for mutual respect and trust.That's why, when I bow I don't look at the person.

lt-rentaroo
02-12-2002, 05:17 PM
Hello,

Colleen - just to play devils advocate here, Aikido dojo also have rules and regulations; in some dojo, bowing may be looked upon as the rule/regulation. This is not too much different from rendering a salute.

A little off topic, but have you ever "jacked-up" someone for not saluting you? Can you imagine what the dojo would be like if after you did not show respect to the sensei or sempai by bowing, they had you sit in seiza for a few minutes while they lectured on and on about proper customs and courtesies?

The salute is showing respect for the uniform, not necessarily the person wearing it.

p.s. The medical community must be a little more stringent than the missile maintenance community, because my Commander doesn't seem to care what type of underwear my troops wear
:confused:

Dan Rubin
02-27-2002, 01:35 PM
In Akiyama v. United States Judo Incorporated, three students objected to the rules of three national and international judo organizations which required them to bow before entering the contest area (they did not object to bowing to their opponents). The students claimed that these rules violated Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal Amateur Sports Act, and two Washington state statutes. Thus, the issue was not "Should these students be required to bow?" but rather "Do the rules of these private organizations violate the specific provisions of any of these statutes?"

In 1997 the U S. District Court in Seattle, Washington, issued a temporary injunction, prohibiting the enforcement of the bowing requirement against these three students as the case wound its long way through arbitration and court. Two of the students are siblings, James and Leilani Akiyama. James is now 17 years old, and Leilani is now 14. Their stepfather, Jon Holm, is the head of their dojo.

The Court ruled in January that the Civil Rights Act forbids only intentional religious discrimination, and that in this case the alleged religious discrimination is not intentional. It also ruled that even if the Civil Rights Act or any other of these statutes were interpreted to forbid unintentional religious discrimination, the discrimination must affect a protected class of people, and even that can be justified if the rule has legitimate neutral purposes. It does not matter that the students disparage those purposes, which in this case include promoting the fair and safe start of judo matches among participants speaking different languages, and "reflecting, highlighting and preserving the etiquette and traditions of judo." (At an arbitration hearing, summarized by Giriasis earlier in this thread, the Akiyamas' stepfather had compared judo to wrestling, in his testimony against the bowing rules.)

Moreover, the Court stated that Leilani Akiyama did not claim to be a member of any particular religion, nor could she identify any of her religious beliefs which are offended by bowing. Instead, the Court said, her objection to bowing reflects her parents' objections, which are culture-based. (At the arbitration hearing, her mother had testified against the rules on the grounds that bowing "reflects a Shinto religious practice"---this might be the arbitrators' phrasing---and is also an oppressive practice of the Japanese military and royalty.) The third student is a Christian who objects to bowing to inanimate objects, but the Court noted that "there are hundreds of thousands of judo competitors with similar belief systems" who do not object to bowing. The Court held that the latter student cannot be a protected class all by himself. If he is, then anything he objects to amounts automatically to discrimination. (The Court did not mention James Akiyama, and did not comment on whether bowing is a Shinto ritual.) And the Court pointed out that, even if these students were to win their lawsuit, the verdict would not affect the rules of international competitions.

So the Court did not rule that students must bow. The Court ruled that there is no applicable federal or state law that prohibits the judo organizations from requiring it.

As a result of this decision, the temporary injunction was lifted, and the three students may be disqualified if they refuse to bow in judo tournaments. This decision affects only this particular lawsuit, although its reasoning could influence other judges. If the case were to be appealed, any ruling by an appellate court would control decisions of subordinate courts within that appellate court's jurisdiction.

According to an article in the February 24 issue of the Seattle Times, Leilani Akiyama has won 14 national judo championships and four international judo championships, and had dreamed of participating in the Olympics. The article states that Jon Holm and his wife spent about $100,000 pursuing this case, and the three defending judo organizations spent about $150,000 defending it.

The article also reports that (a) the three plaintiffs in this case will not appeal the decision of the Court, (b) Leilani and James Akiyama have decided to no longer compete in judo (they are also successful high school wrestlers), and (c) Jon Holm "is planning a class-action suit on behalf of Muslim judo students who can't compete in tournaments because their religion forbids them to perform the ritual bows. Six Muslim students, boys ages 8 to 12, attend Holm's judo school, U.S. Judo Training Center" in Renton, Washington.

Dan Rubin

Aikikenshi
02-27-2002, 11:30 PM
The first thing that came to my mind when I heard the situation was "what right do the plaintiffs have to sue the defendants?"

It seems to me, that if a child owns a ball, the child is completely justified in not letting other children play with it if they don't want to play by the rules. Other children are likewise not forced to play if they don't like the rules.

The Judo organization, I'm going to assume, is not a government organization, and therefore is under no legal compunction to be fair, equitable or what have you.

If I'm not mistaken, one of the question on the YMCA's application is something to the effect of "do you respect the teachings of Jesus Christ?" If one answers "no, I think the teachings of Jesus Christ are (insert profanity)," I believe that the YMCA would be perfectly correct in not allowing said individual to participate in their reindeer games.

So if the Judo organization in question decides that bowing is mandatory, what legal ground does one have for taking legal offense? It seems to me that if one disagrees that strongly with one of the core rules, one should find a different organization.

It sounds a lot like wanting to join a fraternity but not wanting to go through with some bland initiation process or refusing to use the secret handshake. Join a different fraternity, but don't sick the American legal system on them.