Re: When you bow do you worship or just...
Bowing is part of the formal culture of Japan, and part of the formal culture of Aikido. Some dojo are more formal than others, and we each may choose whether we participate in that formal culture or not. I believe that bowing is important to training and I advocate bowing in class as a show of respect and humility to your instructor and your fellow students.
Some times we make a mountain of a mole hill. Does bowing have deferential implications? Yes, bowing is a sign of deference and trust. Does bowing have implications of religion? Yes, bowing exists in religious practice. Bowing is a respectful gesture that precedes (and anticedes) aikido class. We, as practicioners, have the choice to limit the implications of the bowing gesture. Some students limit the action of bowing to a respectful gesture, some choose to include the religious overtones O'Sensei included in his training.
Each day we are presented with choices that impact our religious beliefs: The extra paper that we "borrow" from the office, the chore our parents (or spouse) asked of us left undone, the spare change that we kept and did not give to someone in need, the friendly "hello" that we held inside walking past a stranger. Each day we make decisions that contradict our religious beliefs. Some times we make a mountain of a mole hill.