in the art of peace Osensei says:
"bow to the universe,and it bows back.
call out the name of god,and it echos inside of you"
bowing is a sign of respect and overstanding.
either way it is up to you , what it means.
i dont think your creator will punish you for bowing.
Beautifully put, Jason.
Here's me 02: I wasn't going to post on this thread, but the more I think about it... It seems to me that bowing is as deep as you want it to be (pun intended). For me, it is acknowledgement of the divine in what/whom you are bowing to. For those of you who do not believe in a divine, or universal spirit, sorry.
But to me, O Sensei knew what he was talking about, Aikido, KI is the unseen manifestation of spirit in harmony with the universal. IMHO even those who deny the existence of a higher power, who practice, are seeking it even though they do not know it. Otherwise, you cannot capture the essence of Aikido. It will elude you. Your movements will be conditioned reflexes, responding to situational, positional, emotional cues, which will always seem like they are a complex choreography.
One who can appreciate art, instantly recognizes this vs a real flow of Ueshibas Aikido.
Uke knows. Uke will feel it. He will not feel tricked, or duped.
It will not reduce his desire to attack. It will inflame his sense of revenge, get him angry, etc.
If not real Aikido, he will be stimulated to attack again, because he was fooled by clever, choreographed movements, but no love, no compassion. (extreme examples)
All this fuss about bowing, get out of your head, get humble, go with the flow set by Ueshiba and you will be happier for it.
Ueshiba is a living spirit, why not bow to his spirit? He is the father of us all, MA wise. His wisdom is dictating how we act (at least on the mat). Doesn't this deserve the respect of a little bow?
God bless you all.