Re: Why do we bow in Aikido?
Japanese history and culture from its very beginning has been based on warfare and violence. Lowering my head before another is very much opening myself to possible attack. When I lower my head farther than the person I am bowing to, one way to look at it is that I am "submitting" to that person's "superiority." When my partner and I both lower our heads equally all the way to the ground, I believe that we are indicating to each other our mutual vulnerability and that we are choosing to work together from that place of openness.
I have been taught that when we bow to O'Sensei, he is bowing back with his forehead all the way down, indicating that he is giving us all he has. We bow all the way, indicating that we will give all we have.