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Old 08-26-2009, 01:33 PM   #10
Rocky Izumi
Dojo: GUST Aikido Club
Location: Salwa, Kuwait
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 381
Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

Bows can range from a quick nod of the head to a full blown-out kowtow in Seiza. However, as Aikido is suggested to be a martial art, I do not think that lowering your eyes or head as you would towards God is appropriate in the Dojo. Even though I am not Muslim, I get upset at people who lower their head too much to me. That would suggest disrespect of my abilities to attack them at any time, even in Seiza.

Even in Japan, we say that you should not be able to see inside the collar of the person bowing to you. Even worse would be to be able to see into the space between the Koshi-ita and the Gi. So, I call it a Rei, not a bow since bow comes with so much cultural baggage.

In Kuwait, I expect the students to touch the Tatami with both hands but not lower the head any more than necessary so they can watch the actions of the person across from them. I expect them to Rei in response to a Rei but I do not want them to bow.

From another perspective, I see the Rei as body positioning in getting ready for combat. You want to get your hands down to the ground to help you spring up quickly. In our standing Rei, the body angle in the Rei should be the appropriate angle for getting into a good Hanmi position and be ready to attack. So I look at the Rei not only as a courtesy but also as preparation for combat.

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