Missing the Point
I know this topic has probably been beat to death in the various forums with respect to bowing. Tonight one of my students brought in a friend to see if he was interested in taking aikido. He did not want to train but sat in the viewing area and watched.
When the training was done (hour class), his friend asked him what he thought. His immediate response was it "wasn't his cup of tea". Out of curiosity, I asked him what part he did not like-expecting to hear something about falling (we practiced iriminage and kotegaeshi). Instead, he said he couldn't deal with bowing. I said bowing? He said "yes, bowing to a picture". We explained this was a sign of courtesy and respect but he felt is "wasn't his cup of tea".
Now, personally I found this to be a bizarre answer given what had taken place on the mat-learning to use center, extension, redirection of energy, etc. Was he reacting to a fundamentalist religious belief (lot in this area)? Is it American arrogance? Do we have problems with repecting other cultural beliefs? To take something that involved at most 4 seconds of an hour class and write off the whole art just seemed bizarre to me. The Japanese would likely have no problems with bowing. Yet, it comes up with us all the time. When I first moved to the area 3 years ago the owner said they did not do seated bows because people had problems with it-they did standing bows. I think he just has bad knees but he said it was because of a lot of fundamentalist beliefs in the area. My classes do seated bows.
I know this has been heavily discussed before, but I cannot for the life of me figure out why it is such a big issue. Perhaps our lack of respect for other cultural values is why we are often referred to as "ugly Americans" and why others tend to not respect us when we are in other countries.
Oh well. Just my ramblings.