Re: To bow or not to bow
I never thought I was bowing to a picture. I bow to our shomen out of respect to those who have gone before. We have a picture of O'Sensei, and Saito Sensei. Our teacher studied with Saito Sensei for over 9 years in Japan. I bow to the linage, in respect to the fact that I study with a teacher who's teacher studied with O'Sensei.
I bow to my training partners for the gift that they give each time we train together. I bow to my friends at the dojo in respect for the friendship we share.
To bow or not to bow is not enforced by rules, in the same way that you can not force uke to engage you when he grabs or attacks you. This develops over time or it does not.
What we can do is our own practice and when we are asked why we bow to the picture of the old man, we tell them.