Re: To bow or not to bow
From an interview with Kyoichi Inoue Sensei in Aikido Journal.
Some times it is better not to bow. True respect is always correct.
"When Shioda Sensei was still a student at Takushoku University he had a friend who was a very good fighter and he once said to Sensei: "You're always telling me how strong Ueshiba Sensei is but I could easily hit the old man in the head. Why don't you introduce him to me?" So one day Shioda Sensei took him to the dojo. They both sat in front of Ueshiba Sensei and Shioda Sensei introduced his friend as the person he had spoken about. Then his friend bowed deeply and said, "How do you do?" However, even though Ueshiba Sensei said "You are most welcome", he didn't bow his head. O-Sensei always insisted that his students be polite to everyone but in this case he didn't bow at all. On the other hand, Shioda Sensei's friend remained with his head bowed. Shioda Sensei wondered what the two were doing. Then the moment his friend raised his head Ueshiba Sensei bowed saying, "You are most welcome." (Laughter) Finally the young man bowed again and said: "You have beaten me!" Then they talked about various things. When Shioda Sensei ushered him out, he said to his friend: "You didn't even touch his head." His friend's reply was, "If you are greeted by someone you are meeting for the first time you bow, don't you? I thought I might at least be able to touch his head even if I could not strike him. But he didn't bow at all. I thought this wouldn't work and raised my head but he, on the contrary, bowed his head then and I missed my chance to strike him. That old man is no ordinary person." When Shioda Sensei went back to the dojo and asked Ueshiba Sensei why he didn't bow to his friend even though he was just a student, his reply was, "Your friend had an evil heart in the beginning and didn't greet me sincerely. But he seems to have changed his attitude and so I bowed to him. He freely admitted that he had been beaten." (Laughter) Concerning that incident Shioda Sensei later told us the following: "If this young man had hit or touched Sensei's head, O-Sensei would have thrown or pinned him. But it wouldn't not have been budo then. The secret of budo is to become friends with your opponent the moment you face him. It is the lowest level imaginable to still be involved with hitting or pinning your opponent. aikido is much deeper than that." He really convinced me."