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Old 07-28-2009, 10:00 PM   #1
albukhari
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Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

Dear all,

hallo my name is Sahid from Dojo of Indonesia, on this chance I would like to inform to all if provide private certificate is welcome for us because on this case my sensei is religious and his position 2nd dan and he would like to upgrade to next dan but he has fundamental principal that he objected with doing some traditional respect such as kneel down to master, it doesn't mean he will not respect to the master. Please help us to give any solution because my sensei has more than 30 students in 2 dojo. so it's good prospect for us to develop Aikido in Indonesia. Actually my sensei was from Aikikai Indonesia and kobayashi.

Thank you and waiting your respond from all.
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:02 AM   #2
jxa127
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

Sahid (if I may call you that),

What does Kobayashi shihan say? I've met both the elder (Yasuo) Kobayashi and his son at seminars here in the U.S. They impressed me as instructors and seem to run good schools.

I suggest that Kobayashi shihand would be a good first resources for discussing this issue.

Let us know how it turns out.

Regards,

----
-Drew Ames
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:39 AM   #3
Abasan
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

You can bow to give respect as long as your niat is right. To bow is not to sujud. You can also do so to a certain comfortable angle that is appropriate in budo.

Whilst some may insist that your body be parallel to the floor, most people don't mind that you decrease the angle to say 45 degrees instead.

Kneeling down has no religious connotations. You do not kneel down to worship, you kneel to show your respect. Same as you would if an elder sits on the floor, you sit on the floor though you may prefer the chair.

Lastly, your sensei is a religious man. Ask him to pray for guidance. Opinions here do not matter as such.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:22 AM   #4
Nick P.
 
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

These are likely clumsy comparisons, but here goes...

Shaking hands: if I extend my hand to shake yours, but you do not return the gesture, most people would think this rude and impolite and a lack of respect.

Saying hello and making eye contact: if I say "hello" and you either do not return the greeting or do not look at me (or worse, neither), most people would think this rude and impolite and a lack of respect.

The sitting seiza and performing rei can, in my mind, be as simple as the above. No more, no less. I believe they show genuine gratitude and thanks, but they do not have to. Basically it can contain what the person doing it wants it to contain.

First, however, is if your sensei would appreciate these opinions from you, or not. Only you can answer this question.

As to why or how your sensei has reached their current rank and now is becoming uncomfortable with the practice of bowing, we can only guess.

Ahmad's post is very good, as is Drew's.

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Old 07-29-2009, 10:11 AM   #5
ninjaqutie
 
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

I don't think the rei is an act of worship. I believe it to be a sign of respect. You are saying you are thankful for the opportunity to train with your sensei or partner. Actually, I believe the word rei in Japanese actually means respect, but I could be wrong here.

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 07-29-2009, 10:26 AM   #6
Eva Antonia
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

Hi,
I suppose the issue is not that the aikido greeting is worship as such, but it is very similar to how Muslims kneel during prayer. I suppose that some Catholics or Christians in general would feel equally uncomfortable if Japanese greeting looked the same as for example our signing the cross or prayer gesture. So it may be perceived as a sort of blasphemy...

But if that's an issue in Indonesia - wouldn't the Indonesian grading organisation be aware of it? I mean, your Sensei is certainly not the first one who has a conflict between religious conscience and aikido ceremony.

Best regards,

Eva
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Old 07-29-2009, 10:38 PM   #7
Nafis Zahir
 
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post
You can bow to give respect as long as your niat is right. To bow is not to sujud. You can also do so to a certain comfortable angle that is appropriate in budo.

Whilst some may insist that your body be parallel to the floor, most people don't mind that you decrease the angle to say 45 degrees instead.

Kneeling down has no religious connotations. You do not kneel down to worship, you kneel to show your respect. Same as you would if an elder sits on the floor, you sit on the floor though you may prefer the chair.

Lastly, your sensei is a religious man. Ask him to pray for guidance. Opinions here do not matter as such.
This is incorrect. Please check your inbox.

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Old 07-30-2009, 01:15 AM   #8
Abasan
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

There is no incorrect or correct unless its expressly written. Your teacher may have a different understanding than mine. Please check your inbox as well.

For your reference, I have also trained with International Islamic University here in Malaysia. Our understanding coincides.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 08-04-2009, 03:15 PM   #9
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

This topic has come up before. While I have no doubt that the traditional bowing done in the past was done in part for religious reasons what is in the heart of the individual performing the bow is what is important. I view all the bowing I do as a form of respect and nothing to do with religion.

Good luck in your Aikido endeavors.

Lyle Laizure
www.hinodedojo.com
Deru kugi wa uta reru
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Old 08-26-2009, 01:33 PM   #10
Rocky Izumi
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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.

Rock
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Old 08-26-2009, 01:59 PM   #11
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

Quote:
Hiroaki Izumi wrote: View Post
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.

Rock
So you guys you are doing combat in your aikido class?

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 08-26-2009, 11:53 PM   #12
jkorst
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

As others have mentioned, this has been discussed before. For me, the best posting on the subject was from David Edwards (apologies for reposting his words, but they are too good to let them vanish into the ether):

What I have mainly to offer new to this discussion: on the subject of bowing to a portrait of O Sensei (as is traditional in my own dojo, and throughout at least the three biggest associations in this country). Jesus was questioned about whether or not they, the Jews, should pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus asks them to bring him the coin they use to pay, and they bring him a denarius, and he asks whose portrait is on it, whose inscription. They answer "Caesar's". Thus he says to them "So give to God what is God's, and Caesar what is Caesar's"

Thus I say, give to God the respect that is due to him, and give to O Sensei the respect that is due to him. We know perfectly well that bowing in this context is a sign of respect, not worship. And if we do... All-knowing God certainly does, and understands perfectly.
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Old 08-27-2009, 05:08 PM   #13
Rob Watson
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

I bow deeply giving thanks to the legacy handed down by my teacher. I bow deeply to my fellow dojo members and give thanks for offering their bodies up for my training. I bow deeply to others when visiting to give thanks for allowing me to participate.

If someone wants to take the opportunity to jump on my neck ...I offer deep thanks for more training.

'Miles to go before I sleep ...'

I already know I'm arrogant so no need to remind me.

If ever I find myself in a combat situation with life and death in the balance I'll save the bowing for later giving deep thanks to my teacher.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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Old 09-24-2009, 02:23 PM   #14
Rocky Izumi
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
So you guys you are doing combat in your aikido class?
No, practicing. However, to explain, you will just have to visit one of my dojos in Jamaica, Africa, or the Middle East.

Rock
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Old 09-24-2009, 08:05 PM   #15
Adam Huss
 
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

The relation to combat is for training of a certain mentality...and what is wrong with combat anyway? One can not grow without some element of risk...something difficult and hard. That is the most practical aspect of Budo and, for me, Aikido. I don't train hard for the sake of having "impressive" throws...nothing I do on the mat is impressive, just a figure of speech;o)...or self defense (honestly, how many fights does one get in everyday?)...but rather to train a certain mentality of spirit.

As others mentioned, bowing too low is disrespectful in that its kind of like being cocky....or mocking. I like to bow with very correct posture, straight back, eyes 90 degrees perpendicular to the spine (ie, not arching the back or bending the neck)

My dojo in Windsor actually has no Kamidana (aka kamiza) due to the diverse cultures and religions in the city. We don't associate religion with aikido (and, indeed, Shinto really isn't a religion in my eyes)...but the initial perspective to folks 'off the street' is some sort of deification toward O'Sensei/Shioda etc...

Bowing, to me, is a way to mentally clear myself of all things not training. In my group, we say "Osu!" when bowing (sometimes) which is basically form the word "to push" (yes, there is debate on this) with the idea being to push away all things unimportant to training. One of our senior teachers, Yamazaki Sensei (iai and karate), is very sociable and friendly, but if you are on the mat with him and start speaking of things not related to training, he will politely bow and ask you to come off the mat and continue the conversation elsewhere. While some may think this extremist, I think its really cool (I don't practice it though, but have respect for that mindset).

I don't know if I'm allowed to post other's published work on here, so I will err on the side of caution, but there is a good article/chapter entitled "Rei: Ettiqute" on Chapter 35 in the book Sword and the Brush, by Dave Lowry that discusses this very subject.

Lowry, D. (1995). Sword and the Brush. Boston: Shambala Publications, Inc.

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 09-25-2009, 12:01 AM   #16
John Matsushima
 
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

I always wondered about how some people can call bowing a form of respect, but not trust the person enough to take their eyes off of them for even a second. To me, if you don't trust someone even that much, you can't say you respect them at the same time. If you think someone might attack you, then why bow to them???

-John Matsushima

My blog on Japanese culture
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Old 09-25-2009, 12:26 AM   #17
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote: View Post
I always wondered about how some people can call bowing a form of respect, but not trust the person enough to take their eyes off of them for even a second. To me, if you don't trust someone even that much, you can't say you respect them at the same time. If you think someone might attack you, then why bow to them???
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
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Old 09-25-2009, 01:02 AM   #18
jss
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote: View Post
I always wondered about how some people can call bowing a form of respect, <snip>
Bowing can be a sign of respect, but often it's just a formality, an empty sign. Just like some people confuse formality with politeness. Confusing the signifier and the signified, the map and territory is quite common. Always remember there are maps of imaginary places.

Quote:
To me, if you don't trust someone even that much, you can't say you respect them at the same time.
Depends, I would respect a vengeful god, but not trust him.

Quote:
If you think someone might attack you, then why bow to them???
Because bowing to him will confuse him, so that you will be able to deliver the first blow?
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Old 09-25-2009, 11:08 AM   #19
John Matsushima
 
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

Quote:
Because bowing to him will confuse him, so that you will be able to deliver the first blow?
So, it seems that you are saying that bowing at times carries absolutely no form of respect and is used as a form of deception. That is pretty far out explanation, I think, far from how bowing is used in Aikido. That sounds to me like insincerity and bad manners.

I think that bowing is akin to saluting in the military. In the military, since everyone is forced to bow, er, I mean salute, it can almost seem to be an empty sign, especially when one person really doesn't like the other. However, at the very least it still contains the acknowledgment of a higher rank, a form of respect.

For those who think that bowing is a form of worship, then consider that a bow of respect is different in that with respect, it is returned.
Consider that someone who is being worshiped is not going to get down on their knees and return the bow. The exception to this is if you are apologizing for something or if you work at department store in Japan. A little off topic, but if anyone ever feels the need to be worshiped, just go to a department store (like Keikyu) in Japan at opening or closing time. All the employees will line up and give you a deep 90 degree bow, looking straight down at the ground, with a welcome in the morning, and a thank you at closing time. It's great!

Last edited by akiy : 09-25-2009 at 11:38 AM. Reason: Fixed quoting

-John Matsushima

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Old 09-25-2009, 12:11 PM   #20
jss
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote: View Post
So, it seems that you are saying that bowing at times carries absolutely no form of respect and is used as a form of deception. That is pretty far out explanation, I think, far from how bowing is used in Aikido.
Agreed, bowing like that is not part of aikido.
The reason I bow during aikido practice is because it's what you're supposed to do. It's good manners to perform that particular movement at that particular time. It's a ritualistic action. The idea that ritualistic actions should have a meaning (i.e. are a sign of something) is only present in the three Abrahamic religions, so it probably does not apply to aikido.

Quote:
For those who think that bowing is a form of worship, then consider that a bow of respect is different in that with respect, it is returned.
Then the portrait of O-sensei at my former dojo was broken, because it most definitely did not bow back to me.
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Old 09-25-2009, 01:10 PM   #21
Voitokas
 
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote: View Post
...a department store (like Keikyu) in Japan at opening or closing time. All the employees will line up and give you a deep 90 degree bow, looking straight down at the ground, with a welcome in the morning, and a thank you at closing time. It's great!
"Great" in a freaky, body-snatchers kind of way... Almost as strange as the motivational speech broadcast over the loudspeakers just before opening; you can see them standing at attention and responding in unison... I always imagine they're saying, "Sho Nuff!" like in The Last Dragon...

On topic, it seems like people for whom religious worship is a part of their life are more prone to see worship in other paradigms; while those who are not religious have difficulty seeing worship in any action.

I am not an expert
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Old 09-25-2009, 03:48 PM   #22
aikishihan
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

I applaud all of the previous and future attempts to honorably and sincerely address the issue of bowing, its legacy, its appropriateness and its interpretation by anyone. This is why the Forum makes so much sense, not to decide on the "truth", but to be truthful to ourselves and each other.

"Reigi", in Japanese, may mean "courtesy, respect, etiquette, decorum, good manners, etc.". It is meant to be a mutually beneficial gesture, signifying, not ranking or classification, but genuine regard for the self, as well as the other.

In many societies, proper use of etiquette is essential in maintaining social order, and the basis for harm free interaction. The application of key words, mutually recognized behavior and committing to a system of socially accepted standards of ceremony and ritual, often ensures that a peaceful exchange of even controversial dialogue can be expected.

To my way of thinking, reigi is a gift we give ourselves, and one we choose to share with others we respect, admire and wish to honor. It is not meant to be a compulsory, or a required feature in the Aikido I practice, and has the ;benefit of having different purposes.

When we have the confidence, and a healthy sense of self worth, we can freely give the benefit of the doubt to another person prior to appreciating their true agenda or intention. Giving respect as pre-emptive move, most often results in having the other person feel comfortable in reciprocating in similar fashion. The extended handshake comes to mind, especially when meeting another person for the first time.

As Izumi Sensei points out, one should never bow to another martial artist without embracing the concept of martial alertness and awareness. When bowing, your metsuke or gaze should include a clear view of your partner/opponent's posture, hand positioning, and demeanor. This may actually be a high form of respect, rather than fear or mistrust, conveying the realization that you regard the opposite person as deserving of genuine respect and regard.

When I give respect to an image of O'Sensei, or a kamiza honoring the Founder, it is essentially for my benefit to do so.This reinforces for myself, all the reasons I practice Aikido in the first place.

Thank you all for your informative posts!

In Oneness,

Last edited by aikishihan : 09-25-2009 at 03:55 PM.
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Old 09-27-2009, 03:41 PM   #23
Rev.K. Barrish
 
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Re: Objecting to "Traditional Respect"

Hello Aikido List members,

Everyone and Takahashi Shihan, thank you for sharing deep thinking.

As the professional Kannushi (Shinto Priest) I spend a lot of time each day bowing…may I share some random thinking re: bowing…Here at Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America we are working each day to prepare for next weeks 10/4/09 Shyu-Ki Taisai (Great Fall Ceremony). As part of the preparations we are making special Kaiun Shofuku Mamori (Open path and invite good fortune Amulets of new rice plants) to give to each family that attends the ceremony.

Seeing and working with such beautiful Inaho (rice ears/plants) brings to mind the proverb:

Minoru Hodo Koube wo Tareru Inaho Kana

As Inaho (rice plant) grows/ matures/ comes to fruition the head is going down…

Basically, with true greatness comes modesty. True greatness means gratitude to life giving forces.

Doesn’t it seem the really strong person, whose source of strength is deep is always very modest and connected to the Earth..when such a person bows you can feel something of their sincerity..

Ideta Sensei who was my budo teacher used to always say you could tell everything about a person from the way they bowed…not meaning only a full formal bow but even the Yu, small bow I think can shows everything about someone’s state of integration and centerdness.

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu
Koichi Barrish
Tsubaki Grand Shrine
Tsubaki Kannagara Aikido
www.TsubakiShrine.org
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Tsubakiko/
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