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Old 11-29-2003, 08:24 AM   #26
Dojo: Aikido of Norfolk/ Aikido Society of Memphis
Location: Norfolk, VA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 160
As to John's question, perhaps the bowing colored his first impression of the dojo and it's what stuck in his craw. After that, the class was just a swirl of things he didn't understand. There are people out there who didn't join because they didn't like the carpet. I'm not sure why they even came though the door; there must have been some attraction. Unfortunately sometimes the attraction is overwhelmed by some little thing. Perhaps it's just that they aren't ready to commit and are looking for an excuse.

I've asked people why they joined and have gotten everything from "the dresses looked cool" to "you used a pizza analogy".

About the bowing, I notice that most Japanese dojos have the founder's picture outside the kamiza/kamidan, usually somewhere above it, off to the side. I wonder if this practice would do anything for the idolatry issue.

Jim Baker
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Old 11-29-2003, 03:03 PM   #27
Dojo: Independent
Location: Maracaibo/Zulia
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 149
In my experience , people reacts like that out of pure ignorance on japanese culture.

In most cases a simple chat about the significance of the Bow in japanese society and a couple of examples tend to ease the guy about the matter...else , its just another excuse not to do a physical and spiritually demanding activity , so i dismiss the candidate promptly.

Yours Truly


"Perfection is a Process"
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Old 11-29-2003, 04:25 PM   #28
Hanna B
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 647
If I had not been terribly interested in the art, bowing to a picture would probably had this reppellant effect on me too. No, I do not have a problem with it, never had. But if it was my first impression of the activity, I might not had been interested enough to fins out what it stands for in context.

Btw, my university dojo practise in the house of the student's association. We were the first martial arts related activity in the house, now there is also a karate club. We did a little demo when we started, and quite a few people were put off by the bowing to a picture - this in a pretty secularized country.

Last edited by Hanna B : 11-29-2003 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 11-29-2003, 04:28 PM   #29
Hanna B
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 647
Jim Baker (jimbaker) wrote:
About the bowing, I notice that most Japanese dojos have the founder's picture outside the kamiza/kamidan, usually somewhere above it, off to the side. I wonder if this practice would do anything for the idolatry issue.
But then the shomen is a true shinto shrine, isn't it? Now that's something to beware of for the atheists/christians!
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Old 12-01-2003, 05:03 AM   #30
Dojo: Kiburn, London, UK
Location: London
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 899
United Kingdom
Michael, re shaking hands : agreed, handshakes can be pissing contests, but would you as readily accept such more interpretable power plays from your peers/seniors in the dojo?

John, I can fully understand your wish to show respect in the manner you describe, but I still find it hubris to expect total beginners who don't even know the art, never mind the man behind it to understand what you're doing. Instead, you're introducing ritualistic respect to a picture by making it an integral part of your normal practice. Also I question why people feel the need to make such sincere personal respect such a public occurance.

I find most ritual gets in the way of any "truths" or respect the ritual is meant to promote. I prefer dojos to concentrate on easily recognisable signals to promote safety, if this includes bowing, I'll happily follow.

Hanna, I always knew there was something evil about shomen, such an irritatingly useless empty hand attack could only be a conspiracy.
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Old 12-01-2003, 05:53 AM   #31
PeterR's Avatar
Dojo: Shodokan Honbu (Osaka)
Location: Himeji, Japan
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 3,319
[quote="Jim Baker (jimbaker)"About the bowing, I notice that most Japanese dojos have the founder's picture outside the kamiza/kamidan, usually somewhere above it, off to the side. I wonder if this practice would do anything for the idolatry issue.[/QUOTE]

I never noticed that before but yes now that you mention it it is the same at my dojo. Pictures are not part of the Shomen.

Don't know about Aikiaki Honbu but ours is an Omotokyo shomen - so "true" shinto (ala Hanna) I'm not so sure.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 12-01-2003, 10:56 AM   #32
Ted Marr
Location: Providence, RI
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 94
On the bowing issue...

I came from a dojo (non-Aikido) where we all bowed to our practice partners before and after any practice session, but it was a standing bow. We never really bowed to our teacher, or to any pictures, etc.

But when I moved and was looking around at various dojos to train at, I found that I was pretty wierded out by the kneeling bow, especially that done towards the picture of O Sensei, and the teacher after he demonstrated any technique. Why? It had to do with my understanding of the purpose of bowing. I had been taught that you bowed to your partner before practice to show thanks for their willingness to train with you and help you better understand the techniques. You bouwed at the end of practicing with them to thank them again. But it was always a bow between (roughly) equals. Even across rankings, we were all helping each other learn, in roughly the same way. Bowing en masse to a teacher would be an acknowledgement of superiority... something that perhaps would be deserved, but my teacher vehemently opposed, since "we are all students", or all "just human beings"

Needless to say, bowing to a picture en masse was even more alien to me.

Over time, I have gotten used to bowing pretty often, and it's not quite as "wierd" to me, but I still regard the process the same way.

If I at some point (years from now, likely) to begin teaching, I would like to say that I wouldn't require any bowing except between each other. Unfortunately, it might well not be true for me, mostly because by the time you have achieved a significant rank in Aikido, you are bound within a web of social connections which hampers your ability to act entirely independently of the decisions that your teacher makes. I have seen a few examples of this, and wonder how many people would still require bowing of specified depth (kneeling vs. standing), and at certain times (beginning of class, after techniqe demonstrations, to partners) if they were to be making this decision independent of the approbation of the Aiki community.

Useless question, but a fun one nonetheless.
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Old 12-01-2003, 09:23 PM   #33
Suzanne Cooper
Dojo: Retsushinkan Dojo/Alabama
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 52
Hello again--

When we began studying aikido, my younger child came to me and asked me very seriously if it was 'ok' to bow to O-Sensei.

I told her yes, it was ok, unless she could figure out a way to shake hands with him!

I got guts, yes I do. I do aikido--do YOU?
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Old 12-02-2003, 03:56 AM   #34
Thalib's Avatar
Dojo: 合気研究会
Location: Jakarta Selatan
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 504
Smart thinking Cooper-san...

When I have to die by the sword, I will do so with honor.
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