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Old 03-30-2011, 01:38 PM   #301
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
Location: New York
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,302
Re: To bow or not to bow

Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Oh man, now you've done it...

Hmmm, weren't there a few (???) football players who came "out"? I think they were neither slight, nor effiminate...nor would I call them so to their face!

You're not talking about manly men who play with balls are you?

Great to read your posts again! hope life is smoother these days!

Marc Abrams
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Old 03-30-2011, 01:58 PM   #302
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
Location: Phila. Pa
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 4,615
Re: To bow or not to bow

Ditto (on the reading) and yes, somethings are up, others are down. Life goes on...


Ron Tisdale
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 03-30-2011, 03:00 PM   #303
Garth Jones
Dojo: Allegheny Aikido
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 166
Re: To bow or not to bow

To me, the big picture is that the bow serves as a non-verbal polite way of beginning and ending training (either as a whole class or during class with a partner). That asking for training and saying thank you for training is part of the fundamental etiquette of most martial arts.

It could be a bow, or a handshake, or a hand over the heart, or a bump of boxing gloves, but it's there. Because aikido comes from Japan and many of the folks who study the art are interested in more about Japan than just aikido, we bow. There is no reason that a group, if it has some problem with bowing, couldn't adopt another form of the ritual. I think the hand over the heart they do in Mecca is really elegant - they have replaced the bow with something that has the same meaning and doesn't conflict with their other beliefs. I think that's great. We've had a few Muslims in our dojo and none of them have minded bowing. If somebody ever does, I'll suggest that to them.

Even MMA fighters do it - they bump fists before the fight and then hug (even if they've just beaten the tar out of each other) after. The feeling is a little different, but even in the ring that little bit of tradition persists.

My $0.02 anyway....

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Old 06-14-2011, 02:07 PM   #304
Dojo: bogor
Location: jakarta
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 7
How to "Show" respect without bowing?

Knowing there are many Aikido instructor/black belts in many area who can't/don't bow regardless the reason, i wonder what would you do if your sensei at your dojo don't bow to O sensei picture, while you actually don't mind to bow down. Will you bow to O sensei picture to show respect on the founder's teaching?

Anyway, if we don't bow, is there any other way to show that you respect o sensei and his teachings?

Is "using aikido in a good way" enough to show that we respect the founder and appreciate his decision of opening opportunity for non japanese to learn his precious art?

Or actually those bowing things are only unimportant, unessential, and flexible-to-be-modified japanese tradition?
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Old 03-18-2017, 03:22 AM   #305
Dojo: CAA
Location: Tripoli
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 2
Re: To bow or not to bow

Dear fellow Aikidokas,

Sorry for reviving this old post since i'm facing a close situation now,
one of my colleagues wants to join our Dojo, and he's somewhat a religious guy, (PS we are both muslims but each one has his own views, i consider my self more like a liberal muslim, with my own understandings, interpretations and points of view)

He has both issues, bowing, and practicing with girls, i explained to him what is the bow and prostration that we do in our dojo, and that it's just a japanese greeting and a respect, so it's not a big issue, and that we practice with girls and treat them just like any other boy, we're not there to harass or whatsoever, it's just pure practice with another fellow human being.

now to explain a little bit, i've been like him before i got involved into more searching and reconsidering few years ago so i understand his point of view, and i would like to share it with you all somehow.

bowing and prostration in islam are both basic parts of the daily prayer, muslims (well not most of them, but large numbers at least) pray five times these prayers consist of reading parts of the holy book (quran), bowing and saying few praising words to God, then prostrating and saying another set of praising words to God (we call him Allah which is equivalent to the God, in signification that he is the only one).

so basically those two acts are restricted to prayers, so the majority of the scholars consider that it is not allowed to bow or prostrate to any creature, and restrict it to God.

thus i understand the reaction of any muslim considering this issue, because apparently it contradicts his basic dogma.

considering the gender issues, why some muslim men refuse to practice with women, it's not refusing them totally, but they avoid the touching part, so their presence is not an issue (some religious sects do refuse their presence, in order to avoid any contact between the two genders, in order to avoid any unnecessary outcome, this issue is a great debate between sects, schools, scholars and face serious arguments that defy this understanding and consider it a wrong interpretation), so the issue is the physical contact between the two genders, and it's not a matter of discrimination or degeneration to women, but it is based on ( what i also consider a misinterpretation) one of the prophet's sayings which says that it's better for a man to be stabbed in the head, rather than touching a woman that is not his wife, so some scholars understood that this should cut any physical contact between women and men, while what i understand is a call to chastity, and loyalty between married men and women in it's core, so shaking hands or practicing as physical acts depend on the intentions, a compliment could become a harassment if the intention is bad as far as i know.

Anyhow, few years ago I was working in Saudi Arabia,and our Dojo was run by muslim senseis from the Philippines which where affiliated with Aikikai, and they were allowed from the main organisation to spare the bow and prostration, even when they went to Japan to attend some major seminars, they stick to their beliefs.

on the other hand our sensei was very strict considering the respect issues, he insisted that we greet each other and give respect from our hearts to our fellows, we used to exchange hand shakes or hugs and say a sincere thank you, which he considered a true core of the Aikido and islamic teachings which don't contradict.

So the basic issue here (which we face as liberal muslims also considering our own religious issues)
is do we stick to the apparent teaching? or do we dig deep into the core and understand the purpose of it?

PS: my Sensei said that he would tolerate him not bowing and he understands that it's a religious commitment, but he can at least nod and take a half bow with us so we could all meet at the middle somewhere.
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:52 AM   #306
PeterR's Avatar
Dojo: Shodokan Honbu (Osaka)
Location: Himeji, Japan
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 3,319
Re: To bow or not to bow

The formalization of rei is part of what we do but does not define it. Like you pointed out - Aikikai Honbu makes the accommodation and generally a bow can be anything from a simple nod to prostration, the latter which can cause concern beyond Islam.

In a similar situation I only asked that the practice of the others not be disrupted and a certain times some indication be made. It ended up being a verbal expression (which everyone was doing) and a slight nod. Years ago I had a different faith orthodox make things very difficult but in that case there was more than faith at work I think. Luckily in that case it only lasted a couple of lessons.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-18-2017, 06:31 AM   #307
Cass's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Academy
Location: Athens
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 67
Re: To bow or not to bow

I don't have much to add but I like the sound of the hand over the heart with a nod as a potential replacement, it sounds like it would maintain the symbolism of respect without causing any religious conflict.

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Old 03-18-2017, 07:45 AM   #308
Dojo: Open Sky Aikikai
Location: Durham, NC
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 430
Re: To bow or not to bow

We have had several Muslim students in our dojo. Two of them did not bow, some of them did. A yudansha from Morocco came to visit and I was very impressed with his aikido. There was a young Muslim woman who could not practice with men who came to a seminar with women instructors. She and I got by with using jo nage and jo Dori variations on what was taught. I enjoyed it.

I think Ueshiba's art of peace and reconciliation would accomodate a religious proscription. In the USA, IME, most people bow poorly anyway. I think we need ways to help the discussion in our communities and a common activity with a goal of resolution of conflict should be a good idea. Not making contact with the opposite gender is more disruptive to class than not bowing but can be accommodated.
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Old 03-19-2017, 11:56 AM   #309
Dojo: Ren Shin Kan
Location: Birmingham
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 362
United Kingdom
Re: To bow or not to bow

Have come across this a few times - I particularly remember a student telling Chiba Sensei he couldn't bow because of his religious beliefs. Sensei's reply "That's fine; just be respectful to your partner"
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