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Old 01-15-2002, 01:26 AM   #26
Edward
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Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Li



I've spent over ten years training in Japan, and I've actually discussed this very issue with students of Morihei Ueshiba. Now, while I don't rule out the possibility that there are places with different policies, none of the dojo or teachers that I've trained with or are training with would have any problem at all with people eliminating the bow if the felt that it were in violation of their religious beliefs. Why be more Japanese than the Japanese themselves?



Chris
Thanks for pointing out this matter. At my dojo, our Japanese 7 Dan Shihan would, if asked, reply that it's not compulsory. Deep inside he would not be happy as I understood from him later. The matter is, it is very difficult for a Japanese to impose on a foreigner the Japanese way. Somehow they are shy or feel embarrassed. As Buddhists, they will always try to look and speak moderately.

To illustrate my point with an example not related to aikido, in Thailand where I live, most people do not wear shoes at home, while we foreigners do. When I go to visit a Thai at his home, whenever I ask, must I remove my shoes?, I will receive always the same reply, not necessary. Now if this person does not wear shoes at his home, why would he allow me to do it? These are Asian manners, so we should not abuse.

If I have good manners, I will just take off the shoes without asking.

Cheers,
Edward
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Old 01-15-2002, 02:22 AM   #27
Chris Li
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Edward
Thanks for pointing out this matter. At my dojo, our Japanese 7 Dan Shihan would, if asked, reply that it's not compulsory. Deep inside he would not be happy as I understood from him later.
And that's just my point - not compulsory. There's a huge difference between a preference that influences behavior and a compulsion that mandates behavior.

I go to a dojo run by two Japanese 7th dans on Saturdays, and they hardly bow at all .

Quote:
The matter is, it is very difficult for a Japanese to impose on a foreigner the Japanese way. Somehow they are shy or feel embarrassed. As Buddhists, they will always try to look and speak moderately.
Although you'd find many Japanese who claim to be Buddhists, I think that you'll find very few who actually believe in Buddhism in more than an extremely superficial manner. Certainly not enough to worry about it when they're speaking.

IMO, the Japanese reluctance to impose some type of behavior is more related to a lower level of direct aggression than to anything else - including deep belief.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-15-2002, 07:46 AM   #28
Magma
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Quote:
Originally posted by ca
If we insist on being traditional, then how can you mock what the Founder believed, and religate what he considered vital and important, the religious prayers and ceremonies that he opened class with, to a there-is-nothing-religious- about-it status.
Because that is exactly the point. We have kept the traditions without keeping the religious significance. This does not make them somehow empty or meaningless; there are other significances that they have. What sort of significance? Whatever significance we bring to the traditions... which is why it seems so absurd to attach a meaning to something that then prohibits you from performing that exercise. A bow is what you make it, and if you choose to make it religious then don't complain that it violates your religion.

Quote:
His students say he felt strongly about wearing hakamas on the mat. How can you pick and choose what you want, and toss the rest? Is that how you honor his memory?
I choose to not follow you down this path of turning this discussion into a debate over how to honor Ueshiba Sensei. That is non-topical, non-sequitor, and inflammatory.

Quote:
Wouldn't it be better to just let each person greet you in the way he feels comfortable? Isn't insisting on everyone adopting Japanese culture, even if it violates their religious beliefs, being close-mineded and unwilling to accept diverve cultures and experience?
Um... no. Sorry, you just ask those questions with such an expectancy of "Isn't this right? Can't everyone see how right this is?" It is amazing to watch the diving-for-tolerance that goes on when a topic like this comes up. We end up climbing over ourselves to be tolerant... and more tolerant. I laugh because normally I will be one trying to be more tolerant myself. However, there are times when our number goal should not be "comfort," when we should not try to shape everything around us so that it fits our lives; there are times when what we need is exactly to be uncomfortable. This is a big reason that the Martial Arts are respected and make a positive change in people's lives, because they stretch people out of their comfort zones.

Tim
It's a sad irony: In U's satori, he forgot every technique he ever knew; since then, generations of doka have spent their whole careers trying to remember.
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Old 01-15-2002, 08:27 AM   #29
Steve
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Quote:
Originally posted by ca
SNIP

If we insist on being traditional, then how can you mock what the Founder believed, and religate what he considered vital and important, the religious prayers and ceremonies that he opened class with, to a there-is-nothing-religious- about-it status. His students say he felt strongly about wearing hakamas on the mat. How can you pick and choose what you want, and toss the rest? Is that how you honor his memory?

SNIP
Personally, I don't practice aikido to honor anyone. I practice to make me a better person and because I enjoy it. I bow because I like the idea of showing respect to my mates in that way. I don't clap because clapping has a certain religeous texture that makes me uncomfortable. I never spell "founder" with an initial capital F because that gives him more importance as a human than any human desserves (excepting my Mother).

Steve Hoffman
+++++++++++
That's going to leave a mark.
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Old 01-15-2002, 08:49 AM   #30
Magma
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Steve, I have to dispute what you said. It's my Mom that gets the initial capital... you were close.

Oh, and by the way, I capitalize that leading 'M' religiously.

Religiously.

Ah, I crack myself up.

Tim
It's a sad irony: In U's satori, he forgot every technique he ever knew; since then, generations of doka have spent their whole careers trying to remember.
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Old 01-15-2002, 10:12 AM   #31
Abasan
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Some misconceptions

Mr Goldsbury - Last I heard, taking something with the left hand is not a persecutable offence. Just frowned upon. Maybe you met some idiots thats all.

CA - cross legs? I love to cross legs, especially when my ankle acts up. I trust I won't end up in hell because of that. Just don't show your feet... considered disrespectful to Sensei and others around you.

ham - muslims don't eat ham (pork origin). They eat only slaughtered halal meat.

Edward - hugging's not too bad. OSensei liked to hug Sueneka Sensei (from Hawaii).


So... when are we going to form this 'Action Committee Against the Uncultured Behaviour of Not Bowing and Other Idiosyncracies'?

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 01-15-2002, 10:23 AM   #32
Edward
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Hi Colleen!

I understand you're in the military. How about the military salute? Do you have the option not to do it? Or replace it with a handshake, or a hug? Aikido is a Martial Art, right?

Cheers,
Edward
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Old 01-15-2002, 10:28 AM   #33
Edward
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Re: Some misconceptions

Quote:
Originally posted by Abasan


Edward - hugging's not too bad. OSensei liked to hug Sueneka Sensei (from Hawaii).


I wouldn't mind hugging at all if the class were to be constituted of sexy top models
I just mind about hugging all these sweaty and smelly fellow males.

As for Osensei, no comments

Cheers,
Edward
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Old 01-15-2002, 01:54 PM   #34
Greg Jennings
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Quote:
Originally posted by Magma
Steve, I have to dispute what you said. It's my Mom that gets the initial capital... you were close.

Oh, and by the way, I capitalize that leading 'M' religiously.
The way I remember the rules from back in university, "Mom" would be appropriate when used as a substitute for her name. "mom" would be used when describing her relationship to you.

E.g., "Hi Mom, I'm home.!" vs. "This is my mom, Fionna".

Therefore, when I say "It was practiced by the Founder...", I capitalize. When I say "Morihei Ueshiba was the founder of aikido", I use the lower case.

But maybe the I am not remembering my grammer or perhaps the rules have changed.

Best,

Last edited by Greg Jennings : 01-15-2002 at 01:59 PM.

Greg Jennings
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Old 01-15-2002, 05:04 PM   #35
MJO
 
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Bowing

At my dojo, bowing is not meant to be religious. Bowing to the shomen is done as a small token of thanks to those who have passed along knowlege of their martial art skills from the past to present day. Beyond that, it is up to the individual.
I believe my instructor explains to every beginning student that there are traditional reasons for bowing. However, he feels that courtesy (respect towards learning the art and respect towards training with others) should be the common goal.
One aspect of bowing that we at AiBUKAN do practice is one of proper "structure."
This deals with the primary centers of balance: The head, center of chest, and hips/waist. Along with the six (physical) harmonies elbow-knee, shoulder-hip, head-waist, these centers are critical for proper body structure. Be it standing or in motion, techniques breakdown if the body is misaligned. The beginning student is shown what happens if he/she leans too far forward when bowing, and how to reposition their structure. Nothing more.
To each their own if one decides to start chanting some "O'Sensei-like" Elvis tunes...
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Old 01-15-2002, 07:06 PM   #36
Mares
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Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
I have a bad feeling about a judge passing a judgement compelling people to bow in a dojo as a point of law.
I think this is slightly off the point and the topic, but about this point of law. I agree with you Peter and Colleen that is a shame when a judge must pass judgement on such matters. But The courts do not choose the cases brought before them they only judge them. Therefore my point being isnt' it a shame that we as members of society find it necessary to bring these matters to court, rather than a shame that judges make judgements on such cases.

I'd be interested to know your thoughts

Regards
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Old 01-15-2002, 07:39 PM   #37
Erik
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mares
I think this is slightly off the point and the topic, but about this point of law. I agree with you Peter and Colleen that is a shame when a judge must pass judgement on such matters. But The courts do not choose the cases brought before them they only judge them. Therefore my point being isnt' it a shame that we as members of society find it necessary to bring these matters to court, rather than a shame that judges make judgements on such cases.

I'd be interested to know your thoughts
The following link is in regards to the case:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/49699_judo07.shtml

In my opinion, there are potential issues that surround this case. Suppose, instead of bowing, a prayer was said. In a private organization, such as a dojo, I think this would be fine. In my humble opinion in that realm just about anything goes.

Judo is different. It is a national sport and the US fields an Olympic team which would be expected to stand up under more substantive values and freedom of religion is one of them. Change bowing to prayer and I think the context of the case would change a great deal to most of us. Asking her to bow in this context is wrong.

To be honest, I think both sides are being lame. Firstly, who cares if they bow. It's no big deal, so the Judo organizations should relax and save some lawyer fees. Secondly, as an atheist I have to put up with all kinds of religious stuff that people take for granted. If I started filing suits over all of it I'd need 300 lives to get them all done.

PS: My understanding is that bowing and clapping is a Shinto ritual. Hence, the people in this case probably do have a legitimate point in that context. We may not see it that way, but once again, if you change bowing for prayer this issue becomes a bit murky and you can see why it wound up in court.

Last edited by Erik : 01-16-2002 at 01:31 AM.
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Old 01-16-2002, 07:40 AM   #38
Thalib
 
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keeping one mind and body

Quote:
Originally posted by MJO
One aspect of bowing that we at AiBUKAN do practice is one of proper "structure."
This deals with the primary centers of balance: The head, center of chest, and hips/waist. Along with the six (physical) harmonies elbow-knee, shoulder-hip, head-waist, these centers are critical for proper body structure. Be it standing or in motion, techniques breakdown if the body is misaligned. The beginning student is shown what happens if he/she leans too far forward when bowing, and how to reposition their
structure. Nothing more.
Your dojo have similarities with ours. At first we didn't pay much attention to this, until my sensei, another aikidoka, and I started to take Ki-no-Kenkyukai classes. We realized that we've missed so much. Forget about "Ki" for a second, before those classes, we were even lacking in the concept of shin-shin-toitsu,unification of / one mind and body.

Now, the way we stand, the way we sit (in seiza position or not),the way we bow, even the way we lie down (even to sleep) is a very big significance.We have to keep our center at all times, keep our mind and body unified, and if already understood, extend our "ki".

Techniques are useless without these basic principles. I was basically humbled in a manner that all that I have learned are empty techniques. I was so high up in the clouds, that I was brought back down to earth.My sensei now takes bowing seriously, it is a practice of "ki",or at least unification of mind and body. By unification of mind and body, the body reflects the state of mind and even spirit. So when you bow, it is clearly a representation of your state of mind / spirit. Once you train in this, it is easily visible the truth that represents the person your perceiving. This also have something to do with Musashi's "kan" and "ken" from "The Book of Five Rings.

I try to practice these teachings in my everyday life, and it has helped me a lot with a few things. Dojo is the place where I learn, my life is the place where I practice it.My perceptions have changed for the better.
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Old 01-16-2002, 08:30 AM   #39
giriasis
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Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
I have a bad feeling about a judge passing a judgement compelling people to bow in a dojo as a point of law.
Before I agree or disagree, being a law student I would love to read the judge's opinion.

Does anyone have case name, docket number, or case cite?

Anne Marie

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 01-16-2002, 09:57 AM   #40
Keith R Lee
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Post Legal texts

Here are the only 2 texts I could find on the web. I would have pulled the case straight from WestLaw but I don' think that many people have access to it.

Here you go:

The Canuck Case
&
The US case

Just to satisfy all those with a smattering of legalese.

Keith Lee
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Old 01-16-2002, 10:18 AM   #41
Edward
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Jun!

It's your relatives who have been causing the controversy

Cheers,
Edward
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Old 01-16-2002, 03:04 PM   #42
cguzik
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Quote:
Originally posted by Erik


...

Judo is different. It is a national sport and the US fields an Olympic team which would be expected to stand up under more substantive values and freedom of religion is one of them. Change bowing to prayer and I think the context of the case would change a great deal to most of us. Asking her to bow in this context is wrong.

...

PS: My understanding is that bowing and clapping is a Shinto ritual. Hence, the people in this case probably do have a legitimate point in that context. We may not see it that way, but once again, if you change bowing for prayer this issue becomes a bit murky and you can see why it wound up in court.
Erik,

I would agree with the statement that "If bowing in Olympic judo is a Shinto ritual then it should not be compulsory." However, I am not sure that bowing in Olympic judo really is a Shinto ritual. If the issue in the case were bowing to a kamidana then I would agree that it could be considered a Shinto ritual. But as I understand the case, the issue at hand is bowing to one's opponent before and after the judo match.

Bowing to one's opponent before and after a match is just a rule of the sport. There is nothing religious about it. To me, if a person's religious beliefs prohibit a certain behavior, and they want to participate in a sport that includes that behavior, then that person has a choice to make.

If I were a vegetarian due to being a Buddhist, and I wanted to join the county fair hotdog eating contest, I would be a very conflicted individual. But I would not ask the county fair to substitute tofu hotdogs just to accomodate me.

Now here is the part that still confuses me; I read in a related thread on another forum that the plaintiffs in this case are not Muslim or fundamantalist Christian but agnostic. They are not saying "bowing is a ritual that conflicts with my religion," they are saying "I should not be forced to participate in a behavior that has religious connotations/origins."

Furthermore, these kids are Japanese; I may be going out on a limb here, but I have the feeling this is more about these kids divorcing their cultural heritage than about violating their religious freedom.

Chris Guzik

Last edited by cguzik : 01-17-2002 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 01-16-2002, 05:36 PM   #43
Andy
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Quote:
Originally posted by cguzik
If I were a vegetarian due to being a Buddhist, and I wanted to join the county fair hotdog eating contest, I would be a very conflicted individual. But I would not ask the county fair to substitute tofu hotdogs just to accomodate me.
What if you were a Buddhist vegetarian who wanted to join the county fair strongman competition which required everyone to eat a hot dog before every event since "that's the way we've always done it"? What if someone does some research and finds out that the hot dogs were there to provide the strongmen with nutrition through their events? Tofu dogs didn't exist back when the competitions were first started. Wouldn't it seem like it would be okay for you to ask if you could substitute a tofu dog for the hot dog?
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Old 01-16-2002, 10:53 PM   #44
Edward
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Perhaps this is irrelevant for the thread, but I would like to say that, bowing, as a form of greeting to others, is at a higher esthetical and civilizational level than the western equivalent of hand-shaking. I'm sure that in the future world, if we do not annihilate eachother that is, bowing would replace other forms of greeting.
It involves a certain aspect of respect and restrained friendliness not present in the handshake. Living for over 6 years in Thailand, I've come to feel uncomfortable with shaking hands of strangers, which I would rather reserve to close friends. After all you don't know where has this hand been, maybe poking a nose, or eating a mayonnaise sandwish

Seriously, I find much more meaning in bowing...

Cheers,
Edward
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Old 01-16-2002, 11:03 PM   #45
Magma
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Andy, I think you missed the point of that last post. No matter what the requirement, or the context, or its history, if a person has a conflict with it and cannot change it, they have to make a choice.

Now, regarding the hot-dogs-for-nutrition example you pose, can we agree that if at one time in the past the hot dogs were taken because of a nutrional need, but in recent times the need for that purpose has dwindled, the continued practice of eating hot dogs has a COMPLETELY different significance than what it did originally? (Wow, that is one LONG sentence). Be it tradition ("this is what we've always done"), a tribute to those that went before ("Old One-Eyed, Fuzzy Toed Jack ate this before he competed, and I think he set the bar for the performance of all the competitors that come after him..."), or whatever else, the meaning is different.

Just because bowing may have at one time been a religious overture for someone else does not change the bow that I make into a similar religious gesture. I just want to ask the person with a problem with bowing why it violates their beliefs. It certainly cannot be because of what someone else believes the bow means... I can believe that the handshake of a pretty girl conveyed more affection than it truly did, but unless she intended and believes that, too, then what I think doesn't matter.

So why does the person believe that bowing violates their religious faith? Are they choosing to worship something? And if so, that is their own choice, so they would be OK with that. Otherwise, if they are not worshipping something... then they are NOT WORSHIPPING SOMETHING.

The act does make the worship, the worship makes the act.

Hmm, otherwise, I could come up with a whole list of physical gestures that constitute belief structures:

(1) People walking with their left arm bent 90 degrees are showing their membership in the cult of Bob Dole. (2) Putting your feet up on a table demonstrates great piety insofar as you don't dare to trod on the earth with your unclean feet.

...wow, sometimes I go out there... just way, way out there...

Last edited by Magma : 01-16-2002 at 11:11 PM.

Tim
It's a sad irony: In U's satori, he forgot every technique he ever knew; since then, generations of doka have spent their whole careers trying to remember.
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Old 01-17-2002, 05:40 AM   #46
tedehara
 
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NPR Report

Quote:
Originally posted by giriasis


Before I agree or disagree, being a law student I would love to read the judge's opinion.

Does anyone have case name, docket number, or case cite?

Anne Marie
You can listen to the original NPR broadcast just click here!

If you have an audio player, then you can listen to the audio report by clicking on the listen to segment link.

The report does not cite any specific docket number but does give the case name. It is the same (US) case that Keith cited and was the source for the article that Erik mentioned. James Akiyama et al vs United States Judo Incorporated et al

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Old 01-17-2002, 07:36 AM   #47
Tim Griffiths
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Quote:
Originally posted by Abasan
Bowing in Aikido or any other martial arts should not be miscontrued as supplication. It is one given in respect.
The problem for Mrs Aikiyama (the mother of the
children) was that bowing comes from an act of
supplication, and is abhorrent for historical reasons,
and doesn't want her American children to be part
of that culture, not that is offends religious belife.
Being Japanese, she is presumably aware that it
isn't normally given religious significance.

Tim
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Old 01-17-2002, 11:23 AM   #48
giriasis
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Smile

Thanks for posting the links. (I do have WestLaw btw )

This is my interpretation of what was said. I will try to put my interpretation in layman's terms.

The arbitration panel* is saying that the U.S. Judo Federation is not discriminating because the people bringing the action did not prove that the rule is a pre-text for discrimination. This means that the International Judo Federation did not create the rule to discriminate against people's sincerely held beliefs.

The panel also stated that the rule on its face is not discriminatory. This means that the wording itself does not contain language that indicates a discriminatory purpose.

And that even though the rule is not discriminatory on its face, the rule is not discriminatory as applied. "As Applied" means that even though the wording itself is non-discriminatory, but when the rule is applied in the real world it results in discrimination. To support this opinion the panel stated that this is rule used internationally and that this rule applies in Muslim nations, none of whom who have objected. And no objections based on religious discrimination has be brought forward until now. To the panel this indicated that the rule does not create a broad based form of discrimination being applied to Muslims, Christians. And also the panel stated that the people brining the claim did not put forward any facts or evidence to show that there was broad based discrimination.

In other words, the court is saying that the bowing in the Judo competition is not based in religion; therefore, can not violate their sincerely held beliefs. Bowing is an integral part to the sport of Judo which adds to its distinction from other sports like wrestling.

*I find it also interesting that this is not an opinion from a court but an arbitration panel decision. Fellow legal professionals please correct me, but because its an arbitration panel, it is not mandatory (primary) law? So this decision only applies to this particular case and has only persuasive but not controlling force in court?

Anne Marie

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Old 02-10-2002, 02:51 PM   #49
warriorwoman
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Bowing

Hello All!
I find it interesting that this same discussion is being hotly debated on some other martial arts websites as well.

We can look at the "to bow, or not to bow" debate from a form vs. content perspective. The bowing can have content (if done with proper understanding), or it can merely be form, which for many it is. Unfortunately, we humans tend to use our religious convictions to separate rather than unite us with others.

Edward's analogy of Thais removing shoes before entering a home is a good one. Aside from being considerate about bringing outside dirt into another's home, in Thai culture to remove one's shoes implies a certain gesture of humility - like removing one's hat in the U.S. And, yes, they will protest "you don't have to!", but if you don't, you considered either arrogant, or forgiven as poorly raised. Perhaps we should try more to understand just what it is about the situation that makes us feel uncomfortable and less time trying to justify our need to not "go with the flow".

In some sword arts, when sitting in seiza, a person removes the katana and places it on the floor beside him with the blade facing the wrong way. Historically,this was to indicate to the host that you are placing yourself at a disadvantage if you should want to use the sword against him. Today, though you may be practicing in a dojo with a bokken, you still follow that etiquette, not because you may decide to kill your teacher, but because there is an implied difference between you and him/her by observing this act.

There are many examples of things that make us uncomfortable in our training and we each arrive at our own way of accepting, rejecting, understanding, growing with them. It's all part of the process of traing in martial arts. When we find something inconsistent with our value system, we always have the option to remove ourselves from that dojo or situation rather than demand that it adapt to our needs.
Respectfully,
janet dtantirojanarat
www.warriorwoman.org

janet dtantirojanarat
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Old 02-10-2002, 05:54 PM   #50
guest1234
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Well, lost track of this for awhile...

Abasan: for most US males,at least heterosexual ones, crossing your leg results in showing the sole of your foot; usually only females cross their legs at the ankles, or at the knees with both feet sole-down toward the floor. Since it was a male I was replying to, I assumed he did not follow the female method, but I could be wrong...

Edward: The salute is taken from a martial tradition of extending good will and a show of confidence the other wouldn't kill you. As far as I know, there is no link to religion. The opening bow (NOT the one to your partner) is, however, directly taken from a religious tradition, and was meant in it's traditional form as a religious action, and as that can be seen (no matter what YOU think YOU are doing when YOU bow toward the kamiza) as part of a religious ritual.


But, while we are on the subject of what-does-the-military-do, I think you'd all agree that the military goes pretty firmly for a uniform look amongs its members. In the USAF, we have regs (well, ok, now they're instructions) that tell you the kind of make-up and underwear you may wear, not to mention how to wear your hair, and what your clothes will look like (how many of you put your suits together with a ruler in one hand?). BUT, the military has let that uniformity-is-everything issue slide in allowing Jewish males to wear a yarmulke (OK, THAT is definately mispelled), and right now are considering the request of a Muslim female to wear a head scarf (was it a hajib? I don't recall the word, sorry).
For everyone else, yes of course someone who has deeply held religous beliefs can always go somewhere else, or not train at all, if those beliefs are bothered by a bow with religious roots (and say what you will, that IS what it is from). But it is a shame, and I am glad no dojo I've ever attended would bar someone from attending because his religion conflicted with the bow. And for those who say 'but they are trying to force their beliefs on me', no, they are not. They are not insisiting YOU not bow, they are just asking that THEY not be forced to do so. If that makes you uncomfortable, perhaps you are not as certain in what that bow means as you originally thought.
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