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Old 02-11-2002, 02:36 AM   #51
Peter Goldsbury
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[quote]Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
[b]I have a bad feeling about a judge passing a judgement compelling people to bow in a dojo as a point of law.

A few further comments.

I have listened to the interview and noted the suggestion that bowing in judo is apparently shinto religious ritual. Okumura Shigenobu Sensei (9th dan Aikikai shihan) wrote somewhere that there was a kamidana at the Aikikai Hombu before the war. This was removed after the war, partly because prewar state Shinto had fallen into disrepute and also because the decision had been made to make aikido available to everybody, including non-Japanese. The practice of bowing before the kamiza was kept, but as a sign of respect and no longer had any religious significance.

During my daily life & activities here in Hiroshima I am bowed to, and bow back, probably a dozen times each day. I really do not think it is a Shinto ritual. It is a kind of greeting, a sign of respect, and a hangover of something that used to have more significance.

On the other hand, the Japanese do get very upset about honoring / not honouring criminals / patriots among the war dead at the Yasukuni Shrine and I could well imagine a Japanese person, possibly with memories about the war, getting upset on being told that bowing in judo was required as a Shinto ritual. Perhaps the court action was a typical response to the rigid attitude being displayed.

My unease is that the judge appears to have ruled that bowing was not a Shinto ritual, but was nevertheless required because it was part and parcel of 'non-religious' judo practice. To my mind this places unusual stress on the outer form at the expense of the inner attitude that the form is a sign of.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 02-12-2002, 08:41 AM   #52
Magma
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ritual: n. 1. an established or prescribed procedure for a religious or other rite. 2. a system of religious or other rites. 3. observance of set forms of public worship (definition continues)

tradition: n. 1. the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.... 2. that which is so handed down (definition continues)

[Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, 1994]

While the practice of bowing may have roots in a Shinto ritual, its place today is that of tradition. I think that in common practice, the difference between these two classifications is that a person does a ritual because it is somehow required of them, while they keep a tradition because it is something that they want to do.

In order for a bow to have religious significance, that significance must be brought to the bow by the person performing the act. In other words, they themselves have to infuse the worship into the bow in order to move it from simple tradition to ritual. And if they do that, then quite simply it is their own damn fault. "You got yourself into this quandary, you get yourself out of it," is what I feel like telling them.

Yes, there are more important things to learn in the martial arts than tradition. However, there are things that can ONLY be learned THROUGH tradition, perhaps the most important things that one can learn from the arts.

Now, onto a question that I am researching myself right now:

We are all referencing Shinto as the root of the bowing traditions in Aikido. However, bowing seems more prevalent in eastern culture in general. Isn't the act of bowing something that the Shinto faith adopted?

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 02-12-2002, 09:23 AM   #53
Thalib
 
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Smile Eastern culture...

I believe I have a reply in this thread somewhere that refers to bowing not as a religious ritual, but as an eastern culture.

As someone that is of South-east Asia, I do not take bowing as a religious ritual. If bowing was from a Shinto ritual, then how come it spans basically all of Asia.

In Indonesia, when we walk pass (quite close) in front of an elder, we bow until we clear their view.It doesn't have to be an elder, when passing in front of someone sitting down which posture is lower than you are, it is only polite if you try not to block their view (even if you still block their view, the effort itself is taken as politeness).

We lower ourselves in front of others as a sign of politeness to avoid arrogance. I take bowing in the martial arts as asking for mutual respect and trust.That's why, when I bow I don't look at the person.
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Old 02-12-2002, 04:50 PM   #54
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Re: Eastern culture...

Quote:
Originally posted by Thalib
I believe I have a reply in this thread somewhere that refers to bowing not as a religious ritual, but as an eastern culture.

As someone that is of South-east Asia, I do not take bowing as a religious ritual. If bowing was from a Shinto ritual, then how come it spans basically all of Asia.

In Indonesia, when we walk pass (quite close) in front of an elder, we bow until we clear their view.It doesn't have to be an elder, when passing in front of someone sitting down which posture is lower than you are, it is only polite if you try not to block their view (even if you still block their view, the effort itself is taken as politeness).

We lower ourselves in front of others as a sign of politeness to avoid arrogance. I take bowing in the martial arts as asking for mutual respect and trust.That's why, when I bow I don't look at the person.
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Old 02-12-2002, 05:17 PM   #55
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Hello,

Colleen - just to play devils advocate here, Aikido dojo also have rules and regulations; in some dojo, bowing may be looked upon as the rule/regulation. This is not too much different from rendering a salute.

A little off topic, but have you ever "jacked-up" someone for not saluting you? Can you imagine what the dojo would be like if after you did not show respect to the sensei or sempai by bowing, they had you sit in seiza for a few minutes while they lectured on and on about proper customs and courtesies?

The salute is showing respect for the uniform, not necessarily the person wearing it.

p.s. The medical community must be a little more stringent than the missile maintenance community, because my Commander doesn't seem to care what type of underwear my troops wear

Last edited by lt-rentaroo : 02-12-2002 at 05:19 PM.

LOUIS A. SHARPE, JR.
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Old 02-27-2002, 01:35 PM   #56
Dan Rubin
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In Akiyama v. United States Judo Incorporated, three students objected to the rules of three national and international judo organizations which required them to bow before entering the contest area (they did not object to bowing to their opponents). The students claimed that these rules violated Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal Amateur Sports Act, and two Washington state statutes. Thus, the issue was not "Should these students be required to bow?" but rather "Do the rules of these private organizations violate the specific provisions of any of these statutes?"

In 1997 the U S. District Court in Seattle, Washington, issued a temporary injunction, prohibiting the enforcement of the bowing requirement against these three students as the case wound its long way through arbitration and court. Two of the students are siblings, James and Leilani Akiyama. James is now 17 years old, and Leilani is now 14. Their stepfather, Jon Holm, is the head of their dojo.

The Court ruled in January that the Civil Rights Act forbids only intentional religious discrimination, and that in this case the alleged religious discrimination is not intentional. It also ruled that even if the Civil Rights Act or any other of these statutes were interpreted to forbid unintentional religious discrimination, the discrimination must affect a protected class of people, and even that can be justified if the rule has legitimate neutral purposes. It does not matter that the students disparage those purposes, which in this case include promoting the fair and safe start of judo matches among participants speaking different languages, and "reflecting, highlighting and preserving the etiquette and traditions of judo." (At an arbitration hearing, summarized by Giriasis earlier in this thread, the Akiyamas' stepfather had compared judo to wrestling, in his testimony against the bowing rules.)

Moreover, the Court stated that Leilani Akiyama did not claim to be a member of any particular religion, nor could she identify any of her religious beliefs which are offended by bowing. Instead, the Court said, her objection to bowing reflects her parents' objections, which are culture-based. (At the arbitration hearing, her mother had testified against the rules on the grounds that bowing "reflects a Shinto religious practice"---this might be the arbitrators' phrasing---and is also an oppressive practice of the Japanese military and royalty.) The third student is a Christian who objects to bowing to inanimate objects, but the Court noted that "there are hundreds of thousands of judo competitors with similar belief systems" who do not object to bowing. The Court held that the latter student cannot be a protected class all by himself. If he is, then anything he objects to amounts automatically to discrimination. (The Court did not mention James Akiyama, and did not comment on whether bowing is a Shinto ritual.) And the Court pointed out that, even if these students were to win their lawsuit, the verdict would not affect the rules of international competitions.

So the Court did not rule that students must bow. The Court ruled that there is no applicable federal or state law that prohibits the judo organizations from requiring it.

As a result of this decision, the temporary injunction was lifted, and the three students may be disqualified if they refuse to bow in judo tournaments. This decision affects only this particular lawsuit, although its reasoning could influence other judges. If the case were to be appealed, any ruling by an appellate court would control decisions of subordinate courts within that appellate court's jurisdiction.

According to an article in the February 24 issue of the Seattle Times, Leilani Akiyama has won 14 national judo championships and four international judo championships, and had dreamed of participating in the Olympics. The article states that Jon Holm and his wife spent about $100,000 pursuing this case, and the three defending judo organizations spent about $150,000 defending it.

The article also reports that (a) the three plaintiffs in this case will not appeal the decision of the Court, (b) Leilani and James Akiyama have decided to no longer compete in judo (they are also successful high school wrestlers), and (c) Jon Holm "is planning a class-action suit on behalf of Muslim judo students who can't compete in tournaments because their religion forbids them to perform the ritual bows. Six Muslim students, boys ages 8 to 12, attend Holm's judo school, U.S. Judo Training Center" in Renton, Washington.

Dan Rubin
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Old 02-27-2002, 11:30 PM   #57
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The first thing that came to my mind when I heard the situation was "what right do the plaintiffs have to sue the defendants?"

It seems to me, that if a child owns a ball, the child is completely justified in not letting other children play with it if they don't want to play by the rules. Other children are likewise not forced to play if they don't like the rules.

The Judo organization, I'm going to assume, is not a government organization, and therefore is under no legal compunction to be fair, equitable or what have you.

If I'm not mistaken, one of the question on the YMCA's application is something to the effect of "do you respect the teachings of Jesus Christ?" If one answers "no, I think the teachings of Jesus Christ are (insert profanity)," I believe that the YMCA would be perfectly correct in not allowing said individual to participate in their reindeer games.

So if the Judo organization in question decides that bowing is mandatory, what legal ground does one have for taking legal offense? It seems to me that if one disagrees that strongly with one of the core rules, one should find a different organization.

It sounds a lot like wanting to join a fraternity but not wanting to go through with some bland initiation process or refusing to use the secret handshake. Join a different fraternity, but don't sick the American legal system on them.

Eric Kroier
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