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Old 10-05-2010, 08:27 AM   #151
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Bjorn,

It seems to me you've changed Iwama style reigi to satisfy your own vision of the art. This makes your concerns about the muslim guy desires or self imposed limitations totally irrelevant.

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Old 10-05-2010, 11:08 AM   #152
jonreading
 
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Re: To bow or not to bow

I know of several different styles of bowing, particular to different styles of martial arts. I think the common thread between them is bowing is a [formal] greeting that acknowledges the other. This aspect of etiquette exists in most cultures. The salutation is a derivation of showing an empty hand, shaking hands more informal. The term "see you" is a derivation of one party acknowledging the presence of the other. To "meet" was to describe a confrontation of two parties. The act of acknowledgement is not as relevant as the intention behind the action.

When I attend Catholic mass, I do not take communion because I am not Catholic. However, If I chose to take communion, no one would stop me because only I know that I am not Catholic. In this sense, I must understand why I should abstain from taking communion and then stand behind my intention to abstain from communion because it is not right for me. I do not advocate that we should blindly do what the rest of the herd does. Bowing because others bow is how we start our training. As we train the act should become more than an act, it should also reflect our intention. We can replace the [bowing] act with another act of acknowledgement, but we need to demonstrate our intention to respect our partner.

Many bad people hide their intentions behind a mask of courtesy. Bowing is one of those acts that makes students choose to either hide their true feelings behind an act, or become the act. Eventually you will either see through the false act or the student will internalize its meeting. Its not that difficult to see through false actions. Ever hear someone laugh falsely at one of your jokes?

Etiquette is not that difficult to follow. It actually makes more sense as you train because good etiquette has purpose and experience illuminates purpose.
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Old 10-05-2010, 06:14 PM   #153
David Orange
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Bjorn Saw wrote: View Post
He is a Muslim and will not, because of his precepts and faith, bow to the ground either at the Kamiza or to another when we greet in the Japanese way...
Well, has he come back to classes?

I have found that when someone expresses a major dislike of something I do from the very first meeting (like bowing, for instance, or removing all jewelry), that's a way out for them to reject the classes.

I would tell him, "That's the way we do things. It's part of the culture and it comes with the art. Take it voluntarily or just accept that the practice of this art is not for you."

Now I'll read the rest of the thread and see what happened.

Best to you.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

www.davidorangejr.com
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Old 10-05-2010, 06:26 PM   #154
David Orange
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Bjorn Saw wrote: View Post
He is a Muslim and will not, because of his precepts and faith, bow to the ground either at the Kamiza or to another when we greet in the Japanese way
Of course, in my own training and in my Zero Degree teaching, I have dropped bowing and instead use gassho hands at the heart level.

When I go to someone's dojo, I bow as they bow.

Of course, I have been to some dojos where an isolated local culture had transformed the simple Japanese bow into a kind of Noh play, with intricate malarkey piled on. The rei is a major part of the personality of each dojo and if I don't like the way they bow, I just leave them alone.

Best to all.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

www.davidorangejr.com
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Old 10-05-2010, 07:14 PM   #155
David Orange
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Re: To bow or not to bow

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Robert M Watson Jr wrote: View Post
I've found that folks that are insistent on their way are soon on their way.
Exactly.

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

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Old 10-05-2010, 10:16 PM   #156
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Having practiced with Morihiro Saito Sensei in Iwama over a period of plus six years I continue the etiquette we did there as I previous also had done with his student and my teacher Tomita Sensei in Sweden. I have not changed any part. Not because I'm rigidly sticking to a certain procedure and take pride in it but because it never was a source of contention or of discussion. It all was done with ease and never did I hear Saito Sensei telling us off for bowing touching the mat with our forehead as we thanked each other or invited another to train from seiza.
None of us measured the limit of the bow or got into arguments about its martial application.
The fake attentiveness some like to put on in order to feel they behave like warriors is quite pathetic. We train Aikido, not soldiery.

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Old 10-06-2010, 02:49 PM   #157
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
Of course, in my own training and in my Zero Degree teaching, I have dropped bowing and instead use gassho hands at the heart level.
Zero Degree teaching? Is that in the cold? Rubbing your hands together to stay warm?

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Old 10-07-2010, 09:11 AM   #158
David Orange
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Re: To bow or not to bow

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Bjorn Saw wrote: View Post
Zero Degree teaching? Is that in the cold? Rubbing your hands together to stay warm?
It's five lessons that get to the beginning of the beginning of all martial arts techniques, based first on standing upright. It covers kicks, punches, aikido atemi, etc., starting from the smallest of the smallest movements.

You might say it's "a martial art about nothing."

I use gassho particularly because the bow is so closely associated with dynamic martial arts and to some degree signifies "If I hurt you, I didn't mean to."

The gassho greeting is explained as meaning "I will not hurt you."

It puts people in the frame of mind, from the beginning, that they are not there for fighting but to explore the origins of movement.

Hope that helps.

David

By the way....did the guy in question ever return to your dojo? How did you work things out?

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

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Old 10-07-2010, 11:03 AM   #159
WilliB
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
It's five lessons that get to the beginning of the beginning of all martial arts techniques, based first on standing upright. It covers kicks, punches, aikido atemi, etc., starting from the smallest of the smallest movements.

You might say it's "a martial art about nothing."
Err... is there a video to show this? Or is it too small to be seen?
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Old 10-07-2010, 01:27 PM   #160
Phil Van Treese
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Re: To bow or not to bow

I have a problem with some new person coming into my school and telling me that he/she will not bow to O sensei's picture or the Kamiza. IF he is going to come to my school, he will follow the dojo rules. If I go to another's dojo, then I follow their rules. It will be a cold day below before a student will dictate to me what he will or will not do. The door works both ways, in and out.
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Old 10-07-2010, 03:14 PM   #161
David Orange
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Re: To bow or not to bow

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Willi Brix wrote: View Post
Err... is there a video to show this? Or is it too small to be seen?
I haven't done any videos of it.

People usually really enjoy the lessons.

I developed them from applying Feldenkrais concepts to the aikido I learned with Mochizuki Sensei, who told me two things: 1) teach as much as possible as fast as possible; and 2) teach something at every lesson that the student can go out and use that same day.

Strangely, through Feldenkrais, I found that the best way to teach "as much as possible as fast as possible" is to teach as little as possible. But I do teach imminently usable material in each one-hour lesson.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

www.davidorangejr.com
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Old 10-07-2010, 10:02 PM   #162
WilliB
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Phil Van Treese wrote: View Post
I have a problem with some new person coming into my school and telling me that he/she will not bow to O sensei's picture or the Kamiza. IF he is going to come to my school, he will follow the dojo rules. If I go to another's dojo, then I follow their rules. It will be a cold day below before a student will dictate to me what he will or will not do. The door works both ways, in and out.
Well said, sir!
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Old 10-07-2010, 11:46 PM   #163
torbjornsaw
 
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Re: To bow or not to bow

The student has not come back yet, but he did say in two weeks. We'll see?

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Old 10-08-2010, 06:42 AM   #164
lbb
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Bjorn Saw wrote: View Post
The student has not come back yet, but he did say in two weeks. We'll see?
Don't read too much into it if he doesn't. Most people who walk into the dojo don't stay, for reasons that have nothing to do with religious sensibilities.
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Old 10-08-2010, 06:53 AM   #165
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Bjorn Saw wrote: View Post
Some, because of general stiffness, some due to a rather wide waist, some due to knee problems, raise their butt in the air. Some, to wipe the sweat off their forehead, some in order to rest, some because of utter submission, some for respect, and others not really knowing how deep is deep enough, not knowing the national standard, will bow with the head touching the floor.
If this is the case then it looks like you have a bit of leeway.

It seems to me that bowing in most cultures is a way of showing respect by demonstrating one's willingness to trust. You are literally offering your head. It can be done to different degrees and further meaning can be added to make it an act of worship but then the same can be done with eating bread, drinking wine or singing. I always thought of bowing as a sign of respect, especially before a picture of Osensei or in front of the kamidana. Even with four claps and full Shinto prayer in the Aiki Shrine, I see it as a form of symbolism showing respect. Beyond that is one's own business. Some might say that Shinto itself is a way of showing respect rather than a religion per se: a way of looking at and acting within the universe. Regardless of that, I think another important point that Bjorn mentioned is awase. Your manners and etiquette are usually your first point of awase with your opponent in aikido.
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Old 10-08-2010, 02:02 PM   #166
Don
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Re: To bow or not to bow

I suppose it depends on where you are in your aikido experience that determines what you get to do. There is a high ranking shihan in my organization who is a committed Muslim. He does not bow into classes for the same reason the OP does not. Now he has managed to attain this high rank and has not been asked to leave this organization. He respectfully waits off the mat while another person bows his class in and then teaches. I suppose that brings into question the notion of "what is really important in aikido? The aikido or the reiho? There have been other threads on this issue and it seems that the thread gravitates to different conclusions depending on who is participating. This is really a very complex question for the instructor and student. It can get at what the instructor views the bowing to signify. Nothing? Bowing in respect to OSensei's memory by bowing to a kamiza? Bowing to a kamidana? Bowing and clapping to ward away the evil spirits? If a student for instance came in and was really sincere about aikido but also for instance really wanted to respect the second Jewish and Christian commandment of not bowing to any graven image, bowing to a kamiza could present a real problem, but that in no way would necessarily compromise their ability to participate in and do well in aikido. I know. I have practiced aikido for over 14 years and do not bow to a kamiza. I will bow to others because that is clearly a cultural greeting between living persons. No one has beaten me up about it and if they had I would have left. Others might not. Depends on what is most important to you.
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Old 10-08-2010, 06:37 PM   #167
Anthony Loeppert
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Don McConnell wrote: View Post
Now he has managed to attain this high rank and has not been asked to leave this organization. He respectfully waits off the mat while another person bows his class in and then teaches.
I like this story... because it shows deference to existing (aikido) norms but BECAUSE muslim sensei is in charge in his dojo he calls the shots so to speak... AND since his students (the rest of the group) have no problem with this, GREAT! Who cares?!

I'd be interested to know what he did as a beginner, but the details don't change the situation, it is up to the group to accept or not, just like it is up to the individual to show up to class.

Quote:
Don McConnell wrote: View Post
I suppose that brings into question the notion of "what is really important in aikido?
No, I think it is more basic than that. This is what we (we in this case being the dojo membership) believe. If you have a problem with it, bounce.

Quote:
Don McConnell wrote: View Post
If a student for instance came in and was really sincere about aikido but also for instance really wanted to respect the second Jewish and Christian commandment of not bowing to any graven image, bowing to a kamiza could present a real problem, but that in no way would necessarily compromise their ability to participate in and do well in aikido.
Not a theologian (nor do I even really care one way or another), but I believe the commandment is do not worship graven images. Worship != Bowing

Now flipping the issue as I believe respect (of differences) goes both ways. Would one be accepted walking into a mosque saying "Hey, I'm curious about this Islam business but this bowing towards mecca every couple of hours is ridiculous/silly/offensive and ain't nothing better than grilled pork ribs. Plus what is up with no eating/drinking during daylight for a month (or whatever it is)? Where do I sign up?"

I suspect it is an open question, depending many things (what country you are in for example), but finally it is up to the existing membership of whatever group you want to join to decide if it is OK or not.

Regards,
Anthony
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Old 10-08-2010, 07:31 PM   #168
Anthony Loeppert
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Don McConnell wrote: View Post
I have practiced aikido for over 14 years and do not bow to a kamiza. I will bow to others because that is clearly a cultural greeting between living persons.
Quote:
Don McConnell wrote: View Post
No one has beaten me up about it and if they had I would have left. Others might not.
Exactly the point of my previous post...
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Old 10-09-2010, 05:42 AM   #169
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Anthony Loeppert wrote: View Post
No, I think it is more basic than that. This is what we (we in this case being the dojo membership) believe. If you have a problem with it, bounce.
Hmm. Well, while I don't agree that a newcomer should be able to dictate to the dojo, I also believe that sometimes a newcomer who does things differently can bring positive changes to a dojo. In our dojo (for example) we have a student who has some physical challenges and sometimes cannot sit at all. We have another student who is developmentally disabled, and while not disruptive, has difficulty giving the kind of focused attention that is considered polite in most dojo for more than a short period of time. We have learned things from training with these two individuals, not in spite of their limitations (if I can use the word) but because of them. If nothing else, we have learned some things about our own capacity for flexibility, and also about the observance of form. It's not that form, or reigi, don't matter...but they're also not paramount. I think we've learned some things about what really matters. If we had simply told these individuals to "bounce", we'd be the less for it.
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Old 10-09-2010, 01:35 PM   #170
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Re: To bow or not to bow

I think bowing is a sign of respect to Doshu and our sensei, it is a tradition in aikido classes, the same as we name all aikido techniques in japanese not in our own language. We always bow when our sensei teaches aikido or kenjutsu, but we do not bow in the self-defence classes also teached by our sensei.
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Old 10-09-2010, 10:02 PM   #171
Anthony Loeppert
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Hmm. Well, while I don't agree that a newcomer should be able to dictate to the dojo, I also believe that sometimes a newcomer who does things differently can bring positive changes to a dojo.
...
If we had simply told these individuals to "bounce", we'd be the less for it.
Perhaps I came off callous, that was not my intent. My point was just that it is first and foremost the choice of the sensei. I wouldn't have a problem (of course this is just a thought exercise as I'm not teaching) as long as the attitude of the prospective student was sincere and open (is bowing the only impediment to training, or is this just the first of the objections that will come)... this topic has been beaten like a dead horse so I won't dwell on it.

Regards,
Anthony
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Old 10-10-2010, 02:48 AM   #172
Flintstone
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Carina Reinhardt wrote: View Post
I think bowing is a sign of respect to Doshu and our sensei, it is a tradition in aikido classes, the same as we name all aikido techniques in japanese not in our own language. We always bow when our sensei teaches aikido or kenjutsu, but we do not bow in the self-defence classes also teached by our sensei.
Carina, what about other lineages that do not follow Hombu and don't pay homage to Doshu (so to speak)?

BTW, be sure to say hello to CÚsar.
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Old 10-19-2010, 12:33 PM   #173
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Came into the discussion late, but wanted to add my 2 cents. I taught at a dojo as a guest instructor in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and there was no bowing for religious reasons. While this at first seemed strange, I realized to resist this interpretation would be very un-aiki.

What would O'Sensei think if the beauty and message of Aikido was not spread simply because of custom differences?

Gregory Makuch
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Old 10-19-2010, 02:26 PM   #174
Hellis
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Phil Van Treese wrote: View Post
I have a problem with some new person coming into my school and telling me that he/she will not bow to O sensei's picture or the Kamiza. IF he is going to come to my school, he will follow the dojo rules. If I go to another's dojo, then I follow their rules. It will be a cold day below before a student will dictate to me what he will or will not do. The door works both ways, in and out.
That is exactly the way I look at this issue. The dojo rules apply to everyone including the dojo Sensei, they are not flexible.

Henry Ellis
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Old 10-19-2010, 09:16 PM   #175
niall
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Re: To bow or not to bow

I don't think it's worth going over the same stuff again. Let's change the direction slightly. At the Aikikai I've seen Japanese people stop and bow to a bas-relief of O Sensei inside the entrance. And I've seen the same thing outside the Kodokan - Japanese people stopping to bow to a statue of Jigoro Kano Sensei. I haven't noticed foreign students doing it.

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