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Old 12-25-2004, 06:28 PM   #1
RL Sarafconn
Dojo: Valley Aikido- Hadley, MA
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Struggles with Bowing

As part of a thesis project I'm collecting stories of people who have struggled with the ettiquete of bowing towards the kamisa. Could any of you share your experiences with me?

Thanks so much,

RL
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Old 12-26-2004, 01:22 AM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

Have you tried reading the many many many threads already on this site?...just an idea :-)

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 12-26-2004, 02:19 AM   #3
thomas_dixon
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

I think the main struggle with bowing comes from the western Ideal that bowing is a sign of submission, where instead they should see bowing more like the eastern countries, a handshake, in a sense. A sign of respect and honor.

I see a lot of threads about religion clashing with the fact you have to bow in class, and I wonder what would happen if they took my Kali class, where the Traditional (formal) bow, we do to the Filipino flag, includes taking a knee. Personally I have no problems bowing.
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Old 12-26-2004, 07:03 AM   #4
mj
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

The only time I have ever come across a 'problem' with bowing has been on the forums from a religious point of view.

It has never arisen during my time doing karate, judo or aikido in real life on the mat. To my knowledge I have never met a really religious person on the mat.

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Old 12-26-2004, 11:26 AM   #5
Charles Hill
Dojo: Numazu Aikikai/Aikikai Honbu Dojo
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

I am constantly struggling with bowing to the kamiza. My new practice is to make sure that I don't raise my head before my teacher. Everytime I do, I realize that I need more work on awareness and keeping in the present. Also, the people around me often do a quick meaningless bow and I think to myself that they are either being rude or are missing the meaning of the bow. Thinking this way means, of course, that I'm missing the meaning of the bow myself and need further/deeper practice.

This might not be what you are looking for, but it is where I am at.

Charles
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Old 12-26-2004, 02:46 PM   #6
Don_Modesto
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote:
Have you tried reading the many many many threads already on this site?...just an idea :-)
Right. Let's not waste space. Next question:

Does aikido really work?

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 12-26-2004, 02:56 PM   #7
Chris Li
 
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

Quote:
Mark Johnston wrote:
The only time I have ever come across a 'problem' with bowing has been on the forums from a religious point of view.

It has never arisen during my time doing karate, judo or aikido in real life on the mat. To my knowledge I have never met a really religious person on the mat.
I have. I've had both teachers and students who had problems with bowing because of their religious beliefs.

Best,

Chris

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Old 12-26-2004, 04:06 PM   #8
Olga Mihailova
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

I have met Aikidoka who are strong Christian believers but they don't seem to have problems with the bows. Or they hide them. The quickest and the least low bows are from the people who have no religious thinking and are a bit too self-confident and arrogant. Those saying that Aikido is not about that fancy Japanese etiquette at all. However they don't seem to struggle with their bows - they are quite satisfied with what they have.
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Old 12-26-2004, 04:54 PM   #9
tony cameron
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

i almost always perform a complete respectful bow with my forehead to the mat: to the kamiza and O Sensei, to my Sempai/instructors, to fellow students, to children, etc. to me, respect (Rei) and honor are paramount. Aikido is compatible with all religions and spiritual beleifs, O Sensei explained all of this. people should probably leave their religion outside of the dojo or find a martial art that doesn't inlude respectful bowing, there are many out there. anyway, i am certain that God has no problem with us bowing to one of his Saints.
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Old 12-26-2004, 06:01 PM   #10
mj
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

I bow to the girl in the shop who serves me...but she is not a saint. I do a form of bow to my kids when they have done as I asked. Bowing is my world.

I bow to 5th dans and I bow to people with 5 minutes experience. (no jokes please...I can see the 5th dans tensing up)

I demand the right to be able to bow to whom I please. If anyone else has problems with bowing then they should obviously not put themselves into such a contrary position in which they would have to make a commotion about it.

If they can just go along with the rest of us and bow 'normally' then that is fine. If it is an over-riding detail in their lives then they should not be bowing with me (us) they should be where they want to be when bowing.

I won't treat people differently because they do not bow, my checkout girl does not return my bow.

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Old 12-26-2004, 08:28 PM   #11
RL Sarafconn
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

Thank you all for responding so quickly. I have read the other threads in forum. What I am looking for are personal stories of people who have struggled with bowing to the kamisa, perhaps for religious reasons, perhaps not. If you have struggled with that piece of the ettiquete, I want to hear from you.

Thanks again,

RL
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Old 12-27-2004, 08:56 AM   #12
Peter Brown
 
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

If i was a performer on a stage and i had just finished my act, the audience would show appreciation by applauding, i would bow to thank them, the same way i thank O Sensei and my partner for my Aikido practice.
Pete Brown
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Old 01-07-2005, 10:16 AM   #13
John Boswell
 
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

On more formal bow-in's, some instructors will do a "clapping" which has origins from Shinto I believe. When the clapping bow in is done, I've seen students not participate. They will remain in seiza and only do the bowing... out of respect.

It is my understanding that the clapping action is a call to the spirits of the place, to pay homage to them, alert them to the coming practice and ask for their respect and pay respect for the practice that is taking place.

Students who do not follow those religious beliefs will just not take part. I've not seen anyone have a serious problem with it. I'm christian at heart, yet I will participate in the clap out of respect for the instructors that do this action. I'm still debating on the whole purpose and reason for the clapping, but I find no harm in doing it.

If God has a problem with me doing something, I think I would know. I have an instinct for things that are spiritual, and this is something that I'm still wrestling with... but at this time I just don't have a problem with it. Those that do have a problem with it should be respected and should not feel pressured to do something they are not comfortable with. Thankfully, this hasn't been a problem for anyone I've ever met.

That's my 2 cents.

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Old 01-07-2005, 11:48 AM   #14
Paul D. Smith
 
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

It seems to me that it is all within the mind and heart of the person doing the bowing - if you bow to call the kami gods awake, so be it; if you bow to not look like a fool when others do, so be it; if you bow out of respect, so be it; ad infinitum. Bottom line, at least insofar as Christian theology is concerned (at least as much as I know of it), the concern is more with the inner heart of man, as the essence of sin; provided it is not proscribed by "Law," the desire embedded in the ritual seems the germane issue. Why the concern about the ritual itself? If you are a Christian and find this a pagan practice (or a problem therein), then don't bow with the desire to call the kami awake; it seems that if one otherwise has a problem, he or she is concerned more with appearances than any real transgression re: one's religion. I am an atheist, more or less, but wonder if God, or the Triune Godhead, or whatever you deem it, would be truly threatened by "appearances" one way or the other.

Just my $.02.
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Old 01-07-2005, 05:41 PM   #15
Tadhg Bird
 
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Circle Re: Struggles with Bowing

Quote:
John Boswell wrote:
On more formal bow-in's, some instructors will do a "clapping" which has origins from Shinto I believe. When the clapping bow in is done, I've seen students not participate. They will remain in seiza and only do the bowing... out of respect.

It is my understanding that the clapping action is a call to the spirits of the place, to pay homage to them, alert them to the coming practice and ask for their respect and pay respect for the practice that is taking place.
The bow-in ceremony I use has four claps in it, yet we have a humanistic symbol for the claps, not a religious one. The four claps represent the minimum number of connected geometric points needed to have a "real" object.

1 = A point
2 = A line segment
3 = A plane
4 = A polygon, a real shape.

This is more influenced from Buckminster Fuller than Shinto tradition.

Bowing is a symbol, it may mean something in a cultural context, but ultimatly any meaning is put there by the one doing the bowing.

"Words and letters can never adequately describe Aikido -- its meaning is revealed only to those who are enlightened through hard training." -- Ueshiba Morihei O Sensei
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Old 01-07-2005, 10:09 PM   #16
Don_Modesto
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

Quote:
Tadhg Bird wrote:
The bow-in ceremony I use has four claps in it, yet we have a humanistic symbol for the claps, not a religious one. The four claps represent the minimum number of connected geometric points needed to have a "real" object.

1 = A point
2 = A line segment
3 = A plane
4 = A polygon, a real shape.

This is more influenced from Buckminster Fuller than Shinto tradition.

Bowing is a symbol, it may mean something in a cultural context, but ultimatly any meaning is put there by the one doing the bowing.
I like it.

Actually, this reminds me of the flexibility of Buddhism. There's a story of one patriarch who advised against intolerance. His exampe was encountering a fellow still praying to the four directions: Don't tell him it's superstitious, introduce him to the idea that it's the four gratitudes (to the universe, nature, society, mom and dad, IIRC).

Don J. Modesto
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Old 01-10-2005, 10:12 AM   #17
dan guthrie
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

Quote:
John Boswell wrote:
On more formal bow-in's, some instructors will do a "clapping" which has origins from Shinto I believe. When the clapping bow in is done, I've seen students not participate. They will remain in seiza and only do the bowing... out of respect.

It is my understanding that the clapping action is a call to the spirits of the place, to pay homage to them, alert them to the coming practice and ask for their respect and pay respect for the practice that is taking place.

Students who do not follow those religious beliefs will just not take part. I've not seen anyone have a serious problem with it. I'm christian at heart, yet I will participate in the clap out of respect for the instructors that do this action. I'm still debating on the whole purpose and reason for the clapping, but I find no harm in doing it.

If God has a problem with me doing something, I think I would know. I have an instinct for things that are spiritual, and this is something that I'm still wrestling with... but at this time I just don't have a problem with it. Those that do have a problem with it should be respected and should not feel pressured to do something they are not comfortable with. Thankfully, this hasn't been a problem for anyone I've ever met.

That's my 2 cents.
Make that four cents. Your last paragraph said it better than I ever could.
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Old 01-14-2005, 10:07 AM   #18
JAHsattva
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

where my girlfriend lives theres an abundance of black birds.

they poop all over everyones cars, and every now and then they poop on the people too.

last year i got pooped on once.

as they swarm in the sky , your instinct is to run to aviod getting crapped on.

some people shoot guns at them.

this year as i step out of my car ,and as i step in the door to the apt building , I bow.

i walk slowly, and never get hit.

i bow to them and they leave me alone.

even my car has seen a reduction in the amount of splatterings.
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Old 01-17-2005, 02:17 AM   #19
Misogi-no-Gyo
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

Quote:
Jason Hackler wrote:
...i bow to them and they leave me alone. even my car has seen a reduction in the amount of splatterings.
Yeah, I paid them five dollars to leave you alone... but only for a short while. Look out, not up!

I no longer participate in or read the discussion forums here on AikiWeb due to the unfair and uneven treatment of people by the owner/administrator.
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Old 01-19-2005, 08:04 AM   #20
TheWonderKid
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

The only problems I've had with bowing in the short time I've been in Aikido, is when I have a bokken on me, it's places on my left and my right hand is always the first and last to touch the mat before and after bowing.

I'm told this is because back in the day, Samurai did this so they had a quick access to their sword if trouble arose. Their right hands being able to quickly grasp their sword across their left easier.

The trick is that I'm left handed. And while I practice bokken in the dojo as a right hander, I practice all the same things at home as a left. I also Fence left so it feels much more natural.

But back to the earlier point, if I'm going to weild a sword in battle it's gonna be in the hand that I beleive if more skilled, in this case left. So shouldn't I wear my sword on the other side for bowing? Thus far I've just went along with everyone else but I still wonder about this.

(And I have read many of the forums pertaining to left handed swordsman and I'm still of the opinion that if you practice left against right, you will find that you can shift your style slighty but it will be very effective. As you will be used to fighting this way and others will not, thus giving you an advantage that may be crucial.)
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Old 01-19-2005, 08:50 AM   #21
SeiserL
 
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

IMHO, very few people have struggles with physically bowing, its the internal mental interpretation of what they think it means that they struggle with.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 01-20-2005, 03:01 AM   #22
maikerus
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Re: Struggles with Bowing

I'm told that if you don't grow up in a bowing culture you are always going to get it wrong.


Of course the original post just asked about bowing to the alter at the front of the dojo, so that isn't so bad since you don't have to judge your relationship in the hierarchy with it. I was always told that the etiquette of getting on the mat was left foot first so that you couldn't draw your sword easily. As for the bowing to the alter...I've seen different dojos do different things, but Yoshinkan hombu advocates a standing bow towards the front when walking into the dojo (feet together, back straight, about 30 degrees) and then stepping on the mats, sitting in seiza and bowing with back parallel to the floor for a moment before going to the line.

We got drilled in this enough, so I must be getting close <g>

--Michael

Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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