Newsletter 821 ~ sign up now!
What’s with All the Bowing Stuff in the Martial Arts?
“Politeness is the greatest strategy.”
The most polite man i have ever met
was my instructor in the Kang Duk Won.
He was also the best martial artist I ever saw,
which leads to an interesting possibility:
Politeness goes hand in hand with competence.
Think about it,
if you are polite,
then you won’t be scared,
you won’t have hidden demons driving you,
the martial arts will have expunged you of all that.
You will be honestly competent.
So practice politeness
as well as seek competence.
with that in mind,
what is the purpose of bowing in the martial arts?
Aside from my little diatribe on politeness,
why should people keep bowing and bowing all the time?
On one level,
it is a sign of respect.
I respect the work you’ve done,
the level you’ve reached.
And under that is the implied question:
will you teach me.
And the teacher bows to show respect
to those who have come seeking his instruction.
On another level,
it is merely saying hi.
hi to everybody in the school.
Hi to everybody who contributed to the school,
even if they are passed on,
a simple greeting to your friends.
With those two viewpoints in mind,
here are the times you would bow.
Bow when entering the school.
Bow to senior classmates.
Bow to junior classmates.
Bow when stepping onto the mat.
Bow to the instructor,
especially when asking a question.
Bow after receiving instruction.
Bow at the beginning of class.
Bow at the end of class.
Bow before you engage in any drill,
be it sparring, form, etc.
Immediately disengage and bow
if an injury has occurred
as a result of something you’ve done.
bow to a classmate outside of school,
if not considered appropriate,
give him/her some sign of greeting.
whenever entering another school,
show that you have studied the martial arts,
and that you are aware of martial etiquette.
Sounds like a lot of bowing,
Well, it is,
but let me offer an insight.
I can’t imagine not bowing,
I strive to bow the most,
to set the best example of being polite.
I am constantly running into students
who are surprised when I bow to them.
it encourages them to bow.
it makes you feel good.
Imagine walking into a school gymnasium,
or an auditorium,
with 500 people present.
Imagine yelling out…
And having them all yell to you…
After near 50 years in the arts,
that’s what it feels like to me
when I bow.
And I like to think
that maybe I’m as competent as I am polite.
One can hope.
Here’s a link to the martial arts
I have been studying for near 50 years.
Take a look,
and see if I’ve made any inroads,
if the changes i have made from the classical
have a great work out!
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