ITF bowing question

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by hungryninja, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. hungryninja

    hungryninja Orange Belt

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    I've noticed that typically in ITF orgs, when one bows, the arms appear to be extended outward to the side in a 45 degree angle (as opposed to arms down to the side). Anyone know the history/reasoning behind this? Was it always performed this way?
     
  2. ATC

    ATC Senior Master

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    See Karate.
     
  3. chrispillertkd

    chrispillertkd Senior Master

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    The arms should not be at a 45 degree angle, though many people seem to have them extended that far when bowing for some reason. According to Gen. Choi, when bowing you take an Attention Stance (Charyot Sogi). The feet form a 45 degree angle betwen the toes. As for the arms, one is to "Drop the fists down naturally, bending the elbows slightly" (emphasis added). Your fists should be clenched slightly and your eyes focus slightly above the horizon (when standing at attention).

    When you bow you bend your body forward only 15 degrees. Your eyes are kept on your opponent's eyes.

    A note about the dropping the arms naturally, thing. That doesn't mean they go straight down to your sides, nor should they IMHO be extended as much as you've specified. I won't give it an exact number of degrees, but 45 seems too much to me. I have seen many people also extend their arms backward for some reason when bowing. This is also incorrect. As is exposing your wrists forward.

    You can see a video of Gen. Choi explaining how to bow here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0WkBP-wRG8&feature=plcp

    As for how long it's been performed this way, at least since 1972 (it's described as such in Gen. Choi's 1972 textbook and the later Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do). I didn't see specifics in the 1965 book on how to bow so can't say for certain if it was different then. There's some more etiquette about who bows first, who rises up first, etc. but that doesn't really touch on how the bow itself is performed.

    As far as I can tell, an ITF bow is something akin to a salute in the military. There aren't any more formal bows, seated or standing, unlike in some martial arts.

    Pax,

    Chris
     
  4. andyjeffries

    andyjeffries Master of Arts

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    Maybe 45 degrees is a bit of an exaggeration, but even the way General Choi corrects people in that video they are still floating out (which looks weird compared to Kukki-Taekwondo and general Korean bows).

    However, in the video you linked at 1:23 the woman is doing a bow with her arms way out wide (maybe even further than 45 degrees).
     
  5. chrispillertkd

    chrispillertkd Senior Master

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    Sure, but KKW bowing looks weird to me. As for general Korean bowing, ITF bowing isn't the same thing, really. You don't maintain eye contact if you're the junior in regular bowing, but you do in Taekwon-Do, for example.

    That section of the video is taken from a series of old training tapes that were put out in the early 90's. The tapes follow the Taekwon-Do "careers" of the three people in that section of the clip as they go from white belt to black belt (which was kind of a cool idea, I thought). They are often shown making common errors which are then corrected, like in that clip. That's why she goes from having her hands held out wide to having them closer to her legs at about 1:26 and why both men at her sides do not have their arms winging out so wide.

    Gen. Choi gives the best example of how to bow at 1:08-1:10.

    Pax,

    Chris
     
  6. andyjeffries

    andyjeffries Master of Arts

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    It's funny, this is something I have to explain to everyone on their first lesson of Taekwondo - don't believe the Bruce Lee movie that says you must maintain eye contact with your opponent when bowing. Bowing is a friendly gesture and a gesture of respect in Korean - if you don't trust the person you're doing this to not to kick you in the face while you bow to them, then don't bow to them!

    It is weird though that KKW Taekwondo and regular Korean culture bows the same way, but that ITF Taekwon-do do their own thing.

    I didn't get that from the video. The clip in section 1:15 to the end seems to be a scroll from left to right showing the first three basic positions (attention, bow and at ease) rather than a progression from white to black belt? Am I missing something? I don't see her having them closer to her legs until after she finishes bowing.
     
  7. chrispillertkd

    chrispillertkd Senior Master

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    Not weird so much as the fact that ITF Taekwon-Do didn't come out of "regular" Korean culture. It is much more of a martial art having its immediate roots in the Korean military. And Gen. Choi designed some things specifically to be different from wider Korean culture (even the terminology is different from typical Korean).

    The clip is from a series of 4 video tapes. Over the course of the tapes the three people start out as white belts and progress through the ranks. A couple of them end up as II dans or so. They are shown learning the various techniques, etiquette, etc. over time. The clip with them bowing is a snap shot from a much longer series. The bow sequence isn't the best but, as I said before, she is shown demonstrating incorrect hand position which is then fixed in the return to attention stance (Charyot Sogi). In the encyclopedia, in fact, Gen. Choi describes bowing immediately following the description of Charyor Sogi. The hand position in that stance is the same as it is for bowing.

    Gen. Choi's example is the best one in the video so I wouldn't get too hung up on other stuff.

    Pax,

    Chris
     
  8. Balrog

    Balrog Master of Arts

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    This.

    We consider ourselves a family. We are all brothers and sisters in martial arts. The family bow in Korea is to look down. If you keep your eyes on the other person, you are in effect saying "You are my honored enemy and I don't trust you enough to take my eyes off you." Family is supposed to be based on trust.
     
  9. chrispillertkd

    chrispillertkd Senior Master

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    Well, the question was how/why do people in the ITF bow. Can't help you if you don't like it :) Besides there are several other points of etiquette in the ITF that would communicate the more familial aspects of Korean culture. But like I said before, the ITF is much more of a martial art and Gen. Choi came up with the way he wanted things done. And for the record, I think saying that maintaining eye contact indicates that you consider the other person your "enemy" is pushing things a bit, especially in this context (since we're not dealing with day to day Korean behavior). I specifically asked Master Parm Rai, GM Choi, Jung Hwa's right hand man, about maintaining eye contact or not during bowing some time ago. The answer I got was "You do so." I'm pretty sure if GM Choi thought it was insulting we wouldn't be doing it.

    YMMV, of course.

    Pax,

    Chris
     
  10. miguksaram

    miguksaram Master of Arts

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    If I understand you correctly basically ITF does its own thing based Gen. Choi's development and his philosophy of martial arts. Which is cool. It is what it is. Its immediate roots may be in Korean military, but even the military do not do the same type of bow that is being described in ITF. Military simply bow as dictated by the Korean culture. Everyone has their own thing.
     
  11. miguksaram

    miguksaram Master of Arts

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    Not always. I have approached my seniors and bowed while looking at them and smiling. It was a friendly non-formal setting. However in a more formal setting then yes, it may be considered rude to stare at the other person while bowing.
     
  12. chrispillertkd

    chrispillertkd Senior Master

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    Yes. I didn't mean to imply that the way we bow is how the Korean army bows. I was referring to an early statement that I made in which I said I see the ITF bow as something akin to a salute. Quick, precise, but respectful (there's no formal kneeling/sitting bows or anything) then you get on with training. Also, from a military perspective it makes sense to keep you eyes on your opponent (which is how Gen. Choi specifies it in his book). Didn't mean to confuse anyone.

    Pax,

    Chris
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2012
  13. miguksaram

    miguksaram Master of Arts

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    Thanks. Some systems just have their own niche. Our karate school does a bow which is distinctive of our school and lineage. No symbolics it is just the way it is done. I have seen some karate schools that will open up their feet 45 degrees prior to bowing, some just nod their heads as form of bow. It is just a simple flavor that makes all of the arts a bit different from time to time. :)123
     

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