Chinese v. Japanese bowing

Gyakuto

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When I started karate (Okinawan), we began and ended class in seiza kneeling position, a short meditation to clear our minds, then bow towards the shomen (which was just a picture of founder Shimabuku on the wall) to show respect to all those who came before, then a mutual bow to the instructor. A year or two later this was simply done from a standing position. No attention was paid to foot angles or other prescriptions. Karate bowing as a whole was rather basic. (An exception was lima lama style (Polyniesian), whose formal salutation was practically a kata in itself.)

On the other end of the spectrum was iaido with its more formal, lengthy and technical execution. To me this is fitting as it seems to reflect the seriousness and emphasis of that art. From a practical standpoint, one must be in a proper frame of mind before swinging a deadly weapon around in proximity to others in class. I don't know about other traditional weapon arts.

I suspect most other arts' bowing lay somewhere in between these two examples. The important thing in TMA is the recognition and showing of respect and humility to those with whom you train, acknowledgement of those from whom the art descended, and the ideals the art represents. As long as the bow (or other action) reflects these things in the mind of the one doing it, mission accomplished.
Yes, I think we need to resist informality which is slowly taking over all aspects of life. i think its slovenly and leads to a dull attitude to everything. Informality has its place, of course, but it shouldnt be ubiquitous.
 
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opr1945

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Yes, I think we need to resist informality which is slowly taking over all aspects of life. i think its slovenly and leads to a dull attitude to everything. Informality has its place, of course, but it shouldnt be ubiquitous.
My personal experience is that the way I dress influences the way I act. If I wear a suit and tie, I am male, I feel dressed up and more formal and behave that way. When I am dressed informally my self image and behaviors are more sloppy. I spent some time teaching at the college level. I tried an experiment. I had two sections of the same class one at 10am the other at 11am. For the 10am class I dressed with a suit and tie. Then I went to my office and changed into causal clothes for the second class. Same teacher, me, same text, same tests, same lectures. At the end of the term the students in the suit tie class evaluated me as more knowledgeable, more authoritative, better teacher than the casual class. The only difference I was aware of was my dress. clearly influenced students perception of me. There was probably a difference in my presentation because of my self image based upon my appearance.
 

geezer

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My personal experience is that the way I dress influences the way I act.

I find this interesting and I don't doubt dress can affect both performance and perception. The last time I regularly dressed up was during my final two years of high school at a boy's boarding school where you had to dress for dinner with a coat and tie or you didn't get fed. It was a great school and the academic standards were tougher than my first year of college (at one of the "Little Ivys").

Then I made the curious choice of pursuing the fine arts and ended up as a public high school teacher for the last 29 years. I've never had much money as an adult and my current idea of "formal dress" is dockers and a polo shirt. I don't think I even have a blazer that fits now, much less a suit. Dress clothes don't fair so well in the ceramics studio ya know.

As for martial arts, at first I loved the formality and costumes. Then, after many years, I became disillusioned with the association I used to belong to. I stopped wearing the fancy kung-fu pajamas after I resigned and discontinued my public class. After going out on my own, somehow the fancy outfits just seemed phony to me.

Now I teach in loose jeans and the black instructor-level tee-shirt with the logo we've made for our club. Maybe I should get that made as a polo? Either way, it's pretty much the way my old Escrima teacher used to teach. He was really down to earth. All about function, nothing fancy ...and impressive as hell.

Guess we each have our own perspective.
 
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