Search This Blog

Martial Arts Respect And The Problem Of Bowing

I had three students approach me before class one evening. They had been coming for several weeks and they wanted to talk to me about kneeling bows (Seiza & Dogeza).

Image of Newport Judo Logo - This article is about Martial Arts Respect And The Problem Of Bowing
Stand Tall: Respect and Affect
Click Here For More Information

They were concerned and asked if they could be exempted from such bowing as it felt too much like something that they were forbidden to do in the Muslim faith.

Perhaps I'd better explain that my dojo is in a baptist church hall and for many years; until they moved to a bigger better, purpose build facility the church was located next door to a Mosque. Hence we would have regular Muslim beginners.

The problem was an easy fix as they had no problem with "standing bows". But it raised a question with me about others that may have a problem with bowing.

Wait... More Martial Arts Judo Information Loading

Bowing is pretty fundamental to the vast majority of Martial arts and if it is not something that you have thought about you may at first glance be tempted to dismiss this article. Please don't!

Others may be tempted to conclude that we live in a secular society, that religion is on the wain and therefore irrelevant but again please don't.

Many People Of Faith

There are many people of faith around the world that would be affected by all the bowing we do. Not just Muslims but Christians, Buddhists and Hindu's as well as the many other minor faiths that have forms of bowing and there are still many people around the world that venerate the dead. The bowing we do could easily be misinterpreted by these cultures to be seen as a form of worship. Despite your best efforts, you may sooner or later come into conflict with these when you bow.

This is particularly so in Judo where being an international sport as well as a Martial Art it is inevitable that we will come into contact with different cultures and therefore religions we cannot live up to our maxim of "Mutual Welfare and Benefit" if we are not welcoming to these cultures and religions including in our own clubs.

Secular Society

In a secular society, particularly one that prides itself on freedom of expression we should feel free to discuss and even disagree with practically everything but still be accepting of those we disagree with. After all, that is the nature of true freedom.

It's is not a grantee of course but when I raised the instance of the three boys with other instructors they all expressed surprise at their reaction; including those that had Muslims in the classes. It's is going to depend I guess on the individual's reaction to bowing. But the fact that I had an issue means that as instructors, we probably should think through our position on this as best we can.

I am an unapologetic Christian but I have never had a problem with the sort of bowing we do in Judo. However, I know others have. In fact, because I run classes in a baptist church presented me with some obstetrical. To this day we don't bow to the front (Shomen ni rei) in our club because some in the church were concerned that it looked too much like worship; which of course it has nothing to do with.

Shomen ni rei

"Shomen ni rei" has always simply been an acknowledgement of the place honour where people of respect abide when they are at the club. To me is no different to when I used to swear allegiance to the queen and the flag as a child. But again it was easy to avoid and a small price to pay for such a good deal on the use of the hall. more than that it was also not worth upsetting anybody by attempting to convince them.

Why am I writing all this now? Well, I came across some old articles that I had collected when I was researching things to write about on this blog. They are about the problems some Christian martial artist have with bowing. Rather than simply discarding them I decided to give them some context with my own thoughts and preserve them in a PDF. Feel free to read them (see link above) but my main reason was that I felt that as a community we have to be sensitive to other cultures, whether we agree with them or not. It seemed to me worthwhile raising the subject for others to think about.

I've done my thinking. How about you? Maybe my thoughts as Christian Martial Artist can help you if you are ever confronted with this situation in your club.

No comments:

Post a Comment