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Bowing - Don't Slap

Some small points about bowing. See: Proper Bowing.

When you bow, you should place your hands lightly against the sides of your legs (or on the front of your thighs in some styles). You should not slap your hands against your legs. This would be rude. A bow should be very composed and quiet.

You should also complete the bow before stepping in any direction. Some students begin to step while they are still rising. The bow is not complete until you are standing straight. It is important to maintain zanshin (an attentive mind at the end of something) at the end of the bow. Don't let your mind run off and don't run off yourself.

Many times when a student steps before the bow is complete, his or her hands swing forward. This should also be avoided.

In my dojo, we look at the partner's feet when bowing. We do not look at the partner's eyes. This would be considered rude. While looking at the partner's feet (or ankles), we maintain peripheral vision so that we can see him (in the rare case of an attack). To look at the partner's eyes could be interpreted as a challenge.

Be sure to follow the etiquette taught in your dojo. I understand that in Kendo, however, students are taught to look at the partner's eyes. This is considered proper and polite.

Take the time to bow correctly. It will reflect positively on you.


Charles C. Goodin