Rei

Rei 礼 (bowing) can be a way to show your respect; not only for a person you might be bowing to during class, but also, it indirectly shows your respect for your Aikido training, your teacher, and ultimately for yourself. When you ask yourself, “should I do a standing bow or a seated bow?” or “can I just do a standing bow because it is too much trouble to do a seated bow every time…?” you must evaluate your own situation. How important is your Aikido training? How much do you respect your teacher? How much do you respect your partner? When the teacher comes over and shows a technique to you and your partner, and you want to thank Sensei for his teaching, which is more strong, your fatigue or your respect for the teacher? A similar example is when you are on the mat before class and the teacher comes into the room for the first time. Do you run over and wait for him to do hakushu (clapping ceremony at the beginning of class) and then bow to him and say “Onegai Shimasu”, or do you continue what you were doing (talking to other students or training before class) and when the teacher is settled and done with his hakushu, make your way over and bow at your leisure? Practically, you do not want to waste your teachers time with each and every student coming up and individually greeting him while he is preparing for class. But this is not the point I would like you to focus on. Consider the previous question. Which shows more respect? – bowing right when the Sensei enters or, waiting until YOU are ready. The fact that you drop what you are doing and choosing that whatever it was that you are doing is not as important as bowing to your teacher and showing him your respect obviously shows that you have more respect than waiting and bowing when YOU get around to it. So, you have to ask yourself, what is more important? – what I am doing now, or showing my teacher my respect. What if I really admire and respect my teacher, so I wait until everyone is done bowing and then I can, by myself, approach him and privately bow to show that I respect him so much more than everyone else? You want to have a quality moment with him to share your respect by giving him this private bow of gratitude. It may be difficult to understand the selfishness of doing things like this. Being respectful means disregarding your personal desires and just bowing with everyone else. This shows more respect for your teacher and his time, and everyone else. Fujitani Shihan has said many times “you can get to know someone very well by practicing Aikido with them. As an example, I respect my teacher greatly. I never do a standing bow, it is always seated -even if she is standing. When I stand around her, especially when we are on a dojo outing, I am always at attention and keyed into her. If there is something she needs, I will be the first to realize it whether it is to help her carry her bags or buying her a train ticket. I do this out of respect for her, and my respect for the unparalleled Aikido that she has given me. Other students don’t do as I do, and Fujitani Shihan treats them no different than she treats me, but that is not the point. You do not show respect because of what you can get out of it, or how you can change your Sensei’s attitude toward you. It is about integrity and doing what YOU feel is right. In Aikido, you get what you put into it. Only a diamond is a diamond. It takes time and energy. Give yourself the gift of commitment and discipline and watch it bloom into something amazing. The first step is Reishiki.

Leave a Comment