Different types of bow

by Olga
(Ukraine)

I'd like to ask you about zarei between partners, probably not very kendo-relative since we are making ritsu rei between partners in kendo.


When two partners are sitting and making a bow, do they have to keep their eyes on each other when bowing like it is done in ritsu rei?

And is it allowable to make a bow when one partner is standing and other one is sitting? (In this case I cannot imagine how the sitting guy can keep his/her eyes on a partner and keep correct posture at the same time).

Answer: In kendo, we only use one kind of zarei. We do not really look at each other but still pay attention to our partner or opponent.

Now if you are talking about a casual zarei, you do not have to think about paying attention to the person you are bowing to. Or you do not have to lower your head as deeply as we do in kendo.

But if you are bowing to someone who is older or socially holds a high position such as a president of a company, you should lower your head than his. Just to show your respect.

Some say that they even lower the elbows so they are touched on the floor, when bowing to shinzen/shōmen. This is the most respectful rei in zarei and usually applied in a religious ritual.

If you are bowing to someone sitting, you should sit in seiza too. Never start talking to anyone who is sitting in seiza while you are standing. That is very rude.

And someone comes and talks to you while you are sitting, make sure you get up and respond to them.

These are the basic rules.

PS…By the way, there are more different zarei; 7 or 8. But unless you go and live in Japan, you do not have to know these. The Japanese probably know when and how we apply these through experiences But I am sure not many Japanese know the names of those zarei and exactly know when to use them.

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