Comments for Bow to shomen: formality or not

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Jan 04, 2012
by: Olga

Thanks a lot to you both, "R sensei" and Imafuji sensei. Very detailed and helpful answers. I hope this is going to have an influence on those persons who are trying to change kendo.

Kendo-Guide.Com: You're very welcome, Olga!

Jan 04, 2012
'Unecessary formality'
by: Anonymous

"The instructor of the dojo thinks the bow is a kind of unnecessary formality."

The formalities of kendo are part of what makes kendo a michi...a path to improving your life.

You get in the habit first of expressing a physical act of appreciation and then of feeling the appreciation you should feel… And then of applying that to the events of regular life where appreciation may not take the form of a physical rei, but still has the spirit of rei.

When I'm asked about this (bow to shomen), I give the history that Imafuji sensei summarized so well, and then say that for us this rei is showing

- Appreciation to having a place to practice.

- Appreciation to our university for providing us a place to practice and thus supporting kendo at Michigan State University.

- Appreciation for all of the people who in the past helped to make MSU kendo club what it is, our founders, our past members and officers and the instructors that preceeded me.

Minoru, Kiyota, author of "Kendo, Its Philosophy History and Means to Personal Growth", and one of the founders of the Univ. of Wisconsin kendo club once told me something like: You can train a monkey to hit someone with a stick. But what separates kendo from that is for us as human beings to find more than just hitting people with sticks in it, and to look to it as a way to improve ourselves as human beings.

In my opinion these "unnecessary formalities" are a critical part of that and I would hate to see them disappear one by one until we become nothing more than trained monkeys with sticks.

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thank you for sharing your opinion and knowledge, R sensei!

Jan 03, 2012
In addittion
by: Anonymous

Just to add on what Imafuji sensei said, bowing is a sign of respect. In modern day and age, most kendoka practice in either Gyms or basketball courts due to the lack of Dojo's (most especially in my country).

But regardless we still bow to pay respect to our training ground because without it, where else could we practice? Where else can we meet up and further improve our kendo?

Traditions or "procedures" (for lack of a better term) vary from place to place but in my personal opinion, kendo etiquette should be implemented and left un-modified since kendo is not just about learning the way of the sword but also further improving oneself (personality).

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thank you for your opinion! Yes. I do not want to see kendo changing any more than it has. Also I certainly do not want to see kendo oriented by rules and regulations. It is totally not cool if we have to add that we have to bow before and after our match in kendo rule books.

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