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Showing posts from June, 2016

The debt we owe to our masters

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In most karate schools it is common for students to bow not only to the teacher and each other - but also to the shomen (front) where pictures of the dojo's founders are displayed.  Karate students will be familiar with the expression "shomen ni rei" (or "shinzen ni rei") - ie. "bow to front/tradition".  We used to do this but discontinued the practise in the mid '90s - partly because we did not want to associate our dojo with Shinto practices.  We are, after all, a secular school and have no intention of promoting (or discouraging) religious faith of any kind.

But lately we have reintroduced a practice of bowing, at least symbolically, to our teachers - both recent and ancestral.  Why?  Because we view it as a solemn acknowledgment of their contribution.  We would not be standing where we are but for this contribution.  As a tradition, our ritual bow is both contemplative and meditative: it makes us pause to appreciate those who gave us the knowl…