Showing posts from June, 2016

The debt we owe to our masters

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 kno