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View Full Version : To bow or not to bow -- Should it be strictly enforced? Part II



MarkF
13th February 2001, 06:24
I think the first time this artice was published was before the infamous hard drive crash of year2000, but here are the updates of the case.

http://www.eastsidejournal.com/sited/retr_story.pl/27256

http://www.eastsidejournal.com/sited/retr_story.pl/22818

This is an interesting case, as the judoka and her mother are atheists and do think that "bowing to the mat" is a Shinto ritual, but this kid is very good judoka. Should she be made to participate in the ritual of rei?

Mark

Ryu
14th February 2001, 18:24
Yes.

LOL. :)
In all seriousness, I really don't feel that bowing to the mat requires you to believe in any religion. I do it all the time, and don't consider myself Shinto. To me, the act is strictly a respect given to your opponent, the art, and the school. I really don't see the problem, and I sometimes have little patience for people who claim it is "religious" etc...but I guess I can see where they are coming from.
Don't agree with it though.

Take care,
Ryu

MarkF
15th February 2001, 07:22
I hate it when it does that-losing my connection at the end of a post, and just when you are going to click to reply-not today.

I was saying that this has been in the news for well over a year now, and the mother and the girl have, so far, lost most or all of their court actions. The other side, the suits, though, have spent a lot of money, about one hundred thousand dollars, over something which, to me, is something I do out of habit, and teach it out of tradition. But until this case, I hadn't thought what I might do, If I were one of the "suits," enforcing this rule, even to the point of direct hansokumake from a tournament, one in which she would likely win, and showing her abilities in competition.

But when it comes down to practicality on the part of the "suits," and especially if she were at my dojo, I would have to stand along side her and her mother, and make the difficult decision to back her, no matter what it is, especially when it does happen in internationl events, and makes the opponent to angry at this lack of respect, that is hurts his/her performance, which then directly puts them in the position of all ready having lost a bit in the battle of kuzushi.

While I do expect it as part of one's training, I also think they have gone too far with this, having spent so much on this case. Yes, the mother and girl could avoid all this, but then it is a thing of faith, and far be it from me to force one to do something which s/he feels is contrary to one's faith.

I'm on the player's side on this one, especially when I think she to be one of my own. How could one not back them in something of faith, personal to their beliefs, and not side with them? What a waste of talent it would be, just as my choice of not saying the pledge of allegience in public school, as was my right, and that of my parents.

Aaron Fields
15th February 2001, 17:57
I have not read the article, but as it is from the Eastside Journal I have a real good guess to this article is about. Her coach/stepfather has, let us just say, some issues. To bow or not to bow is not really the question, without slinging mud (at least much of it) this girl’s coach/stepfather likely should fall into the bad budo forum. Everyone in this area keeps a distance from this guy. Bowing is just the start, let him really get warmed up ands you'll hear things that date back to the post on bigotry.


As to bowing, there are several Muslims in the club I practice and teach in. They don’t bow instead they shake hands, and just sit in seiza when we are “bowing in.” Of course overseas and domestically I have practiced with Muslims who have no problem with bowing. To bow or not to bow I think you can leave to the individual, (assuming there is a ideological reason to not bow.) Personally, when in Rome….and when not in Rome do what is polite.

Bob Steinkraus
16th February 2001, 17:53
My first response was that some people are never happy unless they are causing trouble for others.

Whether the player in question is any good or not is not relevant. Bowing is part of the sport. If you don't want to do it, don't enter any tournaments. Bowing is no more a Shinto ritual than shaking hands is Christian.

I hope I am wrong in thinking that I recognize the name of the step father/coach. If I am correct, it confirms my opinion as listed.

My $.02 worth.

Aaron Fields
16th February 2001, 19:02
Bob,

You are correct sir, it is who you think it is and he has been in the Pacific Northwest for some time now. According to reliable sources he has gotten worse as the years have gone by. Ahh never mind, I'll take off the gloves, the guy is a lunatic and it is a sad thing that his step daughter has born the brunt of his agendas.

fury
16th February 2001, 23:31
Just my 2 cents,

I think that if they do not want to bow, then they should come up with another way to show appreciation for what they are learning. Mostly I think the decision of not bowing is political.

The muslims who shake hands have a good method of showing respect, and this is what bowing really is.

Do these atheists use paper money? It just so happens that american money has "in god we trust" written on it. If they are really concerned about not having any outward spiritual behaviour, then maybe they shouldn't be using God's money....

So if they can pay for their dojo fees with christian money, they should be able to bow in a shinto manner.... or at least shake their instructors and fellow students hands before and after class...

Neil Yamamoto
17th February 2001, 00:03
The article has a pretty good perspective actually, this is rare for the Eastside Journal.

Bowing is nothing more then a sign of respect for the asian cultures as shaking hands is used in more of the western cultures. If Holm and Akiyama protest so strongly over this, then they can form their own organization where bowing is not required.

Heck, Lets get them to the Bluming workshop and see how they deal with not bowing to the people there. Might be an interesting social experiment to see how people learn to conform with those around them

MarkF
17th February 2001, 09:28
Fleming described her as an Olympic prospect and judo's equivalent of Mike Tyson. ``I have seen her take opponents apart in two seconds. She can be ferocious.''

He said if the arbitration fails he will take his case to the federal courts. ``This whole thing is a colossal waste of time. Why can't we just accommodate people's religious beliefs?''



Well, the first quote is damn funny. I wonder if her braces need cleaning after a match?
*****

In the earlier story, it said she does bow to other people such as opponents, she just doesn't bow before mounting the mat or to a kamidana, photograph, etc.

Of course they are making too much of this, but so is USJI. Both sides have spent to much time, ink, and money on a story which really is only interesting to a few people. I agree with bowing being a part of the sport, but I also think appropriate and equal actions such as shaking hands could be substituted.

That said, I would be hard pressed to spend much time on the same thing. I have Native Americans in my class and they bow, too.

Who's John Holm?

Ben Reinhardt
20th February 2001, 14:08
Originally posted by MarkF


Well, the first quote is damn funny. I wonder if her braces need cleaning after a match?
*****

In the earlier story, it said she does bow to other people such as opponents, she just doesn't bow before mounting the mat or to a kamidana, photograph, etc.

Of course they are making too much of this, but so is USJI. Both sides have spent to much time, ink, and money on a story which really is only interesting to a few people. I agree with bowing being a part of the sport, but I also think appropriate and equal actions such as shaking hands could be substituted.

That said, I would be hard pressed to spend much time on the same thing. I have Native Americans in my class and they bow, too.

Who's John Holm?


[/B]

Mark,

USJI (and USJF and until recently, USJA) are defending themselves against a stupid, frivolous, and vicious lawsuit from an individual who has a larger agenda than the bowing issue and very deep pockets with which to pursue it. It's not only a matter of principle, but of legality as well. Bowing is part of the sport and art of Judo...both are Japanese, as is bowing. Bowing sets Judo apart from other "sports". Substituting it with shaking hands (with the mat when contest area ?)

The case has been through arbitration. At each stage of escalation, the claimants have lost on the merits of their case. USJI/JF isn't making too big a deal out of this. The claimants are.

Ms. Akiyama certainly has the potential to be an Olympian. Except that she won't bow when mounting the mat...so in international competition, they aren't going to let her on the mat. They will laugh her out of the arena. Unless, of course, they decide to sue the IJF too. By the time that one get resolved, she will be too old to bother to compete at that level.

Ben Reinhardt

MarkF
21st February 2001, 08:51
Hi, Ben,
I don't think I disagreed with rei as part of playing judo, I simply disagreed with both sides on the fight which is being waged, and the funds being lost on this.

You may be correct that, if the suits give in, it may also have to knuckle under on more important issues. I don't deny that at all.

I have never had a problem with students and other teachers bowing. That wasn't my point. I have had a student who insisted on wearing a yarmulke, one held on with bobby pins. It isn't part of the uniform, but it also never was a problem.

But by taking up the fight against the girl and her parents (Yes, this is strictly an issue of the parent, not the girl. She is doing what she has been taught to believe, so have we all).

I also believe in the tradition of bowing, and I still bow when opening the door to the dojo, bow to others who bow to me before I reach the mat area, and I bow before mounting the mat. I also did bow to my opponents in the near twenty years I competed. Believe me, I know of "frivilous" lawsuits being waged, in particular the USJF. When I began to play judo, it was still the US Black Belt Federation, and I do remember well, the lawsuit brought by Phil Porter and the Armed Services Judo Association, now the USJA.

Law suits are part of this culture I think, now. I simply think, since the girl and her mother had no problem initially bowing to people, e.g., in her dojo, but did not believe in bowing to inanimate objects, that it could have been handled in a different way.

BTW: The hand-shaking was a comment on some Muslims who do not bow, except to God, with the problem not being a big one (I know they also do not compete, so I mentioned it only as a manner of getting on with things more important). Some boxers refuse to touch gloves, but are almost never penalized for it, though it is being reapplied with more vigor these days.

I have no problem with the NGBs, excepting the problems many of us have, which are usually not taken to these extremes.

It happens. One judoka in the Sydney games refused to bow after a decision went against him. He walked away twice, before performing the bow when given a third chance to avoid DHSK, and fighting in the repechages. I suppose the need to go on competing got the better of him, and relented (I'm not too familiar with it, as I read about it online).

I just think, in this case, both sides are being so stubborn as to have both sides acting against the spirit of judo. Should she have bowed? Of course. Did her mother have to bring this suit, or complaint? No. Without being a fly on the wall during depositions, none of us will know for sure. I am only taking the side of the devil in this one, trying to elicit comment, as you did and I appreciate it.

You've never done this to elicit a response from someone?

Sincerely,

Mark

Ben Reinhardt
21st February 2001, 14:48
Originally posted by MarkF
Hi, Ben,
I don't think I disagreed with rei as part of playing judo, I simply disagreed with both sides on the fight which is being waged, and the funds being lost on this.

+++++Ben++++
I didn't think you were against bowing as part of playing Judo. I only disagree with the bringers of the suit. It's frivolous, in my opinion, and as I and others pointed out, it's not really about bowing. USJI/JF and in fact the Judo community in the USA is being harmed by it, again, in my opinion.
++++++++++++++++++++

You may be correct that, if the suits give in, it may also have to knuckle under on more important issues. I don't deny that at all.

++++++Ben R.++++
Must be nice to reduce human beings to categories such as "suits". The particular "suits" that have devoted literally thousands of hours (probono, I might add) have been active in Judo in this country for something like 30 years, volunteering 10's of thousands of hours of their time professionally and as Judo coaches as well.
+++++++++++++++++++++

I have never had a problem with students and other teachers bowing. That wasn't my point. I have had a student who insisted on wearing a yarmulke, one held on with bobby pins. It isn't part of the uniform, but it also never was a problem.

++++Ben++++
Yes, and that's at your own dojo. At a Judo tournament, that wouldn't be allowed. OK, maybe at your own local tournament, under your local rules. But not at any major or even a lot of minor events. This lawsuit is about big tournaments...Senior Nationals, Jr. Olympics, and if she refuses to bow at international events, well, like I said, she'll get removed.
+++++++

But by taking up the fight against the girl and her parents (Yes, this is strictly an issue of the parent, not the girl. She is doing what she has been taught to believe, so have we all).

++++Ben R.++++
I'm not following you. She's obeying her parent(s)? BTW, the brought the lawsuits, not the various USJx, and the USJx have the right to defend against it. Judo is a voluntary activity. If you don't like the rules, then don't do it. But this isn't about the rules, really.
++++++++++++++++++

I also believe in the tradition of bowing, and I still bow when opening the door to the dojo, bow to others who bow to me before I reach the mat area, and I bow before mounting the mat. I also did bow to my opponents in the near twenty years I competed. Believe me, I know of "frivilous" lawsuits being waged, in particular the USJF. When I began to play judo, it was still the US Black Belt Federation, and I do remember well, the lawsuit brought by Phil Porter and the Armed Services Judo Association, now the USJA.

+++Ben R.++++
Yes, I know about that one. I'm not doubting your feelings about bowing Mark. I just wonder why you would play the devils advocate in this case. It's so against the principles and ideals of Judo, (in my opinion) it makes me sick.
++++++++++++++++

Law suits are part of this culture I think, now. I simply think, since the girl and her mother had no problem initially bowing to people, e.g., in her dojo, but did not believe in bowing to inanimate objects, that it could have been handled in a different way.

++++Ben R.+++
Mark, that's not what it's about. Again. That's not what it's really about. I'm not the only one who has noted this in this group either. Besides, when bowing onto a Judo mat, one is not bowing to an inamimate object, really. And there is no more bowing to joseki for the first and last match of a shiai, either.
++++++++++++++

BTW: The hand-shaking was a comment on some Muslims who do not bow, except to God, with the problem not being a big one (I know they also do not compete, so I mentioned it only as a manner of getting on with things more important). Some boxers refuse to touch gloves, but are almost never penalized for it, though it is being reapplied with more vigor these days.

+++++Ben R.++++++
Yes, they don't compete. Their religous beliefs are stronger than their desire to compete at Judo. Now that's really strong faith. They realize that they have to give up somethings sometimes for their faith and beliefs, and accept it. And boxing isn't Judo.
+++++++++++++++++++++

I have no problem with the NGBs, excepting the problems many of us have, which are usually not taken to these extremes.

++++Ben R.+++
BTW, there is only one NGB for Judo in the USA, USJI dba USA Judo.
++++++++++++

It happens. One judoka in the Sydney games refused to bow after a decision went against him. He walked away twice, before performing the bow when given a third chance to avoid DHSK, and fighting in the repechages. I suppose the need to go on competing got the better of him, and relented (I'm not too familiar with it, as I read about it online).

+++++Ben R.++++
Right, they gave him another chance, but would have given him DHSM....3 chances, that's really generous.
+++++++++++++++++++

I just think, in this case, both sides are being so stubborn as to have both sides acting against the spirit of judo. Should she have bowed? Of course. Did her mother have to bring this suit, or complaint? No. Without being a fly on the wall during depositions, none of us will know for sure. I am only taking the side of the devil in this one, trying to elicit comment, as you did and I appreciate it.

++++Ben R.+++++
No, it's not too stubborn to resist either injustice or something that is really, really wrong. The USJI has an obligation as a member of the IJF to uphold their rules and standards. I think that most people (judoka) would agree that bowing onto the competition area is part of doing Judo, customary and usual, and does not have even the remotest connotation of worship or idolatry. If someone really is deeply religious, they are willing to give up an activity for it if it includes doing things that are against their beliefs or custom. That's my opinion.

As to playing devil's advocate, I tend not to do it online. Too easy to misunderstand. I prefer to state my opinion as my opinion, and go from there.

I certainly won't ask you to stop, though.

Regards, Ben Reinhardt

You've never done this to elicit a response from someone?

Sincerely,

Mark

MarkF
22nd February 2001, 09:32
++++++Ben R.++++
Must be nice to reduce human beings to categories such as "suits". The particular "suits" that have devoted literally thousands of hours (probono, I might add) have been active in Judo in this country for something like 30 years, volunteering 10's of thousands of hours of their time professionally and as Judo coaches as well.
+++++++++++++++++++++



I did no such thing. It is a figure of speech, and that's all it was. I've been around judo for nearly thirty-eight years and I know what it takes and what it costs to put it in. I remember Karl Koiwai from the late sixties at the USJF, and I have a lot of respect for him. Wally Marr, as well.

That has nothing to do with the word I used. Mr. Kenneth Kuniyuki is ninety years old and still is the head of Nanka Yudanshakai along with his student, Mr. Larry Kobayashi. Any colletive term I would have used "reduces" something, including to differentiate each and everyone involved in this, on the side of the IJF and the NGBs.

One more thing. The IJF rules are for the IJF. They state, if not emphatically, then plainly, that the rules of the IJF are recommended, not scripture. You obviously have more to do with that end and that's a choice you made. My choice was to keep judo as traditional as possible. That does not mean in any way, I oppose competition or the rules for it, but when the rules are so complicated as to change the manner in how it is played, and who can play, I stop there.

I commend you your time invested. However, I couldn't do it when it goes against what I believe is the spirit of judo.

BTW: You may always email me if you wish to continue with this, but I don't think it will be resolved. But I invite you to start your own topic posts, in which anything you want can be discussed, but unless there is renewed interest in the subject, I think it is time to close it. What do you think, Ben?

Best Regards,

Ben Reinhardt
22nd February 2001, 14:58
Originally posted by MarkF


I did no such thing. It is a figure of speech, and that's all it was. I've been around judo for nearly thirty-eight years and I know what it takes and what it costs to put it in. I remember Karl Koiwai from the late sixties at the USJF, and I have a lot of respect for him. Wally Marr, as well.

++++Ben R..+++
I was referring specifically to your referring to what I took to be the attornys who are defending the USJx against the lawsuit of topic as "suits". You seemed to suggest that it was they who were prolonging the lawsuit. That is not the case. If you believe it to be so, then you are wrong. I was offended by that remark. I was not writing about everybody who has ever contributed to Judo, including the fine gentlemen whom you mentioned.
+++++

That has nothing to do with the word I used. Mr. Kenneth Kuniyuki is ninety years old and still is the head of Nanka Yudanshakai along with his student, Mr. Larry Kobayashi. Any colletive term I would have used "reduces" something, including to differentiate each and everyone involved in this, on the side of the IJF and the NGBs.

++++Ben R.++++
Like I said, I was referring to the attornys for Jx, not highly respected and well known judoka who have nothing to do with the lawsuit under discussion.
++++++++++++++++++

One more thing. The IJF rules are for the IJF. They state, if not emphatically, then plainly, that the rules of the IJF are recommended, not scripture. You obviously have more to do with that end and that's a choice you made.
+++++Ben R.+++
I don't particularly like a lot of the current contest rules or interpretation. I am a national referee, so that does color my discussion of rules. Of course, that has nothing to do with the lawsuit that was under discussion. Bowing on and off the mat was a tradition in Judo long before the IJF came into being in, what, 1951.
+++++++++++++

My choice was to keep judo as traditional as possible.
++++++++Ben R.+++++
Including bowing onto and off the mat at shiai ? That's pretty traditional.
++++++++++++++==

That does not mean in any way, I oppose competition or the rules for it, but when the rules are so complicated as to change the manner in how it is played, and who can play, I stop there.

++++++Ben R+++++
I never thought you oppose competition, Mark. And you and I agree that the rules are too complicated, I think. Bowing has been around a long time, and is a traditional part of the art/sport of Judo. One knows that going in, so one should make a decision as to what's more important, one's "religious" beliefs, or the desire to do Judo, which has it's generally accepted behaviors and traditions.
+++++++++++++++==

I commend you your time invested. However, I couldn't do it when it goes against what I believe is the spirit of judo.
++++Ben R.+++
What is against the spirit of Judo ? Bowing onto and off of the mat before shiai ? The current rules ? The "bowing lawsuit" ?
++++++++++++

BTW: You may always email me if you wish to continue with this, but I don't think it will be resolved. But I invite you to start your own topic posts, in which anything you want can be discussed, but unless there is renewed interest in the subject, I think it is time to close it. What do you think, Ben?

Best Regards, [/B]

Ben R.+++++
Resolving "this" isn't really the point. You have your opinion and beliefs, I have mine. It's the sharing of ideas and opinions that is interesting and worthwhile. Simply because a topic becomes a little controversial (that's what you wanted, isn't it ? Discussion ?) That means not everybody is going to agree. E-mail is a very imperfect method, especially these forums. So we have to backtrack and clarify. As we have done.
++++++++++++++++

Sincerely,
Ben Reinhardt

MarkF
23rd February 2001, 09:36
Hi, Ben,
I asked you specifically because it had seemed to bog down to the two of us, and I am glad your OK with the it.

Some misinterpret "traditional" judo and International judo. I don't really think traditional judo means an aversion to competition. Since most (mainly newbies and children) have enough of a headache remembering to bow, when, how many times, to whom when you win a trophy, medal, etc., it becomes a choice as to what one emphasises, not just the bowing, but the whole of it, e.g. when it goes too far. A conservative Jewish kid should not be made to remove his gippa, when the solution to it was simple. Since it really wasn't about the type of head covering, but just having one, I came up with a "scrub" hat from the hospital. He paid for them, and they stayed on well. He stuck out, but he seemed to like judo very much. I'm a Jew, brought up as he was, but have no problem, in fact, it would probably make me apprehensive.

The basic theme of this is not a bad argument either way, it is in bringing what, in my opinion, an action both could live with. As in the first article I read about this case, the girl apparently (as stated in an earlier argument) had no problem bowing to those of her dojo, or even in the local and invitationals. It became an item when she entered a shiai in which the bowing before mounting the mat became an issue. For that, I think she was influenced heavily by here parent[s].

What I am really wondering, is when this comes to an end, will she remain in judo? I would hope so, but at the same time, it was too much. I know she has "deep pockets, so the fight will go on.

Anyway, when a fairly advanced student knows to bow, but cannot remember the nage I asked him to perform, then that becomes more important to me. Even as a kid, had noticed the "old guys" not bowing when stepping on the mat, to replace a shimban. This happened from the smaller, local (if that, "smaller" can be applied to a local in the Southern California area) shiai to state and national events, to the Jr. Olympics. Most did, but some didn't. It happens.

I remember my first teacher explaining the routine of collecting an award. It became more of an issue of bowing all the time, just in case, as the pattern was more difficult than learning uchi mata. It was also a game in learning official terminology of the day.
the term "awasate" was explained, and also how it would be heard from most referees. He said it sounds like "wash day."
****

Regards,

Mark

BTW: I know you understand what I mean concerning "traditional," but some mistakenly, refer to noncompetitive, lots and lots of kata, as traditional. Actually, the tradition is shiai, not the other way around. I think "Original" judo is what most mean.~m