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Thread: Interested in 'bowing in' and 'bowing out'

  1. #1
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    Talking

    I have always been impressed by the traditional opening and closing bow in Iaido and Kendo.

    I am interested to know the formalities of each individual styles rei and compare them to my own.


    Yours in Budo
    Dale Elsdon

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    Hi Dale.

    I have a number of bows in my dojo:

    1. Shinzen ni rei: Bow to the Shinto shrine. [Just in case you aren't familiar with romaji, this is pronounced as "sheen zen knee ray."]

    2. Shomen ni rei: Bow to the front of the dojo ["show men knee ray"]

    3. Sensei ni rei: Bow to the teacher.

    4. Ai-to ni rei: Bow to the precious sword ["eye-toe knee ray"].

    At the close of training we perform the same bows, but in reverse order.

    Other commands precede some bows. During the opening, between #2 and #3, I have the students sit in seiza [formal kneeling] for mokuso [meditation]. 2a: chakuza! [take seats]; 2b: seiza! [formal kneel]; 2c: mokuso! [meditate]; 2d: naore [recover]; so-tachi! [all rise]; 3: sensei ni rei.

    During closing, I again "interrupt" the bowing sequence right after "aito ni rei" by commanding "chakuza" for mokuso (then going through the mokuso command sequence).

    Also, I incorporate an "extra" bow simply because my shrine is attached to the west wall (facing east) and is not co-located at the shomen [front of the dojo] -- which is the south wall (facing north). I adhere to the requirement that the deities face east -- and from shomen they would have faced north -- a big Shinto "no-no."

    Confusingly yours,
    Guy



    Guy H. Power
    Kenshinkan Dojo

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    Hello.

    Having practiced a few different kinds of MA in my short time I have seen many different kinds of "bowing". Probably the most interesting, in regard to your post, would be Kiraku-ryu.

    Face East

    Kneel on one knee with hand touching the ground

    Say prayer to get attn. of dieties

    Say prayer of purification and protection of partner

    Say prayer of protection

    Start class

    Then bowing to partners before paired practice


    There are also different bows for when you are using weapons etc.


    How about yourself...
    What MA do you do? What kind of reigi do you have?


    Regards,

    CKohalyk



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    I practice Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu Ju-Jitsu primarily, but also pratice Yoseikan Aikido and Pencak Silat a bit.
    As our Ju-Jitsu school teaches the complete art we learn the sword as taught in our Ryu.

    Our rei is usually done with the students lining up facing the instructor in respective order of rank. The Sensei lowers their eyes and sits in Seiza followed by the students the highest ranked student then calls the command for Mokuso where everyone clears and foccusses their mind until the command to cease mokuso followed by Sensei ni rei.
    The bow is always done with left hand down first and right hand up first with your eyes forewards at all times as from the tradition of the sword.

    This is our usual rei for any type of practice (Ju-Jitsu or Aikido) but there are other formalities which are observed when carrying a Katana.

    Do your schools also do this when using Katana? ie. Do you remove the sword for rei? which way do you face the blade, toward or away from you? etc


    Thanks for your responses
    Dale Elsdon
    Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu

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    I study Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu iaijutsu under Shimabukuro Sensei and we follow a very formal way of opening and closing class:

    All the students will line up facing shomen (front of the dojo) with the instructor facing the class. The sword is held at the left side, thumb hooked over the tsuba and the sageo "folded" in thirds.

    When everyone is properly lined up, the instructor will also turn to face shomen. Then we transfer the sword and sageo to the right hand to hold it edge down in the saya - gripped about halfway. We all perform hairei - a deep bow out of respect to our dojo, and to our dojo's emblem (could also be a bow to a shrine if your dojo has one).

    Then the instructor turns back to face the class and we transfer the sword and sagoe back to the left hand.

    We all then sit in seiza.

    Everyone extends there sword out with their left hand, transfering control of the sword and sageo to the right and then placing the sword on their right side, edge facing in. We do this because it shows trust and no ill intent since the edge is facing in and it is harder to draw the sword when at your right side.

    Then everyone performs shirei and we all bow to sensei out of respect for his knowlegde and willingess to teach us. But Sensei also bows to us in gratitude for sincere students to teach - without whom the art dies.

    We then pick the sword up and place it in front, tsuba to the left, sageo running down the length of the saya and looped just short of the kojiri, edge facing in. Then we all perform torei, bowing to the sword with deep respect as it symbolizes the reason we study budo/bujutsu.

    Once that is completed we pick up the sword so that it is vertical at a point directly in front of us and perform taito, putting the sword into the obi, VERY careful not to stir the tsuba, but keep it very still and straight.

    Now that everyone has their sword in their belt we standup to start class.

    At the end of class we reverse the sequence.

    I find it to be very useful to get into the proper frame of mind to start class. There is ALOT going on during this process - as much as doing a waza and requires the same attention and focus.

    If you don't perform "bowing in and bowing out" with sincerity and respect, then you are just going thru the motions. It's very easy to see and is almost indicative of how that person's spirit will be during actual practice (and to some extent their technique as well!).

    Glad to share and read the differences of various styles.

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    G'day,


    Regarding sword bows:

    Standing Facing East

    Passing tsuka from L to R hand

    Raising sword up horizontally with both hands to eye-level

    Blade facing in

    Bow of the head

    Pass back to L hand

    Drop to one knee and bow



    This is generally the beginning of sword practice. Does anybody else do a standing-rei when practiceing kenjutsu?


    Best,

    CK


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    CK,

    Does anybody else do a standing-rei when practiceing kenjutsu?
    Yes, sorry.... In my post above I should have said "aito ni rei" is a ritsurei -- standing bow. Sounds similar to yours: tsuka in right hand (tsuka forward for shomen and sensei bows; tsuka to rear for shinzen bow), kojiri in left, bring to eye-level with blade facing oneself -- bow.

    What style(s) do you practice?

    Regards,
    Guy

    Guy H. Power
    Kenshinkan Dojo

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    Mr. Power,

    I have been lucky in that I have received instruction in various sword schools(both Classical and gendai), but the only one I can say I have studied officially is Bushuu Kiraku-ryu (and not very long at that). K-ryu is small and is actually more of a JJ school which you can really see in the techniques, sword or otherwise.

    BTW very impressive website. I don't want to seem ignorant, but could you inform me of your religious background (email is fine if you want to be more discreet than I)?

    Well, off to class!!

    ?sってきま?[す?I

    CK

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    Thanks people for responding to my question.

    We sometimes do a standing bow but traditionally it is in seiza.

    At the start and end of class we sometimes perform a standing bow to the sensei with our sword in our right hand holding around the sageo looped three times with the blade facing forewards and the tsuba touching the underside of our forearm. This shows trust as it makes it near impossible to draw your sword.

    We primarily study Iaijutsu although some techniques could be labelled Kenjutsu as the sword is out of the saya at the commencment of the technique.


    Yours in Budo
    Dale Elsdon

    [Edited by Dale on 07-06-2000 at 11:10 PM]

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    CK,

    I'm not a Shinto priest. I have a "passing" acquaintance with Shintoism from my stay in Japan, as well as a healthy respect for the tradition and culture of a Japanese budo. Also, I am aquainted with friends who are members of Seicho-no-Ie, a Neo-Shinto religion similar to that of Omoto Kyo.

    Regards,
    Guy
    Guy H. Power
    Kenshinkan Dojo

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    Default Hmmmm

    So,

    If there is no kamiza/shinzen, and you want to bow toward the shrines in Japan (as is traditional, from what I understand), you face eastward and bow.

    However, if you have a kamiza/shinzen, you put *them* facing eastward and the dojo members bow westward.

    Perhaps the symbolism makes sense, but you would be bowing in opposite directions depending on whether there is a kamiza/shinzen or not, right?

    Just want to make sure I have this straight!

    Regards,
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

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    Hello Nathan.

    If there is no kamiza/shinzen, and you want to bow toward the shrines in Japan (as is traditional, from what I understand), you face eastward and bow.
    I've not heard about Americans facing toward Japan (west) as an act of reverence; hadn't heard of it at all, as a matter of fact. The only culture I'm aware of that faces a particular direction regardless of orientation is the Muslim culture -- If I'm not mistaken, regardless of where on this earth a Muslim is, he must face Mecca for his multiple daily prayers.

    In Japan the kamiza are placed on the west wall facing east because the sun rises in the east. Which is why we should place our kamidana on the west wall -- so that the kami can face the direction of the "rising sun."

    If your dojo has no shinzen/kamidana/kamiza, the appropriate direction in which to bow is towards the shomen (front), which might be identified by having a dojo sign or flag -- regardless of which cardinal direction it may be facing. As far as I know, there is no "restriction" per se on the direction the shomen should face. Although, in a Japanese "feng shui" divination sort of way, one direction may be better than another (if you have the luxury of raising a building in Japan).

    Hope I answered your question.

    Regards,
    Guy
    Guy H. Power
    Kenshinkan Dojo

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    Originally posted by Dale
    I have always been impressed by the traditional opening and closing bow in Iaido and Kendo.

    I am interested to know the formalities of each individual styles rei and compare them to my own.


    Yours in Budo
    Dale Elsdon
    At Koryu - In the Heihosho I offer the longsword to Shinden held up at arms length and bow deeply at the beginning. The shortsword remains in the Obi. The longsword is then thrust into the Obi with the left knee up. To finish the longsword and saya are removed (right knee up) and placed on the right hand side. A bow is done in seiza with the hands rested just below the waist . Shortsword remains.

    Bowing to other people I do a standing bow with the sword held at a forty five degree angle across the front of the body held with the left hand across the tsuba, right hand clasped across the top of this.

    At embu I do not bow. There is no sword ettiquette beforehand. Just answer when my name is called and enter the area with swords already in the Obi. In starting and finishing a shallow bow is done in tate-hiza, left hand on the tsuba, knuckle of the right hand touching the ground/floor.

    The Hyoho Niten Ichiryu ettiquette resembles Iaido ettiquette a little in the fact that the bokkuto are transfered to the left for bowing to each other. Needless to say the commands are different. In pairwork the bow must be very slow and concise done at a distance before the draw.

    Hyaku

    P.S I try not to bow too low when I am on the telephone and never manage to bow low enough when I meet old ladies.
    .....................

    I am changing the contents of my site at http://www2.sword.ne.jp/sword at the end of this month.

    Busy putting the finishing touches to 21 accounts of A-Bomb victims (Hibakushu) that live in Fukuoka Prefecture. moving there from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they were not interviewed until fifty years after the blast and their accounts are as yet unpublished. I hope to have it finished before this years remembrance ceremonies that take place in early August. I will of course leave a link to the Kobudo site at

    http://www.bunbun.ne.jp/~sword.

    My apologies for anyone logging onto the old site by mistake.



    [Edited by hyaku on 07-20-2000 at 03:02 AM]

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    Hi,

    I'm not sure I was clear in my last post, because it sounds like we are saying the same thing.

    I've experienced three basic scenarios:

    1) Dojo that has shinzen/kamiza, facing eastwards (BTW, I had heard that a big reason for this was that the shinzen/kamiza is typically affiliated with a corresponding temple/shrine in Japan, so it should face towards the "parent" entity).

    2) Dojo without shinzen/kamiza - bow towards the shomen, whichever logical place that might be. I've heard that it is preferrable to have the shomen on the opposite wall of the entrance.

    One (questionable) source also sites that the preferrable order of choices for shomen are "N,E,W then S". If the shomen is on the north wall, then the sun rises over the Senpai, and sets on the Kohai. Or, if you had the shomen at the west wall, the sun would illuminate the instructor and backlight the students. Again, I don't know how well researched this source of information is.

    3) The last situation is that of being in a park or place that is nondescript for a shomen. The "default" is to face towards the east (not west) to bow towards the related shinzen/kamiza in Japan - whatever one your style is affiliated with.


    My previous question was:

    (#1) If you bow to a shinzen/kamiza that is mounted on the west wall (facing east), then you are bowing towards the west even though it is at the shinzen/kamiza. But in the absense of any obvious directon of shomen (#3), you would bow towards the east.

    So, it could be an inane point, but it just struck me that in sitution one you bow westward, and in situation three you bow eastward.

    If this somewhat trivial observations is incorrect, then please add some clarification!

    P.S I try not to bow too low when I am on the telephone and never manage to bow low enough when I meet old ladies.
    That's funny! (I feel better now)

    Thanks,
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

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    Nathan,

    shinzen/kamiza is typically affiliated with a corresponding temple/shrine in Japan, so it should face towards the "parent" entity
    Some are affiliated with certain jinja, but I've not heard of orienting your kamidana to face the parent shrine. In my opinion that is incorrect. If you are south of the main temple then you'd have to orient your kamidana on the south wall so that it faces the parent -- to the north. Everything I've read about Shinto stipulates the kamidana should [always] face east (best) or south (not as good). The kami should never face north.

    I've heard that it is preferrable to have the shomen on the opposite wall of the entrance.
    That makes sense logistically. I have photos of the huge WWII-era army dojo showing the shomen centered on one of the long walls (rectangular shaped buildings), and I've seen dojo that have the entrance (genkan) centered on the long wall, with the shomen on the short wall -- you have to enter from the genkan then turn left to face the shomen.

    One (questionable) source also sites that the preferrable order of choices for shomen are "N,E,W then S". If the shomen is on the north wall, then the sun rises over the Senpai, and sets on the Kohai. Or, if you had the shomen at the west wall, the sun would illuminate the instructor and backlight the students. Again, I don't know how well researched this source of information is.
    You're right -- that source sounds verrrrrry questionable. Priority has nothing (in my very humble opinion) to do with the students -- but has everything to do with orienting the kamidana or the "feng shui" divination thingy.

    (3) The last situation is that of being in a park or place that is nondescript for a shomen. The "default" is to face towards the east (not west)to bow towards the related shinzen/kamiza in Japan - whatever one your style is affiliated with.
    This actually makes sense. The Army Officer Academy (Rikugun Shikan Gakko -- aka "Sobudai" -- now Camp Zama) has a boulder set at one of the hills just above the former officer's club, where the Shinto shrine used to be located. The boulder has a brass plate on its crest indicating the cardinal directions with destinations marked for certain areas (might have been Ise Grand Shrine or the Emperor's residence in Tokyo). I've seen photos of the assembled catets bowing in one direction.

    (1) If you bow to a shinzen/kamiza that is mounted on the west wall (facing east), then you are bowing towards the west even though it is at the shinzen/kamiza. But in the absense of any obvious directon of shomen (#3), you would bow towards the east. So, it could be an inane point, but it just struck me that in sitution one you bow westward, and in situation three you bow eastward.
    Item (1) is correct. We bow to the shrine and kami -- not the direction. In the absence of any shrine, why not face "Amaterasu Omikami?" Again it makes sense. After all, after climbing Fujisan, we all bowed toward the sun and not the shrine on top. Perhaps because Amaterasu is associated with the sun (she is the "Sun Goddess" after all) -- so in effect, I suppose the rule of thumb is : "Bow toward the kami, regardless in which direction you must face."

    Regards,
    Guy
    Guy H. Power
    Kenshinkan Dojo

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