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Thread: Bowing and Kenpo

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    Default Bowing and Kenpo

    Greetings,

    I am new here and new to Kenpo. I have a question about bowing in Kenpo. One style I came from was very rigid and required alot of bowing...ALOT! Now, I don't have a problem with the occasional standing bow, which I interpret as nothing more than a foriegn handshake/salute, but when bowing requires me to get on my hands and knees and bow to a picture/person/belt/idol...well, I have a huge problem with that. Being new to Kenpo, in particular Speakman 5.0, is this something that I will see? If this is something that is practiced in Kenpo, could one opt out of said ritual if it interfered with certain religous beliefs? Or would that person be looked down on as having no respect to the art and/or instructor? I certainly mean no disrespect by it, or by this question, it's just something I am not comfortable with. How do others feel about casual standing bowing/formal bowing/master "worship" on hands and knees bowing?

    --Needless to say, the ritual "master worship" is a very large reason for me leaving the other style--

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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    In Kenpo you will salute a lot more often than you will bow. The only time or my students kneel and bow is in the belt ceremony where, since we are both on our knees during the belt ceremony that is were the bows originate.
    Quality outweighs quantity every time.

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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Broad View Post
    In Kenpo you will salute a lot more often than you will bow. The only time or my students kneel and bow is in the belt ceremony where, since we are both on our knees during the belt ceremony that is were the bows originate.
    Further to Mr. Broad's explanation, the kneeling and bowing during the kenpo belt ceremonies are more of a symbolic "passing of knowledge" from one to another, not worship.

    The great thing about American Kenpo (including 5.0) is that it's American... so it's not hung up on eastern philosophies and such. Kenpo's salutes and bows are more showing respect in a modern way, with elements of the old ways, but not worship or idolatry. For example, the way that we close out class, we salute each other to represent the past way of greeting, as a warrior that comes in peace. Then we shake hands, to represent how we greet each other present day. Then we hug, which represents a future of brotherhood and harmony.

    I wouldn't worry about the formalities of this art conflicting with your religious beliefs... on the contrary, your training might actually compliment your beliefs.
    "Your kung fu's no good..."
    *Warrior, Scholar*

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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    Quote Originally Posted by domino3700 View Post
    Further to Mr. Broad's explanation, the kneeling and bowing during the kenpo belt ceremonies are more of a symbolic "passing of knowledge" from one to another, not worship.

    The great thing about American Kenpo (including 5.0) is that it's American... so it's not hung up on eastern philosophies and such. Kenpo's salutes and bows are more showing respect in a modern way, with elements of the old ways, but not worship or idolatry. For example, the way that we close out class, we salute each other to represent the past way of greeting, as a warrior that comes in peace. Then we shake hands, to represent how we greet each other present day. Then we hug, which represents a future of brotherhood and harmony.

    I wouldn't worry about the formalities of this art conflicting with your religious beliefs... on the contrary, your training might actually compliment your beliefs.
    I understand many people, even religious, view bowing as just "a formality." Unfortunately, I don't view myself in a position to make such a distinction. Even if I found myself one day instructing again, I would not even require my students to bow to me. If they choose to, then I would return a standing bow. Never would I ask anyone to get on their hands and knees and bow to me, a picture, shrine or idol though.

    So, I guess my question to those of you who do instruct is this: What would you tell a student who tells you exactly what I am saying? I imagine most would say "well, maybe the martial arts just aren't for you." which is a reasonable answer, albeit a sad one since I have been in the martial arts for over thirteen years and would hate to just dispose of that part of me. Some others might say "get over it", again a reasonable answer, but I find the older I get the more I set in my ways, or the more my ways set in me...not sure which :P.

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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    Can't add much more to what everyone else has said except to say that the practices of a system as a whole are not necessarily the practices of an individual instructor. I agree there isn't a lot of "rituality" in American Kenpo but...its also not impossible that you may find an instructor that thinks otherwise.

    When you check out a school...don't be afraid to ask such a question of your potential instructor. Teachers are generally up-front about their school's practices, and most will be very happy that you asked. Good luck and I hope you enjoy your new training!

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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    I won't bow down to anyone, but I will bow and salute as a sign of respect. The Bowing in the belt ceremony is not a bow of subjugation, but a bow of respect to where we have been and then again to where we want to go.
    Quality outweighs quantity every time.

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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    Quote Originally Posted by dark_horse View Post
    So, I guess my question to those of you who do instruct is this: What would you tell a student who tells you exactly what I am saying? I imagine most would say "well, maybe the martial arts just aren't for you." which is a reasonable answer, albeit a sad one since I have been in the martial arts for over thirteen years and would hate to just dispose of that part of me. Some others might say "get over it", again a reasonable answer, but I find the older I get the more I set in my ways, or the more my ways set in me...not sure which :P.
    "Get over it."

    If you can't be persuaded to follow the traditions of an art, you probably shouldn't take it. If a student is coming to me to study an art I teach, they get whatever traditions I choose to pass on, if they can't handle that, then don't be my student. If they as a student cannot be bothered to learn the where and why of those traditions, they aren't exactly approaching their studies with an appropriate mindset. When they are an instructor they can choose what traditions they want to pass on.

    Lamont
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    www.blackbirdmartialarts.com

    “He, who will not reason, is a bigot; he, who cannot, is a fool; and he, who dares not, is a slave.”
    ~William Drummond

    "This person is as dangerous as an IED."

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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    In Ed Parker's book Infinite Insights vol. 1 he discussed this. He explained the there should be respect of the teacher and the school, but not worship and as Americans we should never bow to another flag, and since he was Christian, he would not have any bowing to Buddha or another person, like a founder out of worship.

    Basically in our school, we bow before entering the floor, salute the teacher before and after class and that is all. These are done out of respect and not worship. Bowing to the floor is a separation of the outside world and the inner "sanctity" of the classroom. It is supposed to place a clear mental/psychological seperation of the two to take a better attitude into class even after days where your boss made your day pretty crappy. When you enter the floor, you leave all that behind. And the salute is nothing more than the Kenpo "handshake."

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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Broad View Post
    I won't bow down to anyone, but I will bow and salute as a sign of respect. The Bowing in the belt ceremony is not a bow of subjugation, but a bow of respect to where we have been and then again to where we want to go.
    To me this is a thank you to my instructors for taking me on another leg in my journey.

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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    The standing bow, the seated bow, the salutation/salute of Kenpo......

    there's NOTHING in them except what you put there. They are a "Thank you" a conveyed respect and appreciativeness. They're not worship, not even in the most rigidly traditional "Budo" systems of Japan.

    Bowing to a kameza? (shrine &/or picture) Ok....THAT does come from Shinto origins. I attended a school that had such observances. I talked to Sensei about it....and he said "Hmmm....well......are you Shinto?"
    I said no, Christian...
    He said "Then when you bow, do it like you're saying "Thank God for him, I can benefit from his art." ....if it's Christ in your heart...then let your bow be a sign of Christian respect and thankfulness."
    It made sense and I never had a problem from then on.

    But hey man, that's ME.
    You do as you feel is right. If your instructor feels you MUST follow the traditions of the school and you still feel strongly about it...
    follow your conscience!

    My take on the "bowing" in Kenpo?
    There's Nothing in it that except what you intend to be in it.

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    John
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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    Quote Originally Posted by Blindside View Post
    "Get over it."

    If you can't be persuaded to follow the traditions of an art, you probably shouldn't take it. If a student is coming to me to study an art I teach, they get whatever traditions I choose to pass on, if they can't handle that, then don't be my student. If they as a student cannot be bothered to learn the where and why of those traditions, they aren't exactly approaching their studies with an appropriate mindset. When they are an instructor they can choose what traditions they want to pass on.

    Lamont
    This is the first post that makes sense here.

    Thank you.

    It's called "rules structure".

    And if anyone has a question about the schools "rules structure" that is fine and dandy.

    But if someone tells me "my school's" rules are incorrect, I tell him to fxxk off, but NOT literally or with my words.

    I smile sweetly, pull out his contract, look at his contract and what he's paid. If he's paid up, I tell them sweetly that he "no longer qualifies for training here. Have a good day." Then I open my office door for him politely, and I walk him to the front door, open it for him politely, and say 'goodby' in a sweet nice voice.

    Then I close the door and I am tremendously happy that we have flushed a tuxxd from the system.

    But, that's just me.

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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    Quote Originally Posted by John M. La Tourrette View Post
    This is the first post that makes sense here.

    Thank you.

    It's called "rules structure".

    And if anyone has a question about the schools "rules structure" that is fine and dandy.

    But if someone tells me "my school's" rules are incorrect, I tell him to fxxk off, but NOT literally or with my words.

    I smile sweetly, pull out his contract, look at his contract and what he's paid. If he's paid up, I tell them sweetly that he "no longer qualifies for training here. Have a good day." Then I open my office door for him politely, and I walk him to the front door, open it for him politely, and say 'goodby' in a sweet nice voice.

    Then I close the door and I am tremendously happy that we have flushed a tuxxd from the system.

    But, that's just me.
    Discipline is an important trait to develop during your martial arts journey. It not only will help you in this, but in other endeavors in life.

    However, is doing the action of bowing and having the different intended meaning as the instructor a violation of this discipline? What I mean is, if the teaher bows in worship so some item and the student bows in respect, but not worship, does this violate the discipline in the school?

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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    Quote Originally Posted by John M. La Tourrette View Post
    This is the first post that makes sense here.

    Well, I am sorry my post didn't make sense, anything I can do to clarify it?

    Thank you.

    It's called "rules structure".

    Don't talk to me about rules structures unless you know me and know where I've been and what I've done...and you don't, sir.

    And if anyone has a question about the schools "rules structure" that is fine and dandy.

    So, Mr. La Tourette, if someone came up to you and said "Sir, I know about bowing, and why we do it, but my religion dictates that I don't bow down to anyone, if there some other sign of respect I can offer you?" You would tell this person, in a nice, smiley way, "F**k off, t*rd"?


    But if someone tells me "my school's" rules are incorrect, I tell him to fxxk off, but NOT literally or with my words.

    I smile sweetly, pull out his contract, look at his contract and what he's paid. If he's paid up, I tell them sweetly that he "no longer qualifies for training here. Have a good day." Then I open my office door for him politely, and I walk him to the front door, open it for him politely, and say 'goodby' in a sweet nice voice.

    Then I close the door and I am tremendously happy that we have flushed a tuxxd from the system.

    So now I'm a tr*d for having convictions in my beliefs? Thanks for showing the respect I assumed everyone on this board would have, sir. Well, you know what they say when you assume stuff...

    But, that's just me.
    Everyone else, thanks for thoughtful, respectful comments. Even blindside, who gave an answer I knew I would get, was respectful while giving it, and refrained from telling anyone to "Fxxk off" or calling them a "tuxxd". Unfortunately blindside, it is not something I can "get over". I have not been granted the authority to distinguish between a "pretend" bow and a "real" bow.

    To others, I have absolutely no problem with the typical standing bow, as its been in western cultures for some time. I have absolutely no problem with the Kenpo salutation, actually find it reaffirming since there is a "prayer" within the salutation. What I don't like is when I have to get on my hands and knees and bury my face to the ground to appease someones ego. It's disturbing on so many levels.

    Mr. La Tourrette, I can handle dissenting opinion just fine, I like a lively debate, but when someone makes personal attacks, even when they hide them in context of "speaking to someone else", it riles me. You post not only shows disrespect to me and my beliefs, but highlights your intolerance to others.

    --I feel the flames coming already--

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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    Quote Originally Posted by Carol Kaur View Post
    Can't add much more to what everyone else has said except to say that the practices of a system as a whole are not necessarily the practices of an individual instructor. I agree there isn't a lot of "rituality" in American Kenpo but...its also not impossible that you may find an instructor that thinks otherwise.

    When you check out a school...don't be afraid to ask such a question of your potential instructor. Teachers are generally up-front about their school's practices, and most will be very happy that you asked. Good luck and I hope you enjoy your new training!
    Thanks for your post Carol. I must add that at the few classes I have been to I have not even had to bow, just do the kenpo salute..which I am still working on...that sucker is a long salute!

    Personally, I think my instructor will understand. I just don't want to get down the road and have someone else tell me "now bow to your belt."

    I have plenty of respect for martial arts, and for Kenpo, that is why I chose Kenpo over all other styles in the area, and I had plenty to choose from. I just figured more people would make exceptions to the rules for people with faith. I would respect that person for coming to me and discussing it.

    To all, here is another one, how about if someone came in and wore a headscarf with their uniform. It's not part of the tradtional uniform. But said person is wearing it because faith dictates it. Would exceptions be made then? How would it be different? Or would you tell them to "Get that f**kin' rag off your head, t*rd!" (in a nice, smiley way of course). Discuss.

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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    Quote Originally Posted by dark_horse View Post
    To others, I have absolutely no problem with the typical standing bow, as its been in western cultures for some time. I have absolutely no problem with the Kenpo salutation, actually find it reaffirming since there is a "prayer" within the salutation. What I don't like is when I have to get on my hands and knees and bury my face to the ground to appease someones ego. It's disturbing on so many levels.
    I'm an atheist, and I'm not a big fan of the "prayer" in the full formal salutation. That said, I recognize it for what it is, a tradition of the art, and will pass it on as I learned it. As Brother John said, it is what you take into it, for me the "prayer" is just a hand movement and a dip of the head.

    As long as a student's beliefs don't interfere with the normal running of class, I don't care, a head scarf or a Sikh's turban really wouldn't be much of an issue to me. (I could see where the Sikh's turban might become an issue in sparring or the like, but that would be his/her problem, not mine. But then we don't have an issue with students working out with a bandana, sweatband, or underarmor skullcap.

    Lamont
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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    Quote Originally Posted by Blindside View Post
    I'm an atheist, and I'm not a big fan of the "prayer" in the full formal salutation. That said, I recognize it for what it is, a tradition of the art, and will pass it on as I learned it. As Brother John said, it is what you take into it, for me the "prayer" is just a hand movement and a dip of the head.

    As long as a student's beliefs don't interfere with the normal running of class, I don't care, a head scarf or a Sikh's turban really wouldn't be much of an issue to me. (I could see where the Sikh's turban might become an issue in sparring or the like, but that would be his/her problem, not mine. But then we don't have an issue with students working out with a bandana, sweatband, or underarmor skullcap.

    Lamont
    Point to Blindside on the "prayer" from an atheist point of view. One may say that a prayer is not a big deal to you because you are an atheist, while a bow is a huge deal because I am Catholic. I am not going to make such assumptions, since I don't know your personal convictions.

    I totally agree with as long as something doesn't interfere with normal class, I have no issue with it. However, I don't think someone not getting on their hands and knees interfering. As long as that person stands and offers what is truly a sign of respect, I have no issue. I think concessions can be made that allow most all to enjoy martial arts for their own self development without causing disruptions.

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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    Quote Originally Posted by dark_horse View Post
    ..I have not been granted the authority to distinguish between a "pretend" bow and a "real" bow.
    Who could authorize what personal value a bow holds to you, other than you? An instructor might ask you to perform the physical motions, explain the historical or traditional view on it, even give his personal take on it. But as far as what it means to "you" personally, its really none of a teacher's damn business, unless you choose to offer it.

    Quote Originally Posted by dark_horse View Post
    To others, I have absolutely no problem with the typical standing bow, as its been in western cultures for some time. I have absolutely no problem with the Kenpo salutation, actually find it reaffirming since there is a "prayer" within the salutation. What I don't like is when I have to get on my hands and knees and bury my face to the ground to appease someones ego. It's disturbing on so many levels.
    I'd think alot of this is the personal sentiment you attach to said motions. Why would one have greater significance, or lack thereof, than another, other than what value you ascribe to them? But, I too spent years in a traditional system where a foreign language and a traditional bow from the seiza position was frequent, and so am very thankful for kenpo. Why? Its because it aligns with what I am - an english speaking American in the year 2007. So, we shake hands (a western tradition), and salute (a kenpo tradition) No bowing at all. But even if there was, I wouldn't put a whole lot of personal weight to it, positively or negatively.

    Cheers,

    Steven Brown
    UKF

    [/quote]

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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    I would ask your instructor what he does for the belt ceremony before you go any further. This way you don't end up in an awkward situation.
    Quality outweighs quantity every time.

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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    Quote Originally Posted by bujuts View Post
    Who could authorize what personal value a bow holds to you, other than you? An instructor might ask you to perform the physical motions, explain the historical or traditional view on it, even give his personal take on it. But as far as what it means to "you" personally, its really none of a teacher's damn business, unless you choose to offer it.



    I'd think alot of this is the personal sentiment you attach to said motions. Why would one have greater significance, or lack thereof, than another, other than what value you ascribe to them? But, I too spent years in a traditional system where a foreign language and a traditional bow from the seiza position was frequent, and so am very thankful for kenpo. Why? Its because it aligns with what I am - an english speaking American in the year 2007. So, we shake hands (a western tradition), and salute (a kenpo tradition) No bowing at all. But even if there was, I wouldn't put a whole lot of personal weight to it, positively or negatively.

    Cheers,

    Steven Brown
    UKF
    [/quote]

    Good post Steven, sounds like you have a great school that focuses on training rather than rituals. As far as who can tell me what I attach to something personally, you are right, no one living (except one) has that authority. But, this subject is brought up numerous times within Christian Holy Scripture ("bowing" unto graven images/idols). I turn to the Church to enlighten me upon Holy Scripture. Therefore, I will speak to my instructor as Rob has suggested, and will also speak to my Priest to help me understand what has been written. As you say, I may be putting to much in this, and I try to stay open-minded. Hopefully I will come up with a satisfactory solution.

    -Patrick

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    Default Re: Bowing and Kenpo

    The bows in kenpo are not bows of subjugation, and you are not bowing unto graven images/idols you are showing respect to where you have been, where you are and where you will go. Speak to your priest and he will probably assure you there is nothing wrong with bowing as part of a ceremony.

    I would still speak to the instructor first, ask what the belt ceremony entails, not everyone does the same thing.
    Quality outweighs quantity every time.

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    Last Post: 10-24-2006, 02:02 PM