There are a lot of things we do in the martial arts that are not typically done by most people on a day-to-day basis. Bowing, is one of those things. Bowing (lowering your torso and head as a gesture) is a sign of respect, traditionally found in Asian cultures. At Kaizen Karate we bow into and out of each class. Students will line up on their knees, facing their instructor. They will then repeat the words, “Charyuht. Kyung nae.” This literally means “Attention. Bow” in Korean. We are showing our respect for the class. But, that is not the only time we bow in karate. We bow right before and after we perform a kata. We also bow before and after we spar someone. If you really want to be respectful, here are other times you can bow:
• When you are entering and leaving the dojang (training hall)
• When you are working with a partner on a drill, before and after
• When you see a black belt for the first time that class
Karate is a skill that takes a long time to develop. It is handed down from teacher to student and takes many, many years to become proficient. We bow to show our respect because as students we honor those who take the time to teach us and help us on our journey to blackbelt. We also bow to show our respect for the place we practice in, and we bow to show our respect to the other students whom we battle with and practice with, but in the end, are our friends and colleagues on this journey.
As your mother probably told you at some point in your life, good manners never go out of style and are always a good thing to do. Likewise, showing respect to your coaches, fellow students, friends and family is always a good thing to do, and you will likely be the recipient of their respect in return. Furthermore, it sets a good example for others, and generally creates good will and a feeling of camaraderie. So, bow often and show your respect. It can only enhance your martial arts experience, and help bring your one step closer to being a true blackbelt.
-Coach David Matusow-