5 Places to Demonstrate the Martial Arts Bow…And Why It’s Important

This week our life skill is a reminder of why we bow, and where we bow. The traditional martial arts bow that we use has no religious connotations—it’s a sign of respect, and it’s considered to be more formal (and less Covid-y) than a handshake. 

When in doubt—BOW!      

  1. At the door, coming and leaving. Every time you enter and leave, stop and bow and shout, “YES, I CAN!” This serves as a great reminder that we are about to demonstrate a black belt attitude, and will do our best!

2. Upon entering the mat to train. Our martial arts floor isn’t a place to goof off, but an area where we change our body and change our life. Honor that space, and bow on and off. 

3. When we see each other. As martial artists, our bow is like our “secret handshake,” and one of the things that separates us from other sports and activities. There are thousands of years of tradition wrapped up in martial arts, and when we bow to one another, we are showing mutual respect, and also honoring the traditions of our past. 

4. Before we fight (spar). Before each sparring match, we bow to our opponent. Not only does this show respect and good sportsmanship, but in our environment, it’s also us communicating that “I forgive you for your mistakes.” When we spar, sometimes people get hurt, things happen, and there’s an upset. Bowing at the beginning reminds us that we have already forgiven the mistake. We are here to learn, have fun, test our skills, and at the end of this match, be closer as brothers and sisters in martial arts. Egos be gone. 

5. BONUS Bow— Anywhere outside our martial arts school where we see another karate friend—BOW! If we see you in Starbucks or the grocery store, you’re about to get bowed to. Pay no attention to people wondering why the weirdos in aisle 5 are bowing. It’s our thing, remember?! 

As you continue your journey as a martial artist, take a tremendous amount of pride in how much you bow, but more importantly, how much respect you give as a human. 

Martial arts is more than kicking and punching—it’s an attitude. It’s a way of life, and we demonstrate that everywhere we go!

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