Why do you bow so much in Karate class?

This is of course a question: Why do you bow a lot in karate class? In this article I will answer that very question. The reason for bowing in karate class is Respect. You bow when you come into karate class and leave karate class.

You bow to your opponent before sparring because you respect them.

You should bow from the waist and keep your neck straight, bow not too low, but not a nod of the head either, somewhere in between. The first bow you do when you sit on the ground is to respect the art of karate. The second bow is to the sensei, to acknowledge them for teaching your style of karate, and the third bow is to your fellow karate students.

The sequence to bowing is lower belt first and then the higher belt bows, as in, if you were a yellow belt, and you had to bow to a higher belt, you would bow first. When you bow, look like you mean it. That way, if you mean it when you respect someone they will know and respect you too.

When you should definitely bow is when someone bows to you.

So when you bow, you should not be thinking about that new toy you want to buy, you have to focus.

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5 Responses to Why do you bow so much in Karate class?

  1. The bow, as you say Sandra, is a sign of respect. Respect for your sensei, each other, and all those who came before you and made your art what it is. But notice the sensei is bowing back. Respect is a two-way street, and the best sensei realize that.

    It is also a greeting, very common in asian countries, where most of our arts originated. I am enjoying reading your blog. It is very good to see martial arts from the eyes of a beginner.

    • sandra says:

      Thank you Sensei Matt! True, I think the respect I got from my sensei at my dojo goes a very long way to how good I feel about karate. You sound like a great sensei, too! 🙂

  2. Dojo says:

    Bowing is a sign of respect indeed and, even if it might be weird for some, I always enjoyed doing it. Karate is a lot about respect too, so I see no problems with a bit of bowing 😉

  3. Zachary says:

    Sensei Bill, the Dojo-cho where I train, has said that bowing is part of etiquette, and etiquette shows that we care. We care that the teacher is willing to teach, that the student is willing to learn; we care that our training partners are there help us improve, etc.

  4. Sanyukta Aggarwal says:

    Thanks for this post….
    But one more thing I want to known is, why do we bow so much in between class? like, say, we finished one part, and then we bow before having a break, then again after beginning again….sometimes just bow after finishing a part and then immediately begin again! whys that?

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