Bowing and Lining Up.

With in the Dojo (training area or hall) there are a number of things we do out of respect for our style, the club, the instructors and fellow students. While many of these things come from Japanese culture, they are equally applicable to our way of life and demonstrate our respect for ourselves and each other.

Arriving and leaving the training area.

When arriving at the training area, footwear of any kind is not permitted in the training area. You should stand at the entry to the training area and bow (from the waist). The same should also be done when leaving the training area. Take the time to stop, execute the bow, and  then enter or leave. Don’t rush it or hurry it. If you do, it may be perceived as being insulting and more disrespectful than not bowing at all.

Arriving late or leaving early.

Sometimes you arrive late. It’s a part of life that this does sometimes happen. We should try to be 15 minutes early to warm up before class. But if you are late, bow on entering the hall, get dressed ready to train and stand in Heiko Dachi showing the instructor that you’re ready to train. The instructor will then acknowledge your presence when they have finished what they’re doing with a bow, you bow back and you can then join the rest of the class (as per the instructor’s instruction).

Should you need to leave early, let the instructor know before class starts. At the appropriate time, stand in Heiko Dachi facing the instructor, who will then acknowledge you with a bow, you return the bow, move off the training floor, get changed and bow when leaving the training hall.

Lining up and bowing at the beginning and end of class.

Lining Up

The instructor or assistant instructor will call “Line Up” at the beginning of class. 

Students are to line up from from the left side of the training area, from the highest to lowest rank, standing shoulder to shoulder, in Heiko Dachi, looking straight ahead, not fidgeting. 

Make sure that you are in line with the person on your left. This means that your toes should not be in front of theirs, your toes should be be just behind being in the line with their toes. This shows respect for the more senior student, and ensures that the line is straight.

Where there are many students, you may have to line up in rows according to belt colour, with white belts being at the back of the hall and Brown belt, two black tags closest to the instructors. Within each row, you should still then line up from the left with the most senior student of that rank on the left.

One question that gets asked a lot is who is the more senior student within a rank (e.g. Who is the most senior green belt in a line of green belts?). The general rule is Senior student is higher than a Junior student and within that, the senior student who has been longest time at that rank is the higher, senior student. So it looks like (lining up from the left): 

  • Senior student (long time at that rank), 
  • Senior student (short time at that rank), 
  • Junior student (long time at that rank), 
  • Junior student (short time at that rank).

Now, having figured out where you stand in the line, and you’re standing there in Heiko Dachi, the instructor will usually call “Heiko Dachi” to get everyone’s attention and focus. Next your instructor will call "Musubi Dachi”, and everyone follows adopting the stance. There will then be one of two ways to go, either a less formal bow or more formal bow.


Informal Bow in and out of class

The less formal, and more common way is the instructor will call "Heisoku Dachi” (you adopt the stance) and then “Anderson Bushi Kai, Rei” at which point everyone will bow and hold the bow. After a respectful amount of time, the instructor will call “Note Rei”, and everyone will return to an upright position, still standing in Heisoku Dachi. The class will then begin under the instructor’s guidance.

Training bow

When you receive personal instruction (i.e. correcting a technique), you should bow to say thank you for the instruction.

When paired with another student, you should bow at the beginning of the pairing and at the end to say thank you being my partner.

When your instructor calls you out to help demonstrate something, bow when called out and then bow again when dismissed.

As a rule of thumb, never walk in front of another student, where possible always walk behind. If you have to walk in front, bow as you walk in front. Never walk in front of an instructor unless there is no other way!

Formal Bow in and out of class

More formally, the instructor will call “Seiza”, at which point everyone drops to the formal way of sitting on your legs. Left knee goes to ground first, then right knee, approximately one fist width apart (ladies), two fist widths (men). Then lower youself onto your ankles while maintaining good posture. While looking straight ahead, you hands should be placed high in your lap (touching your lower abdomen), as fists (up to brown belt) and open flat hands (brown belt and above). Generally the instructor will then call “Moksu” (meditation). At this point you close your eyes and breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth in a slow and unhurried manner. Once the mind has been cleared, the instructor will call “Moksu Yame” (stop meditating).

When bowing from Seiza, everyone bows to the point that their head is almost touching the floor (without the bottom rising into the air). At brown belt, the hands move with the left going behind the back, and the right hand (open handed) to the floor. At black belt both hands go to the floor in front (left first then right, and removed right first, then left at the end of the bow).

There will be a number of bows and they are, in order:

  • To the style, "Anderson Bushi Kai, Rei” then "Note Rei” (called by the highest instructor present)
  • The founder, “O’Kaicho Malcom Anderson, Rei”, then “Note Rei” (called by the highest instructor present)
  • The instructors “<instructor’s title>, Rei”, then Note Rei (starting with the highest ranked instructor and called by the next highest instructor) and so on until all instructors have been bowed to). This can take a while if there are a lot of instructors present. Note the last instructor (usually with the title “Sempai") has their bow called by the highest non-instructor student (e.g. back belt without a teaching title).
  • Whole class (students), “Zen-ni, Rei”, “Note Rei”  called by the second highest non-instructor student.

All the bows represent a respectful and humble way of saying "thank you for the instruction we are about to receive” With the last bow “Zen-ni” acknowledging that we all (instructors included) learn from each other and are thankful for that.

Gratitutde at the end of class.

At the end of class, after the last bow ending the class, the instructor will say, with a bow, to the class "Domo arigatou gozaimashta deshita” . It literally is the most polite way of saying thank you very much. For the instructor saying it to his or her students, its meaning is deeper. It means "thank you so much for training so hard, I am honoured to be able to instruct you and walk with you on your martial jounrey."

To which the students reply  ‘Domo arigatou gozaimashita <instructor’s title>.” Literally being the most polite way to say thank you again, but has deeper meaning when the students say it to their instructor. It means "Thank you for training us. Thank you for putting your faith in us,. Thank you for being so paitent with us and sharing your knowledge and skills with us."

© Brett Walker on behalf of Anderson Bushi Kai Sunshine Coast Region 2016