OK, we didn't do so well defining 'chi'! Perhaps we need an example of another Martial Art ritual that most teachers don't properly explain while performing dozen of times in every class. Just like we use the word "chi" or "spirit" to define a term that may mean something entirely different to every student and may not come close to what the instructor intended to convey.
Recently, a Mom sued a Judo club because the teacher made her daughter bow before stepping onto the mat. This might have been prevented had the teacher simply defined what the bow represented in his dojo. Here is an example of how one dojo solves this problem by letting the students know up front, exactly what the bow means in this dojo.
In the last topic, I thought a good first step would be to define all the words we are arguing about, to see what they mean to the people who throw them about so readily. Somehow the topic got sidetracked chasing fairies and ailiens. Lets try again. . .gem
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>With regards to the thread on karate and religion, the following article is adapted from a handout given to all new members to our dojo. I thought of submitting it just to address my viewpoint.
I am a practising Muslim with students from all major religious groups. Sometimes when Parents questions the Shin Zen (Kamiden) - I can tell them that as I personally am a Muslim, I do not bow to another deity and coupled with this article, it makes things so much easier. "Rei de Hajimari Rei de Owari" - Karate begins and ends with courtesy
We hope that the following points will give the student an insight into the rituals, etc. of Ashihara Karate so as to obtain a better understanding. Your training at the dojo is partly steeped in tradition and ritual and some of our customs may be subject to misinterpretation. Confusion sometimes arises over the significance of the Shin Zen (Shinden) and the purpose of bowing and kneeling.
The Shin Zen has absolutely no religious meeting, but merely serves as the ceremonial centre of the dojo. As you know, respect is a cornerstone of not only Ashihara Karate, but all other Martial Arts. Respect for the dojo, instructors, fellow students, and most important of all yourself. Bowing is a gesture which serves as an external manifestation of this respect. When we bow to the dojo, we need a symbolic centre to which we direct this gesture of respect and appreciation.
The Shin Zen serves this purpose by representing the symbolic centre of the dojo's total essence. This is the Shin Zen's sole significance. Bowing, as mentioned above is external manifestation of respect. It connotes appreciation and courtesy and in no way is associated with an attitude of subservience. Instructors bow to Juniors as well as Students to Instructors, and Seniors bow to Juniors as well as Juniors to Seniors. Respect and appreciation flows both ways.
Kneeling down to meditate and to begin and end each class is sometimes also misunderstood. The very idea of kneeling or dropping to one's knees is often thought of as a gesture of subservience. It is important to realise that in the Japanese society, as in other Oriental Societies, kneeling is merely a common way of sitting.
People kneel to eat, converse and carry on many normal activities. To kneel down is in oriental parlance, to sit down. However, if any student do find this position objectionable, they are welcome to sit with their legs crossed.
Ashihara Karate seeks neither to support or interfere with a student's practice of his or her religious faith. Ashihara's goals are the attainment of a strong mind and body and the integration of the two.