An old saying states, "Karate begins and ends with manners"
Often new students wonder why we bow in Taekwondo class. Many are concerned that bowing may have some religious significance—it does not. While it may be used in religious settings, it is not a religious gesture. In Korea, and other Eastern cultures, the bow is used in business or social situations that have no relationship to religion. It is said that Joe Lewis, karate champion and founder of contact karate, when asked why he did not bow, said that since he did not bow to his own mother, why should he bow to anyone else. In Western culture, we shake hands to greet someone, to congratulate someone, and to express gratitude. Using Mr. Lewis' logic, since he does not shake hands with his mother when he meets her, he must also not shake hands with anyone else. In Eastern culture, bowing expresses the same functions as handshakes and other physical greetings. An old saying states, "Grain droops as it ripens." Only a few hundred years ago, in European society, a courtly bow was a considered a form of greeting. The bow is used as:
- A greeting (as when entering a business meeting),
- A symbol of some sort of combined accomplishment or mutual understanding (such when signing a contract), or as
- A display of gratitude (as when receiving an award).
- Next >>