Page 6 of 10
How to bow
- Motion. Bend at the waist, keep back straight, and do not bob your head. Inhale when bowing, exhale, and then inhale while rising up. The breathing helps convey your sincerity through your body language. Bow smoothly, both while descending and ascending, do not jerk back upward.
- Hands. Hand position varies according the protocol of individual schools. Some schools let arms and hands hang naturally at the sides, some schools keep arms and hands straight down the sides of the legs, and other schools use various types of hand positions, such as the enclosed fist position. Hands are never, never slapped on the sides of the thighs.
- Eyes. When bowing as a sign of respect and trust, such as in the traditional bow, the back and neck are kept straight, so the eyes are lowered. Eastern cultures consider looking up with your face when you bow to be rude. When you bow to an opponent in class or completion, you never expect an attack, and you would never bow to an attacker anyway, so always lowering the eyes in a bow is the correct way to bow. However, some, me included, think that when facing an opponent, even in a controlled environment such as in class or a tournament, that you should maintain a warrior spirit that prepared for battle by only bowing slightly so you may keep your eyes on your opponent (do not bend so far you have to bend the neck to look up). In a combat bow, you are still bowing as a sign of respect, but you watch the opponent. As President Reagan said "Trust, but verify."
- Words. Normally, you do not speak while bowing except for short statements, such a "Yes sir!" "Thank you ma'am!" etc.