The Importance of Bowing on and Off the Mat

Maybe not every academy does this, but in our gym people bow when they get on and off the mat. It may seem silly to many, especially to beginners, but there really is a point and purpose behind the action.

It shows respect: respect for your academy, the sport, and your fellow teammates for taking the time to train with you that day. Bowing also shows gratitude for the same things. You are giving your thanks for being able to get on the mat and training that day, for having a place to train in the first place and partners to train with that day, for helping you improve and get one step closer to the next level of mastery.

How about you guys? Do you bow on and off the mat? Let me know- otherwise, have a great day!

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “The Importance of Bowing on and Off the Mat

  1. We bow on/off the mat and in/out of the dojang. I think the most important meaning to me is acknowledging a space where standards of behavior are higher because what we do is potentially dangerous. We place so much trust in each other, that it must be acknowledged and respected.

    In this case, respect means acknowledgement. I acknowledge and will act according to the knowledge that I am capable of destruction and that people are trusting me to keep them safe. I acknowledge my respsonsibility to self and others.

    Great post!

  2. Not a custom in our gym but I’ve gotten in to the habit of doing now that I help with the kid’s program. Jiu-Jitsu in America has kind of lost some of it’s traditions. For example we go to a Judo club once a month and tradition there plays a more important roll than I’ve seen elsewhere. It’s interesting and something that I wish I would see more of.

  3. I absolutely bow before getting on and and getting off the mat. For me, it not only shows my respect for my sport, but it is my way of telling myself to leave everything else behind because I am now in my training world and nothing else matters here but my training. It is how I am able to transition.

  4. MajaEL95

    I usually train karate and we bow all the time. we bow before entering the room, we bow before we start class, we bow before working on basics, before each kata, before drilling with eachother, sparring with eachother and doing padwork and we bow after each of the said things.
    to me bowing when entering and leaving the dojo is out of respect for the art and for what we get to learn. bowing before training is three times, the first is towards the front, second to sensei, third to each other. this is a part of mentally preparing for training. we do the same thing after class.
    and bowing before hitting each other feels pretty obvious. it’s a way of showing others while also reminding ourselves that we bear each other no ill will and that we appreciate what our partner does for us by giving us someone to train with.

    those two wonderful days where I had the opportunity to train bjj they did not bow on and off the mat. to me that felt so weird and I just bowed anyways.

    I don’t really think the bowing makes such a difference. the club I visited had a very friendly and respectful environment even without bowing fifty times during class 😉 not bowing is not horrible, bowing is not horrible either. I think it’s a good thing and it might be that it helps contribute to an atmosphere of respect, but in the end the way the instructors teach and lead by example is much more important to create a safe dojo.

  5. At my club, we bow in to Helio, bow in to the assistant instructor and instructor. The assistant and instructor bow to each other. We bow in and off the mat. At the end, we bow out to Helio, out to the instructor and assistant, and the assistant and instructor bow out to each other. Then we all line up, highest belt to lowest, and shake hands.

    I try to say thank you to those people in particular who helped me that class when we shake hands. Showing gratitude is just as important as showing respect. Though, honestly, I try to say something nice to every one, even if it’s just “nice to see you again,” or “$Naaaaaaame.”

    It’s especially important for me to show gratitude, because I have lived in many towns where I would not have had the opportunity to train. It is also important to show respect, not just for Helio and the instructors, but, for each other. Every time I bow in and off the mats, I feel that I am saying that I will treat my partners bodies with the same respect I treat my own.

  6. I don’t bow on my own. It feels to traditional and forced based on my personality. I show respect other ways. You know, through words and stuff. There is a gi class I occasionally attend, and as a group, we bow to Helio and then to each other. I get a REALLY weird feeling doing that, though.

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