At Calgary Aikikai Aikido Club, we train in the traditional Japanese way. We believe that, as well as the techniques we practice, we are also learning good behaviour and the right mindset for improving ourselves in the world outside the dojo.

The concept of rei (礼) means “gratitude” and “politeness” and is the most important element of respect and appreciation in the dojo, as well as in Japan at large. Rei is expressed by bowing, as is the custom in all Japanese martial arts. We bow when entering or leaving the dojo, coming onto the mat, to the kamiza (“upper seat”), to the sensei, to each training partner, to our weapons, etc.

Bowing should always be done sincerely as a meaningful gesture. It should not be done merely as an obligation. A bow that is done without thought is meaningless and impolite.

In Japanese culture, bowing does not represent worship or subservience but, rather, gratitude and respect. Rei is a major component of traditional martial arts training and connects directly with safety and honourable behaviour.

However, we also understand that for some people, the physical act of bowing has strict implications that are unavoidable, due to their personal religious convictions. While we expect that most students should observe the traditional way of practicing rei, exceptions can be made for those who cannot bow for other reasons than as an expression of worship. For these individuals, we expect that rei will be shown by a different gesture, such as a hand on the heart with a nod of the head. It is important that everyone on the mat feels safe and appreciated.

If a student feels that they have a personal problem with bowing in the dojo, they should speak with the Dojo-cho or Children’s Programme Coordinator.

Calgary Aikikai Aikido Club is dedicated to providing a welcoming, safe and respectful environment for all. To express rei in the dojo is to practice with an open heart and a willingness to learn.