The «Rei» (bow), a tree that hides the forest of «Rei Gi» (Code of politeness, courteousness and affinity)…
This bow has very often been «retrieved» by sports whose practice no longer has anything martial about it and that now only corresponds to an extreme oriental folklore whose meaning we know nothing about. If the bow is performed any old how, soullessly (without Kokoro), it is useless.
The following assertion is the very essence of Budo: «Budo starts with the Rei Gi and ends with the Rei Gi ».
How many times have I observed students who bow at the beginning of a lesson even though they have arrived late, or have missed the previous lesson, or with a dirty training kit etc…, without having apologised first to their teacher.
An attitude like this takes away the meaning of the Rei, or even conversely makes it more of an insult than a token of politeness.
In traditional practice this does not exist, since it is the Sensei’s responsibility to educate the deshi in his understanding of the Rei Gi, and then to perfectly educate him about the details of an Elysium Rei (l'Élysée). I always say that the Rei is the first technique to be studied when taking up a martial art. And just like the other techniques, progress is never ending.
A Rei performed incorrectly shows a lot about how the student practices and about the way the teacher teaches.
In the Rei, each person must therefore consider it to be his primary responsibility to show all the respect that he holds for his Sensei, his Senpai and every person that has enabled him to be where he is.
I recall a text that Sensei IKEDA Shigeo liked to recite and that perfectly expresses how the heart and soul of the person bowing must be:
« Daily practise on the state of the mind, the conscience, positive energy and determination is expressed by five key works:
Firstly «Yes»: having a pure state of mind and way of being that is willing and available for immediate action.
Firstly «Sorry»: having a state of mind and way of being that are ready to shamelessly recognise mistakes and apologise for them.
Firstly «Thanks to you»: having a state of mind and way of being whose modesty expresses gratitude towards others without whom we do not exist.
Firstly «I will do it»: having a state of mind and way of being that enables sacrifice and service to others.
Firstly «Thank you»: having a state of mind and way of being that enables gratitude and thanks»