martial arts

When Do You Salute?

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When Do You Salute?

 

It was a long-established military custom for

juniors to remove their head gear in the presence

of superiors. In the British Army as late as the

American Revolution, a soldier saluted by removing

his hat. But, with the advent of a more cumbersome

head gear in the 18th and 19th centuries, the act

of removing one’s hat was gradually converted into

the simpler gesture of grasping the visor and

issuing a courteous salutation. From there, it

finally became conventionalized into something

resembling our modern hand salute. As early as

1745, a British order book states that: “The men

are ordered not to pull off their hats when they

pass an officer, or to speak to them, but only to

clap up their hands to their hats and bow as they

pass.” The salute has always been used to indicate

a sign of RESPECT.

 

I usually don’t salute to anyone. In the

traditions that I was brought up in, it is

customary to bow. This morning, as I walked down

the beach, someone was gliding by with a parachute

that had a big fan attached to it. He was around

fifty feet above the water, it looked very cool.

As I raised my right arm to block the sun to watch

him, a guy sitting in front of me saluted me back.

I guess he was in the military and that was his

natural response.

 

When I was twelve or thirteen years old, I was

destroying too much stuff around the house. My

mother was at her wit’s end. She wanted to take me

to the doctors and have him give me a drug to calm

me down. But, my Dad said, “No way, I’ll handle

this!” He put me in martial arts classes right

after school. By the time I got home after

practice, I wasn’t destroying anything. I just

wanted to eat and go to sleep. I was taught

discipline at every class. I remember that, when

we walked onto the training room, we paused and

bowed before we entered. My teacher explained that

when we bowed, we were showing respect for the

masters and the dojo or the place where we

practiced. Since then, I always bow when I walk

into any martial arts school, regardless of the

style that they practice there. When I walk into a

meditation hall or temple, I always automatically

bow as well.

 

In most martial arts schools, bowing is very much

a part of their culture and tradition. Whether it

is bowing when you enter the school, to

classmates, or to instructors, most schools have

this as a normal practice. The act of bowing is a

social gesture seen in just about every culture

throughout the world. This was often done as a

sign of respect or gratitude. The bow, and the

phrase, “Namaste,” which literally means, “I bow

to you” is commonplace in most yoga classes. In

Japan, the bow takes on an all-new meaning based

upon the situation, depth of the bow, and the

length of time it is held. The Japanese believe

that the head is the most important part of the

body. By bowing, they are showing their respect

and gratitude. The early training that I had as a

child has taught me to have more respect and

gratitude for others, including the teacher and

the teachings.

 

I wish you the best in your Health, Wealth and

Happiness.

 

Dr. Wu Dhi

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