The meaning of the Bow
The seated bow (zarei) is a beautiful tradition. It symbolizes gratitude and respect.
On this picture, we see Aikido founder, Morihei Ueshiba demonstrating the proper seated bow.
The back is flat, and there is no space between the fingers and the hands are displayed in a triangle shape.
Regarding the head position and how low do we bow?
Based on the rank of the students, the lower the rank, the lower the student bow however it is also a sign of humbleness to bow low. Most of the time, all students bow at the same level.
Wrong bow: rounded back and the bottom is raised...
Exception: If the student has some physical limitations, it is then appropriate to bow based on its own abilities. Then, it is respectful.
When do we bow?
At the beginning of the class when the instructor is opening the class.
Before and after practicing the techniques with another student.
After listening to the instructor's explanations or corrections.
And finally, at the end of the class when the instructor is closing the class.
Aikido is Budo so we train and we discipline ourselves to always improve our skills. It helps to forge the body and the spirit. Shoshin is the beginner spirit. Be humble, be respectful and train!