Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Please read this: Stop with the basterised bowing!

NO NO NO.... WRONG... Do not look at each other...
Why do we bow to each other in Taekwondo? Or in the martial arts for that matter? Some would probably say that we bow because of tradition, others would give the reason as to keep diccipline and others yet again would say to show respect (to your partners, teacher, the art, etc). I say that they are all correct:) But there is one thing that really annoys me. That make me shrugg, and I just can not keep silent anymore. I hope every Taekwondoin (in is Korean for people and person) reads this: Do NOT KEEP EYECONTACT DURING THE BOWING!!!!!!

Yes yes yes:-D This is a correct bow. Notice the eyes? You dont because you cant see them:D
Who am I to say this? First of, I am not Korean. I am not even of Korean origin:p I am merely a Norwegian that has studied Taekwondo for 11 years, and one of those years I studied in Korea (pluss I have done 7 shorter stays there as well). During my study, and my time spendt in Korea I got a different perspective on the cultural influences in our training (such as the bowing). The Koreans bow to show respect, and the act of bowing is a very humble one. You actually lower yourself or acknowledge that you are lower than the person you are bowing too. For example if you are a student and you meet your teacher you will bow first, and lower than the teacher (the teacher might just do a "nod" and not actually bow back).

As the bowing is a humble thing to do, you do not keep "eyballing" or giving the other "the look" them as many western people do in Dojang today. In the original Kukkiwon textbook (I do not think it is in the 2006 edition but I will check) how to bow is described in great detail. To perform a correct Taekwondo bow you bend from the waist 45 degrees, and your neck 15 degrees (this mean that you are looking down so stop looking at me!!!) The "keep your eyes on your oponent at all times myth"comes from James Bond movies from the 70s and Bruce Lee in enter the dragon. As we find ourselves practising in real life, doing the traditional art of Taekwondo we should strive to do the bow correctly and not in its western basterised form. Think about it; if you find yourself training under a Korean master and you keep eyecontact during the bow then you are insulting him. He might think to himself that it is ok because you are a foreigner, but in the end he must be as annoyed as I was last night when I practised and all my training partners gave me the "I keep my eyes on you in case you want to kick me in the nuts look". I did not feel respected then if my training partners actually think that I would do that to them, and I do not think they would do it to me either. I show respect to my training partners, and I show that I trust them so much that I look down on the floor when I am bowing.

I suggest that if you are doing "imported Korean culture" in your training (lining up, speaking Korean, bowing etc then you should strive to do it correct, or you should just do it in your own cultures way. DO NOT INVENT PSEUDO KOREAN CULTURE because of your own ignorance. So if you have read this post I want you to join my quest and educate people to stop doing Taekwondo in James Bond style and start doing Taekwondo the Taekwondo style.

As always, please feel free to comment below.


  1. I totally agree with you

  2. hey it's the same person as last time and I still totally agree with you, I have been doing more research and if u look at the other person during a bow then that shows that you don't trust them.

    1. Thanks for commenting, agreeing, and for you further research as well as still agreeing with me:-) Spread the word:)

  3. Interesting post. I Have Been wondering about this issue, so thanks for posting. Pretty cool post.It 's really very nice and Useful post.Thanks
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