In the dojo, as in the Orient, the bow is a sign of respect for sensei, respect for one’s training for oneself. This attitude of respect is basic to the understanding of the philosophy of the martial arts. As in the West, the bow is also a greeting as is our handshake. There is no religious significance to the bow as performed in a dojo. When a jujutsuka bows in a dojo it represents that he or she respects the dojo, the sensei, and their classmates to a point where they have focused their attention to the task at hand and are ready to begin or end a training session.
A bow is appropriate:
When entering and leaving the dojo.
When beginning and ending the class.
When stepping on and off the tatami.
When beginning and ending a kata.
When greeting another martial artist.
When beginning and ending a kumite or match.
When beginning and ending a rank examination.
When being promoted to higher rank.
TYPE OF BOWS
There are two basic types of bows; the Zarei (zah-raee), the formal kneeling bow, and the ritsurei (rit-soo-raee). The information standing bow. The zarei is generally performed during formal occasions such as a rank promotion or when one is performing a sword kata. The ritsurei is the most commonly performed bow and is the type utilized when entering and leaving the dojo, beginning and ending class etc…
There is a third type of bow, the ki-rei (kee-raee), which can be applied to both the zarei and ritsurei. The kirei could best be described as a “salute bow” and is performed toward a person or a place of honor such as the Soke or the “joseki” (jo-sekee). A joseki is a place of honor; it could amount to as simple a thing as a picture placed in a strategic place, or a collection of treasured memorabilia, such as a sword or war medals.