Judo Greece, E-judo (EN)
By Konstantin Atanasov - Skoutas
Rei – Symbol of peace & friendship
Thessaloniki, 20th February 2018
Crowd screaming inside the stadium, the blue and the yellow in the middle are glistening in the eyes of the two fighter Judokas. The heart is beating fast as both of them enter humbly the competition mat (tatami). There is sweat on their forehead. Before the fight, from far away, they look at directly in their opponents eyes. They step forward. Suddenly the loud voice of the referee takes place:
We are familiar with the fact that all Judo Competitions start and end with Rei, a bow or otherwise said a greeting or salutation. But what lies hidden in this gesture and what is its historical path? Is this a demonstration of vassalage or is it a symbol of respect for the opponent, as many believe? Which of the two and why? Why do everyone in the Dojo (where Judo and martials arts are practiced) and in the meeting rooms bow to each other? Is this just a typical curtsey, established by the people of martial arts? What does it really mean?
In Europe, bowing became popular the last few decades and mainly through martial arts, but unfortunately its comprehension isnt widely known until nowadays. The Europeans and the western people traditionally greet each other by handshaking the «right hand». In most cases we do not even realize why this simple movement has a major significance in human relationships. We use a handshake on a daily basis, but what this mean in reality, is something that do not even crosses our mind.
The handshake in the mists of antiquity, just like Rei, derives directly from «war». In previous years, before the industrialization of the Western society, the main weapon for millenniums was the sword. Usually the sword was held in the right arm of the armed soldier, without him knowing his fate. Over the years, the indication of our «empty» right hand begun to mark friendship and a peaceful gathering with our fellow man. Shaking his or her hand in fact is like telling him that we come in peace, we have no weapon, and in a way «Everything will be alright»!
Another example of greeting is that from our army. The gesture of the army derives from the middle ages, where knights and soldiers would take of their helmet in order to show that they come in peace and that they are not fully armed. This is where the current military gesture came from, which practically involves the exact same movement, with the difference that the helmets of that time are no longer in use.
In the country of the Rising Sun, Japan, the usual salutation is the indication of the back of the body by a small bow, precisely due to the fact that this is where the Samurai held their weapons.
The Mecca of Judo is Japan. So, all of us Judokas around the world, in order to salute our teammates, we show them our empty back and we point out to them that «We are so peaceful and friendly, that we do not even have a weapon on our back».
When stepping out of the tatami, in the applause and the voices of the audience, as hearing their breath, both athletes in order to show their gratitude and their respect to each other bow again (Rei) and say «Thank you» one another. Both of them gave the opportunity to their opponent to improve technically and spiritually through the fight, regardless of the outcome!
Judo through bowing (Rei) bring us all together, children and adults! In Thessaloniki, in Greece and everywhere! Through Judo, we all remain children and students forever!
Judo Basics - Rei (Bowing)
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Rei – Symbol of peace & friendship
Judo Greece, E-judo (EN), , Judo philosophy