Bethea's Karate Studio

119 West Sycamore Street
Kokomo, IN 46901

(765)452-4286

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The Bow

The “Bow” is a symbolic conveyance of respect and honor to your fellow man. Primarily, it is seen in cultures out side of the of the United States. Sometime ago while at a tournament, Mr. Keeney asked the question; “Why do you bow to the next competitor?” An answer was that “I saw Mr. Bethea doing it and I started doing it.”

I thought that I should take the opportunity to share with anyone, interested, why I have always been one to bow to my fellow competitors. First, I believe in God and I believe that God gave me karate first to help me find myself and then to help other people to find themselves. I have given my life to the study and teachings of the martial arts. I value all that I’ve learned, the people I’ve met, and the places to which I’ve traveled. In all of this, it is important that I have put something out there that young boys, young girls, and even adults of all ages to take from me and use to better their homes, their community, and/or their country. In the code it says that “The ideal of karate is to cultivate noble character and conducts and the virtue of modesty and courtesy”. This is where the bow comes in.

Today, we are living in a world where nobody is willing to accept responsibility for their own actions and certainly not the actions of others. However; most men and women would like to be remembered for their character and their conduct. I dare not say that I am above all others but I have certainly tried to make a difference. I sincerely believe that the “Bow” adds greater character and dignity to an art/sport that often appears to be and is very violent. There is something special about men and women who are always honoring their fellow martial artists with a bow. This is especially so when they pair off for kumite. So, could it be the sensei who was willing to establish a tradition of bowing that helped to stop some young person from picking up a gun to take a life. Or could it be the drug addict that saw something special that made him/her want to make a change in his/her life; or maybe that young girl/boy who had lost all respect for himself/herself and now realizing that they are somebody. The list could go on and on but I think you may now understand the reason for the “bow” in what has been said already.

The “Bow” from me is symbolic of the respect and honor that I have for you or anyone as a human being. No, I don’t give it to those who are not practitioners of the martial arts because they don’t understand. If in Japan it would be different. However; it is the same whether or not I am competing. In entering and leaving the “dojo” there is more for which I will not take the time now. Now, you may have more or less to say about this if you have practiced this as I have. Yes, I wanted others to perpetuate the “bow” because of the character and dignity that it brings to what I’ve given my life, “Karate”.

Eddie B Bethea, Jr.