U.S. Judo Training Center
355 Rainier Av. N
Renton, WA 98055
Judo Bowing is Religion Disguised as "Tradition"
Why is bowing to mats and pictures required in almost all judo clubs?
What is the effect of this bowing on the American judo practitioner?
Judo Bowing is Religious
Judo was founded in the Eisho Temple, Tokyo, (1) while Shinto cult leaders fought to extend "to the four compass points" the rule of their "divine" emperor, considered the "only rightful ruler on earth." (3)
Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan, required bowing to "kami" (gods or spirits of nature) and to the emperor's picture. (4) Such bowing is prohibited by the Bible. (5) Japanese Christians and others who objected to this forced bowing were told it wasn't religious, (6) just their patriotic duty. "Patriotic Duty" carried a far different meaning in Japan than in the United States. See excerpt (7) for a vivid illustration of this point.
State Shinto was outlawed by General Douglas MacArthur at the Japanese surrender in WWII. (4) Yet today, judo practitioners who protest required bowing to inanimate objects--mats and pictures of Jigoro Kano--are told it's not religious, just traditional duty. Same story, different century!
Today, people all over Japan express thanks for the American conquest of Japan, because it broke the "stranglehold of the Shinto faith." (8)
Jews have faced execution rather than submit to forced bowing to inanimate objects. (9)
Judo can exclude Muslims, since the gesture of bowing is reserved for Allah alone. (10)
Bowing Weakens Americans in Judo
The Japanese forced POWs to bow to them. (11) Today, forced bowing in judo clubs results in subservience (12) and uncritical adherence to ineffective or harmful training techniques.
Many judo clubs in Europe (13) and Tokyo (14) do not enforce bowing. Yet it is almost impossible to find such a club in the United States. (15)
American judo has failed for 100 years, including over 50 years of organized failure since 1952, under four conflicting organizations. Unlike athletes in other Olympic sports, Americans in judo are pretending to be Shinto. It isn't working.
Bowing to spirits of mats and pictures of dead people is Shinto and violates Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Uncritical obedience to Shinto brought disaster on Japan in WWII. Shinto hasn't helped judo in the United States, either. Many Americans distrust judo's Shinto religious rituals disguised as "tradition."
Let judo be a sport, not a cult.
Stop forced bowing to spirits!
1. Judo, the Kodokan, Nunoi Shobo Co., Ltd., Osaka, Japan, 1961, p. 110
2. Shinto, the Kami Way, by Sokyo Ono, Professor, Kokugakuin University, Charles E. Tuttle Co., Tokyo, 1962, pp 1-6.
3. Shinto, World Religions, by Paula R. Hartz, Facts on File, Inc., New York, NY, 1997, p. 69
4. Orbis, Spring, 1998, The Enigmatic Japanese Spirit, by G. Cameron Hurst III, Director of the Center for East Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania
5. Deuteronomy 4.19 "And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars--all the heavenly array--do not be enticed into bowing down to them..."
Exodus 20.4-5 (in the 10 commandments) "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them..."
6. Japan's national broadcasting company, NHK, conducted a survey in the early 1980s. 65% of Japanese said they were not religious. Yet some 75% have Shinto or Buddhist altars in their homes; almost 90% visit ancestral graves on the specified festivals.(4) Most Japanese think of religion differently from Americans. This is why they think that bowing to the spirits of inanimate objects is not religious.
7. "The Japanese military tradition had a distinctive, almost unique element. Whereas German soldiers were told to kill, Japanese soldiers were told to die. The cruel character of the Japanese military is evident from the beginning of its modernization at the end of the nineteenth century. In the military code for the imperial navy and army (Kairikugun Keiritsu), issued in 1872, surrender, escape, and all other actions by which soldiers might save their lives in situations of unavoidable defeat were punishable by death. The system made no allowance for conscientious objectors. Any soldier who would not obey military rules and his commander’s orders was shot on the spot, without a charge against the one who shot him. Furthermore, people feared that such an offense by a soldier would lead to the punishment of his immediate and extended family members, just as during the Edo period the government warned that “crime extends to five generations and punishment to five affinal relationships” (tsumi godai ni oyobi batsu gozoku ni wataru)—that is, the punishment of a large number of people related to him by blood and marriage. These rules were intended to hold an entire kin group responsible for the actions of an individual and, thus, to reinforce the social pressure on soldiers to obey orders. In practice the system suppressed complaints by soldiers’ parents and made soldiers fearful of committing any violation, let alone defection. As the military government turned Japan into a police state, all those who refused to comply with its orders were jailed. By the 1940s, many had been tortured to death, decimating the ranks of known dissidents and deterring others from expressing any opinions that might be considered hostile to the state. In Japan, the military government left no room for political or guerrilla resistance movements like those in Germany, France, and other countries ruled or occupied by fascists."
Excerpt from pages 1-11 of Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, published by the University of Chicago Press. ©2006 by the University of Chicago. All rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that this entire notice, including copyright information, is carried and provided that the University of Chicago Press is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the University of Chicago Press. (Footnotes and other references included in the book may have been removed from this online version of the text.)
8. The Price of Freedom, by Doug Phillips, Vision Forum, San Antonio, TX, 2002, p. 2
9. See the Book of Daniel, chapter 3, for a vivid example.
10. Declaration of Brannon M. Wheeler, United States District Court at Seattle, No. C97-0286D, page 2
11. The Rising Sun, Arthur Zich, Time-Life, Inc., 1977, p. 165
12. Manwatching, A Field Guide to Human Behavior, by Desmond Morris, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, New York, NY, 1977, pp. 142-146.
13. The New York Times, Monday, January 6th, 1997, p. A-6
14. Declaration of Kurt A. Thompson, United States District Court at Seattle, C97-0286D, page 7
15. Bowing to mats or a picture of a dead person (Jigoro Kano) is required in almost all American judo clubs. U.S. Judo Training Center in Renton, WA, has proven, however, that success is possible without Shinto rituals. Bowing to mats was required in all judo tournaments until January, 2003, when the IJF, the International Judo Federation, changed the tournament rules. Bowing to the mat before and after a match is now optional. Bowing to the opponent at the beginning and end of each mat is still required. If you want to enjoy and excel in judo in the Seattle area without practicing Shinto, join us at U.S. Judo Training Center in Renton!
"Shin-to," the indigenous religion of Japan, means "the way of the kami/gods." The "torii," shown here, is the typical gateway to Shinto temple grounds.(2) The torii is often seen in judo clubs. Equating the judo club with a temple is why many judo clubs require bowing upon entering the building in addition to bowing to the mat.
An "insurance policy" is bestowed on a new car by a priest at a Shinto shrine, National Geographic, November, 1991. Bowing to inanimate objects, whether cars, mats, or pictures of dead people, is part of Shinto.
A picture of Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo, is the object of bowing at many judo clubs and tournaments.
Women POWs are forced to bow to their Japanese Captors. (11)
Don't be misled: bowing is not the same as shaking hands, as some say. Here, the president of a Japanese corporation, on the right, does not bow as low as one of the company's associates, on the left, National Geographic, November, 1991. Unlike shaking hands, bowing demonstrates subservience. Besides, who shakes hands with a mat or a picture of a dead person?
Equal bowing between opponents, once before and once after each match, is the only required bowing in judo contests. It is no longer required to practice the Shinto rituals of bowing to mats and pictures of dead people. (15)
Another Coach Sees the Light
"Some of the things that I think keep adults from participating in traditional martial arts are: training with kids; not having enough time; perceived as dangerous; doesn't help them meet thieir fitness goals; and too much emphasis on the formalities like bowing and being beholden to the instructor."
--Jim Graden, developer of Cardio Karate, the NAPMA Fitness Kickboxing Certification, The Ultimate Bodyshaping Course (UBC), and UBC for Kids
Miss Manners on Bowing
Here's an interesting article about bowing, borrowed from Miss Manners (Judith Martin). If you're ever in a situation where you are pressured to bow to royalty of another country, you have it on Miss Manners' authority that, as an American, you should not.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: At Wimbledon time, we're always subjected to the sight of American tennis players bowing or curtseying to the royals in the box! I thought it was inappropriate for Americans to bow to foreign royalty under any circumstances. But my co-workers tell me it would be very bad manners for the Americans not to do so because the tennis players are not there in an official government capacity. I say it doesn't make any difference. I recall a flap in Washington some years ago when the wife of the American ambassador to Great Britain was photographed curtseying to the queen, and she was severely criticized for it. What do you say?
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners blushes to have to say that she is the one who caused that flap, back in her days as an intrepid young reporter. She thought it her duty to reassure the nation that we had not, in fact, reverted to colonial status, when we would have to bow down before temporal leaders. Although your co-workers are quite incorrect, Miss Manners cannot agree with you that it makes no difference. This gesture is not an ordinary bit of foreign etiquette one might adopt out of courtesy when traveling. It is a sign of obeisance. Even the British do not perform this to any royalty but their own. Americans do not properly bow to any royalty. We show respect for other countries' leaders the same way we do to our own, except that we give them the added courtesy of not telling them how to run their respective governments.
United Feature Syndicate, June 27th, 2001
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U.S. Judo Training Center
355 Rainier Av. N
Renton, WA 98055