Today, when training kata, there was an elderly gentleman watching me whilst doing walking laps. He later politely asked if he could help me refine my お辞儀 (ojigi); namely, my 立礼 (ritsurei/standing bow) before and after kata.
To cut a long story short, by the time he came over to me, he had already observed me going through five kata: 鉄騎初段 (Tekki Shodan), 拔塞大 (Bassai Dai), 燕飛 (Enpi), 王冠 (Wankan) and 五十四歩大 (Gojushiho Dai).
Anyway, I gladly accepted his offer as I’m always pleased to learn new skills or refine existing ones. Besides this, and the despite the advanced age of the man, he also appeared very fit, physically strong, and emitted strong self confidence.
As it turned out, later I learned that the gentleman has spent his life in Japan’s FDMA (Fire and Disaster Management Agency).
Kindly, he had no objective to undermine my bow, however, he said ‘it can be made perfect’. To briefly summarize, to achieve this, he emphasized that I should bow around one centimeter less deep. Furthermore, that I should focus on the bending at the waist and not breaking of the head and neck posture.
Now, if you know my ojigi and my shisei (posture), you will know that my alignment is very good. That being said, he stated in Japanese that: “…it could be even better”. In particular, “by maintaining an extremely strict head and neck posture” in conjunction with aforementioned advice (about one centimeter less deep in the bow). In fact, the adjustment made was basically imperceptible, however, it made a difference, which I could immediately feel.
Taken as a whole, it was a great opportunity for me to refine my ritsurei and, accordingly, I’m very thankful to this gentleman. Isn’t it great that something ‘as seemingly simple as a bow’ can still be further refined. 押忍!