Magazine • the Silk Thread of Gorindo
Silk Thread of Gorindo - October 2011 Ritsurei - The Meaning of the Bow Junbi undo - Preparation Warm-up

The Silk Thread of Gorindo - Ottawa - Canada

Issue 12

- The Meaning of the Bow - Ritsurei

- Junbi Undo Preparation - Warm-Up

- Pearls of Gorindo...

Photo cover Roxanne Standefer sensei, October 2011, by Claudio Iedwab


The Meaning of the Bow - Ritsurei


The ritsurei (standing bow) is done just before entering the dojo (place of study), as a preparation for training. Ritsurei indicates the beginning of the time spent in the dojo, a place where we grow individually and as a group. This moment is the turning point between daily activity and the beginning of serious Gorindo Martial Art practice.

Ritsurei is an important piece of the reishiki (dojo etiquette). Training begins and ends with bowing, as an expression of a genuine interior attitude. It is an expression of respect, honesty and courtesy. Ritsurei is performed as a transition step that helps us attain a clear attitude in our conscious mind. What we were doing before the class or session of practice is put outside the dojo, in order to concentrate on being fully in the moment. This step doesn’t mean that we obscure reality or are indifferent to it, on the contrary, it is precisely because we are so very aware that we must form our thoughts to focus our attention on our activity in the dojo, both for ourselves and for others. Dojo practice requires total attention, focus and dedication. The martial artist has to work hard to get the best performance in what he/she is doing, without distractions or worries in mind, avoiding disturbances that alter the final result. An open mind will allow you to experience the full range of emotional, spiritual and technical development that Martial Art training can offer.


Gorindo - Joe Pach & Ruth Chapple - Ritsurei


Training with the correct attitude is a very important premise in obtaining real results. The first thing that we learn and continue to practice in Gorindo is ritsurei.

Ritsurei begins in ready stance (feet shoulder width apart) with both closed hands in front of and just below the belt, elbows almost fully extended and each hand in line with the shoulder of the same side. The eyes are directed forward or looking to the sensei or the highest rank student at that moment inside the dojo. It is an attitude of respect that asks for permission to join in the training. In the event that there is not a student of higher level than you inside the dojo, focus your eyes forward looking to the floor, to symbolize humility and sincerity. Do the same when no one is inside the dojo.


From heiko-dachi (parallel stance, feet shoulder width apart pointing forward), sharply and smoothly bring your feet together (left to right), to assume heisoku-dachi, formal stance (feet together pointing forward). Shuto

At the same time form your hands in shuto position and with energy, firmly bring your palms to the side of your thighs. Bend the body 30° forward from the waist, and hold that position for the time that you feel will help you obtain the attitude that you need. Remember that when you bow to another person, the angle of the bow will be lower, and the time spent in that stance longer, depending on the respect that you wish to convey to the other person.

When do we perform ritsurei?

When we enter and leave the dojo (or any area that we have chosen to make special for training). Before and after class. Even when alone you bow to acknowledge to yourself a special moment for personal improvement.

Occasionally one has to leave the class to adjust a uniform or use the washroom. Bow to your partner and let them know where you are going and when you expect to return. Bow to the Sensei to ensure that he or she knows you are leaving the class and bow again on your return, capturing their attention so that they know that you are OK. If you feel unwell make sure that someone you feel comfortable knowing has been informed so that they can accompany you or check up on you if you fail to return in a timely manner.

Frequently, it is common to hear the expression “oss” when someone is bowing. This is a contraction of a very old expression from the samurai period, ose-shinobu (ose: command, and shinobu: patiently, with patience), thus accepting the command with patience.
Patience is a virtue that we have to exercise constantly in everything that we do, inside and outside the dojo. Patience to change or remain the same, patience to see mistakes and correct them, patience to learn and to teach, patience to live and enjoy life. It is not enough to know something, is necessary to practice it also.

Ritsurei is an excellent combination between what we think and feel and what we are doing, with the opportunity to show our intentions in motion. Give respect and you will receive it. Earn it by your own example.

by Claudio Iedwab & Roxanne Standefer

Originallly published in the Gorindo Student Manual and “The Secret Art of Health & Fitness – Uncovered from the Martial Arts Masters” by Claudio Iedwab & Roxanne Standefer

©2011 Photos & Illustrations by Claudio Iedwab



- The Meaning of the Bow - Ritsurei

- Junbi Undo Preparation - Warm-Up

- Pearls of Gorindo...


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