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July 16, 2017

Why is greeting important?

A few weeks ago, I saw a child dressed in a dogi. When other adults, also dressed in dogi, said “Hello!” to him, he glanced at them and ran away without returning the greeting .  As a result, the adults shared a bitter laugh together.

You might say that this child was just too shy, or that he might have been in a hurry,.  But I would not like to say that he is learning a martial art if he cannot give others a greeting. To tell you the truth, this situation occurred at one of our Dojo.

I spoke with the Head Instructor of the dojo, right afterwards, and found out that the boy had started training Aikido just recently, and that he had not been taught about greeting others. The instructor apologized.

Greeting is the basis of human relationship. In Japanese, we call greeting, “Aisatsu.” This word comes from Zen teachings.

A greeting based on “Ki” is meant to recognize the others’ presence. The reason why we feel sad or upset when we don’t receive a greeting, is because it basically means the same as “ignoring one’s presence”.  A greeting can make Ki connection. On the other hand, no greeting can disconnect Ki.

In Japan, in some cities, parents teach children not to greet a stranger. In the world these days, this might seem reasonable, but it might cause even more trouble not to greet a stranger.  By showing “I recognize your presence”, it may prevent a dangerous act against you. I would think that greeting should be defined differently. Instead of “Do not talk with a stranger,” we could say “Do not accompany a stranger”.

If you are learning Ki Aikido, let’s begin by learning to greet others in daily life. If you cannot greet others freely, your dojo training becomes as nothing. I would like to share the importance of greeting to our members in the world.

By the way, “greeting” and “response” is not the same.  Saying “Hello” is greeting, and answering “Hello” is a response.

Greeting is your willing action of recognizing others’ presence, and to answer it is only a reply.  Many people misunderstand that a response is same as a greeting.

Some people find it difficult to greet others. For example, when you make a mistake in your work and feel down, Ki is not flowing and it is difficult to extend Ki from your heart. In this state you become narrow minded and wait to have others greet you. This stops the flow of Ki and can result in a vicious cycle.

If greeting is something special and takes a big effort for you to do, you will not be able to do it all the time.  Instead, make it as an ordinary matter on a routine basis. This will help you to greet others at any time naturally.

When I teach young instructors, I sometimes need to scold them severely. Some of them are not able to greet me next time they see me after being scolded. At the same time, some others are able to come to greet me more often, after being scolded.

If you consider this fact, based on Ki Principles, it is easy to guess which of these instructors grow more.

Greeting is one of the most powerful practices for you to extend “Ki” much more strongly.

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