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Rei Ho

Exercise - Aikido - Beginner - White Belt


Rei Ho is the formal bowing movement made either from the sieza position or from standing. It is used during the opening and closing ceremonies in many Aikido (and similar) martial arts classes, particularly when senior teachers or foreign dignitaries are present. It is also used whenever new partners begin to work together, indicating respect and good intentions.

More information about etiquette and dojo customs can be found here.

Kneeling Technique

  1. Start kneeling in seiza
  2. Bend forward at the waist while sliding the hands down the thighs
    • Keep the back straight and maintain good posture while bowing
  3. Both hands slide out together on the floor, approx. 1-2 fist-widths in front of the knees
    • This isA large class bow together using Rei Ho from the Seiza position considered a "polite" way of bowing in this position. This is in contrast to the more wary, traditional Samurai bow, which places the left hand out for the bow first, followed by the right hand -- retaining the ability to do a rapid sword-draw (Iaido) until the last moment. The eyes also would look down only at the very last minute, as opposed to the more polite eye-line of looking at the hands.
  4. Bow low enough to come horizontal to the ground, with the elbows just touching.
    • The body and hands are said to make the 合 (Ai) character from Aikido.
  5. Come back up to seiza with a straight back.

Standing Technique

  1. Start standing at attention.
  2. Bow from the waist, as is customary in many Asian cultures. 
    • Aikido practitioners bow to one another before practicing a techniqueFor paired partner training of Aikido techniques, the customary distance apart to start is 2 tatami mat lengths (around 3-4m). 
    • This allows the partners to come together to (typically) right side kamae, then to "sink-in" to close the distance for the starting position, either:
      • a) both shuffling to produce Ai Hanmi or mirror stance (both right side or both left side), or 
      • b) for one to shuffle and the other cross-step, producing Gyaku Hanmi or opposite stance (one left, one right).

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