Almost every Japanese martial artist begins and end their workout with Zarei (座礼), a seated greeting. The origin of this tradition is embedded in the fact that the old days were carrying large parts of everyday activities from seiza, from a sitting position on the tatami.
Today there are many who do not understand or even notice that there is some method to perform seiza. It’s not just a matter of sitting down on the floor. There is a clear meaning behind every movement of the legs, arms and body, and it is related to one thing – survival.
If we could turn back the clock to the time when a soldier’s life literally depended on his preservation methods, vigilance and martial skills, it would become obvious that “just sitting” can mean the difference between life and death.
Each “gunman” in the US wild West knew that lesson well, like all modern purpose was connected operators today.
In ancient Japan, the sword was a central point of a warrior’s daily life, which permeated all aspects of physical reality. Warriors saw to it that no matter what they did, they were always in a tactically defensible position that did not offer openings for enemy attacks and made sure to always have immediate access to their weapons. This was important, whether they stood or sat in seiza, or if they had their primary katana blade at his side, or only the smaller wakizashi tucked in his obi.
Since the study of martial arts nowadays is almost exclusively practiced within the walls of the dojo, one might think that we can do away with some of the old customs. But traditional customs helps us to understand more about combat arts, and also to distinguish it and its practitioners with a special label and behavior protocol. To perform a proper bow, or Zarei, helping us to maintain ties to the history of martial arts and puts us in the right state of mind for the lesson.