EWTN Catholic Q&A
Question from Linda on 07-31-2013:

My kids and I are in a karate class. The instructor expects us to bow to the room upon entering and leaving. I haven't bowed and he's getting pretty mad about it. I think it's weird. He said it's showing respect to the art. I'm about ready to ask him if he bows to his car to show respect for the automotive industry. How does bowing to a room mesh with the Catholic faith? Am I allowed to do that, as silly as I think it is?

Answer by Catholic Answers on 08-01-2013:


Bowing is a gesture of respect in the Far East. I can only guess, but I assume your instructor means that the bow to the room shows respect for the work that goes on in the room. It's not all that much different than a bailiff calling upon everyone to rise when a judge enters a courtroom. But if your respect for your teacher and the art in which he is instructing you and your children is so lacking that you would seriously consider insulting his intelligence (which I can assure you is how he would see such a question about bowing to his car) -- an attitude your children have no doubt picked up on -- then perhaps it would be in everyone's best interest for you and your children to withdraw from the class.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers