Bowing to one another during any formal Tang Soo Do function (class, testing, demonstrations, etc.) is an integral part of our Art's procedure and philosophy. Primarily, we bow to each other to show respect and to be courteous. Please remember that we show respect to each other! The student bows to the instructor because the student respects the instructor and knows he will learn from him. The instructor bows back because he respects the student for being in class and because the instructor learns from each of his students as well. The students bow to each other because they will learn from each other.
All involved will bow to each other at the appropriate times to be courteous and to show respect. One of the reasons that we show respect to each other is the fact that everyone in class will be working on techniques that can potentially cause injury, maybe even great bodily harm to each other. During the course of punching, kicking, striking and blocking; the members of the club will be working on improving their skills at defeating an opponent by efficiently striking a vulnerable target area in the body with the many weapons that are available to him. This means that punching, kicking and striking toward each other with full power and full speed motions is practiced routinely. What this also means is that the stakes are high. Injury does happen occasionally, even under the strictest supervision. Obviously, reducing the possibility of injury is paramount. This requires the maximum amount of concentration with a minimum of distraction (as well as some padding in the way of protective sparring gear).
When Red Belts are free sparring with the goal of throwing full power punches, kicks and strikes to within 1" of the target, it leaves very little room for error. If each practitioner were to move a half inch closer, the result would be contact to the target. The goal for experienced Black Belts with good control is moderate contact to the body and light contact to the head. Think about that! Black Belts are asked to make controlled contact while they practice fighting! That small margin for error that the Red Belts enjoyed is now gone. We are asking Black Belts to throw full speed and full power motions at each other, touch each other with those deadly kicks, punches and strikes, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, not to hit each other hard enough to injure each other.
This is why students who are seated and watching the higher belts free fight are not allowed to talk or move around, lest they distract the members who are sparring. They are showing respect to them and to the instructor. The members who are sparring each other bow to each other before and after, to show respect for each other. This is all part of the discipline, respect, honor, humility, courage, loyalty and the other positive influences of the philosophy that Tang Soo Do teaches along with the physical movements.
Bowing is done in the following situations.
1. Upon entering or exiting the toe chang
2. Start and end class
3. Working with opponent or partner
4. Ending and starting with a different instructor
5. When any Master Instructor enters the toe chang for the first time
When entering and exiting the toe chang for the first and last times only, you also salute the flags by making a fist with the right hand and crossing it in front of you chest (palm-in) before bowing.