Ichigo Ichie

By Scott Campsall

Martial artists bowing in a dojo.
Photo credit: Adobe stock image

“Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone.” — Louis L’Amour

The bow.  A single expression of respect that martial artists use when they walk into a dojo or onto the training area of a dojo.  Most do a standing bow, but I have seen Aikido students sit in seiza and do a kneeling bow.  They take time to perform the ritual.  They acknowledge the action of them getting ready to train. No matter how hard we try, we will never be able to repeat the minutes that will pass between the moments where we enter and then leave the dojo and yet, in our world of instant gratification, we often ignore the gesture of the bow.

What other things do we ignore?  Moments with our friends and family members?  Glimpses into the miracle of nature as we move from place to place in our vehicles or on foot? How much of our life and our world are we truly missing by not acknowledging the moment? 

In the world of cellphones, it’s easy to get distracted and focus on our screens and less on our surroundings.  This can obviously be dangerous as it can cause accidents, but could it also be dangerous in the sense that we are losing valuable time that makes up experiences in our lives?

Ichigo Ichie  (一期一会, which means “one time, one meeting”) is a Japanese yojijukugo (四字熟語, meaning “four-character proverb”). It describes the thought of being present and mindful in all moments. It is a recognition that time is fleeting and that we should value every second.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

The bow is important.  The minutes in a class are important.  Each moment out of a dojo is important.  We’re privileged to be able to experience them.  One day we won’t be able to.


Skip to content