Seiza and Zarei

Seiza is one of the most common sitting positions in the Japanese Budo and in any other Japanese arts. Unfortunately, sometimes, we forget why tradition requires us to use this position.

Budoka (those practicing a Japanese martial art) in karate do, judo aikido, kendo, and others begin and finish daily training with this ritual as an action that temporarily separates this activity from other daily activities. You need to kneel down from the standing position first then you need to stand up in a certain way after rei.  During the process of sitting down and standing up you must hold your upper body as straight as possible and not to bend over which can be challenging for some beginners.  It can be very challenging even for the senior practitioners to perform a smooth and graceful seiza and zarei.

Let’s take a look at how this bowing need to be performed. To do zarei correctly there are three groups of movements: sitting down, bowing itself and standing up. Let’s look at each group.

Sitting down from standing position:

1. Start from musubi dachi (heels touching and toes open) stance

2. The next move is somewhat difficult but you need to squat down slowly and bring your left knee down (your knee will fall forward as your feet do not move).

3. Pivot your right foot and bring down your right knee and when both knees touch the floor you will assume temporarily tsumasaki dachi position.

4.Extend your feet and cross slightly before you sit in seiza. The hands are kept at your side then place them gently on the laps as you assume seiza.

Zarei is the salut from the seiza position.

5. Place left hand in front of the left knee, then place your right hand in front of the right knee. When the both hands are placed on the floor, your upper body inclines naturally forward.

6.Bow by bending at the hips until the upper body inclines 45 to 60 degrees but be sure to keep you back straight. After 1 to 3 seconds of bowing retrieve your right hand back first, then follow with your left hand and return to seiza position with your back straight and eye sight straight forward.