Hi, my son wants to start a Karate class with his frum classmates. Apparently, they bow when they enter the room and there is a picture of a Karate master on the wall in the room. I assume that the bowing could be directed to the picture of the Karate master, who I assume is the teacher’s teacher or something similar. Is this problematic? Anything to watch out for? Thanks so much!
From a technical halachic standpoint, since the bowing is not being done to an avoda zara, it is not forbidden, however it is still considered distasteful for a Jew to bow to a picture or a person. Nowadays bowing, even if it is only bowing with one’s head and spine, this is reserved for religious ceremonies, and doing so is distasteful especially for an orthodox Jew. What is even worse if the bowing is done on one’s knees. What is correct, is to speak to the instructor, and request that the bowing ceremony be skipped for religious reasons.