No. Aikido is not a religion and we practice no religion at the dojo.
The bowing that you see simply shows humility and respect. We bow to clearly display our respect for ourselves, the dojo and our training partners. We also bow to share our gratitude to our training partners for the opportunity to practice aikido with them and for the many benefits we receive from aikido and the dojo.
Since Aikido’Ka is a traditional Japanese-style martial arts school (dojo), we practice the traditional custom of bowing as a mutual sign of respect and appreciation.
If bowing conflicts with your religious beliefs, we do not require that you bow. Rather, you will show your mutual respect, appreciation, thankfulness and humility some other way, such as with a sincere handshake and smile.
The practice of aikido does not conflict with any religion or healthy philosophy of which I am aware. Aikido practice supports understanding, respect and love both of ourselves and others - even those who might do us harm. Aikido is based on the philosophy, ethics and wisdom of mutual protection. Aikido practice, therefore, encourages this mutual respect, understanding and love within its physical practice.
Since Aikido is about resolving difficulties with respect and avoiding harm, people all over the world train together no matter their sex, creed, color, age, size or shape.
This philosophy is what leads to Aikido’Ka having a safe, kind, loving community of martial artists.