I have had a few parents and students ask the reason behind why we bow before stepping on and off the mat. Most understand that we bow to show respect. Respect to our Master, Instructor and to each other. But why for the mat? Bowing shows respect for the area that we will be practicing (dojang) but also gives us the humilty and modesty to open our minds and hearts to learn. Bowing reminds us that once we step on the mat, we leave ourselves behind-that means all the work stress, family stress, our egos are put aside so that we can completely give ourselves to learning.
We need to be open in order to receive.