By Erik Hofmeister
At the start of a class, the highest-ranked student has a choice: do a formal bow-in or an informal bow-in. Generally, if the highest-ranked student is visiting another school, if a promotion is occurring, or if time permits, a formal bow is preferred. An informal bow consists of the highest-ranked student facing the other students (facing away from shomen) and calling, “Kiyotske, rei.” and everyone bows. This is tachirei- standing bow.
A formal bow involves the highest-ranked student calling “Seiza!”. Everyone then kneels, left knee first, to seiza position. The highest-ranked student calls “Mokuso!” and everyone closes their eyes. Everyone breathes in through the nose, out through the mouth, expanding the diaphragm, and clearing their mind. The highest-ranked student then calls “Kaimoku!” and everyone opens their eyes.
The next command is “Soke-ni, rei!”. This is a bow to Soke Yamamoto. Everyone holds for a four count (ichi, ni, san, shi) and then comes up.
Assuming one of the directors is not leading the bow, the next command is “Kaicho-ni, rei!”. This is a bow to Kaicho Toyama and Kaicho Culbreth. Everyone holds for a four count, then comes up.
At a small dojo and when high-ranked visitors are not present, the second-highest-ranked student (Second) now has a choice. If the highest-ranked student (Highest) is also the head instructor of the school where the bow is taking place, the Second should call “Sensei-ni, rei!” If the Highest is not the head instructor, the command is “Title-ni, rei!” Acceptable variations in either case include, “Mr/Ms lastname, rei!”, “Title lastname, rei!”, and “Mr/Ms lastname, thank you for today’s training/today’s test, etc., rei!”.
This process is zarei, or kneeling bow. The zarei is a time for all students to reflect on their role within the WYKKO, and to help cement relationships and the rank structure of each dojo.