The correct bow-in procedure

This section deals with the correct way to run the bowing at the start and end of a class. There is a definite etiqette and students and senseis alike sometimes get confused about where to turn or what to say. Here's the definitive explanation.

The students line up in grade order, with the highest grade in each row to the right, and the lowest to the left. Students without gis are deemed to be a lower grade than white belt students in gis. Technically, graded students who forget their belts, or who are not wearing gis for some reason, should line up below the white belts, but this is down to the sensei's discretion. Black and white belt senseis may line up in front of the class, or in the lines with the students. If they line up with the students, they line up to the right of the highest graded belt, even if they hold a lower grade. If they line up in front of the class, the main sensei stands in the middle, and any additional senseis or sempais line up to his or her left. Because Senseis don't hold a grade in public classes, it doesn't matter who lines up where, apart from the main sensei. However, I would always line my senseis up according to who has attended that class as a sensei for the longest.

Any senseis at the front of the class, initially stand facing the students. The senior sensei in the class will now designate a person to announce the bow-in words. This person would usually be the highest graded sensei or student, but as a courtesy to other senseis or students, you may award this privilege to someone else.

The designated person (announcer) says

1 "Heels together" or "Musubi dachi"
2 Everyone brings their hands to their sides and their heels together. The announcer says,
3 "Seisa"
4 Everyone kneels down, with the senseis facing the students and the announcer says,
5 "Mokuso" If there are new students in the class, the announcer may say, "Mokuso - eyes closed"
6 Everyone closes their eyes. The announcer counts to 30 before continuing,
7 "Mokuso yame" If there are new students in the class, the announcer may say, "Mokuso yame - eyes open"
8 Everyone opens their eyes. The announcer waits for the senseis at the front to turn to the front (or towards Kancho if he is actually present) before saying
9 "Kancho Sullivan rei "
10 Everyone bows. If Shihan is present, the senseis at the front will face him and the announcer says
11 "Shihan, rei"
12 Everyone bows.
13 When neither Kancho nor Shihan are present, the main sensei faces the students. Any other senseis at the front, and the announcer all turn to face the main sensei. Senseis in the lines with the students remain facing the front. The announcer says
14 "Sensei rei " (If Kancho or Shihan are present miss out steps 13 and 14)
15 Any senseis facing the main sensei turn back to face the students. The announcer faces the front if he is in the lines, or faces the students if he is in the front with the senseis. He says,
16 "Sensei autagani rei "
Everyone including the main sensei, bows

* Note. Everybody bows to Kancho whether he is present or not, but you only bow to Shihan if he is actually present.