Participating in mokuso (pronounced "mohk-sou") before the start of every training session is a form of meditation to free ourselves from external distractions, and focus solely on the training session ahead. At the end of the training session, performing the mokuso once more helps us to relax and calm down.
How to Seiza?
We gather neatly in our respective rows and the command "shomen seiza" is given. At this cue, we kneel down, bending the left leg before the right leg, and resting on our heels, with palms on knees, just below the belt.
When the command "mokuso" is given, we echo the command and close our eyes. Now is the best time to breathe slowly and meditate briefly, making sure to clear your mind of all distractions, preparing your mind and body for the training session ahead.
Three bows are practised before and after each training session. They are:
Shomen ni rei - bow to the front
Sensei ni rei - bow to the Sensei (respect)
Otagai ni rei - bow to each other
"Shomen ni rei", meaning "bow to the front" is given after "kai moku", which prompts us to open our eyes. The proper way to bow is to lower the left hand to the floor first, followed by the right hand. It is important to place both hands in the form of a triangle, and bow with your head almost touching the floor.
"Sensei ni rei" means to "bow to the teacher". At this command, the sensei turns to face their students, and we bow in the same fashion, facing the sensei.
"Otagai ni rei" is the call to "bow to each other". Here, we remain facing the sensei, and all bow to each other in the same way again.
The sensei will then give the cue to end the seiza, and commence the training session with a standing bow.
While mokuso may seem to be a small part of each training session, it is undoubtedly an essential step. Fully participating in the mokuso will allow you to focus better for the training session, and ultimately perform better in your training!