Most of the time, when I enter the gym, I will look directly at the students who have congregated outside the studio. Naturally they bow, “hello Saboumnim”.
Occasionally I will overt my eyes. My peripheral vision sometimes allows me to see their response. Sometimes I see a student who is ready to bow, but then stops himself when he realises I’m not looking.
To me, this shows that the student has totally misunderstood why he must bow.
Who is the bow for? It is not for me.
The bow, calling your instructor “sir”, and the many other etiquette or discipline related things we do, is a way of training our own minds.
When you bow you must empty your mind; it means let go, be totally present.
Whether I see you or not should make no difference to your own mental training.