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  • Seme

    Hello all,

    We have been working extensively and closely on seme since the beginning of the year and I wondered what everyone had to say about it. Not just seme with shinai, but the entire attitude of seme. My thoughts on this stem from the basic priniciple that true kendo comes from seme and men. The rest rises about of your ability, or lack of ability, to develop and respond to each. I am interested in how others train their seme as well. This term can be translated a multitude of ways and it is this that I am interested in. How do you strengthen your seme? Is this something that can be taught or only developed individually? I strongly believe that rei also plays a role in seme and if you have false rei it shows in your seme. Just some random thoughts for discussion on a thursday. Cheers!

    -Eric

  • #2
    if you do a simple search, you'll find out that this topic was covered several times and is and was overkilled. no offense


    ~taganahan

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    • #3
      Yes, you can be taught elements of it. However, you must adopt and develop your own. You are trying to intimidate your opponent without ever having to make a move or do anything other than be there in the space. You should "occupy" the space arround you. The intent is to break your opponents spirit before you ever strike.

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      • #4
        Sorry about the double post. The point was not to learn seme from this board, like other posters. Just to get a conversation going. Have a good day.

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        • #5
          Ive always thought about seme as "decision power", knowing before you strike you WILL hit, taking opportunity, and creating opportunity. See/make a gap, and strike it without a single doubt to slow you down, see it, know you'll hit it, then hit it

          I think of seme as some sort of determination
          Having no doubt, full confidence and the ability to make solid, good, strong decisions.

          And that shows in your posture, you can radiate seme, In my vision, it blends in a little with Zanshin, just be there and radiate fear onto your opponents, breaking their spirit just by "glowing".

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          • #6
            "breaking their spirit just by "glowing".", nice description Lazken.

            I think Kendo Kata is important in developing seme. With the physical movements being set into a memorised routine, the Kendoka can concentrate on developing seme and zan-shin. So that the pressure builds between Uchi-dachi and Shi-dachi to give purpose to the physical movements in each form.

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            • #7
              I prefer to do seme using self confidence. Just push your confidence to your opponents, be calm and patience, and let your opponents start losing their confidence and spirit. When they do, and usually they will ( for younger or lower ranks opponents usually ), then they will start making openings so that you can push deeper and even hit and take a point from that opening.
              I prefer not to make faint movement, just prefer to do basic chudan kamae for the seme.

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              • #8
                practice, patience, focus, the complete combination of technique with your spirit, confidence, zanshin. Your seme will develope within you, you will not have to develope your seme.

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                • #9
                  I practise zanshin constanly, when walking around alone in town, I try and get a sense of the people around, try and notice where everyone is en what they are doing while still looking ahead, try and get my awareness to a higher level, noticing more around you etc ...

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                  • #10
                    seme, mushin & zanshin

                    Hello, everyone.
                    I'm new, and very happy to find this forum.
                    Yup, I believe that every kendoka would agree that the topic of this thread never cease to be valuable to think over and also difficult.
                    Following is just my very subjective opinion.
                    I think the difficulty partly resides on the many physical and metaphysical forms which seme can take in its existence, which everybody agrees.
                    There must be horizontally various ways to practice seme in many vertically different levels.
                    Personally, I'm focusing on mushin and zanshin in my practice.
                    Both concepts are related with being spontaneous, which is a mental state most kendoka want to achieve. And being spontaneous is a strong seme by itself.
                    The question is how to cultivate these mind sets.
                    In a match, to make a scoring hit, there should be zanshin after hit.
                    It looks like there are several dogmatic zanshin gestures, we practice.
                    Those gestures are supposed to speak a loud the mind state (zanshin).
                    But I wonder practicing those gestures would really cultivate zanshin itself.
                    It's just a matter of sequence: "gesture -> zanshin" or "zanshin-> gesture".
                    For me, Kakari-geiki is the excercise of choice for cultivating these mind sets.
                    Those kakari-geiki lovers, I guess, would agree with me sort of.

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                    • #11
                      In kakara-geiko, one keeps attacking with mushin as long as the zanshin remains.

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                      • #12
                        Good points. What do you guys think, is there a physical as well as mental aspect of seme?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Charlie
                          Good points. What do you guys think, is there a physical as well as mental aspect of seme?
                          Yeah, I'd say so. It comes to center imho. If you can't hold center, you can't focus through your opponent. And there's the commitment to the strike. If you are going to attack, your pressure needs to be there - you can't relax...again a physical aspect in addition to the mental.

                          Just a few random thoughts and my $0.02.

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                          • #14
                            I wonder sometimes if seme, while fundamental, is a little advanced in that you really don't get a firmer grasp of it until you have a better idea of maai, which is constantly shifting. Once you get a bit more used to maai, you can concentrate on shiai.

                            Maai is tricky, especially if you get someone attacking you from different maai. I myself feel I have only really begun to grasp seme after my six-and-a-half years of practice.

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                            • #15
                              Hi Charlie,

                              I've been thinking about this a lot lately and discussing it with some mutual acquantances, so that if I need to explain "seme" from the standpoint of a beginner they will have a better understanding of whats going on.

                              When over on our side of town we started to have the beginner's do kakari-geiko for the first time I found myself yelling at them as a motodachi, as I had been taught. Things like "don't pause, go" , "don't think" and "don't hesitate". It was one of the first times that they as a group had to do kakari-geiko, and I noticed in their body language that they had the extra fire under their behind, as it were.

                              It has been my understanding that "seme" is to either encroach or to pressure, and that there are many forms of applying pressure. Although much of "seme" is a physical technique of manipulating the maai and shinai, one can also apply pressure through things like one's "kiai" or yelling for that matter.

                              As the beginners did not have bogu and I could not realistically apply "seme" with a shinai, I chose to use my voice to apply pressure so that they would start developing the strength to resist my pressure, in effect to start developing the idea of "maai".

                              I felt thought I have to take the time to explain things after practice, as since we are a university club in a largely western setting such things could easily be interpreted as "intimidation" or "bullying" as opposed to a deliberate tool for training. Its also a strong concern for me as the students become senior that they do not pass along a misinterpreted idea of "seme" and indeed try to bully or intimidate the beginners during practice.

                              I suppose my contribution to the discussion is that if "seme" can have different forms, it is possible to introduce such concepts as "maai" and "seme" earlier.

                              I do not know if this view is entirely accurate or how such concepts would be taught, but I thought I might float it out there as an idea...

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