Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sumi Sensei Seminar Rickmansworth

Thought I would pass on some very useful tips from the seminar. Sumi Sensei always sets a theme for the seminar. This year it was Seme, the different types of Seme and how to apply it. Needless to say when the great man did the seme it looked effortless and forced an opening right away. I can only speak for myself but when I tried to put it into practice it felt like riding a bike for the first time.....anything but easy. Very awkward in fact. However, there is no doubt that good Kendo is all about Seme. The following notes are as much as Matt and I could remember but they are my notes so any errors are my errors and in fact any misinterpretation of Sumi Sensei's message is also down to me. Right, having got that out of the way here are the notes.

Seme (First steps)

Proper Chudan-no-Kamae at Toma (safe distance). Step into Issoku itto no maai (striking distance) apply pressure on opponents shinai then strike when he/she overreacts.
Proper Chudan-no-kamae at Toma. Step into Issoku and press down to your left on opponents shinai, then strike when he tries to come back to Chudan and overreacts.
Proper Chudan at Toma. Offer opening by raising shinai towards opponents eyes as you step into Issoku, then Kaishi Do to his men strike when it comes.

Seme (Men)

Proper Chudan at Toma. Step in to issoku with pressure on opponents shinai. Then strike after Shodan + 2secs (ie3secs); Nidan + 2secs (4secs); Sandan +2secs (5secs) etc.....get the picture?
Proper Chudan at Toma. Step in deep and smoothly and strike men.
Proper Chudan at Toma. Step in and offer Kote ( Sumi sensei phrase was "come and get it"). Then Suriage men when the Kote comes strike comes in.

THESE ARE ALL QUITE SUBTLE TECHNIQUES SO THE OFFERS YOU MAKE AND PRESSURE YOU APPLY IS NOT EXAGERATED. Watching Sumi sensei do it was simply a master class as you would expect but it is worth perservering with these exercises when you are doing Ji-geiko with club members. I certainly got the feeling that my seme had been non existant until now, a fact that Shaun had been at pains to point out but I had not fully taken on board.

Seme (Kote)

Proper Chudan at Toma. Step in and apply pressure on kensen (point of shinai) of opponents shinai.......then take opportunity to do a kote strike.
Proper Chudan at Toma. Step in and lift up kensen of your shinai ( Remember subculty, don't exagerate the movement), then strike Kote when opponent strikes at the opening you have offered. This probably will not work on beginners because they will not see the opening
Proper Chudan at toma. Step in and offer Kote. When opponent strikes .....Kaishi kote!

Seme (Do)

Proper chudan at toma. Step in and lift up kensen as if for a men strike (ie the kensen moves slightly forward and upwards). Opponent reacts by coming up. You hit Do. We have all received this seme from Shaun so it should be familiar!!! Remember, when you execute the strike arms outstretched and Nakayui at correct angle. Sumi sensei was at pains to point this out on a number of occasions during the seminar.
Proper chudan at toma. Step in push down on opponents shinai (near kensen to get leverage). Action reaction.... execute Do when he/she comes up.
Proper chudan at toma. Step in and open up as if for a men strike, head slightly inclined ( "come and get it" as Sumi sensei say's). When opponent takes opportunity to men strike .....Kaishi Do!

This is the best I can do memory wise. I really do feel that there is so much benefit to be gained from trying to acquire an understanding of Seme. It is not just an aimless exercise in knocking your opponents kensen about but a hard earned skill that requires an enormous amount of subculty. I hope you find this useful.

By the by, I do not think we realise what a privilage it is to have the opportunity to practice with Sumi sensei, Tashiro sensei, Nagao sensei and the others. When I was standing around at the end of the seminar, waiting to catch Sumi sensei and the other senior sensei for a picture with my new menjo (certificate), the Yamazaki family (They run the Aberdeen club) suddenly gathered around me and asked if they could take a picture of my menjo. Now, I knew immediately it was not because it was Frank's certificate (although I do know the family), so I asked the young lad why he wanted the picture. He excitedly pointed to Sumi Sensei's signature on my menjo. They wanted Sumi sensei signature because he has the same kind of superstar profile in the Japanese kendo world. I even got one practice with the great man. It was very inspiring. I got extremely exhausted and he kept on smiling at me. I would highly recommend the seminar to you all. It is worth every penny.



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