I have not posted for 2 weeks as I was busy preparing for and then enjoying Chiba sensei’s latest visit to the UK. As always, he imparted a lot of information in a short time, covering correct basics and a whole range of techniques.
With such a variety of teaching, I imagine that different people took different things away from the seminar, but what particularly resonated with me, was sensei’s instruction on seme and maai.
He pointed out that over the years it has become conventional wisdom to teach people to attack from long distance. I was personally taught to come in no more than 15cm past the point of the opponent’s shinai. In his view, this is simplistic and your optimal cutting distance depends on your age, height, leg strength etc.
He pointed out that it would be unlikely for seme to be strong enough to break your opponents spirit if you only pushed in beyond the point of the shinai and therefore a deep movement forward was required to make your opponent move back. This was also true in the case of positioning for uchiotoshi and makiotoshi waza.
His main thoughts on seme were that you should keep a relaxed and natural posture and use seme to force your opponent to react to make the chance for debana or oji waza. For instance, as you step in, point your shinai to the right of the men, so that he tries to beat you to the men attack and then take degote, or you seme to his kote and take men as he tries to cover his kote; or raise to the right eye to force a men attack to counter with ojidou.
He also pointed out that for senior grades, (given they had developed tenouchi and kikentaiichi), that it was not necessary to make a fully blown forward motion for such techniques and that you only needed 50% of the effort that you would apply to shikake waza as your opponents forward motion created the other 50%.