Inspired by my recent trip to Kyoto, I taught at the two day Watchet Seminar. The theme of the weekend was “Breaking through your opponents centre” and I was lucky enough to have the senior group to teach. This consisted of candidates for 3rd dan up to current 5th dan holders and rather than look at tricks to move the shinai, I decided to work on the elephant task of teaching seme.
My approach was to run through a complete series of drills looking at the main shikake and oji waza, but ensuring that the drill for each technique incorporated its own seme. So for instance, shikake men entailed starting from long distance, taking a step into the opponents ma and then attacking men once you had control of the centre. If that did not work, students were encouraged to take one more small step forward, to break the opponents posture. In contrast we practised degote by lifting the point of the shinai towards motodachi’s left eye, to encourage him to strike men and then hit kote as he started to raise the shinai.
Other things we worked on included kakarite moving into distance and maintaining tame until motodachi started to move so we could instantly push off from the back foot to take debana men. It is all pretty much the same tried and trusted stuff, but put together in a different context.
Fortunately it seemed to work, with a number of people going on to demonstrate strong seme and pass the 4th dan examination at the end of the seminar.