For 3.Dan-5.dan: Seme in Kendo

It should be fairly obvious that striking when the opponent begins to strike or moves back does not just mean waiting for the opponent’s action. 3rd Dan ~ 5th Dan practitioners are required to learn methods of Seme that will make the opponent strike or move back. Let’s examine what Seme is before discussing methods of Seme. According to the Japanese-English Dictionary of Kendo (A.J.K.E., 2000, p. 83), Seme in Kendo is explained as “To take the initiative to close the distance with the opponent with full spirit. This puts the opponent off balance mentally and physically and prevents them from moving freely.” This definition gives the impression that Seme occurs in only one situation. However, it is my opinion that the pressure generated by Seme can be felt at all distances and in all situations. That is, even if you are at very close distance such as Tsuba-zeriai, where you cannot get any closer or alternatively at a far distance, it is quite important to give Seme with full spirit and with the action that aims to take an advantage and overwhelm the opponent. Due to page limits, some methods of Seme in situations where you and your opponent are facing each other in Kamae are not covered here. However these methods of Seme are quite importantly related to how you make your opponent strike or move back.

Article by Dr. Satori Honda-sensei, British National Kendo Team Coach