My theory of seme
by Hui Shen
(Tacoma, WA, USA)
Hi sensei, my name is Hui Shen, I want your opinions on my theory of seme. Seme for me is any actions that we do in order to make our opponent have a reaction. Sometimes that reaction became an opportunity for us to strike, sometimes don't.
in my current working theory of seme there are 3 levels of seme
level 1: I call it "seme to strike", where we use seme with a specific target in mind, and we trust that our seme will work by strike immediately after seme to catch the opening.
An example of this type of seme is to feign men, and immediately cut kote/dou. Trusting the opponent will lift hand to block due to our seme
there are 3 problems with this type of seme.
1) The opponent might not react to the seme the way we want them to react, and our follow up strike will fail.
2) There is a pattern to this, an observant kenshi with a lot of experience will be able to recognize the pattern and use it against us.
3) During our seme we are not in the state of tame mentally (tame means the ability to strike mentally and physically), because we have predetermined to strike after our seme lures the opponent into the desired movement, which means an opponent didn't wait for me to display my feign but instead attacked while I was feigning men, i would be unable to strike.
level 2: I call it "seme, read and strike". This type of seme has no specific target in mind, the only goal of the seme is to simply make the opponent move (sometimes they move and cause an opening, but sometimes they don't move or they do move but have no opening). Between the seme and the strike, there is a split-second pause. This pause is the process time for
our brain to recognize if there is an opening or no opening (the better the kenshi the shorter this pause will be).
If there is no opening, then we seme again. But if our brain recognize an opening, the waza will automatically activate. The waza that activates from this type of seme comes out automatically from our subconscious mind / muscle memory, so it could be any waza.
For example, if men opens up, our body will hit men without brain consciously telling it to. The same thing happens when seme creates opening for kote and dou. There is zero thinking and planning, and every waza is a reflex. And because it's a reflex sometimes we won't remember what we did when we scored ippon. This is the concept called mushin (without thinking) I think.
level 3: I call it "seme by intent". This type of seme is constantly being applied with very little movement.
The users (usually 7th dan or 8th dan) of this type of seme will hit any opening with mushin without needing to use much physical movement for seme to get their brain in a state of tame.
It might look like they are just standing there and waiting, but they are making very small movements to avoid letting their intent be detected by the opponent.
Essentially, what they attempt to do is react to the intent of the opponent and not react to the movements of the opponent.
This type of seme knows what the opponent is going to do before they are able to act on their intent.
The strike that comes out as a result of "seme by intent" is generally resulted in the timing of sen sen no sen, but from the outside spectator's points of view, it looked like one 8th dan sensei did a regular men, and the other 8th dan sensei didn't react in time.