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John Matsushima
07-17-2007, 09:56 AM
Last night, I was practicing with a beginner and in the middle of a bokken kumitachi he asked me "What is the correct maai in Aikido?".
I never thought about maai in a general way like this before and never considered this question. So, I replied with "I don't know".
Since then, I have given this a lot of thought. I have thought that in the beginning of a conflict, the correct maai would be not to be within range of an immediate strike, or sucker punch, or takedown; at least more than 1 step from the attacker. However, during the conflict there are moments where I want to be in a position where I can hit him, but he can't hit me, and then there are times when I want to be right on top of uke, and times when I want him to go right by me.
I have heard or read many times that weapon practice is great for practicing correct maai, but what is correct maai?

SeiserL
07-17-2007, 10:39 AM
Correct maai for what? As you stated, it tends to change.

Mark Uttech
07-17-2007, 11:15 AM
Correct maai is generally a 'safe place'. So yes, in the middle of things, you have to continually adjust.

In gassho,

Mark

Ron Tisdale
07-17-2007, 11:27 AM
I remember once I was doing some kihon waza, and my instructor mentioned to me that my ma ai kept changing...far, near, far, near, thoughout the waza. At that particular time, for that particular waza, he said it should be the same throughout the waza...move to the appropriate distance, and maintain it thoughout the waza.

But that was kihon, empty hand, and one particular instance. I can't even remember now what waza it was!

Best,
Ron

MM
07-17-2007, 11:37 AM
I like to refer to the experts. :)

Maai by Diane Skoss
http://www.koryu.com/library/dskoss2.html

Dirk Hanss
07-18-2007, 04:48 AM
I just read somewhere else:
"far for the enemy, near for me"
I guess, that describes nearly every situation.

best Regards

Dirk

philippe willaume
07-18-2007, 06:58 AM
Hello
From what I understood, is the distance at which you can deliver the technique staying within your own space (or on posture/balanced what ever you chose to call that) and at which it is difficult or you opponent to counter (grab or strike efficiently).
Basically it varies with what you do (ie technique) and with weapons.
So I would say ma ai is the right distance for what we are doing.

The proper ma ai with the broken can not be the same as with open hand (other wise you would never touch each other). However you can transpose that distance to open hand.

If we take the fist boken awasai and its variation you can either cut the hand or the hand and then hand.
We both start in a bind (sword crossed) and we rise at the same, he cut and we counter cut him as a one time defence.
Obviously the distance from your opponent will vary but our ma ai stayed constant.
We remained at the same distance of our target be it the hand or the head

phil

Dewey
07-18-2007, 10:55 AM
I have heard or read many times that weapon practice is great for practicing correct maai, but what is correct maai?

Yes, it is. I actually wrote about this in another thread: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=183815&postcount=84. I freely admit that I'm no expert, just John Q. Aikidoka who's in the kyu-level. However, my limited experiences have taught me that maai is dynamic and an interpersonal interaction. It's not fixed or static...your attacker determines maai. The bokken helps the Aikidoka better visualize proper maai. It's a piece of wood, fine. If someone swings it hard enough, it can become a blunt weapon and shatter bones. Visualizing it as a live blade dramatically improves your maai drills...you don't want to get cut, do you? The same goes with dealing with a striker or a grappler. Your attacker wants to close the distance so he can strike or clinch and do a takedown...maai is not letting him close that distance. Yes, it works in real life...lots of Aikidoka have, and quite successfully. You just need training partners who are willing to make committed attacks (as in range of motion and realistic trajectory...not intensity). Also, maai and tai sabaki go hand in hand. Can't have one without the other.

Correct maai for what? As you stated, it tends to change.

Exactly. It's dynamic and situation-dependent.

I like to refer to the experts. :)

Maai by Diane Skoss
http://www.koryu.com/library/dskoss2.html

Excellent article. Glad you posted the link!

seank
07-19-2007, 12:05 AM
I consider ma ai to be the range where with one step toward me an uke can actually make contact with me, and where with one step I can change that distance as nage.

In reality though, I would suggest ma ai is almost a state of mind, wherein you know that you are either beyond reach or in imminent danger of being hit. It is fluid and depends on the movement, position of uke and nage and also whether uke or nage has a weapon in their hand.

Something I have found useful for getting a feel for ma ai (unarmed) is the average of the height of yourself and uke as a horizontal distance between you. For example an uke of 180cms and and nage of 185cms would be a distance of 182.5cms. Mind you though, its not practical to consider this in a fighting context, but can be useful in basic training.

As related from the article above, it does depend on speed and timing as well.

Bronson
07-19-2007, 09:39 AM
Something I have found useful for getting a feel for ma ai (unarmed) is the average of the height of yourself and uke as a horizontal distance between you. For example an uke of 180cms and and nage of 185cms would be a distance of 182.5cms. Mind you though, its not practical to consider this in a fighting context, but can be useful in basic training.

I was shown a way to check initial maai that seems to work pretty well (most of the time... nothing is absolute).

While facing uke and looking at his chin/nose area you should just be able to see his feet with your peripheral vision. If you can't see his feet, you're too close. If you see a lot of floor in front of his feet, you're too far away. After a while the correct distance starts to happen more automatically.

Bronson

Aikibu
07-19-2007, 01:22 PM
Maai is also a natural function of proper Hanmi (Stance). In our Aikido Hanmi/Maai is with the toes pointed in towards the Uke and no more than shoulder width apart. Irimi is always a half step with the toes/angle of "entry" of the lead foot toes pointed in. This allows you to strike/control your Uke and protect yourself from harm at the same instant.

Shoji Nishio Shihan stated that our Hanmi/Maai was one important technical distinction between our Aikido and the Hombu/Iwama Style.

William Hazen

SeiserL
07-19-2007, 07:05 PM
This allows you to strike/control your Uke and protect yourself from harm at the same instant.
IOW, close enough to be effective while far enough to be safe?
I like that.

kokyu
07-21-2007, 06:46 AM
I agree with the answers in this thread...

However, if you talk about maai just before practicing a technique, I've been taught 2 ways:

1) For empty-hand, tori and uke face each other and raise their hands (palm down) to shoulder level. The beginning maai would be the distance when tori and uke's fingers are just about to touch.

2) For weapons, it's the same concept... the distance where the tips of the bokken are just about to touch

Tony Wagstaffe
07-21-2007, 08:57 AM
You'll soon find out when you get zapped!!
Maai is dependent on size of weapon, size of person, the nature of the attack. ;) :D
Tony

Dewey
07-21-2007, 01:09 PM
You'll soon find out when you get zapped!!
Maai is dependent on size of weapon, size of person, the nature of the attack. ;) :D
Tony

Exactly! To use MMA terminology, maai can be considered a component of "aliveness" training in aikido. It's dynamic and changes with each encounter. Don't focus your sight and stare them in the eyes, but keep your vision wide and observe their whole body for posture, muscle-tensing, movement, etc.