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lars beyer
03-01-2013, 12:24 PM
Hi,
I have been wondering for quite some time what the structure/ alignment of the body means in relation to different combative distances again relating to the weight distribution on the front and aft leg.
It seems that in some arts (for instance some tai chi, bagua, ninjutsu schools, as well as in muay thai and in kick boxing even mma it is ok to put less weight on the front leg/ foot maybe in order to negate low kicks etc. whereas to my knowledge in aikido, since we initiate techniques from "maai", a little further away maybe.. this is less important ? Well, Iīm just a bit confused, so Iīm glad to hear any comment you people might have.
:-)
Best
Lars

Kevin Leavitt
03-01-2013, 02:26 PM
Good question Lars. I think it depends on your combative situation. I can speak on MMA. For the example you bring up with MMA, you might leave front foot light if you are trying to keep distance and want to have the front foot mobile. However if you are closing distance, clinching, or doing take downs, maybe not so much and you might be a little more even weighted or front weighted even. I think you can adopt such a strategy when you are conducting sports because you have so much knowledge about the situation and can pick a stance, posture, balance that allows you to exploit the situation you are trying to shape.

In combatives however, there is alot you don't know, so I don't think you always have that luxury. Based on your observations, on the various styles you mention, I'd say all of them are highly stylized training methods that favor certain things either based on training methodolgy or sporting aspects, for example in Muay Thai.

So again, I think in reality, we don't always have the luxury of isolating out rules or have knowledge enough to allow for such exploitations. Therefore, I think you will see a much more even or balanced approach to things when study in this manner, or when studying combative principles.

Anyway, hadn't really thought about this too much so these are simply thoughts off the top of my head. Again, A great question to ponder!

graham christian
03-01-2013, 03:53 PM
Sounds like your confusing issues if you are relating it to maai. Maai is keeping distance first and foremost. It is staying just outside the circle of their reach. That's maai.

So there is maai and there is no maai ie: inside that distance or even further away than 'just outside'.

If you can keep maai without entering and without going too far away from then the other person keeps coming but of course cannot connect. It's quite a skill all of itself but then you meet with the reality of no fight, no combat.

The maai or distance obviously increases if the other is holding a weapon for their reach is to that degree greater.

Combat brings into the equation the subject of entering which is a different subject.

Now the question is no longer about maai but timing and balance and motion etc. As it's also about not getting hit then the subject of angles and distances is involved but they are not strictly speaking maai.

That's my input.

Peace.G.

lars beyer
03-02-2013, 08:27 AM
Sounds like your confusing issues if you are relating it to maai. Maai is keeping distance first and foremost. It is staying just outside the circle of their reach. That's maai.

So there is maai and there is no maai ie: inside that distance or even further away than 'just outside'.

If you can keep maai without entering and without going too far away from then the other person keeps coming but of course cannot connect. It's quite a skill all of itself but then you meet with the reality of no fight, no combat.

The maai or distance obviously increases if the other is holding a weapon for their reach is to that degree greater.

Combat brings into the equation the subject of entering which is a different subject.

Now the question is no longer about maai but timing and balance and motion etc. As it's also about not getting hit then the subject of angles and distances is involved but they are not strictly speaking maai.

That's my input.

Peace.G.

Hi Christian
I get your point, since it is the way it is described in most aikido textbooks.
Maybe what I really wanted to ask and the reason why I put it here in the non aikido martial art section, is how other arts handle the concept of maai into their training terminology and how this affects posture and body structure ? Maybe interesting in some aspects maybe not, but something I have been wondering about for some time anyway.
Maybe also related as you say to the concept of entering.
Best
Lars

graham christian
03-02-2013, 09:48 AM
Hi Lars.
I'm not going to mention body stucture but first will say that based on the definition I gave above then you could watch some videos of let's say boxing or taekwondo etc. and spot what's happening.

In boxing for example notice how they basically circle each other on the maai line and then virtually 'jump' in and out of the circle. The art of moving in and out of distance. Now I'm not going to say in boxing they do this and that to do with weight distribution because there are different styles of boxing.

If you notice the 'dancers' virtually float in and out whilst Tyson certainly didn't so the point is to watch and see the differences.

Taekwaondo people tend to bounce in and out.

One thing I'm sure of though in all styles is that they are taught to remain centred or centre balanced at all times.

All those arts are based on continuous motion. Others like wrestling or even judo are already inside maai but they don't really have striking. So you could say the have smaller distances and circles to take note of. Another difference with those would be they 'earth' their energy more for what they do so you would have different emphasis there.

However all in all it's best to look and study the different things yourself and see when 'a' is done and when 'b' is done and notice why?

I'm sure someone who does one of the other arts can tell you their views of weight distribution etc. or I hope they can. Good luck.

Peace.G.

ewolput
03-04-2013, 09:46 AM
Kenji Tomiki elaborated a lot on the subject of distance to your opponent. His background was judo and aikido. It is worth reading his ideas about this matter and how he apllied this when doing aikido and judo as one art.

Just a thought,
Eddy

Mark Mueller
03-04-2013, 12:36 PM
Graham said:

" Maai is keeping distance first and foremost."

I always thought Maai is being mindful/aware of distance.....Be interested in the literal translation.

Rob Watson
03-04-2013, 12:46 PM
Graham said:

" Maai is keeping distance first and foremost."

I always thought Maai is being mindful/aware of distance.....Be interested in the literal translation.

And the distinction of 'deai' combative distance.

graham christian
03-04-2013, 03:13 PM
Graham said:

" Maai is keeping distance first and foremost."

I always thought Maai is being mindful/aware of distance.....Be interested in the literal translation.

For Mark and Robert. The topic of ma-ai and de-ai has had much said about it by various folk and maybe always will because it's a principle and when using principles more and more you get to notice more and more about them.

However, I will give you my basic simplicity in relation to what you say above.

Mindful/aware of distance....Yes, of course. To keep distance you had better be mindful and aware of what you are doing and why. It's no good just being aware of if you don't know it means 'keep' for example in which case you would see it means you have to move and maintain.

Now, as far as what the word means then its good to recognize it has the word 'ai' in it so it is something related to harmony. Ma means space. Maintaining a harmonious space.

Many point out another point which is to do with distance, which circularly is space, but is explained this way....striking distance. The distance of taking one step and being able to strike the opponent. When talking about fighting distance it may be best to translate that as striking distance to see what ma-ai is from that perspective. Either way the basic is space and the circle.

In life you are aware whilst walking around when someone gets too close to you, when they cross that line, when they enter your personal space. Ma-ai. This shows there is a boundary and so if you get more expansive on the subject and apply it to communications for example you will see maintaining the boundary of harmonious communication keeps a good space. As soon as someone gets personal or aggressive etc. then that too breaks ma-ai.

De-ai brings time and place into the equation and is to do with motion. So this would include harmonious positioning and also harmonious connection in motion. That's why some call it timing. I call it harmoniously staying with.

So that's a few concepts from me on the matter.

Peace.G.

Dan Richards
03-26-2013, 12:51 AM
Graham said:

" Maai is keeping distance first and foremost."

I always thought Maai is being mindful/aware of distance.....Be interested in the literal translation.
Maai is not just being mindful or aware. It is an actual distance. When someone is outside your maai, they will have to make - and transmit to you - a body movement of some kind - before they can strike you. Inside your maai, they can strike you without making or transmitting any body movement or adjustment. Maai changes depending on what someone attacking would use as a weapon. If it's their hands, that's one distance. A short stick increases maai. A bokken/sword even more. A jo more. A gun.. could be lots more.

So, understanding what those distances (maai) are, with practice, then allows us to learn to be mindful/aware of maai. The awareness of it creates a type of mental-energetic field around nage, in which intent of someone outside of maai can be sensed by nage.

It's like getting used to driving a car. The boundaries of the car are larger than you, but after awhile you get used to accurately judging the position of the body of the car as it moves through space. This then becomes automatic, requiring no effort.

My 2 cents

Dan Richards
03-26-2013, 01:02 AM
Hi,
I have been wondering for quite some time what the structure/ alignment of the body means in relation to different combative distances again relating to the weight distribution on the front and aft leg.
It seems that in some arts (for instance some tai chi, bagua, ninjutsu schools, as well as in muay thai and in kick boxing even mma it is ok to put less weight on the front leg/ foot maybe in order to negate low kicks etc. whereas to my knowledge in aikido, since we initiate techniques from "maai", a little further away maybe.. this is less important ?
Lars, if you're in DK perhaps you're studying Nishio Aikido. In that first irimi entering movement, the foot can be placed so lightly as to be immediately available as a kick. Nishio doesn't step into that front foot in the first irimi and atemi application. Just touch it on the ground as light as a kickstand. The weight is still on the back foot. After the atemi is delivered - which could also include a kick from the irmi foot, then the weight can transfered to the front foot.

Watch his opening movements and atemi strikes. He'll strike uke and still have the weight on his back foot, and the front foot floating.

Dan Richards
03-26-2013, 01:09 AM
Watch this video with I Liq Chuan instructor, Daria Sergeeva. She does an excellent job of demonstrating the importance of learning to not broadcast any body movement before striking. And you can see when she does broadcast, that even completely untrained people can naturally sense her movement, and respond accordingly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgCMdeF-ZMQ

Dan Richards
03-26-2013, 01:26 AM
In that video of Daria, watch at 4:06 when she says she needs to be ready, and demonstrates the closing of her left kua.

lars beyer
03-26-2013, 04:25 AM
Lars, if you're in DK perhaps you're studying Nishio Aikido. In that first irimi entering movement, the foot can be placed so lightly as to be immediately available as a kick. Nishio doesn't step into that front foot in the first irimi and atemi application. Just touch it on the ground as light as a kickstand. The weight is still on the back foot. After the atemi is delivered - which could also include a kick from the irmi foot, then the weight can transfered to the front foot.

Watch his opening movements and atemi strikes. He'll strike uke and still have the weight on his back foot, and the front foot floating.

Hi Dan,
Thanks for your reply.
Yes, itīs interresting to watch Nishio sensei and the way he goes about entering and his application of atemi.
I did study a little bit of Nishio aikido and I also studied with a group that was partly inspired by Nishio sensei but rooted in the aikido as it was practised back in the 1960īies an 1970īyes in Denmark.

I went to a 6 day easter seminar back in 2003 or 2004 taught by Arisue sensei, I believe it was the first
one that Nishio sensei couldnīt teach himself due to his declining health, so I never had the chance to meet him in person.
I had no experience whatsoever in either Jo or Ken and needless to say
iaito work.. so being at this seminar was 6 days of sheer confusion on my behalf, very interesting and a great learning experience. :-)
I have a lot of respect for Nishio sensei and his work, trying to remold, so to speak, what he had learned into his own style of aikido must have taken a tremendous effort and great skill. Also reading some of the interviews with Nishio sensei that has been republished recently over at Aikido Journal he seemed to be deeply dedicated to resolving conflict and he seemed like a very generous and very fine person indeed.
There has been a number of seminars in Denmark where people from different aikido styles come together and try out other styles. I believe itīs a great oppertunity to learn from others and find inspiration this way as well.

Somewhere around the same period of time 2003-2004 I started practicing aikido as taught by Morihiro Saito sensei by one of his high ranking students in denmark, Ethan Weisgard sensei, and I believe I have found what I have been looking for in terms of Aikido.
I love the clear and methodical teaching style, the straight forward approach to technique, and I love the emphasis on weapons practise and etiquette and the particular dojo has a good mix of great people from all walks of life, artists, musicians, army people, firefighters, engineers, businessmen, teachers etc. and a good mix of female and male practitioners. Thereīs also quite a lot of people from abroad training with us so we tend to teach in english to accommodate for that. The dojo and the people are almost like a second home and family to me so aikido is very much about human interaction to me.

Best wishes
Lars

Mark Jakabcsin
04-07-2013, 09:15 AM
Now, as far as what the word means then its good to recognize it has the word 'ai' in it so it is something related to harmony. Ma means space. Maintaining a harmonious space.



Interesting topic.

For starters I am not knowledgeable of the Japanese language and I am not saying the following comment is a definition for ma-ai. My comment is related to the original topic of distance and body structure but looking at the above thought from a diffferent persepctive.

For seconds when I trained Aikido my understanding of ma-ai was very similar to the posts so far on this thread. As I have trained in another art for the last many years my views and understanding have changed, grown, whatever you want to call it. I am not saying my previous views were wrong, I am saying my current views are much broader.

The quote above has 'ai' as harmony and 'ma' as space but the final definition adds the extra word of 'maintaining' which alters or limits the definition. Perhaps in a manner that was never intended?

Remove the word maintaining, and you get space harmony or harmony with space. Think about this for awhile, the concept of the principle becomes much deeper than simply maintaining a predetermined distance or spacing.

The principle becomes finding harmony in any space.

To my current way of thinking that is far more valuable than trying to maintain a specific predetermined distance that in reality is rarely if ever possible outside the dojo. Ambush attacks, multiple attackers, grapplers, weapons, environmental factors (such as walls, stairs, cars, furniture, etc) are a reality that making maintaining a set distance/range unlikely at best.

Seems to me training to be in harmony or comfortable in all ranges is far more valuable and powerful than training to maintain a specific range that is unlikely outside the dojo.

As I write this it occurs to me that many of the terms used in Aikido have 'ai' / harmony as part of the concept and yet we tend to focus on what preceeds or follows the 'ai' more 'ai' itself. With the repitition of 'ai' perhaps the training focus should be on the harmony.

This is actually the direction of my own training the last many years, although we use simpler words like 'relax' 'calm' and 'comfortable'. Initially everyone focuses on the physical aspects of these words but the power is really on the inside. Being truly relaxed or comfortable has little to nothing to do with the physical body. When truly relaxed the body will tend to reflect what is going on inside but it does not always need to be so.

Learning to identify our own discomfort or tension and then learning to release/correct these states is tremendously powerful, for when we are truly relaxed we see opportunity everywhere we look. I.E. harmony at all distances/spacing/range.

Food for thought: If you train a specific range/ma-ai all the time and believe this is the range that must be maintained to be in harmony, what happens to you inside when the real world provides a different range? Do you deal with the situation as is or do you struggle to get back to the 'correct' range before feeling comfortable enough to move forward? Through out the process what is the level of your harmony?

How to train this is a topic far to huge for a post.

In Systema the phrase that has come up recently is foundational or base training. While this has always been a large part of Systema Konstantin Komarov has done a great job of explaining it and providing training methods and understanding. Emmanuel Manolikakis has an oustanding video on the subject called 'Base Training'. Some of the best $25 I have ever spent. As with all Systema training it can easily be incorporated into existing training programs of other arts.

So back to the original question, how do changes in distance change the bodies posture/structure. I think the answer is so simple it is very difficult. As the distances change, find comfort/harmony within yourself and with those changes and work from there. Discomfort creates physical tension which the attacker can and will utilize against you. Discomfort creates phyiscal tension which makes it difficult to move properly. Discomfort creates mental/emotional tension which limits the ability to see opportunities to escape, move or counter attack.

Training the foundation makes everything else much, much easier.

Take care,

Mark J.

graham christian
04-07-2013, 10:51 AM
Interesting topic.

For starters I am not knowledgeable of the Japanese language and I am not saying the following comment is a definition for ma-ai. My comment is related to the original topic of distance and body structure but looking at the above thought from a diffferent persepctive.

For seconds when I trained Aikido my understanding of ma-ai was very similar to the posts so far on this thread. As I have trained in another art for the last many years my views and understanding have changed, grown, whatever you want to call it. I am not saying my previous views were wrong, I am saying my current views are much broader.

The quote above has 'ai' as harmony and 'ma' as space but the final definition adds the extra word of 'maintaining' which alters or limits the definition. Perhaps in a manner that was never intended?

Remove the word maintaining, and you get space harmony or harmony with space. Think about this for awhile, the concept of the principle becomes much deeper than simply maintaining a predetermined distance or spacing.

The principle becomes finding harmony in any space.

To my current way of thinking that is far more valuable than trying to maintain a specific predetermined distance that in reality is rarely if ever possible outside the dojo. Ambush attacks, multiple attackers, grapplers, weapons, environmental factors (such as walls, stairs, cars, furniture, etc) are a reality that making maintaining a set distance/range unlikely at best.

Seems to me training to be in harmony or comfortable in all ranges is far more valuable and powerful than training to maintain a specific range that is unlikely outside the dojo.

As I write this it occurs to me that many of the terms used in Aikido have 'ai' / harmony as part of the concept and yet we tend to focus on what preceeds or follows the 'ai' more 'ai' itself. With the repitition of 'ai' perhaps the training focus should be on the harmony.

This is actually the direction of my own training the last many years, although we use simpler words like 'relax' 'calm' and 'comfortable'. Initially everyone focuses on the physical aspects of these words but the power is really on the inside. Being truly relaxed or comfortable has little to nothing to do with the physical body. When truly relaxed the body will tend to reflect what is going on inside but it does not always need to be so.

Learning to identify our own discomfort or tension and then learning to release/correct these states is tremendously powerful, for when we are truly relaxed we see opportunity everywhere we look. I.E. harmony at all distances/spacing/range.

Food for thought: If you train a specific range/ma-ai all the time and believe this is the range that must be maintained to be in harmony, what happens to you inside when the real world provides a different range? Do you deal with the situation as is or do you struggle to get back to the 'correct' range before feeling comfortable enough to move forward? Through out the process what is the level of your harmony?

How to train this is a topic far to huge for a post.

In Systema the phrase that has come up recently is foundational or base training. While this has always been a large part of Systema Konstantin Komarov has done a great job of explaining it and providing training methods and understanding. Emmanuel Manolikakis has an oustanding video on the subject called 'Base Training'. Some of the best $25 I have ever spent. As with all Systema training it can easily be incorporated into existing training programs of other arts.

So back to the original question, how do changes in distance change the bodies posture/structure. I think the answer is so simple it is very difficult. As the distances change, find comfort/harmony within yourself and with those changes and work from there. Discomfort creates physical tension which the attacker can and will utilize against you. Discomfort creates phyiscal tension which makes it difficult to move properly. Discomfort creates mental/emotional tension which limits the ability to see opportunities to escape, move or counter attack.

Training the foundation makes everything else much, much easier.

Take care,

Mark J.

Hi Mark,
Yes harmony is the the key purpose from which you can only learn more and more by keeping with that I say.

As far as ma ai being a fixed thing and therefor not taking into account 'inside that space' then once again that is confusing a few things. Firstly keeping ma ai means learning what that space is and then naturally being able to feel it and know it wherever you are are whatever situation. Therefor you are fully aware when someone has crossed that line or even if ambushed or whatever, being jumped on, you still know where it is as well as the fact of the person is well inside it. So you know where to send them to.

Secondly through having that spacial awareness no matter what is happening you can see how angle and positional awareness is a complimentary other thing to equally develop as well as harmonizing with energy and energy motion.

So it's not that range that must be maintained but the awareness of it that must be maintained.

If the distance was looked at that way ie: must keep at that distance all the time then whether in a ring or in life when someones attacking there actually would be no fight. In the ring the other boxer would just keep moving and circling and moving without doing anything else. The other boxer would just drop his hands and and look to the ref confused and the ref would tell the opponent to fight or else disqualify him. So some people could look at ma ai that way only and miss the fact that keep doesn't mean you have to physically stay there. Yet as a drill physically doing that you can learn a lot too.

As far as discomfort causing tension and comfort/harmony being base to work from and that base is in yourself first then you preach to the converted here. The whole intent of how I teach is how to be in harmony no matter what is happening to you.

Peace.G.

lars beyer
04-07-2013, 02:31 PM
So back to the original question, how do changes in distance change the bodies posture/structure. I think the answer is so simple it is very difficult. As the distances change, find comfort/harmony within yourself and with those changes and work from there. Discomfort creates physical tension which the attacker can and will utilize against you. Discomfort creates phyiscal tension which makes it difficult to move properly. Discomfort creates mental/emotional tension which limits the ability to see opportunities to escape, move or counter attack.

Training the foundation makes everything else much, much easier.

Take care,

Mark J.

Hi Mark,
You have a very interesting and inspiring point and I agree- thanks for sharing.
Best
Lars

JP3
04-07-2013, 05:09 PM
I'm with Dan on this. Maai, or mai ai, depending on teacher's pronounciation - seems funny - has always been treated as a noun in my classes, both as student and teacher, not as a verb. We (Tomiki school) practice closing to learn to recognize maai, to maintain it, to break it, change it based on who can do what to whom, etc.

On the original post's question, basically asking where to put weight, on which foot or percentage divided between each, there are the following thoughts.

... if your weight is primarily (say more than 65%) on the back leg you can really only go forward without doing something strange.

... if your weight is primarily on the front leg you can really only go backward easily.

... if your weight is evenly divided between both feet it is equally possible to go in either, or any, direction, though you can't get "there" quite as quickly as if you loaded up on one leg (potential energy).

With the three above things sort of out there, then it's a question of "how do you fight?" so to speak. One instructor I have never goes backwards, at least I've never been present when he has. I'm sure he knows how, but he just doesn't do it. He is almost always back foot loaded, for example. Since I don't see so well, I can't do that. Also, all the years of kick-punch with power leg back put me in a comfort zone for slight front-loading. It works well for me. I think you should expirement and find out what works best for you.

Michael Varin
04-07-2013, 09:18 PM
I appreciate what Mark posted.

I think much of what is being described as maai in this thread is inaccurate and over simplified.

Maai has a space and time element to it, and there is not one maai.

Maai is definitely one of the most critical factors and one of the most difficult principles to master in the martial arts.

Watch this video with I Liq Chuan instructor, Daria Sergeeva. She does an excellent job of demonstrating the importance of learning to not broadcast any body movement before striking. And you can see when she does broadcast, that even completely untrained people can naturally sense her movement, and respond accordingly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgCMdeF-ZMQ

I wanted to address this even though I feel it should be in another thread, because it really isn't directly related to maai.

Frankly, I was not impressed with this video. What is being shown is very important and yet I do not consider it a high level skill.

Here is a video that I came across a few years ago that features a much better demonstration of the same thing (from an unlikely source in an impromptu situation!).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdPP0TmqKiU

Janet Rosen
04-07-2013, 11:29 PM
I have always considered ma'ai to be that blend of time, distance and acceleration/movement that allows a competent driver to know the precise moment to make a left turn across two lanes of oncoming traffic without conscious thought.

hughrbeyer
04-08-2013, 07:11 AM
<rim shot> :)

lars beyer
04-08-2013, 08:03 AM
<rim shot> :)

A rimshot like this.. ?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oShTJ90fC34

Best
Lars

hughrbeyer
04-08-2013, 11:56 AM
You got it.

lars beyer
04-08-2013, 12:20 PM
You got it.

:confused:
As a matter of fact I donīt, unless you care to explain your comment off course ?
Cheers,
Lars

hughrbeyer
04-08-2013, 01:33 PM
No, you got it. That's all there is. Way to kill a joke.

The drummer uses the rimshot, as per your youtube link, to punctuate a joke told by a standup comedian. Used in a forum like this, it acknowledges a snappy joke told by another forum member (Janet, in this case).

Okay now?

lars beyer
04-08-2013, 01:41 PM
No, you got it. That's all there is. Way to kill a joke.

The drummer uses the rimshot, as per your youtube link, to punctuate a joke told by a standup comedian. Used in a forum like this, it acknowledges a snappy joke told by another forum member (Janet, in this case).

Okay now?

A joke ?
Okay, have a nice day.
Lars

Michael Varin
04-08-2013, 01:49 PM
No, you got it. That's all there is. Way to kill a joke.

Way to kill a thread...

Janet Rosen
04-08-2013, 06:06 PM
No, you got it. That's all there is. Way to kill a joke.

The drummer uses the rimshot, as per your youtube link, to punctuate a joke told by a standup comedian. Used in a forum like this, it acknowledges a snappy joke told by another forum member (Janet, in this case).

Okay now?

It wasn't a joke, actually; it's how I describe ma'ai to newbies.

lars beyer
04-09-2013, 03:21 AM
It wasn't a joke, actually; it's how I describe ma'ai to newbies.

Hi Janet, thanks for bringing the thread back on track.
Cheers,
Lars

Dan Richards
04-09-2013, 05:53 PM
Great contributions to this thread.

Mark, I particularly like your post, and it gives good food for thought. And I'm glad that you expanded the conversation. In the early stages of training, it's not going to be harmonious, regardless of whether someone is inside or outside maai. Then with some understanding of the distance/space/timing need to break maai, it becomes somewhat harmonious on the outside, and less so on the inside.

It is, as you said, the goal to make the space beyond maai as well as the space within maai to be harmonious.

And we really need to keep in mind that maai is also a personal space. Someone can be completely non-threatening, and get inside your maai. In some cultures people have no problem getting in, and allowing in, each other's maai. We forget this as martial artists, who are in the practice of being all over people physically, and having others all over us. But there's a good segment of the population who become unharmonious if they're even touched by someone else, especially a stranger. One thing I got almost immediately from training aikido was that I became more comfortable with making contact with people sitting on the NYC subway. The experience became harmonious, rather than disruptive to me. And the end result on "the streets" was that I had a better sense of an expanded personal space.

Michael, the video is another excellent demonstration. Both videos show the difference of telegraphing by making a body movement before the strike. And I like yours as well, because it clearly shows that the time facture can be slowed down quite a bit. Which really goes to show that "time" is less relevant. Perhaps irrelevant. And that it's distance - space - and the perception that maai has been, or is about to be, broken that counts.

Also from the POV that "time" is "space." Time is not separate. When maai is broken, the time/space barrier has been broken. And inside maai is where the rubber meets the road.

Dan Richards
04-09-2013, 06:26 PM
I just wanted to add another comment that came to me concerning maai, whether outside of inside. There are people who sit in big chairs in huge houses within gated communities who are not harmonious and feel unsafe - in some cases, constantly. And in comes the Prosac.

Which leads me to expand a little more on Mark's idea of harmonious space. We can look at maai as not just a physical distance or space, but also a mental and emotional one. Even a spiritual one. And it's important who and what we allow inside our space. It could be information from the television - which is often a huge source of disempowerment for people. It could be poor-quality foods we introduce into our bodies, which over time create nutritional deficiencies, and a lack of spark and energy. It could be bad ideas and gossip. It could be poor relationships, that once may have been fine, but turned toxic. It could be societal and cultural programming.

Maai, viewed from that broader perspective, actually becomes a larger detector to intuitively clue us into that fact that something's not right. And if we're receptive, we adjust accordingly. That could have you changing hotel rooms, changing lanes, not going into a certain area, finding a new job, a new dojo, getting your car serviced, not buying that property, not entering that business deal. And with it we become more confident that we'll find the right hotel rooms, go into the right areas, find the right work, buy the right property...

A harmonious, prosperous, and abundant life is even promised to us by most of the major religions and many philosophical systems - including aikido. I love what I've heard of some of the central themes in Systema. Yes, it's hardcore Christian. And their approach is that we live in a perfect world, and that we are totally safe from harm. We are protected by God. Does aikido say anything less? I don't think it does.

[Mark, I'd appreciate if you'd add, subtract, or correct anything on what I just wrote concerning Systema.]

Mark Jakabcsin
04-09-2013, 07:45 PM
Hmmm. Thanks for the positive comments and I am glad that some found it useful. Unfortunately I think my main point got lost in translation.

Personally I do not care for the word harmony as it is not overly clear (to me at least), hence my use of the word comfort frequently in the previous post. Comfort is physical, mental and emotional. All three are inter-related and when one is out of balance it will affect the other two to varying degrees. When we learn to listen to our bodies we find a barometer about our mental and emotional state. This is often difficult to accept as the tension never lies and frequently tells us things about ourselves we would rather not listen too.

In the context of maai, I think the harmony is learning to find comfort at all distances and levels of contact. Years ago Vladimir told us that people (especially adults) have a fear of being touched. At the time it went over my head but now I really see it (in myself and others). Reach in to grab someone and see the reaction, normally with the hands attempting to block or remove the grabbers hands. This is simply a sign of what is going on inside, it shows discomfort with being touched/grabbed.

When one is comfortable with being touched / grabbed they see the many opportunities to react and control. The fear that wants to remove the hand, narrows the vision of opportunities and is a fear reaction. You do not own a fear reaction, the movement is not yours, it is the other person's, hence it is not good movement and the probability of it working is greatly reduced.

Hence, imo, training that helps us be comfortable at any and all distances is what will help us be harmonious with distance. Training maai by first finding the comfort within, allows us to find harmony at any distance. A very different twist than the normal concepts of maai. The advantage as I see it is that it helps us deal with the reality that we do not control the distance, more often than not it just happens, control is an illusion. Learning to be comfortable, no matter the distance, overcomes the illusion.

The question is how to train to gain that level of comfort/harmony. I imagine there could be several methods that could work. In my training we 'experience' all ranges, at varying levels of intensity and work to find comfort. This can be as simple as laying on the gound and have 3-7 people lay on top of you. First you have to learn where you can and cannot breathe. Breathe where you can, do not force to breathe how you always do, find comfort in what you can do. Then slowly moving to escape.

Another drill is #1 places a fist on #2's face and pushes (increasing intensity throughout the drill), and repeats and repeats and repeats. #2 learns to move and escape but they also have to deal with the emotional impact of repeatedly being touched in the face and the pain involved. The sooner #2 can accept the sooner they will find comfort. Note that #2's face should be red relatively quickly and it is best to do this for at least 5 minutes so #2 can experience the emotional roller coaster.

So much of this is nervous system training. When we can feel our nervous system as a separate part of our body we can start to learn to relax it on demand, or at least recognize excitment and attempt corrective action.

I cannot find the link directly on YouTube so I will try the link from a facebook page. Hopefully it will work: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/photo.php?v=1635627062209&set=vb.101208203285012&type=3&theater If not look do an FB search for 'Carolina Systema' and watch the stress inoculation video.

This training may look brutal until you understand what is going on and experience the benefits. Listen to the entire discussion afterwards. When done properly this type of nervous system work helps to remove latent built up stress and helps us to relax and accept the world around us. Note that much of the real work doesn't begin until the instructor starts to bring the student down from the highest point of excitment. It is not uncommon that people have emotional releases at this stage as many folks are not used to having someone help them recover from such an excited emotional state.

The more one does this type of training the more harmony we find in any distance and any situation.

I am not suggesting that anyone train like this, it is not easy and it is not for everyone, but the idea of training the nervous system and finding comfort in the body, mind and emotions is very solid and worth looking into.

Take care,

Mark J.

Jeremy Hulley
04-12-2013, 01:53 PM
Nice post Mark..
Hope you are well.

JP3
04-14-2013, 08:03 PM
Dan, you said, "Michael, the video is another excellent demonstration. Both videos show the difference of telegraphing by making a body movement before the strike. And I like yours as well, because it clearly shows that the time facture can be slowed down quite a bit. Which really goes to show that "time" is less relevant. Perhaps irrelevant. And that it's distance - space - and the perception that maai has been, or is about to be, broken that counts."

I've got to point out that Time and space are directly relevant to one another. Otherwise, the statement you made above, "the perception that maai has been, or is about to be, broken" is meaningless.

There is no "about to be" in anything if time is irrelevant. Timing is everything, IMO.

That's my $0.02, but I really enjoyed the other thrust of what you said, the logic just fell out of the bottom of that part. Which makes me think that really sin't what you were trying to say.