View Full Version : The Most Essential Principles of Budo: Ma'ai

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Peter Boylan
07-02-2014, 03:56 PM
I hadn't planned on writing this post right on the heels of the Structure post, but a number of people asked for it, so here's my take on ma'ai.


What do you think?

I will note that the atemi and weapons practice I have seen in most aikido dojo, while often sincere, don't live up to my idea of effective. Because of this, I think many students of aikido lack the opportunity to develop a strong, broad understanding of ma'ai.

07-02-2014, 08:28 PM
My one contribution would be a different description, attempted translation of what you spelled as ma'ai, and which I usually write as mai ai as that's sort of how I pronounce it (probably incorrectly).

"effective combative interval" - see the O/P for "effective" and "combative" is obvious, and "interval" means the literal space between two combatants. We talk about it as the exact distance where I can affect my partner.... and theirs is when I am effected by them. Probably different for us both, but depending on engagement, might not be (but probably is). Mastering mai ai takes one a long, long way towards mastery of the art. Whatever art it is.

07-03-2014, 06:59 PM
Structure and distance ...
What's next, connection?

Sounds right to me.

Peter Boylan
07-04-2014, 07:37 PM
Structure and distance ...
What's next, connection?

Sounds right to me.

Ack! Connection is such a subtle concept, I hadn't planned on addressing it in this series of posts. I'm planning to do timing next. Each of these gets more difficult. Structure is the most straightforward of the concepts. Spacing is more difficult but can still be seen relatively easily. Timing is going to give me nightmares, and I'm going to have to work at finding videos that show go no sen, sen no sen and sen sen no sen. I'm not sure I'll be able to finish for next week's post.

Connection is even more subtle a concept. I'm not sure how I would describe it and illustrate it. I know what I feel as connection, but I've got not idea how to concretely express that to someone else.

Robert Cowham
07-05-2014, 07:10 PM
I was at a seminar with Suganuma sensei and he had a Q&A at the end. I asked him "what is the most importance thing in Aikido for you?". He answered connection/musubi (which I know has multiple meanings).

2 or 3 years later I was with him at another seminar (again in Norway), and asked him the same question. His response was the same.

I admitted to him over dinner that I had asked him the same question after a couple of years, and he had answered the same way (not surprisingly he hadn't remembered my previous question). I hadn't sought to try and catch him out but was interested to know if he still felt the same way, or if he had changed his mind - in either case I was interested to know the answer. He was much amused by the situation and indeed brought it up in a session the next day!

I increasingly feel that connection is important, and even that it doesn't required physical connection. This is for me a much easier concept to experience/manifest on the mat than off it!