Dennis Hooker wrote:
I always understood ma ai in Aikido to mean "appropriate" distance. It could be vary close, even touching. I am glade you qualified the aiki statement to say "too many Aikido People" because it certainly is not all Aikido people and in fact I think too many Aikido people think arm/hand/wrist techniques are Aikido.
Yes, I was careful to qualify it for that very reason. However, "ma ai" is more of an initiating concept that derives from sword usage and the proper distance to begin an engagement. What I was saying was that this idea of "proper distance" and focus on arm-relationships causes a mental fixation about distance and arms in most Aikido practitioners.
If you go back and look at Ueshiba's demonstrations, yes, most of his stuff is arm-related, etc., but he does occasionally show that it doesn't matter and he, like Shioda, can be seen on film doing shoulder and back hits as part of his Aikido. Technically, knowing how to absorb and send back an opponent, even with your back, is a legitimate "blending with the opponent's force" (just resisting it wouldn't be, of course).
If you look at the core of the interractions in the Tung video clip, there was plenty of "aiki", it's just that it wasn't followed up with standard Aikido techniques.... but the "aiki" was there, even in very close engagements. My opinion is that more focus on exactly what "aiki" is, even in very close situations, would be helpful to many people in Aikido... more so than the pretty fixed repertoire that we so often see nowadays.
My 2 cents.