What is correct maai?
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?