Kamae: A posture
or stance of readiness. In each kamae there are different positions for the hands or weapon. Jodan -- high position; Chudan -- middle position; Gedan -- lower position.
or stance either with or without a weapon. kamae may also connote proper distance (ma ai) with respect to one's partner. Although ``kamae'' generally refers to a physical stance, there is an important parallel in aikido between one's physical and one's psychological bearing. Adopting a strong physical stance helps to promote the correlative adoption of a strong psychological attitude. It is important to try so far as possible to maintain a positive and strong mental bearing in aikido.
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Kamae (構え?) is a Japanese term used in martial arts and traditional theater. It translates approximately to "posture".
The Kanji of this word means "base".
Kamae is to be differentiated from the word tachi (立ち?), used in Japanese martial arts to mean stance. While tachi (pronounced dachi when used in a compound) refers to the position of the body from the waist down, kamae refers to the posture of the entire body, as well as encompassing one's mental posture (i.e., one's attitude).
These connected mental and physical aspects of readiness may be referred to individually as kokoro-gamae (心構え?) and mi-gamae (身構え?), respectively.
David: I think I understand what you are writing here. It seems you want to point out that I am not clear in my distinction of the difference between kamae and stance. Thanks for pointing it out. I think we see things closer than what I first realised. What made me misunderstand your post was what Philip wrote. It seemed to me he wants to practice standing in kamae by himself in order to prepare for aikido class... and my comment was more to him than to you I guess.
What I tried to express is, that kamae sometimes is used as a term for 'physical stance' more than as a word for the state of physical readiness and mental preparedness. Also the way I use the word 'posture' in my post was ment to be long along the lines of 'the way we carry ourselves and our body'.. Including the notion of kokyo in our walk and the grounded sensation in each step. I guess that's what you explained in a different way as being an integral part of the term Kamae.
My point was that the part of kamae which I call posture is important just like you describe it. Keep you balance and move in a way where you don't loose your center or contact to uke. The mental readiness part of kamae I would also expect to be a very central part of the teaching of all senseis.
On the other hand the part of Kamae being 'a beginning stance' is of less importance in some dojos/styles than in others.
I hope I explained the details a little better this time