Dojo: Pasadena Aikido
Location: Los Angeles, Ca
Join Date: Aug 2012
extension and ma-ai
I feel really unqualified to be typing here at all, as I am as of yet unranked, and as such, I don't mean this as some type of lesson that I'm sharing with people, but as a statement of my own understanding with a humble request for correction or my behalf.
I'm going into what I'm sure are WAY too basic ideas for anyone HERE, but they are not for me, they're still ideas I'm making sure I understand correctly.
Mai ai is the idea of harmonious timing and distance.
Harmonious distance means that when we receive attacker, drawing him in, and allow him to dissipate his energy, we can be secure the entire time. Part of this is simply moving out of the line of attack, and allowing him to pass by, but another large part is keeping space, which can be done through our own extension.
Extension is the projection of your center, and the expansion of self, such that even your extremities are connected to the center, and as unmovable as the center. It is how you hold someones hand in yours, but connect their whole person to your center, such that when you move from your center, your arm, their arm, and their entire body all come with you.
When receiving an attacker, I constantly find myself letting my extension collapse. I pull in my arms, I bend my elbows, I let the person come not just into the space I WAS in, nor just well connected to the target I chose to give him, but to truly invade MY space. I am collapsing under him and becoming nothing.This is bad Aikido.
Good Aikido is keeping your energy extended forward, your center projected through your arms, and when they come in, allow them to do battle where your hands are, while you stay where your center is, and then, moving from your own center let your arms, in extension, cary this force over or around them, drawing them out of their own center, and letting them fall. It seems deceptive. Aikido seems very meek. Aikido seems very receptive, but it's receptivity is NEVER about giving up the self, NEVER about giving up ones own balance, NEVER about giving up ones own extension. Even in ukemi, one does not "give up" balance and fall, but one feels the natural flow of the technique, and choses, while balanced, to gently roll out so that the technique can be performed rightly. Likewise, when accepting an attack in, one does not shrink and give up the self, one MOVES the center, MOVES the self, and keeps just as much extension as a proper attack would have, that being not a projection beyond what the center can support, but a projection of the strength of the center to the edges of ones being.
One part of Mai-ai is creating a space where the attacker is in range, but you are not; Where you are connected to them, but they are not connected to you. Their forces has been recruited to move in an orbit around your sun-self, and you are free to guide the conflict to a resolution merely by remaining centered, and bringing their energy (and their body) to the ground.
Extension as a necessary factor in maintaining Mai ai; So simple in concept, and even simple in execution, but so difficult to learn to allow to happen.
Am I reading too much into this? I'm sure I'm missing core elements, but I also think there's something inherently out of place about my understanding of mai-ai and extension.
Any help greatly appreciated.