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Old 10-05-2003, 01:01 AM   #26
Kensho Furuya
Dojo: Aikido Center of Los Angeles
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I hope this may help- this is how I was taught mai-ai early on in my training. In very traditional Aikido, one respected Aikido teacher taught that ma-ai is the distance in which you can see your opponent straight on but still see his feet and arms (lowered at his sides) in your peripheral vision. If you are standing slightly too close to your opponent, his feet disappear from your vision - or his hands. Of course, if you are slightly too far from your opponent, it is possible to see his whole body easily, but then you are at a distance in which he is not compelled or inclined to attack and you cannot effectively apply your technique. At this precise distance or mai-ai in this case, the opponent does feel inclined to attack. . . . In addition to this, this teacher also taught that one takes kamae in such a way as to very subtlely control how he may attack you. Or briefly, positioning one's self so that he is inclined to attack you with his right as opposed to his left hand, etc. This is also a part of ma-ai, according to him.

Another teacher taught that ma-ai is the special spacing or 'angle" in which you can strike at your opponent but he cannot strike you. Or, the spacing in which you are protected against your opponent's immediate counter attack while still maintaining a position to easily apply your own technique.

Another teacher taught that ma-ai is the spacing in which the technique can be executed at its optimum level. If you are too close to your opponent, you are open to his counter attack or the possibility of his jamming your technique. Of course, if you are too far away from your opponent, the technique cannot be applied properly at all.

Another Aikido great taught that the ma-ai must constantly be adjusted to neutralize or adjust the speed and strength of the opponent's attack by closing in or creating more distance between one's self and the opponent.

I consider all of this in my study, practice and execution of all all techniques. . . .

This is an interesting story about ma-ai and the above question of stepping back in your technique. My Zen master, the late Bishop Kenko Yamashita, practiced Kendo with Nakayama Hakudo, one of the Kendo greats and the patriarch of modern Iaido. My teacher said that in all the times they practiced over the years, he felt that he never was able to even once touch Nakayama Sensei or take a point. My Zen master was a Kendo 5th Dan before the war at this time. He said that Nakayama Sensei stood in a very relaxed kamae that looked open from any attack and this is what encouraged everyone to attack him. But at the very moment of attack, he seemed to "fade" back a few inches so the blow would miss and at the same time move in and easily take his own blow. My teacher said that it was the most amazing thing to witness because he was always sure he could strike Nakayama Sensei. . . . .
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Old 10-06-2003, 03:35 PM   #27
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
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Sounds like he had the first kata in the kendo no kata down cold!

RT

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 10-06-2003, 04:02 PM   #28
Kensho Furuya
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I hope so - he is one among several other masters who created it and first performed it in front of Emperor Showa many years ago. I think there is an old video of it somewhere which has clips of both O'Sensei and Nakayama Hakudo Sensei. As a sidenote, I was able to find the Nakayama Sensei's sword he used in another part of that video. It is made by Yoshichika and inscribed with Hakudo's name on the tang and a record of his test cutting. It is just under 33' in blade length. Although he was a very slight man, he uses it like a feather in the video clip, Even my strongest student cannot use this massive sword for more than a 15-20 miniutes before tiring a little.
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Old 10-06-2003, 11:44 PM   #29
Abasan
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Kensho, is there anyway for me to see this clip you're talking about?

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 10-07-2003, 12:44 PM   #30
ian
 
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I think the big danger with stepping back is tripping over something or suddenly realising that you can't (because there is a wall or person behind you). However I cannot see a way around this. I don't understand how we can always move forwards, even if we do tenkan. Maybe good zanshin is required whenever we step back?

Ian

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 10-07-2003, 01:02 PM   #31
Ron Tisdale
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From a post of mine on E-Budo:

dSPD-8605 Tatsujin no Hijutsu to Kensei no Kokoro

$49.95

Newly released, this video contains approximately 15 minutes of rare footage of Nakayama Hakudo, the father of Muso Shinden Ryu, and 15 minutes of Aikido founder Ueshiba Morihei. The footage of Nakayama Sensei is mostly from the pre-war period and includes him doing tameshigiri, Shinto Muso Ryu jojutsu (tachi side), various shoden and chuden kata, and demonstrating the Kendo No Kata before the Japanese Emperor in 1940 with 10th dan Takano Sasaburo. The footage of Ueshiba Sensei includes the Asahi dojo film, some footage from his own dojo, and some from his final demonstration at the age of 86.

32 minutes. All Region NTSC DVD. Japanese language.

You can go here to get it:

http://budogu.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/page46.html

Furuya-san, that was indeed a great video!

Best Regards,

Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 10-08-2003, 03:02 AM   #32
Abasan
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thanks ron.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 10-08-2003, 11:18 AM   #33
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Ma-ai

Quote:
Chris Pasley (Irony) wrote:
Hi.

I've heard a lot of people say that we should never step backwards. But otherwise how do you keep ma-ai when uke is coming forward, but not yet engaging in attack?

I'm fascinated by ma-ai. I'm actually taking a fencing class tomorrow to try to improve mine. But I know for a fact that fencers step backwards...
It is important to make the distinction between what is happening with the Body and what is happening with the Mind. When teachers harp on not stepping back, they are usually trying to get the student not to "retreat". This is more of an energetic issue which has to do with the Mind wanting to avoid an attack. Moving away from an attack as an avoidance response will not allow execution of technique and leads to eventual defeat.

There is a difference between this and what the Jeet Kun Do folks would call "zoning out". Zoning out simply means that you are increasing the ma-ai in order to create more time (since time and distance are interchangeable) or to cause the attacker to accelerate his movement. There are a whole range of techniques which use a movement away from the attacker in order to create a "draw" rather than an irimi or tenkan. In sword there are movements which move the body away from the attacker as the sword cuts the space one has just vacated. If the attacker was sucked in by the movement away he is cut.

The difference between this and a retreat is that the Mind keeps its forward orientation even though the Body might be increasing the distance. It is not an avoidance response in any way.

Matsuoka Sensei was mentioned as an example of this. The Randori he did at the Aiki Expo was one of the finest ones you could ever see. He made extensive use of the "draw" in his randori to cause attackers to accelerate and to position them relative to one another so he could deal with them as he wished.

It takes practice to be able to step back but still keep ones forward orientation. Since most beginner / intermediate folks still tend to retreat at times when pressed I think this accounts for why teachers instruct them not to back up at all.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 10-08-2003 at 11:20 AM.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
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