Thursday, January 15, 2009

Slow down, relax, and maintain ma-ai

  • fast motions tend to contract inward toward the center.
  • slow motions tend to extend outward from the center
I have found that trying to move quickly in a conflict tends to shorten the encounter space and artificially reduce ma-ai. In my practice I see this most in the backwards turning steps (a.k.a. 'goblet steps') of Tegatana no kata and in the first step of shomenate. If I do these motions at a slow-to-moderate speed and relax then I am able to maintain a relaxed natural posture and a normal ma-ai. But if I do them quickly I seem to be jumping back almost into a wrestler's stance, ready to engage - and I tend to be a couple of inches closer than I wanted to be.
Play with this some and see doesn't moving a little more slowly help you maintain a more natural, upright, relaxed posture (shizentai) while opening up the space between tori and uke.


  1. The two observations remind me of how a figure skater spins faster when their limbs are closer to their body, and slower when they're extended. But in that case, it's the distance from the center that's causing the difference in speed, not the other way around like it seems Ullmann is saying.

  2. interesting comparison, Todd. Have you ever tried coughing or sneezing or doing anything spasmotically while extending from your center? (don't injure yourself trying this). point is, our muscles, when they contract fast (as in reflex motion fr instance) they shorten and pull our bodies inward.


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