Sunday, March 01, 2009

Ma-ai month

Photo courtesy of Tommrkr
Having focussed on relaxation in January and posture in February, during March we are going to focus on ma-ai, or the time-space relationship between attacker and defender. Ma-ai is a principle that one hears preached upon in aikido and weapon classes all the time, and even though it is not as often taught explicitly in judo or karate-do, it is still vital that you have a good, intuitive sense of spacing and timing and the ability to control distance.
As a first glimpse of how important ma-ai is in all martial arts - not just aikido and kendo - following is Genshin Hironishi Sensei's definition from the Preface to Karate-do Nyumon:

... literally translated, maai means "(spatial) distance", but in this usage it also evokes a sense of timing, or chance. Thus, it indicates both the space and the time it takes for and opponent's fist to reach one's body. In the practice of both kata and basics, there is a tendency to forget maai and become absorbed solely in the repetition of movements...
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  1. I believe maai and Zanshin go hand in hand. Check out Clarks Lecture on Zanshin on the Jiyushinkai website.

    I am glad you brought this up, I have been thinking about doing a maai film.

  2. That is an incredible photo!

  3. You know, Strange, we talk a lot about maai at Mokuren but we don't talk too much about zanhsin (similar to what Clark is saying in that essay) But I suspect that some of what we talk about (constantly) under the name 'the aiki brush-off' includes concepts that are part of zanshin.

    Thanks, Oldman, That's a picture of me hitting Todd with a shinai. I'm that awesome.

    not. ;-)

  4. Interesting post. I agree with Sensei Strange's comment about the connection with Zanshin. From my understanding it also captures a degree of focus, awareness and presentness.

    Higaonna-Sensei frequently calls for zanshin in training and I only recently took the time to try and understand his meaning. I actually recently wrote a post about it myself.

    This is the first I've heard about ma-ai though. Very interesting subject and I've enjoyed reading about it in your ma-ai month recap.

  5. In CIMA, we have some of these concepts but the JMA seem to describe ma-ai in clearer terms. Just having a term for it, is nice for example.

    Agreed that connecting it to zanshen seems important.


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