Have you ever wondered about maai and how it really works? Distance and “speed of an attack” in part creates the timing of an attack. While I was teaching class last night I wanted a student to press or “compress” the space and distance between themselves and the Uke. They were still not really catching the timing of the attack. They just seemed to not be able to focus on the Uke’s movement. Focus is critical to maai. Focusing on distance and timing, the student can move in the precise measurement to the Uke’s attack. Paying attention at this point is critical!
By paying attention to the Uke’s judgment of when to attack, the Nage will know when to act. The focus that I am referring to is the “first sign” of committed attack from the Uke.
A questions was asked; “Should I watch their eyes?” I answered, “No. Watch everything.” Another was,” How close should I really be?” I answered this one with,” As close as it takes for that person to feel that they can land a committed attack…again we are talking timing and distance.” This obviously will vary with each and every person. Long arms, short legs, how aggressive are they and so on.
The last question was, “should I keep my hands up between us or should I leave them down to invite them to attack? . I answered that one with,” having your hands in your pockets, down at your sides or even behind you is not at all very wise, but having your hands somewhat down, in front of you may invite them in. It still would be a kamai (stance) or position that you will be familiar with.
Maai=time amp; space…Not keeping attention to distance and timing will get you in trouble and “MY EYE” will have a different meaning than maai.
I am learning that it is also important concerning maai , that the depth of my focus on my attacker is paramount. I can close or open the maai between the attacker and myself ,based on my awareness and most of all my focus. You know what they say about martial artists, “they should always be aware (focused) of their surroundings.’
Sensei Mike Swederska
Instructor: Soto-Deshi, San-Kawa Dojo
Shin-Gane / Tehnshin/ Dojo Cho
Co- authoered by
Sensei Elliot Freeman
Three Rivers Aikido / Tenshin Dojo/Dojo-Cho
St Louis MO