Tyranny of Distance

Maai (pronounced - Maa-eye), - combative distance, is something worthy of our constant focus. "Thanks, Captain Obvious", I hear you say?  Yet, it's something taken for granted during training every-so-often.  We either make assumptions or forget entirely, especially if we pat ourselves on the back about all the other things we ARE remembering, ie: footwork, posture, intent, speed & rhythm - the list goes on.
Most often, we only become aware of poor maai when we are taking the role of Tori (receiver of technique) and notice our Uke (attacker) has pulled up well short or has over-reached greatly.  However, as Tori, we can fall prey to incorrect maai when counter striking or attacking during a weapons kata.  Kukishin Ryu's Rokushakubo techniques, where Tori initiates the attack, are a prime example.  If you are short on your attack, then Uke never feels he is in danger or under serious threat.  The kata has then lost its spark, its life, its essence.  You are rehearsing moves, rather than fighting.  Also, you look ridiculous as you swat at your opponent from afar.  I see a lot of this in embu's from other styles.  Not to criticise but it's pretty common.  No wonder it's hard to get people interested in Kobudo these days when they can see the direct impact of correct or incorrect maai in other gendai budo such as Muay Thai or MMA.
These seemingly insignificant lapses in our distancing at times may not seem like a big deal, but if left unchecked, can impact the Jissen (real combat) nature of our arts and turn what was once an effective and highly dangerous fighting art, into nothing more than choreography.

Travis de Clifford
Nidan - Sessa Takuma Dojo  


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