Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Distance - Maai

- Maai 間合い - Distance
In the martial arts, maai is often used to describe the distance, or space between two opponents. However, like most principles studied in budo this is much more complicated then what we refer to as distance. It is a more complex concept that includes the distance, but also the time it takes to cover that distance, as well as the angle and rhythm of attack. This makes maai a dynamic use of the space between you and your opponent. For example a faster opponent will use a distance that is further than a slower opponent.
This inherently brings with it a sense of timing. On a more subtle level it relates to the gaps of awareness that manifests itself in the opponent's mind. This gap or mental interval (kokoro-no-maai 心の間合い) and the ability to enter into this space, this is also a part of the principle of maai. This mental interval is the point in which Joen-nin 如焰忍 is applied (one of the 10 methods of spying).
One of the subtleties of combat is the use of angles that manipulate the advantage of distance, which creates an illusion of that distance. The manipulation of this distance is often used to appear closer or further than you really are, enabling you to overcome an opponents speed. This interplay of truth and falsehood is kyo-jitsu 虚実. Note that jitsu 実 here means "truth", related to kyo 虚 meaning false. This is in contrast to jutsu 術 which means skill, technique etc.
In psychological strategy or even esoteric application, maai can mean the distance between two points of references. In other words, it is the understanding and use of the different perspectives between you and another.

Source: Kerwin Rodriguez (

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