Distance - Ma-Ai
In the Martial Arts, Ma-ai is a combination of the distance
between you and your opponent and the speed of movement that each possesses.
Other influencing factors are the size of the participants and each opponent's
fighting style.. The optimum distance for the Mai-ai is obviously different
for each budoka; however, there must be space enough for unrestricted defence
With Distance, we generally mean the Distance between
you and your opponent; however, it is also used in a more limited sense
to indicate the distance at which it is easiest to counter your opponent's
moves and launch attacks.
To get a clearer idea of the term, imagine a fight using
weapons such as a spear, sword or knife. Just as you would have to alter
your methods of attack to suit each weapon, so you must also vary the distance
between yourself and your opponent.
At close range, a take down is preferred. And whilst there
are a variety of trips and sweeps employed for getting the man down, once
he is down he is finished off with punches and stomps.
At a medium range, the adept makes use of shorter kicks
and longer punches.
At long range, the emphasis shifts to roundhouse kicks
and evasive and gap closing counters.
CLOSE RANGE : So-ou-mai-ai (one step)
By stepping only slightly in from middle range (depending
on the degree of expertise, this could be anything from 5 - 10 cm), you
get into a position where you can disrupt the timing of your opponent's
attack. By intercepting his/her leg before it is fully extended, you halve
the power of the kick.
This is the closest you can get to your opponent and
still maintain control.
MIDDLE RANGE : Yudo-mai-ai (one and a half steps)
Taking a roundhouse kick as an example, middle range would
mean the distance at which the impact of the kick would cause the maximum
power. In other words, you are at a position where (or your opponent's)
attacks would cause the most damage.
This is a median distance Mai-ai. By taking a extra half
step backwards, you induce your opponent to step closer and possibly fall
into a planned trap.
LONG RANGE : Gendo-mai-ai (two steps)
By moving slightly out from middle range, your opponent's
blows will fail to land at all. Don't step too much, but judge your opponent
reach, and stay in close enough for you to be able to move swiftly in to
This is the maximum controllable distance between two
participants. By taking an extra step backwards from the So-ou-mai-ai,
the budoka gives him/herself a moment in which to paln the next move.
In order to keep the proper distance, you have to be
able to read your opponent's moves. For example, the impact point differs
for a roundhouse kick, a punch, or an elbow strike. Going back to the weapons
analogy: you need different distances for a spear, sword, or knife.
In judging distance, you must watch your opponent and
move your feet accordingly, always shifting your body away from the danger
It is of utmost importance that you constantly think
about the Mai-ai. Indiscriminate or un-thinking attacks will only lead
to wasted movement and possibly loss of the fight.
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Updated by Hoosain Narker