Thursday, February 17, 2011

Unseen Mai-ai

A few posts ago I talked about the distance between two opponents, or Mai-ai. My Sensei simply called it "the gap" and taught us that whoever controls the gap wins. He emphasized the art of being able to dance with your opponent so you can enter and control the gap. This takes an ability to flow, harmonize, disrupt and control while on the edge of the gap and/or in the gap itself.

I am a firm believer that whatever we see on the physical level of karate is a pointer to an internal unseen world. This internal unseen world includes our thoughts, intentions, feelings, moods, etc. So, whatever we have in the Seen World is also in the Unseen World.

So, where is the Unseen gap? Well, one that I am aware of is the gap, or distance between your actions and your thoughts. Most of us can be aware of this one quite easily. I am sure you have had a thought you know you should not act on and so you censor the action. People with impulse control issues have a very difficult time being aware of it and of course managing it.They have no awareness of the gap...and of course lose to impulsivity.

Another gap of the Unseen world is the gap between your Intention and the actual Thought. This is one that takes a little more practice to become aware of. Prior to a thought coming forth is the spark of intention...and there is a gap between them. A good exercise to become aware of this is zazen. Seeing how the mind wanders and feeling the intention to wander before the thought shows up begins the process of seeing the gap...and consequently controlling the gap. In many ways, just to 'see' the gap between intention and thought is to manage it.

Now, when I became aware of this I said to myself...So What?...well, the longer I am in the martial arts and have become aware of the gap between intention and thought....and thought and became easier to defend myself. Being able to feel another's intention is faster than reading their thoughts through their behavior...if you only act on their behavior your odds of self-defense are 50/50 in my book. But reading and feeling intention puts you on the edge of and entering your opponent's unseen gap. You may be able to move faster and harmonize with their intention without anyone? Your odds of defending yourself just shot up to 85/15 or better.

Just some thoughts.

Hands palm to palm,


  1. Nice post. Very close to some things I have been working on for some time, but more so lately. Thank you for sharing.
    I had a vision of a web protruding from a sphere, pretty wild stuff. Keep one point. Namaste.

  2. Nice vision...follow it and see where it takes you. Hands palm to palm.