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Untouchable-do: The way of the untouchables

Its a fancy way of saying learn Maai, 間合い. Harry sensei always tells us to watch our maai, but what does he really means? What doe maai really means?

It all don’t mean a thing, when you attach no meaning to it.

Loosely speaking, we all understood it distance, sometime, like a kind of safe distance for us to launch our attack. Too close, we get kicked, or countered; too far, well…

Speaking of which, too far.

I think Maai is not just about physical distance. I say ‘ The way of the untouchables’ in a sense that what cannot touch you, cannot hurt you. A knife has to reach your skin to cut, a punch, comes into contact with your face. No touch, no hurt, it’s as simple as that. I often say the best thing a martial art can teach you is a superior cardiovascular conditioning, you need to outrun your attacker(s). Provided you attacker(s) do not outrun you with a bullet!

It is not physical distance.

Maai starts from the mind.

Sticks and stones can really break something, words are just words. But more often than not, we get into stupid arguments that end up in a physical argument . We mentally maneuvered ourselves to a physical confrontation. We did not give ourselves and our opponent sufficient mental Maai.

Everyone is entitled their space, mental space to begin with. The problem starts when we become too engaged and heated up in a argument, we forget that we are closing in, and risked be ‘attacked’ first, mentally, the verbally.

So give yourself plenty of space, mental space, for arguments, opinions, perspectives, views, studies, remarks, insults, slurs to come, and go. It all don’t mean a thing, when you attach no meaning to it. Let it slide and constantly adjust your mental maai to give yourself space to see what is coming. And of course, when the maai closes, within striking distance, we also need to be aware of that and work our way out of it.

Maai is nature and Maai is everywhere

There is plenty of space in nature for us to put as much distance as we can from the things and words that will harm us. When we want to close in, we must also observe maai so that we can move in when our opponent is least alert. Maai can be closed serendipitously without your opponent noticing, simply observe nature and move with the rhythm. In order for that rhythm to develop, we need to allow our mind to settle on the distance, and mentally work our way out, or in, to effectively engage our partners.

Always remember your maai and not many people can hurt you, mentally, or physically.


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