Smarter Than Struggle
One of the key principles we teach in To-Shin Do for effective defense against an attacker who is bigger, stronger, or more angry than you is the concept of effectively controlling ma-ai “interval” in combat. Though the Japanese term ma-ai usually refers to spatial relationships, there are intervals in time as well, which I will discuss in another article.
Learn how to use gaps in space to manage vulnerability to attack. Widening and tightening the distance between you and an adversary can make it difficult for an aggressor to position for his intended attack against you. He is ready to punch, and suddenly you are in a range that forces him to restart.
Learn how to create or collapse gaps in space by repositioning in relation to an aggressor’s centerline. You move angularly off-line into a place that allows you to access an adversary’s vulnerable spot when he expects you to do the more expected thing and just pull back from his hit or grab.
Learn the advanced skill of “inverting” space by reversing the conventional use of gap to create leverage for throwing or locking. Most fighters know that taking away space usually makes it harder for an adversary to escape, and adding space makes it easier to create momentum for a throw or throwing lock, but you reverse the logic and move way into the clinch and “take over” the adversary’s center to move him off-balance and out of leverage rather than pull away to create momentum or leverage strength.
The key in all of these examples (and more) is to learn to use principles in time, space, and position intervals in order to defeat conventional speed, strength, and leverage. Whenever you find yourself jerking and struggling inside a throw, lock, or escape, check to see if you are just holding place and using your limbs to fight the problem. That is too crude a solution. Look for ways to alter the ma-ai space and positioning to take your technique to success. That is the smart thing to do.
For more reference, you might click here to check out some pretty graphic moving examples of another teacher’s exploration of ma-ai in the boxing and MMA competition ring.
by An-shu Stephen K. Hayes