Best way to practice maai?

by Brian
(Northern Canada)

I run a small Kendo club in a very small & isolated community which I recently moved to. There are no sensei within hundreds of miles. Can you recommend some exercises & drills to practice the different maai?


Answer: Thank you for your question. Do you mean “distance”? If so, you have to know there are three kinds.

1. Chika ma

2. Issoku itto no ma

3. Tō ma

I recommend knowing about issoku ittō no ma. Ideally you should strike your opponent with one step from this distance.

If you cannot reach your opponent with one step on to the right foot from issoku ittō no ma then you should get closer into chika ma. You can strike your opponent comfortably without losing a balance and destroying your good posture. Also you can learn a good ki ken tai icchi.

Then you should try tō ma (your shinai and your opponent’s are not touching at all). Not many can strike from this distance with one step. You really have to physically fit. Usually we take a step forward onto the right foot so we can get into issoku ittō no ma. By doing so, those who could not strike men with one step from issoku ittō no ma may be able to reach their opponent.

You can modify kihon (basic) strikes with different maai if you want. For example, men strike from issoku ittō no ma, chika ma and tō ma. Make sure you don’t start from chika ma though.

When you practice strikes in chika ma, you should be in issoku ittō no ma and before you execute strike, you should take a step forward to get into chika ma.

Hope this helps.

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Apr 28, 2011
by: Matt

as hiro sensei said you want to avoid always being too close in chika no maai, as this tends to develop bad habits. Two drills I know of are set your issoku itto no maai (for me this is where the inside of the saki-gawa are just touching, but is dependent on height and reach and will be a little different for each person.) and then strike kihon men uchi without changing from this position (no stepping in) the other is to start from toma (kensen at least one fist apart is a good place to start) and step in to issoku itto and then strike. Starting from this far distance makes it almost impossible to step in too close. The next step after this is to start at kojin no maai (where saki gawa are crossing) and practice taking the very small step in to issoku itto, making sure you did not step too deeply before striking men. Hope this is helpful.

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