The principles and concepts were first presented in Aikido Randori by Tetsuro Nariyama (9th Dan) of the Shodokan. These are not original with him, as they exist in many Japanese arts; but the connections and how they are applied is beyond valuable. They are not absolute, but they are an articulation of fundamental ideas that underly our understanding. They are not Aiki in themselves, but training them helps us on the journey toward Aiki.
Derived from kendo, literally the distance at which you meet. It is the point at which two moving participants enter each other’s space of influence/control.
Seeing what is happening as it is happening. When engaging in a dynamic situation, awareness requires not focusing on any minute detail but seeing them all.
This is a dynamic concept, essentially the line of greatest stability and power. You must develop an understanding of how these interact in a confrontation.
How Do They Fit Together?
Think of ma’ai as a horizontal axis between the your seichūsen and that of your opponent. Your seichūsen should remain vertical, and you should not allow your posture to be bent. Metsuke is how you measure the interaction of the two axes, so although it may not seem important, focusing on any other than your interaction with your opponent will lead to a break of one of the other two.
The hand and arm operate as a katana, the Japanese sword. We maintain a natural curve. The arm emulates the sword which has three areas: bo (defend), sei (control), and satsu (kill).
The body moves as a single unit to generate power. You can generate tremendous power when the whole body is engaged.
The power of movement, not just the power to move. When we encounter resistance, the answer is not to push harder, but to find the line of movement and generate power along it.
Power Takes Practice
Many times people get frustrated with martial arts because it “doesn’t work.” The reality is that all the force in the world applied badly will not do anything. The idea of generating power is nothing if you cannot direct that power. This is the core of these three principles. With practice tegatana becomes an effective, flexible conduit for the power of the body moving along the lines (the first three concepts) to create movement in your partner/opponent.
Our bodies have a natural balance that unfortunately we tend to ruin in our posture and the way we wear shoes. We should find a position that allows us to move in any direction with ease.
Often translated as “softness,” this is the principle of flowing like water. Connections are not hard until they need to be, movement is constant and fluid.
When we interact with an opponent, we disrupt their structure. This allows us to restructure them in such a way that they can be thrown (kake).