|The base elements in Aikido
>> Elements are components of techniques;
techniques are components of principles;
principles are components of Aikido;
Aikido is a component of human perfection;
always return to your roots;
do not confuse the method with the goal.
Ma-ai (optimum distance)
In Aikido, the optimum distance between Uke (the attacker) and Nage (the defender) is called Ma-ai. Both Uke and Nage have a sphere, a contact range, and the optimum distance is defined when the two spheres are joined by just one point. If this distance is larger, Nage has nothing to fear. But if this distance is shorter, Nage has two possibilities: to move forward (Irimi), or reestablish the optimum distance through withdrawl (Ashi-sabaki) or through an evasive, dodging movement (Tai-sabaki, Tenhan-ashi).
Za and Agura (relaxed position)
On the mats (Tatami), you stay on your feet or on your knees. This is ZA, the usual position on the mats. Or you can stay in any other relaxed position, Agura. In either of these positions the spine must be straight. This position has the following advantages:
-it is an intermediate position between standing and sitting, enabling the transition between from one position to another,
-it is a massage of the inferior parts of your leg, enhancing blood circulation.
Kamae (standing position)
The body must be kept vertical and relaxed with your feet apart, one foot in front of the other. The lead foot should be facing the partner while the other is at a 90-degree angle, directly centered behind the other. Your knees must be slightly bent, but not equally, so that your body weight should be about 60-70% on your front foot. Your face is turned toward your partner while your arms are kept at chest level (Chudan) with your elbows turned in. The arm that corresponds with your front foot is slightly extended. The hand on your opposite arm should remain close to the elbow of the extended arm.
Usually the attacker must move until reaching the point of physical contact with his partner. In this phase, the defender could confront the attack with a counter-attack (Irimi), or he can execute a take-over move (Tenkan). Through the Tenkan, you can do one of two things: to put yourself into a favorable position over your partner to defend yourself, or to regain the optimum distance between you and your partner.
Regarding falls, Aikido aims for the safety of the person who falls, as well as for their ability to get back into a good position for continuing the fight. There are two froms of slowing your movements in the fall: slowly (in a long distance), or quickly (in a short distance):
a) to damper the effects of your fall by rolling forward (Mae-Ukemi) or backward (Ushiro-Ukemi) - soft falls, elastic
b) to damper the effects of your fall by free falling slightly forward and lateral (Yoko-Ukemi) - hard falls, strong falls, identical with those used in Judo. In this case, Aikido aims for distributing the energy of the fall over the largest surface.