Energy dynamics

Maai, translating simply ‘interval’, is a Japanese martial arts term referring to the space between two opponents in combat; formally, the ‘engagement distance’.

It is a complex concept, incorporating not just the distance between opponents, but also the time it will take to cross the distance, angle and rhythm of attack. It is specifically the exact position from which one opponent can strike the other, after factoring in the above elements. For example, a faster opponent's maai is farther away than a slower opponent. It is ideal for one opponent to maintain maai while preventing the other from doing so, meaning that they can strike before the opponent can (rather than both striking simultaneously, or being struck without being able to strike back).

In terms of time, maai pertains to the momentary lapses of awareness that are manifested in the opponent's mind. Extended further, it also embraces the concept of kyo-jitsu (emptiness-fullness of ki). These momentary lapses of mind, and kyo-jitsu, we may call the 'kokoro-no-maai' (mental interval). The implication of kokoro-no-maai is that although the physical distance between opponents may be mutually advantageous, the mental interval possessed by individuals will determine who will have the decisive advantage.

With these principles of energy dynamics, the concept of kyo-jitsu (emptiness-fullness) was translated by Shizuto Masunaga, into the way of Zen Shiatsu, he referred to fullness of energy as a jitsu, whereas a deficiency resulting in relative ‘lifelessness’ is known as a kyo.

Shiatsu and ampuku methodology

Energy can be neither created nor destroyed, only changed from one form to another.

Both shiatsu and ampuku have evolved over the years that by working the kyo (less energy or vulnerable) correctly the jitsu (more energy or tense) will move to defend the weaker kyo creating profound change.

  • Kyo definition is used to describe states of weakness, emptiness, desire, fear, greediness, unsatisfaction and instability.
  • Jitsu definition is used to describe states of strength, fullness, congestion, protection, support, satisfaction and stability. Kyo is the cause of an imbalance and jitsu represents itself as the symptom.

Kyo and jitsu are linked in a continual cycle of cause and effect, in which the kyo (emptiness) causes the jitsu (activeness) in order to bring the body, mind and soul back to natural balance. For kyo areas (low or deficient in energy), a gentle and sensitive touch is required, and any stretched positions is maintained for a longer time as this brings more energy to that part of the body. Pressure, held by the thumb or palm, can also be maintained for an increased length of time. For jitsu areas (high or excess energy), the stretches are done quite quickly so that the energy is dispersed, and also shaking, clasping or rocking areas of the body can have the same effect. The pressure that is exerted by the thumbs or palms are held for a shorter length of time, so that excess energy is dispersed.

The art of raising energy levels to a weak digestive system for example is to determine which area is kyo (low energy) or jitsu (high energy) and applying the correct pressure on the kyo and correct stretch on the jitsu.

In simple terms David Clark refers to the 4 main energy types like this:

  1. Tight like a balloon – Jitsu yin
  2. Hard as a brick – Jitsu yang
  3. Soft as if you just put your hand in a bucket of peanut butter – Kyo yin and yang
  4. Firm as a rugby or soccer ball - Balanced

And of course, many variances in between such as:

  1. A balloon popping - extreme jitsu yin
  2. Or many different types of walls - jitsu or kyo yin or yang
  3. Crunchy peanut butter (kyo and more yin than smooth) or smooth peanut butter (Kyo and more yang than crunchy) or wet (jitsu yin) and dry (jitsu yang)
  4. A rugby or soccer ball low in air (kyo yang) or conversely too much air (jitsu yin)

And so on and so on the dualistic phenomena’s dance together like the twomartial artists and their maai, the strong finding the weak then the weak becoming strong. By palpating, feeling or touching with pure empathy the digestive system for example (or any of the body systems) with a receptive hand one can diagnose what’s going on and work appropriately to achieve a profound result.

The point of no resistance

Once a kyo tsubo, a pressure point in the traditions of shiatsu, ampuku, acupressure and acupuncture is located through visual diagnosis or palpating (feeling or touching with pure empathy) a more attuned level of diagnosis can begin which can feel too much heat caused from excessive foods such as bread, meats, strong flavours and yang foods or too much cold caused from excessive sugar, alcohol, soya products and yin foods. Or one can feel excessive damp from too much fruits sugars and yin. A magnitude of possibilities is seen with the above 4 main energy types described by David Clark which allows for greater accuracy of treatment and proper dietary advice.

The kyo is held to ‘the point of no resistance’ with the thumb or palm, sometimes the elbow or knee is used, either way the tsubo (pressure point) is held till the nervous system changes from sympathetic to para-sympathetic, a sensation that feels like the kyo has become stronger and springier.

Diet advice

Kyo, jitsu, yin and yang are as simple as you either have been having too much yin such as the graph shows, too little yin, too much yang or too little yang and the combinations of all 4 variables.