We started with a couple reps of tegatana no kata. Pat talked about how everything can be broken down into 3 parts: beginning, middle, and end, and how you can use this method to troubleshoot things that aren't working for you.
Next we did releases. Pat said mine were pretty good today. It's rare that they feel good to me, so it's nice when it happens. Number 6 and 8 work so much better when evasion is my initial response. Hey, I guess maybe sometimes I try to just "do a number 6", for example, and get screwed up. When I remember what's going on in the first part (see paragraph above), it helps with the rest of it!
Pat talked about how ma-ai is sort of an elastic thing. Our kata practice from ma-ai develops our sense of that distance, but attackers don't usually start from a static position exactly at ma-ai like when we practice. I need to be moving/evading by the time uke crosses ma-ai. People attack through ma-ai, not from ma-ai. Pat showed a couple of tricks attackers can use to "cheat" inside ma-ai a bit. One is moving off to an angle, and cheating in a little bit. At first it still looks to tori like uke is at ma-ai, but he's closer; think about the tori/uke relationship during shomenate. Lowering your posture can also help cheat ma-ai a good bit. Neat.
To play with this "dynamic ma-ai", we did releases again, but this time, tori continued his momentum, continuing to move around through each successive release. Kind of how we played with it a couple of weeks ago.
Next we used the Aiki Brush-Off to look at dynamic ma-ai. We worked on brushing off to just outside of ma-ai, which only took a couple of steps. By the time you brush-off to a couple of steps away, you know whether you can safely run away, or if you need to "do something" to the attacker. I was also reminded not to try to run away backwards. /blush
Oh, and this month, Pat's got us doing everything left-handed. Makes it interesting....