I got reminded of Goldilocks and the Three Bears last night. She does a breaking and entering on the home of the three bears. Once inside, she finds everything she encounters in sets of three. One chair is too big, one too small, one just right. One bowl of porridge to not, one too cold, one just right. One bed too hard, one too soft, one just right.
So it is with ma-ai. When performing an Aikido technique, you can be too close, too far away, or at the right distance. Weapons change that equation. I knew this intellectually, but I did not know it. Shiho-nage has a range. Shiho-nage with a bokken or a jo has a very different range. We spent last night's class exploring this and perhaps I have begun to learn it.