I found this video of a cat fight to demonstrate nicely the basic principles of maai such as distance and timing. At the beginning of the fight the cat atop the stepladder (say Aka) seemingly has the advantage of a higher position. The other cat (say Shiro) slowly edges forward provoking Aka into a frenzied yet ineffective attack. Whilst the flurry of wild paw swings first causes Shiro to flinch it achieve very little and mostly serves to cause Aka to somewhat lose its balance. Shiro for its part maintains its composure as well as its position just outside Aka’s reach. Finally, having seen the pattern in Aka’s attack Shiro chooses its moment to launch its own attack which is much more effective. Use the options cog to watch in extra slow motion and you’ll see that the counter is timed perfectly between attacks. A carefully timed lunge by Shiro finds its mark and quickly sends Aka fleeing away.