Friday, 19 November 2010

The Law of Balance

In combat good balance is essential. You've only to see an expert at work to see the quality of balance that he or she maintains at all times. The Law of Balance states that 'with correct balance even a poor technique can work but without good balance no technique can.' In fact, in combat the skilled fighter makes his opponent an easy target by destroying his balance whilst maintaining his own.

A fighter works from a strong stance or base to support defensive and attacking techniques, the saying goes 'a tall building needs a strong foundation' and the stance is the basis of our martial arts foundation. All movement in martial arts stems from a good base just as in life, any commitment to move forward needs to come from a well balanced start. The balance may be the assessment of risk and reward or a strong financial position before investing, it could also be a strong relationship before deciding to have children. Every decision to take a chance in life is based on first having a strong base, a point from which to start, a launch point, a place of safety to run back to if things don't turn out like one wants.

A few days ago we discussed the four intelligences of heart mind body and spirit. these intelligences represent life balance and over concentration on any one will destroy the balance of ones life. If you are overly emotional you will not think clearly which comprises your intellectual intelligence. In fact if you imagine life as a  tightrope: its easier to go forward easier than stand still. You can go backwards but that prevents you arriving at the other side. If you lean in any direction too much you will over balance and head for a fall. Life is just the same it needs good balance to be happy.

If you make life goals based on balancing the four intelligences and satisfying them in equal measure you will have life balance. If you focus too much on your career you will jeopardise your home relationships, your physical health or your spiritual life. Any concentration on one area over another puts us out of balance. Martial arts balance is no different and as ever acts as a metaphor for life.

In martial arts we split balance into two main parts. The feet or base,  that is, those parts of the body that are at any one time in touch or contact with the floor. This is the key part of martial balance. the second part is the  upper body, particular the shoulders which carry the upper body weight. this takes us into the laws of alignment, leverage, movement and momentum to name but a few but today I want to focus on the key law of balance (more of the other laws later. As you'll see none of the laws of combat can exist in isolation.) Whenever we take a step in martial arts we compromise our balance. This is why we move generally in half steps, tentative steps as each one risks our being hit or grabbed. Each step with the lead foot compromises our balance but we correct this by make a re-balancing step with the rear foot which brings us back to our base position.

We can use our feet to break and correct our balance; we can also use our shoulders, with our midsection acting as a pivot point. Our upper body gives us reach on an opponent but we can only reach so far before we over balance so we then have to use a step to correct the overbalance. We can only reach so far in any given direction without having to take a step. Our reach commits us to take a step in the direction we reach in which is why almost all punches, kicks or throws etc. are accompanied by a step to either set it up, reach or re-balance ones position.

Daily life is the same, we can reach in any direction toward our goals but if we really want to achieve them we have to step out of our comfort zone (our base),commit ourselves and take a risk. A complete novice may fall flat by over reaching but if one is prepared to try again one will get good at reaching and stepping out of our comfort zone gaining confidence with every step. sometimes we will fail and have to re-balance ourselves before starting again, but after a while we will understand the principle of moving forward, backwards or sideways and we'll get faster, smoother and more efficient bringing us closer more quickly to our chosen goals.

So look at your life and your martial arts and consider the balance you have. are you always in balance because you never take a step (risk)? Or are you always out of balance because your steps are too long in any direction. Think about your 'life footwork' where is it taking you? Toward your goals or toward safety? Are you taking enough risk or too much? Think about it and remember to take a balanced view of your life.

Thank you for reading today and I look forward to speaking to you again tomorrow.

Best wishes

Tony Higo
Chief Instructor
National Martial Arts College
0800 092 0948

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The lower body is our foundation but the upper body

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