In Search of Efficiency Part Sixteen: Balance

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In Search of Efficiency Part Sixteen: Balance

Postby Rick Wilson » Fri Apr 27, 2018 4:30 pm

In Search of Efficiency Part Sixteen: Balance

I think balance is something often not dealt with deeply enough. A while back I posted a simple drill to work on your own balance and knowing the moment you were even slightly out of balance. The drill is not exciting, but it teaches a body awareness that I believe is needed to progress to higher levels of practice.

I find that once a person becomes acutely aware of their own balance they can often read the balance of the Aggressor. If you can read the balance of the Aggressor then you can unbalance them and the only way to easily take a person down or throw them is to unbalance them first; therefore, being aware of their balance is vital.

People often have an imbalance to their structure and being aware of that you have not only the path to putting them on the ground, but they have accomplished the first step (take their balance) for you. Of course, the reverse is also true, if you have an imbalance you have given that advantage to the Aggressor – if they can read it.

Rory Miller has a drill where you get to perform five light slow but complete strikes on your partner then it is their turn. At some point the person I’m working with often stops and asks me the same question: Why is it when you’re done your five hits I am on the ground but when I’m done you’re not?”

I explain that every strike I get to make in a row is designed to continue to take their balance and spiral them to the ground whereas they hit me and begin to take my balance but then their next strike is done in a way that gives me back my balance and structure.

I have a drill called “Destruction of Structure” that teaches this thought process of constantly taking balance, but I found when I explain it to my partners in Rory’s drill within a round or two they are putting me on the ground with their five hits.

Balance is vital, and your job is to keep yours and take theirs, but as I said, if you are not aware of your own imbalances then you cannot correct or protect them, and you are not likely then to see the Aggressor’s imbalances.

Those are my thoughts on balance.

There is another drill to sense the Aggressor’s imbalances, but if you are interested here is a repost of that drill on balance.

Working through this drill I want you to leave behind anything you have been taught about any stance you have learned. Just leave it behind and explore this drill for how it makes you feel and what it makes you aware of.

Step 1:

Stand with your feet parallel about a shoulder width apart (neutral stance).

Let your arms hang down loosely at your sides.

The goal is to align your skeleton on your base (feet) so that you use as little muscle as possible to hold yourself in place. Stay loose. Feel like you are stacking each bone on top of the next, like plates on a table.

Work until you find that loose comfortable structure that is in perfect balance and can be held for a long time without tiring.

Centre yourself over your base and release as many muscles as you can and remain standing.

Step 2:

Take that balanced neutral stance.

SLOWLY lean your body forward off balance right to the edge of falling over but don’t. Pull yourself back to that stable balance and settle feeling the recovery of structure, stability and balance.


As you lean slowly feel your muscles engage to hold you from falling over. If you can’t feel the ever-increasing engagement, then slow down until you can. Feel them release as you return to balance.

Repeat this leaning backwards and to each side.

Step 3:

If time has passed since the first two steps repeat them.

Lean forward to the edge and pull back slightly but not to balance. Now begin to circle your body around your base.

Go slowly and feel both the muscle tension and the muscles shift to hold you up and correct for the lack of balance.

At the end of the rotation bring yourself back to balance and feel everything loosen again, then repeat in the opposite direction.

Step 4:

Take the balanced neutral stance and lean forward to the edge and bring yourself back into balance and settle.

Now, start lessening how far you lean and see what the slightest lean you can make is where you can feel the muscles engage and your balance is compromised even by the smallest amount.

Repeat this backwards and then to each side and then in the rotations.

Step 5:

From that balanced neutral stance move one foot forward the distance of YOUR average step.

Find that settled loose balanced position again.

Repeat leaning and feeling the difference between a balanced structure and an off balance one held in place by tension.

Step 6:

Take that step forward position and find your balance.

With your front foot rotate it on the ball moving the heel out about the same width as it is (your heel).

Arms hanging loose at your sides bend your elbows to 90 degrees.

Now, loosely swing the elbows UNDER until your arms come to your guard position.

If you swung your elbows under you should not feel any tension in your chest to hold them in place. Elbows are loosely swung into position they are not pulled in and held by muscle tension.

From this position work all the steps again feeling where you have lost balance and need muscle to stay structured.
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Rick Wilson
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