Balance it seems is something that most of us are looking to maintain in our lives, struggling daily to keep a balance between work, home & social activities. The very nature of balance is that it is in constant flux & thus requires constant monitoring. For most of us though we do this monitoring sub-consciously until a major imbalance is detected which requires specific action, such as having no social life due to work commitments. This causes us to re-evaluate our situation & consciously act to regain control. It is exactly the same with our physical balance during an altercation, maintaining our balance is essential to maintaining control of the situation. Just as disrupting our attackers balance can create a shift in our favour toward victory.
When we are fighting for our safety, it is vital that we stay on our feet as much as possible, and of course to do this we must maintain balance. The street arena has no rules, no referee to stop the fight and attackers have no honour. Even excellent ground fighters can be overwhelmed in a real life situation, as weapons, multiple attackers and ‘dirty’ fighting strikes to sensitive areas work outside the sporting format that they are trained for. And lets not forget our most important goal in a self- defence situation, which is to leave the danger area. We cannot do this if we are laying on the ground fighting for our lives, therefore, our mobility is sacred and must be fought for with determination. With this in mind, lets look at some basic ways of maintaining control of our balance during the turmoil of battle.
So how do we stay on our feet during a battle?
We are essentially bipods, meaning we have two points of support. If you were to draw an equilateral triangle with your feet forming two points of the triangle, where the third point of the triangle falls is the weakest point of your balance, both in front of you and behind you. This means that if you are pulled or pushed along this fault line you will fall if you don’t reposition your feet. In Krav Maga we use several simple tools to assist us to maintain balance and stay on our feet during an altercation. Lets have a look at these and how they can help. Stance A good stance will help prevent you being pushed, pulled, hit or taken to the ground, whilst maximising your mobility.
So, how is this balance maintained?
- Weight 50/50: Keep your weight evenly distributed between your feet whenever possible this will allow you to shift more quickly in multiple directions.
- Weight on the balls of your feet: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Just as the great Muhammad Ali knew, it’s important to be able to move quickly, staying light on your feet will assist in this process. To achieve this, keep your weight forward onto to the balls of your feet.
- Position of Feet: Whether your feet are in either a neutral (both feet straight under your shoulders) or general (one foot forward one foot back) position, it’s important to keep them just slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Too wide a stance will inhibit movement and too narrow a stance will undermine your balance.
Being able to move location quickly whilst maintaining balance will help you make those vital adjustments required to avoid strikes, make strikes and run clear of danger. Whilst in the middle of a confrontation it’s important to avoid crossing your feet over as this can lead to tripping and falling, instead just take a step with the foot closest to the location you are heading and then let your rear leg slide along the ground until it reaches a good stance position again. By keeping our feet close to the ground in this way, and not crossing our feet, we limit our chances of falling.
- Whilst shadow fighting, have someone with a kick shield, push into you from different angles. Reposition your stance to accommodate the push without falling.
- Wrestlers clinch – Clinch with a training partner and try to pull/push them off balance.
Other tips to help you keep balance:
- Don’t kick any higher than your own waist and get your foot back to the ground asap.
- Don’t over-extend your strikes.
- Recoil your strikes. i.e. Don’t leave your leg up after a kick or hand out after a punch etc.