(Excerpt from Principles and Concepts for Martial Arts)

What is balance?

Balance is a situation where your body is stable. You need very little effort to maintain your position. All the forces applying to your body cancel each other out. When you are in balance, it is very hard to throw you or move you. This is true standing or on the ground.

As far as grappling is concerned, you could define balance by saying that the person’s center of gravity is exactly above the middle of his/her base

What is the base?

The base is the area which supports a person. Standing, it is the space below his feet (in green):

What is the center of gravity?

Gravity applies to every part of the body. If you combine the effect of all the forces of gravity, you can sum it up as a force applied to a single point, the center of gravity. This center of gravity is the center of balance of the body. If you place your center of gravity exactly on the middle of your base, it will be perfectly balanced. This is obviously very important because if you want to lift and control your opponent’s body to throw him, his center of gravity is the area you need to control if you want to control his balance.

The center of gravity depends on the position of the body. In the normal posture (below) the center of gravity of your body is more or less at the level of your navel:

The red cross shows the center of gravity. The green dotted line shows the location of this center of gravity in the base, represented by the red cross between the feet.

When your center of gravity is at the center of your base, you are perfectly in balance. This is when you are the strongest in all directions. The further away your center of balance moves from the center of your base, the weaker you become.

As long as your center of gravity remains in the green area, your body can stay up unassisted. If your center of gravity goes out of the green area, you will fall unless you change your base to keep it under your center of gravity.

It does not matter how strong you are: if that red cross moves out of the green area and you don’t adjust your base, you will fall.

To learn more about balance and other vital concepts of grappling, get a copy of Principles and Concepts of Martial Arts.

– Guest post by Sylvain Galibert

A lifelong martial artist, Sylvain Galibert received his Judo black belt at the Kodokan in Japan and trained Muay Thai in Thailand. He is the author of Principles and Concepts for Martial Arts and Chess principles for Martial Arts.