Thursday, 5 November 2009


When I started my martial arts journey in Shotokan Karate, at the age of 12, one of the things I remember being a large part of my training was Balance.
I remember the repetition of front leg kicks whilst standing perfectly still and poised on one leg.
Slowly raising alternate legs until my knee was above waist height and then, with as much control as possible, extending my kicking leg out in front and pushing my hips forward for more reach and powerFinally, holding my leg fully extended for what seemed like a thigh burning eternity, and then retracting at the same steady speed and finally coming to rest, both feet together.
This simple and basic, static drill, developed many attributes. It broke the kicking technique down to it’s constituent parts so that I could hone each stage of the kicking process and then smoothly blend those stages back together once perfected.It increased my strength and muscular control, and aided my flexibility so that I could perform all of those high flashy kicks I so desperately wanted to be able to show off.
What it also taught was Balance. The ability to simply stand, stationary, without bouncing or shuffling around whilst I raised, kicked and lowered my other leg.It taught me how to focus and maintain good posture during this balancing act, which is paramount if you than want to take this technique into other aspects of the art.
We repeated this drill many times and worked it with the primary range of kicks the art contained. Front snap kicks, side thrust kicks, reverse thrust kicks, and front roundhouse kicks.
With each technique, balance became the primary goal; to be able to stand there completely still and in perfect balance whilst delivering and demonstrating each kick.
However, Balance has a much bigger part to play in Martial Arts and in life, than simply being able to physically balance yourself on one leg.
At the next stage we can look at how well we balance our training, with a well proportioned mix of heavy sparring, pressure testing, soft training, fitness training, technique and art training, solitary training, partner training, the list goes on.
In addition, we can also strive to achieve a balance with our training that incorporates research, reading, watching instructional DVDs, training with different instructors, seminar and class training.
From this we can start to cross train and get a balance with various sports and activities that all come together to supplement our ultimate goal. Mixing activities such as weight training, or gymnastic training with our martial arts, all geared towards improving our overall game.
And yet, the application for balance goes even further than this.
A book I read recently talks about having a Life Balance. In it, the author explained how we should all have a balance in our lives of Work, Rest, Play, Family/Relationships and Charity.
We should put back into society what we take out and at the same time have a balance of personal time and time for friends and family and relationships.
How you balance that is a personal journey.
Some people may be able to combine some of these so that perhaps your work is actually your personal fun/hobby time. Perhaps you work is also your charity and your route for tithing and giving something back.
Getting a good life balance is crucial if you want to be both successful but also be healthy and leading a full life.
A life that affords you the successes you desire without being detrimental to you or anyone else .
It’s interesting how this requirement for balance also then applies into our Personal Security strategies.
On the Women’s Self Defence days that I hold around the country, I talk a lot about awareness and assessment. The main emphasis however, is not just being aware of the bad things. When I show someone how to become more switched on, I teach them how to look for good as well as bad, safe as well as dangerous and places to move towards as well as places to avoid.It’s very important to keep a balanced approach to your personal security.
When I’m walking around I’m making note of people who might be a threat and also people who may be able to help me. I look for places that I should avoid, such as dark alleyways and lonely footpaths, and places that I could run to, such as busy shops.
By keeping this balanced outlook, not only do I afford myself a complete and comprehensive personal security strategy, I also stop seeing the world as completely negative. I find that I can spot far more positive, good things in my awareness drills than I do bad.
This balanced approach also then means that my level of security is more balanced and more appropriate for whatever situation I am in. The result is I am less likely to be paranoid, locking myself away in order to keep myself safe, but also less likely to be caught off-guard and unaware. I can lead a more fulfilling life with a more balanced outlook and approach.

Switched Off!!! A Little Too Overcautious???

So, from a basic martial arts drill that saw me standing steadily on one foot, I have been able to take that concept and apply it at many levels. A quite simple notion of balance can have massive effect on my martial arts training, my personal security and in fact, my whole life.
A final thought.

"When you are balanced, you are more difficult to knock over. This applies to attacks from your training partner and the kicks and punches that life can throw at you."
Al Peasland
So - Get In Balance!

Stay Safe and Have Fun
Al x

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