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Heavy and Light: A Discussion of Balance, Movement, and Weight Shifting - header image

The Mind Dojo

Heavy and Light: A Discussion of Balance, Movement, and Weight Shifting

I was doing some research on Karate stances and footwork recently and saw that images of the old masters showed relatively normal stances. More like "real life" than anything you might see today. Today everything is exaggerated. A front stance is like a deep lunge for example. And many modern schools - never having learned it properly - promote the deep stance thing. But I believe the original purpose of these was to teach a shifting of weight and a sense of the transition from a sense of heaviness to a sense of lightness.

One founder whose name escapes me wrote that he never spent much time training stances, but he spent a great deal of time training moving from one stance to another. In essence, the meaning foiled by language and cultural barriers, the man was describing the shifting of movement and weight.

I first learned this when we were taught Sanchin. Its a very simple movement pattern but it is intended to teach the development of that sense of heaviness, and to access it quickly and instantly to deliver a strike or to reduce it for quick movement. Brent was telling me of his old teacher who simply noted that "Everything was Sanchin"...meaning that the characteristics of Sanchin, or the ability to access the sense of heaviness or lightness, was present in every movement pattern if the user realized it and used it. If you have ever bee fortunate enough to be hit by Brent while he is casually standing in front of you, you have experienced this.

What does this have to do with "Close Range Gunfighting"?

Your ability to explode dynamically and at speed, with perfect balance and control, from a position of rest is greatly facilitated by the ability to integrate this sense of weight shifting from heaviness to light. Some people may do it instinctively, like animals. Mostly combat athletes, and students of other similar disciplines that require the ability. I have seen football players do this without any issues, and I have seen very fit runners not be able to do so at all. If you attend one of my Force On Force or Winning The Gunfight Classes, we elaborate on that extensively.

For now, here is a quick exercise.

Stand at ease and as silly as it may sound, think of yourself as heavy. A good visual is to imagine as if your feet are melting into the floor. Sometimes you will have an advanced and properly trained man have one or two guys push on him for resistance. For now just the develop the sense of "heavy".

From there release that sensation and study a feeling of lightness. The weight should feel more in the hips...higher up.

Do that a few times and then add a sudden and untelegraphed take off.

Fighting is fighting and it has so very little to do with stances and range work that I am astounded that these are still a focus for so many. Enhance your ability to shift weight smoothly and suddenly like this and watch how your ability to move improves dramatically.