Other meanings of "balance"

It occurred to me a little while ago that the term "balance" as I have always applied it to budo might have another meaning. My definition fell along the lines of "a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight." Standing up without falling down.


So when it came to "breaking use's balance," I assumed my job was to make my uke physically unstable, tipped over in one direction or another, on the verge of gravity pulling him down to the ground.

But then I started thinking about other dictionary definitions of "balance" I realized those could apply as well.

Balance between objects
Balance also means "to arrange, adjust, or the proportion of parts symmetrically." In other words, when two otherwise separate objects equal each other in some way, be it weight (as on a scale) or size or position, etc.


When we begin in budo, tori and uke face each other. Both have all their proverbial weapons (arms, legs, center, etc.) pointed at the other. Generally, neither one has any tactical advantage over the other. We are in effect balanced.

Then uke attacks. Even if all we do is step slightly off the line of attack, without ever touching uke, we have created a form of "off-balance." All of our weapons are still pointed at uke (arms, legs, center, etc.) but all of his are pointed out into empty space. We now have more of a tactical advantage than he does. We can strike, while he must now re-orient on me first before he can do anything. In fact, you could do all of that without uke attacking first.

Let's say we're both moving together in rhythm, in sync with each other. I can change that rhythm: take two steps in the time it takes uke to take one, or take a larger step than normal; I can change my grip; I can change direction, and so on.

What other ways can you see yourself "balanced" with uke? How can you disrupt it?

Mental balance
Another definition refers to a person's "emotional stability, a calmness of mind."

When we begin, both of us are mentally in balance (hopefully!). We are ready, poised, focused on and aware of our partner. Let's fast forward to a point where, in aikido, I'm holding uke's wrist in kote gaeshi. I may or may not have his physical balance, and even if his weapons are still pointed at me, we have somewhat of a relational imbalance. But there's also the chance of an imbalance in focus.



Uke may now be worried about his hand, wondering how to extricate it. I, meanwhile, can hold that hand without much thought, and maintain my focus on all of uke: what his other arm is doing, where his feet could move next. His focus is diverted, at least in part.

On the other hand, given that same situation, I myself could place too much of my attention on the kote gaeshi I'm trying to apply, while uke could be keeping his focus broad, on all of me and what is going on, and easily counter the technique.

Or how about judo? Have you ever grappled with someone that you just couldn't pin or arm bar or choke, even if they didn't necessarily do the same to you? Maybe they trapped your arm, and they're just laying there, letting you flail around trying to get out. You get frustrated, right? Getting frustrated usually makes us speed up, get angry, make rash decisions. If our partner is still calm, open and rational, he has created a distinct off-balance.

What other ways can you create a mental or emotional imbalance in your uke? What other ways are the two of you balanced?

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