Defending the centre line

Seichusen, the centre line.

The centre line is the vertical line that divides our body into halves. We use our centre line as a guide in our practice. Basically, our hand should not move over the centre line to the other side of our body.

The centre line is important in order to keep our central equilibrium.
Central equilibrium can only be achieved through correct and diligent training by always lifting up our head top, and pressing our feet into the ground. This skill can be improved by practising “posture”, also called “ritsuzen”.
With strong central equilibrium, we can absorb or redirect the incoming force, and countering very quickly. In short, our defence or attack will be much more efficient if we have strong central equilibrium.

The more we deviate from the centre line, the more our central equilibrium will be subject to muscular tension to keep our balance. Our body will respond automatically to such situations. There are 3 options:

Ankle action
Hip action
Stepping action
  • Ankle action will happen when practitioner keeps his body under tension.
  • Hip action is basically trying to drop the bodyweight, but by keeping the knees stiff the hips will bend.
  • Stepping action will occur with unexperienced practitioners, but is also a strategy of an experienced practitioner. (see Unsoku-ho and tai-sabaki)

Experienced practitioners keep their body in the vertical line (centre) and will use tenshikei, Keeping the joints flexible and strong is an important body condition.
Tenshi is a rotational skill to absorb incoming power and redirect it to the opponent.

The previous example shows you the stiffen up of the body trying to defend against the action of Tori. To avoid further “kuzushi”, Uke steps but the upper body is halted by the arm action of Tori.

Defending the centre line

Basic posture to defend “seichusen”

Defending the centre line is an important concept and can be applied in different situations. We can distinguish 2 major kinds of defending the centre line.

  • Passive method – using tegatana as a shield
  • Active method – using tegatana as a weapon

Passive method

By keeping “tegatana” in front of the centre line, opponent have difficulties to attack your centre.

The sword is an extension of the tegatana and is protecting the centre.

In tegatana-awase, a multipurpose exercise, tegatana is used as a shield and prevent a straight movement to the centre by opponent.

Active method

In this method, we use “tegatana” as an active tool. Ridatsu-ho and seigo-ho are methods to defend yourself against grasping attacks. Free hand tegatana can be used to apply an atemi on the centre line of other vital point of the opponent.
What kind of atemi will depend on the goal you are looking for. Be the fact that we are going to throw the opponent or that we want to apply a shock to the body.

Vital point – Judo & Aikido/Kenji Tomiki

You will notice, the centre line has many vital points and can be used in self-defense situations.

Body movement exercises & centre line

We mentioned tegatana-awase in a previous paragraph and how to protect centre line with tegatana.
Of course there are numerous body movement exercises and basically protecting the centre line or attacking the centre line is included. Also remember the importance of the centre line in keeping the central equilibrium. When we lose our balance, in most cases we also will lose the protection of the centre line.

Tenshi exercises
Solo and paired tenshi(kei) exercises are an integral part of the regular training.

Unsoku-ho – defending by stepping

Avoiding an attack by stepping is a strategy to bring the mind and body into a position where the attacking power cannot get hurt.
On the other hand, stepping is not running away from an opponent.
It is important in order to control the situation, physically and mentally.
The concept of ridatsu-ho and seigo-ho is in fact an extension of stepping. It is avoiding and/or controlling the power of the opponent.
The exercises of unsoku-ho has to be considered as tools to study breaking away and/or controlling an attack of the opponent.
This can be punching, striking, kicking, grasping or any action from opponent to hurt you or control you.

Avoiding an attack

Avoiding an attack needs to take in account the concept of “Sen”. Running away is not always the correct method because there is always a chance opponent is much faster. There is also the mental side of running away or not running away. This can be of course the subject of another blog-post. We do not wish to become frustrated because we are afraid of a confrontation.
During avoiding an attack our body and mind must be in a state of defending/attacking mode. To create such a state of being, the study of “opposing isometric forces” can be very helpful. Subject of another blog-post.

About shobukaidojo

A passion for Martial Arts since 1964

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