Centre Line Theory

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Following on from our last tip on foot movement comes the next in our series of tips: Centre-Line Theory. It is important to note that the term ‘centre-line’ is often used by martial artists to describe the imaginary line down the centre of the body (running through the nose down past the navel); a useful way of remembering the important atemi (vital points) that lie along this line. For our purposes, we use centre-line to mean something completely different, and our use is all about balance.

What is centre-line?

The centre-line is an imaginary line that guides a jujitsoka to effect the optimum angle and direction for unbalancing their opponent. This can then be used as a core principle for attack/counter-attack (using your opponent’s centreline) and defence (protecting your own centreline). The concept of centreline is a core principle for JuJitsu, and should form the core of any student’s training. Moreover, its importance cannot be stressed enough, as not only can it be used for executing throws and takedowns, but also for delivering more effective strikes, locks, chokes and holds as well.

How to find the centre-line

Imagine a line joining the heels of a person standing in a natural stance. Centreline crosses this halfway between the heels, forming a right angle in the process. Mathematically speaking, centreline is the perpendicular bisector of the line joining one heel to the other. By definition, this line is not impacted by rotation of hips, shoulders, arms or head, but rather by movement of the feet (more specifically the heel). Some examples of centreline are illustrated below for various stances (note centreline is marked in red)

Notice that the line is unaffected by the foot rotation (as in the example on the far right), and that the centreline is present both infront and behind the person (meaning that they can be unbalanced forwards and backwards).

Practicing with centre-line

Try gently pushing your uke in training with their feet in different stances. You will find that the least resistance is met when you push along the centreline. Equally, when your uke pushes you, you will find it easier to keep your balance when they are not along centreline. Initially you should look at your opponent’s feet position in order to work out where the centreline lies. Over time this will become natural enough that you can feel where it is without even having to look.

In our next tip we’ll look at how to use the centreline in jujitsu.

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