The notion of center is very important in Far East’s martial arts. This is quite normal in a culture where nothing is trivial and every concept cover a mystical or spiritual reality. The concept of "center" is not an exception to the rule!
In martial arts, the center's research and its mastery is a quest whose interest equaled only "" seeking the philosopher's stone "or the" quest for the holy grail "in the West or the medieval legends .
To understand what is going to be exposed, it must be assumed that we could divide human beings in differents centers or areas.Of course, this subdivision is not authoritative, it just helps to build a theoretical framework to understand clearly what will be exposed.
Thus, we will have:
-Physical area or body
-Epistemological or intellectual area
-emotional or sentimental area
-Spiritual or religious area
-And what I could call the "me" (do not take it in the Freudian sense of the word) which is the essence of man.
Each zone corresponds to different center.
Mastering the concept of the center has an interest that goes beyond the framework of martial arts. For example, in sub-Saharan African culture, the best dancers are those who came through the sequence of FIG complex to master their centers. The circular movements mostly intended to take the dancer to lose its center and then to master it, trying to find it. In kung fu, a similar style is really famous for his particular work of the center: the zuiquan(drunken boxing). The zuiquan or drunken boxing is based on a particular concept, it is an imitation of an unbalanced movements of a drunkard to learn how to control his own center. Thus, experts in this style are showing incredible sense of balance!
They come to balance on one foot and hit the other while falling backward or to rotate the body in all directions as if they had no skeletons. This is the place to make certain clarifications in relation to misconceptions that we often do. The practice of this style does not require to take alcoholic beverage or liquor; The principle is simply to successfully reproduce the effects of alcohol on oneself (mental and muscular relaxation, joy) because it is scientifically proven that the more a muscle is relaxed, the more his reflexes are fast.However, it happens in China that some masters ask their students to take it just to test the effect of alcohol.
Martial arts experts have quickly realized that if we wanted to beat someone, we should perform an action on the center and that’s why it had to be find! All the work of martial arts is to find and be able to feel its center. Because if one can find the center of another person, he can move it.
To come back to our subject, we should understand that this notion of center has more than just a physical location, otherwise the interest would be minimal for martial arts!
But the fact is that, if I can detect the center of someone, I can put it in motion (mobilize its center), and thus I can defeat him. These words remind us what Archimedes said "Give me a fulcrum and a lever and I will move the earth." The interest of the concept is that it has many applications seeing that we have differents centers.
What does this mean?
For some their center is at physical sports casting, the pleasure of the flesh, flashy, tends to display ...
For others, center is at the intellectual or epistemological interest to intellectual activities, studies, research...
For others, it is the emotional center:these ones are focus on the relationship with others, their marriage, friendship, relationship with their girlfriend…
For others, the center is spiritual: interest paid to the religious life, spiritual life
For others, center is social: group activities, their image in society and especially to appearances that reference to people. In this group we generally find bankers, politicians (brief, people whose profession requires them to treat appearances).
So as I said, if I find the center of someone, he becomes vulnerable. This comes from a simple principle "If I become aware of my center, it becomes a strength for me, but if the other become aware of my center that becomes a threat. "
One often finds phrases like: "that put me out of me! "This court simply because the person was hit and thrown from its center. "
So I repeat, martial arts are based on the detection of the center of the partner and action on it in view to obtain a result, if you understand it, you can also understand that techniques are just ways to reach this goal.
What are the practical applications?
This is quite simple, if someone has a center:
* On the physical area:
For a top athlete who suffers a serious accident, his life becomes meaningless because he was hit in his center. He loses his "livelihood. That was his center! "
For someone who places great importance on his physique (let say someone very beautiful), its center is usually on the face. If I attack his face I can expect two attitudes:
-first one, he immediately stops the fight (at the risk of losing everything) because I am working to undermine his "physical integrity"
-second one, he will fall upon me like an animal if it has already been severely messed up because his center has been compromised.
* intellectual center:
Here, you just see the case of student, or students who fail their exams: the case of suicide, depression, or trauma.
* Emotional center:
See the case of persons who separate from their girlfriends or friends, those recovering from a divorce or a great friendship and who will sink completely, either because they are totally invested in the relationship, either because their used to say “it was my all, my everething”that mean’s: "THEIR CENTER! "
* Spiritual center:
Already it is necessary to differentiate between the spiritual and religious. A religious person is not always a spiritualperson. One can be religious (if the practice stops to external forms of devotion) without being a spiritual one; but spiritual person in general express himself through a religion.
When the center of someone is a spiritual (but hereit is better to understand "religious"), a person can easily be offset if you violate his religion in word or deed: see for example the case of extremists.
* Social Centre:
See the case of those losing their jobs or are laid off and fall into depression.
So how can you avoid being off-center? .
The experts from martial arts have been facing this problem for how to deal with an opponent who can detect my center?
From this concern, the concept of "kaeshi waza" has been created. But what is really the principle?
To find the solution, we have two possibilities:
-the first one is to create many center!
Of course, this is impossible! Why? Simply because ubiquity is not part of human attributes and you will never find someone who excels with the same level in all areas. The human mind is made to evolve with only one support and reference.
So what to do? The wrong solution will show us the good one! if I can’t have multiple centers, I can do something else:and this is the second option. What?
-Move the center!
That's the greatest discovery of martials arts experts.
How does it work?
For example, faced with someone who will attack my emotional center by an insult to my girlfriend, my wife or my friend, I can move my center from my emotional zone to the intellectual zone for example example, saying that what he say are just words, therefore, I become "master of myself"
Faced with someone who will attack my religious center, I can move my center from the "spiritual" zone to the emotional area, saying: "After all, the relationship is personal to the goddess! . At this point, the person in front of me is distraught because what he expected didn’t happen!
So here we are! Learning to shift its center of gravity, the concept is not so outlandish that when you think about it!
Indeed, the more compact is an object, the more easier it is to be moved. For example you can not carry water in liquid form or a snake because they don’t have a stable center of gravity. The snake has a center of gravity which is constantly changing, and moving therefore, it is difficult to grasp it.
If I can understand that, then I move through my life and my understanding of martial arts. Of course, this is the work of a lifetime; it is a work of sensation and experience. The purpose of the repetition of the techniques in martial arts is just to help us to find our center because, find its center, is finding its strength!