Finding Center

RJJ LogoI am sure, by now, you have heard Jack Sensei mention the center line. I originally learned this concept from another instructor who had studied the art of Wing Chun and so I thought it was a Chinese martial arts concept. I have seen it mentioned over and over in the writings of Bruce Lee. Oddly enough, after I had decided to write this article, Peter Sensei talked about last week in my Aikido class.

So, what is the center line? It is a line that runs through your center of your body. Okay, so that is not really helpful, is it? However, if you think about the targets that run along this line, you can see how very important it is to what we do. What targets are on this line you might ask? Well, going from top to bottom, you have the eyes, the nose, the chin, the throat, the sternum, the solar plexus, the bladder, and finally the groin. Think of some of the other targets on the body, things like the ribs, kidneys, knees, and temples that run on either side of the center line.

If you look at our strikes, most of the either hit a target directly on the center line, or are designed to go through the centerline. Think of strikes like a knife hand to the side of the neck or a crescent kick. I want you think about our blocks, when we block we turn our hips. This shifts our center line away from the attack.

There is another use of the term center line. In Aikido, they spend a lot of time on working on ‘Ma ai‘ or ‘proper distance’. They also talk about center line as the line that runs from attacker to defender. I am sure you are familiar with this concept… “If a train is coming down the tracks, step off the tracks ~ Doug Langworthy”.

Jujitsu, like Aikido, believes in getting off that center line of attack. We do this in techniques like “Simple wrist lock throw from knife thrust attack” and dozens of others. By moving off that line, you can establish a new line of attack. I feel this is important; you need to recognize where the attack is coming from before you can defend yourself against it. You need to be aware of that line and learn how to protect your center. I feel this will go a long way toward making you a better prepared student.

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About the Author

My name is Clayton Søby and I am a Nidan from Rushmore Jukite Ju-Jitsu. I started studying Jukite Ju-Jitsu in August 2001. I still train when I can. In the meantime, I keep busy writing a monthly column for the website and studying Aikido here in Maryland. I hope to see you in class whenever I can make it back to visit.