Saturday, April 4, 2009

Self-Defense Tip: Protect the Centerline

A central concept for most Martial Arts I have practiced is: Protect the Centerline. This is that imaginary line that runs right down the front of your face to your crotch.

For self-defense purposes you do not want to get pushed straight backwards against this line. Your balance and root will be taken and you are easy prey for followup attacks.

Learn to guard your centerline with Tai Sabaki...body movement... and arm location. A good exercise to learn how to guard your centerline is a warm up we do called the Elephant Swing. All you do is stand shoulder width apart and begin swinging your hips back and forth. Allow your arms to swing freely and flop back and forth across your chest and back. It is a lot like that toy in the Karate Kid. It looks like a little drum on a stick and attached are two little balls on a string. Rotating the stick back and forth causes the balls to strike the drum.

This exercise teaches you how to protect your centerline by turning and allowing your arms to catch whatever comes in its range. Play with it and see what happens. Stand toe-to-toe with someone and have them reach for you or punch your center line while swinging. Be curious as to what comes next. Have them reach high, middle and low.

There are many other ways to protect your centerline and if you watch and notice good self-defense you will see how the centerline is always guarded. When self-defense is conducted properly your centerline is the turning point of the action...just like in the elephant swing. Just a tip for the day.

If you have more ideas or tips on this subject we are always open to learning.

Take Care,



  1. Control of center line is critical. We discuss it during self-defense, kata and kobudo. I never made the connection between the "elephant swing" warmup and a centerline drill. It does look like the little drum. Good tip.