I dusted off the Dogi the other night (it’s been a while) and paid a visit to Redlands Aikido to share some thoughts on stability (thanks for the invite Clem). Whilst I didn’t go the full toppling biomechanics. We worked on the idea that as long as the Tanden (Centre of Mass) is inside our feet (Base of Support) we are stable. Once it ventures out side this point we stand to fall, if we are lucky we catch our selves with a step…this is calling walking (a repeated practice of controlled falling).
The really interesting thing is as we explore this by moving our centre of mass around until we feel unbalanced is that we discover we start to lose our balance before we get outside the limits of our stance, and if we gently move our partner through the same thing we can feel their balance is lost slightly before they feel it. This is true for high level athletes as well…but sensitivity to it can be trained (if we are not to stiff or focused on power). The next step is putting it into technique, by moving their CoM to very precise points outside their perimeter we can help Uke find which foot they need to move to take the tumble.
Thus we find that its possible to take someones balance and not have them even be aware of it…maybe this in part explains how little old Japanese men seem to be able to chuck our westerners around with such aplomb?