Center of circle and control

Generally in martial art, we like to be the center of a circle, and make our opponent move in a circle outside of us. That’s a very crucial advantage, as tiny movement on our part ( θ in the diagram below) requires a much bigger movement from our opponent ( L in diagram below) in response. For example if someone grabs your wrist with one hand, twist it, and apply pressure on the back of your elbow with other hand, turning your arm into the radius r of the circle. If you want to maintain the same relative position, you on the outside of the circle needs to move a far greater distance. When you do θ fast, it’s not always possible to do L. That’s the principle behind throwing skills right?


Conversely, if the opponent try to do L, we just need to do θ. So how can Bagua work then, if we extend L and try to circle all the way behind the opponent, he can defeat that using a much smaller (semi-)circle on the inside:


What makes it works then is the key skill emphasized in internal martial art – control. If you cannot achieve control, to off-balance or at the very least distract the opponent, prevent him from reacting to what you do next, you will not be able to circle around him.

So how do we achieve control? We use various type of jin (trained force: ex. top spinning force in pool is a type of jin) that are great for controlling opponents (vs striking). And if we classify them, we can see a lot of them are circular type of forces. The definition of a circle is a line where every point on the line is equal distance from a central point. What does that mean? It means evenness, smoothness. If I do something to you using a circular force, it’s harder for you to detect and respond. Of course here circular here means oval, ellipse, etc, it doesn’t have to be a perfect circle. It’s a more complex force than linear forces, which, anyone who played the balance game (two people stand facing each other, put palms together, and try to push each other off balance) can tell are very ‘pure’ and easy to detect and counter. If you break apart the circles you practice in the palm changes, you can tell they are individual skills for using a circular force to deal with strikes from various angles and achieving control in the process.

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July 2009
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