By: John Woodend
Balance is the stability of the body. Centering is the stability of mind. Together, being balanced and centred creates the mind and body coordination. While having the mind and body coordination, one can move with stability, which happens to be the underlying goal of every sport, action, or endeavour that requires movement. Seems simple enough. However, the methods of how to get there are vast and it seems all teachers have different explanations on how to get to the same place. Aikido is no different. It is just one more method of trying to attain and practice dynamic stability.
There are four principles for the mind and body coordination: Keep One Point, Relax Completely, Keep Weight Underside, Extend Ki. The good news is if you learn one principle you will be doing them all. The bad news is if you are breaking any of the principles you can’t have the mind and body coordination.
Keeping one Point – Simply put, this is centring your body. Your center of gravity is in your lower stomach, three to four inches below your navel. If you want to see a perfect example of “One Point” look at a baby that just learned how to stand and walk. Awkward for sure, but perfect natural balancing.
Relax Completely – Just like it sounds. Not holding tension in your muscles or in your mind.
Keep Weigh Underside – This principle connects you to the ground. It is the practice of feeling gravity and utilizing gravity to your advantage.
Extend Ki – Ki is the thing/energy/force that has no translatable word in the English language. It is the thing that makes a live person alive. Extending Ki is the practice of feeling beyond your skin, having a large presence and avoiding collapsing in on oneself.
There is a lot more instruction and details that go into each of these principles. However, when practicing and understanding each of the four principles the others fall into place. You can feel it in your gut when you have the mind and body coordination. Things just fall into place. Whether your movement is related to a sport or carrying bags of groceries, mind and body coordination will make you more effective, perform tasks easier and more importantly it keeps you safer from injuries.