Balance is an essential quality for the warrior to develop. It directly affects our ability to move with grace, coordination, agility, and power. Yet direct balance training exercises seem to be a neglected area in many people’s training programs unless they are recovering from an injury or trying to fix a specific weakness. Personally, I think they should be an integral part of training.
The following is an introduction to the balance drills I use to train myself as well as my martial arts students and fitness clients. I hope you find them as useful as we do.
There are 3 Systems the Body Uses to Orient Itself in Space
1. Visual – Relying on sight is the second fastest and most efficient mechanism in our balance (unless we are in a dark room!). Most people tend to rely on visual cues for balance, to the detriment of the other 2 systems. The visual system relies on a physiological reflex called the Ocular Gyro Cephalic reflex which creates tension chains that reflexively cause the body to orient toward whatever the eyes see.
2. Vestibular – This system relies on the fluid within the ears to sense balance. As we move, the fluid sloshes around. If we are not used to a particular pattern of movement, we may begin to feel dizzy. The brain works to process this information and integrate it with the information coming in from both the visual and proprioception systems.
3. Proprioception – This our sense of position and movement of the limbs and the sense of muscular tension. Proprioception utilizes information derived from sensory receptors in our muscles, tendons, and joints to inform us of changes in movement, position, and tension. Proprioception is plugged directly into our nervous systems making it possibly the fastest and most efficient mechanism for balance, as long as we train it.
The balance drills shown in the video below will allow you to train all 3 systems concurrently.
For more information on balance and proprioception training, check out my book Warrior Fitness: Conditioning for Martial Art.