In traditional Martial Arts often there is a fixation on remaining “in balance”. Many TWFM practitioners have had the experience of having others who have training in traditional martial arts getting hung up on our movements tendency for “leaning forward” or what they sometimes call “being off balance”.
The concept of “balance” in TWFM is one of the unique concepts which makes TWFM different from many traditional styles. In short, there is an element of real fighting which many martial arts do not take into account with their techniques and that is what we call “the press”. In real fights and violent encounters there is a raw element of an enemy driving their spine towards you and through you seeking to overwhelm you. They never stop in front of you but are always driving through you.
If you seek to do techniques from perfect balance you usually end up getting knocked backwards off balance from the press. Off angling and other evasive tactics, defections and hooks are all good, but they must be executed while you are also driving through the enemy’s spine with your spine and constantly taking their space, otherwise there will be struggle or the enemy will seize the press and will dominate you, even if their methods are not sophisticated in a martial arts sense.
A good visual reference is to watch this video that I am putting a link to. This video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7auscbtCqo&list=PLDoJvSrRtZ_RXeLACKq6AUGOCRVh5SvVo&index=38) shows several martial arts knife defense techniques compared to actual assaults. As a caveat I do not think that it is being fair to all martial arts as it shows demonstrations from seemingly low level practitioners, but the attacks in the video definitely show several examples of the violent pressing that is the core of real non sport fighting.
Consider attempting to stand in place, perfectly vertical in “static” balance to do your technique while facing some of the attacks in the video you just watched. You would be run over unless you meet their press with an aggressive dynamic press of your own that achieves “kinetic” balance with the opponent who is not static but is kinetic and in motion. You must engage full bore and put them on the defensive while controlling their attack with your own attacks and counters or you must completely escape the danger and get out of the scenario. To try to “defend” yourself or stay in balance is the wrong mindset and bears little success.
When you watch advanced practitioners of any art while they are applying their skills, they often instinctively incorporate this principle of pressing. They do not stand vertical in “perfect balance” while they fight but rather are flanking and driving through the enemy’s body with their own to overwhelm the enemy. In short, perfect balance in a fight is different than when one is standing by oneself. Perfect balance requires you to press them with your spinal motion and to drive through them. If you seize the press then the opponent is off balance while you execute your strikes, kicks, and grappling attacks.
Pressing is one of the core concepts in TWFM. It does not mean moving into the enemy in an uncontrolled foolish manner, it means incorporating all the basic methods of offensive and counter offensive actions that one is used to seeing in all martial arts, but doing so while seeking to constantly displace your opponent’s spine with your own and constantly give them no balance nor space. In other words, all techniques must be executed with a press and must be designed to seize the press as quickly as possible and to never relent that press until the appropriate finish is achieved.
Pressing is also an internal phenomenon, meaning that we want to overwhelm the enemy psychologically and knock their heart out, heavily demoralizing them so they want to quit and are moved to a defensive and fearful mindset. Bridging is the counterpart and compliment for pressing, which can roughly be understood as the skill of neutralizing and negating struggle with the enemy while you press. It is the working smarter, with maximum effectiveness and efficiency, seeking to always make your first move your last or a set up for your last.
From day one in TWFM we learn bridging and pressing and every skill that we learn is incorporated into them as extensions and expressions of the concepts. If you understand bridging and pressing in full then you understand everything about the core of TWFM. It is not so much that there are good and bad movements and techniques. There are many viable movements that can cause damage to your opponents when done with a proper press and where the same movement can be useless when done without a press. This is why our notion of balance is different in TWFM.