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Weight Placement and Pivoting -- Part 2

Should you pivot on the ball of your foot or on the heel?

In Shorin-Ryu, I have always assumed that we should pivot on the ball. However, in Tai Chi and Gung Fu (which I studied in high school), I distinctly remember that we pivoted on the heel. When you pivot on your heel, you can trap the attacker's foot with your own (the ball and mid part of your foot would rotate on top of the attacker's foot).

How you pivot will affect the line you take. Imagine a straight line extending on the floor in front of you. Take a jigotai dachi (or similar stance) on the line with your right foot forward. You should now be facing to the left. Adjust your position so that the line runs through the center of your feet (between the toes and heel) and your body's side sechusen (centerline). The balls of your feet should be to the left of the line and your heels should be to the right. Do you have it?

OK. Now pivot on your right foot and step forward into a left jigotai dachi. You should now be about one body space forward.

Look down at your feet.

If you pivoted on the balls of your feet, you will now be to the left of the line. If you pivoted on your heels, you will now be to the right of the line. Either way, you are no longer on the line. Your body has shifted.

Now that is OK if you intended to shift, but if you did not, what happened?

Either way (shifting to the left or right of the line) it took energy to move off the line. It would have been more efficient to move straight on the line. Shifting off the line makes you somewhat vulnerable to being thrown or pushed one way or the other. And if you are using a weapon (such as a bo or spear), you would have lost your line of attack.

Shifting on the balls or heels of your feet requires you to move off the line.

Of course, you could pivot half-way on the ball and then switch to the heel, but that is a little difficult to do. Doing so, however, would keep you on the line.

Is there an alternative?


Charles C. Goodin