Center-Line Combat Philosophy Martial Arts 17 JAN 2009

Center-line fighting is a technique whereby a fighter attempts to control the movements of another fighter in order to gain the upper hand. The premise of this philosophy is the division of the body into 5 main center-lines.

Center Line DiagramYour main lines are the lines running vertically through the center of the body, i.e. one in the front (chest) [Line 1] and one in the rear (back) [Line 2]. These lines indicate the weaker parts of your body and every fighter strives to protect these faces. The outer lines [Lines 3 and 4] lie concurrent to your arms and legs. These lines are your strongest lines and are where attacks are generated from. Your Mother center-line is the line running parallel to your collarbone [Line5]. It is this line that you use to manipulate your opponents with. Likewise, it is the center-line that you try and line up against your opponents. By manipulating their mother center-line you control the direction that their other center-lines are facing you at.

The body is further subdivided into two zones, the live and the dead zone. The live zone is the front of your body. This zone can be defended. The dead zone is the back of your body. This zone is more difficult to defend. Thus the dead zone is one of the primary focus points for any attack.

The goal of Center-Line philosophy is to close your main center-line faces and line up your opponent with your strong outer center-lines, using your mother center-line to line up your body’s faces. Your mother center-line controls the direction you are facing. By controlling this line and manipulating the opponent’s mother center-line, you can force them to provide openings for your attacks. When fighting, you try and manipulate the opponent’s outer lines to lead you to a situation where their inner lines are open to your attack. This fighting style lends to fighting opponents in a side-on manner as this position allows you to turn your vulnerable main lines away from the opponent’s strong outer lines and at the same time line up your strong lines on your opponent’s body.

If both fighters employ this mentality then the fighting immediately lends itself to a circular fighting pattern, whereby both fighters circle each other while facing each other side-on in order to open the opponent’s main line. A skilled practitioner of this philosophy will attempt to block or strike an opponent such that during the movement their center lines will be exposed to a secondary attack or counterattack. The ideal situation for an attacker would be to open the opponent’s center line running through their back, in other words, the dead zone. This center line is the weakest because the arm and leg joints are such that a person cannot defend that face successfully. The front center line face is vulnerable but is relatively easy to defend using a combination of hand and foot blocks. The outer lines are a person’s attacking lines so they are usually strong and are able to fend off attacks.

This kind of fighting can be applied to any martial art style in practice. However, it is particularly effective in styles that stress close hand-to-hand fighting where body manipulation is a key practice. This is because each punch and block can be used to try and turn an opponent into revealing a center line. Combined with style that emphasizes fighting in circles and small foot movements, Center-line fighting is a powerful way of manipulating and controlling an opponent’s physical body and mind. If you are able to control the way in which an opponent moves their body and presents openings to your attacks, then you have essentially broken down their fighting style and have mentally triumphed over them.

About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.