How to Improve Balance for Martial Arts

I get a lot of questions about balance. Mostly from people having a hard time throwing high kicks. But don’t give up yet!

The fact is that developing your balance is important for every martial artist, whether you throw high kicks or not. So, let me give you one simple exercise to help improve your balance.

If the video doesn’t play, you’ll find a summary below. Stay centered, my friend!

How to Improve Balance for Martial Arts

In self-defense, if you get pushed, pulled, or knocked down, that usually makes a bad situation even worse. If you fall down on your own, well, that’s just humiliating! Let’s stop that from happening!

My first teacher in the martial arts was a guy named Bruce Lee—maybe you’ve heard of him. In his collection of notebooks, the Tao of Jeet Kune Do, he shared this advice—

Feel yourself in a balanced state. … Feel the difference by putting yourself in balanced and unbalanced positions.

Interesting. He also wrote this—

…balance might mean being able to throw one’s center of gravity beyond the base of support, chase it, and never let it get away.

Now, I can’t be sure what Bruce Lee was saying exactly, but for me, the big idea was that you shouldn’t always practice your skills the right way, you should also practice them the wrong way. That’s because sometimes the best way to learn how to do something is to learn how to not do something. So, here’s my tip…

If you want to improve your balance, go throw yourself off-balance.

Seriously—instead of losing control of  your center of gravity by accident, lose it on purpose. Just throw your center around, chase it, and try to get it back.

Balance TrainingThe goal of this drill is not to look cool, it’s just to get better at moving your center and catching your balance.

Yes, it sounds crazy, but it really works! It works because instead of always struggling to hold your center, you’re actively finding your center.

Think of balance as a verb, not a noun.

Instead of trying to maintain a frozen state of being, keep moving and adapting… just like you would in a real fight.

Here’s another variation of the drill…

Pretend you’re in a real fight. Take a big punch, give a big punch. I mean, way too big!

Don’t worry about being perfect. Take that pressure off yourself and just have some fun being imperfect on purpose.

Get hit, fall down, throw terrible techniques. Be the worst fighter you can be!

One more variation…

Balance DrillClose your eyes.

Closing your eyes helps in two ways. First, it makes recovering your balance more difficult.

Second, you won’t be able to see everybody laughing at you! You’ll still hear them, sure, but at least you won’t see them.

That’s it! Take Bruce Lee’s advice—or my interpretation of his advice— and improve your balance by spending some time losing your balance. I think you’ll find there’s a lot to learn from being imperfect on purpose.

For more advice from Bruce Lee, check out, 7 Lessons I Learned from Bruce Lee.

For extra tips on developing your balance in a fighting stance, check out, The Worst Fighting Stance.