Stay balanced, take balance

Written by Joe Thambu

Try this aikido drill to master the art of weight-shifting and blending with an opponent’s movement to counter-attack more effectively.

Joe Thambu demonstrates his drill for weight-shifting and blending with an opponents movement


Joe Thambu Shihan, 7th Dan, is the chief instructor of Aikido Shudokan, and teaches at his two full-time aikido schools in Melbourne. There are also Shudokan dojos across the globe and students frequently travel to Australia for a unique full-time training experience with Thambu Shihan.

In addition, with over 40 years of aikido practice and a very dynamic, effective and practical style of aikido — the Yoshinkan system, based in Tokyo, Japan — he is much sought after to share his martial arts knowledge around the country and the world. With decades of experience in the security industry, Thambu is also well known for his specialist seminars on control and restraint methods.


There are two aspects of the drill: one is turning and the other is the shifting of your weight. In both of them, you have to keep your posture and balance while keeping your partner in check.

You have to try and blend with your partner’s attack rather than clash with it by utilising different angles that work against the weak points of the opponent’s structure, and don’t battle their intention directly (for example, they grab to try to pull you, so rather than pull back, you redirect your weight sideways). You must also fix your hand to your chest as you move, so that when you move again, they are anchored to you and will be drawn further off balance.
The solo drills with which we begin are used to learn the basics of fluid weight-shifting with a step and staying balanced throughout the move — if your own balance is compromised, you cannot affect your partner’s in the way you need to.


These concepts can be used in a variety of situations where a shifting of weight or evasion can simultaneously set up a technique and break the opponent’s balance. As well as learning to maintain your own balance in movement and better understand how it is compromised, drills such as these — especially when translated to the advanced application against a live, resisting partner — give you the necessary sensitivity to shifts in weight and direction to make your timing and technique work effectively together. 

See the full drill here.