Archive for November, 2012

An Introduction to the Art of Offsetting

Posted in Internal Arts, Martial Arts, Teaching Topic, Training with tags , , , , , , on November 18, 2012 by Combative Corner

This is not an article about particular techniques, but an introduction to what I feel are some of the inner mechanisms that make our use of technique, expressible according to a certain standard.

To me, the personal mastery of the manipulation of force demands refinement of certain fundamentals, alongside of, and to be expressed within, ones physical training.


  1. Avoiding triggers of impulse and escalation in self and the recipient
  2. A developed inner condition of Calm, Composure and Proper Perception
  3. A receptive spirit and awareness of one’s constancy or slipping from the ideals of justice, mercy and nobility.
  4. A direction towards functionality, achieved through the minimum amount of effort.

With these principles at heart, I offer a basic breakdown, though not comprehensive, as it is beyond the scope of this article, of some physical components regarding personal manipulation of force, within close quarters.

Pressure, Energy and Intention Reading

The reading of pressure (while in cohesion/contact with another person’s limbs/body) is indeed of vital importance.

To ‘read’ is the ability (while in physical contact) to properly interpret and monitor the pressure, energy, lines and intention of the one whom you are in close contact with, as well to be able to feed, utilize and dissolve this pressure and energy.

It is the foremost key to being able to connect with the recipient’s centre of gravity. Through training to develop the ability to read pressure, one acquires an internally felt and externally sensed force intuition, therefore being able to govern the appropriateness and adequacy of one’s use and manipulation of force.

Controlling Centre/Centre Line

The reason we learn to read pressure and energy is essentially so that we can connect to a person’s centre of gravity. Once we have connected to a person’s centre of gravity, we in turn have the elements required to ‘offset’, to take there balance. To ‘offset’ means to disrupt, upset and control a person’s centre of gravity. In addition, this has a marriage of sorts to occupying the persons centre line.

Centre line is the line of gravity that exists from the top of the body to the ground and it is what is maintained in order for a person to stay up on there feet. If a person is most concerned with there own footing, they will be less able to properly and effectively express there own intentions, such as to strike or physically lash out.

Why Offset?

Again, the essence of ‘Offsetting’ is to take control of a persons centre of gravity, therefore disrupting there sense of balance. When we have disrupted a persons sense of balance, the success of their own intentions becoming physically expressed is greatly reduced.

Certain forms of offsetting can also be done in a manner that creates a sort of ‘state of bewilderment’ or temporary confusion in the recipient. This induced state is more conducive to potential de-escalation, as it moves the recipient from a common reactive, impulsive mode or behavior, to a confused, yet none the less ‘thinking mode’, which by its nature and reality is less impulsive.


The term offsetting means for our purposes, to disrupt the recipient’s center of gravity, to take their balance. Offsetting can be employed in a manner that results in both physical and mental disruption.

We have broken the essence of offsetting into 3 types or characteristics. It should be mentioned at this point, that the manner in which we are offsetting, is not based in throws, hip tosses, sweeps or the like. What we will be describing, at this point, (the reader can imagine) involves the recipient still being in an up-right position.

This does not mean we are for or against downing a person in some fashion, but merely to help the reader realize that most of what is occurring to the recipient is happening while they are remaining standing up. The take downs per say, are a choice, a follow up, based in a case by case situation.

Type 1 Offsetting Characteristics: On Coming Traffic

A type 1 Offset mirrors the characteristics of being struck by a car, or what we call being struck in on coming traffic. It is not a pleasant image. However it does make the point quite well, as one can imagine the force of being struck as being capable of moving the recipient in whatever direction the ‘oncoming/going force is headed. This type of offset is often abrasive, yet is not confined to being so, and is a committed, linear energy. The force of movement follows through the recipient in such a fashion, that the ‘whole ‘body moves in the direction of the force driving it.

Type 2 Offsetting Characteristics: Earth Quake

A Type 2 Offset mirrors the characteristics of being caught up in an ‘earthquake’. An earthquake sort of bumps, tips and shakes, from one direction to another in often quick, jolting manners, causing the recipient to lose there sense of balance and equilibrium.

This type of offset is often performed with a high level of explosive, percussive energy, but again is not confined as such, for at the higher levels of skill one may employ more subtle offsets by ‘complimenting’ energy, force and direction. With this level of type 2 offsetting one is able to ‘capture momentum’ and ‘compliment it’, guiding the recipient, in a non forceful manner, to ‘adjust’ according to the flow of their own energy.

These types of offsets require usually a re-wring of sorts on our part internally, as we must be able to bump and tip, without over muscling it. When we can do this, the chances of a reactive, impulsive response to what we are doing, is greatly reduced.

Type 3 Offsetting Characteristics: Missing a Step

A Type 3 Offset mirrors the characteristics of missing a step on a flight of stairs or expecting some form of resistance, only to have it completely dissolved. This is a more subtle version of unbalancing and controlling the centre of gravity then the first two types of offsetting. It is caused in absence of force, rather then by force being directly applied or through complimenting force. This type of offset is usually however, followed immediately by a Type 1 or 2 offset.

Type 1, 2, 3 Characteristics: Harmonious Interplay

Each type of Offset is meant to work in harmony and in conjunction with the other, creating a state of perpetual falling if you will. In the continuum of practice, it seems almost dance like. When training these three types of Offsets it is important to desire a level of effortlessness, by allowing for the characteristics of each to have there do course, while not focusing upon anyone of them for to long.

The full potency of all 3 types of offsets working together is that the recipient experiences a feeling of complete loss of centre, while still being controlled in a manner that is potentially trustworthy (by remaining upright). These types of offsets require a moderated use of energy, rather then a bullied, brute force expression of strength. If this is achieved, the triggering of the impulses of escalation or retaliation will be potentially reduced.

A suggestion in this regard is to learn to moderate ones energy and force, to ‘choke it off’ if you will, by allowing momentum to occur, rather than just continually exerting our own force.

Principles such as these are not easily explained without the opportunity to feel its results. This type of skill is not based in the esthetic appeal of an audience, but in hands on experience. That is where the appreciation is truly gained for its potency and potential.

Riding the Bull

A common mistake is when we feel we must be doing something all the time, which leads to muscling our way through technique and wastes of energy. I feel it is the hall mark of a mature practitioner when they are able to rest, relax and not need to do anything for a time, while riding out the energies that may be being imposed upon them.

When we are with someone that is able to control us physically, by brute force or higher skill, it is sometimes wise to know when to ‘ride the bull’ of there actions, as opposed to trying desperately to gain control by implementing our own. Attempting to implement our own force at the wrong time is a potential trigger of escalation.

We must learn to discover the appropriate time to insert our own force, or to compliment the force being imposed upon us, while guiding the exchange of energy to an appropriate end of our own design. These suggestions sound idealistic, yet it is my experience that it pays off to truly follow these ideals through, so that the appropriate skills sets begin to emerge from within us, while remaining consistent with these ideals.


The idea of doing what it takes to cultivate a true level of mastery may be getting lost in the attention span dwindling pace of today’s modern society. Though I believe we can and indeed should streamline the learning process of our crafts and sciences, the same realities for mastery are required; time and intelligent effort.

Basic Use and Manipulation of Force Distinctions:

  1. Force to Cause Movement
  2. Force to Control Movement
  3. Force to Cause Pain
  4. Force to Cause Injury

The art of Offsetting, though can be employed to enact any one of the above force distinctions, and in various combinations with each other, on its own is based in causing and controlling movement.


The art of Offsetting is closely tied to the high level ability of reading pressure while in contact with another person. Though it is an art that requires real training and proper instruction to acquire, it is a skill set that renders one more capable of appropriatizing ones use of force and energy. This is further enhanced by considering the whole entity, which should include breath control, reflection and meditation as well as an active practice of moderating ones use of force and energy, relieving the impulses to use brute strength, in its place, the desire to move with ease, in a mindful and effortless inner zone.


For more information or inquiries about personal training, professional programs, yearly training camps, teacher training programs, workshop bookings or audio-visual study aids, please contact Mr. Zacharias directly @

Jamen Zacharias

All Things Institute

1-250-455-0384 BC, Canada

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