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Self Defense/Martiala arts and centreline theory


Hi Marc,

I have a question regarding the common centreline theory in martial arts. Many experienced martial artists are big advocates of taking a stance that occupies centreline. From what I understand, the theory is that you occupy the fastest, most direct attack route, forcing your opponent to throw punches around your guard in a looping or hooking manner.  However, my question with this is doesn't this always leave you in 'inside gate' after blocking/deflecting an attack.  Even if you plan moving to outside afterwards, in the immediate aftermath of an attack- you are in inside gate.  Wouldn't this be dangerous against an opponent who throws rapid successive attacks, like say, a boxer?  How do you step offline of an attack when taking centreline means that all attacks will come in a curved manner-meaning that stepping offline to outside gate would mean potentially crashing into the attack?  I guess I could be looking at it wrong, but to me it seems that taking centreline means you are always 'on the tracks' and have to work your way from inside gate to outside gate.  Basically, you are in the danger zone too long.  What am I missing?

Also, I've always wondered why I never see boxers take centreline stance?  I know they have something kind of similar in that they have their lead foot pointed at their opponents centre, but their arms are more open at the centre allowing them to deflect from outside gate while stepping offline or slip offline.



Get up, go to the kitchen and get two spoons.

Go ahead. I'll wait.

Now instead of stacking them so they fit together (spooning), flip them so the handles overlap, but the bowls are opposite. It should look like this:


That's two people fighting over centerline while facing each other. The centerline is shared. And yes, if the other person goes around, it's going to leave you in inside gate.


Now, here's the thing that people forget... you don't have to share centerline -- especially if you move. Take one of the spoons and move the bowl so it's not at the end of the other spoons handle, but it's handle is still on the other spoon's bowl.


Now you've created two separate centerlines. He's on yours but you're not on his.

This slows him WAY down. If he tries to reorient on you, you move again. Or better yet, you don't give him a chance.  

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Marc MacYoung


Street self-defense, crime avoidance and personal safety


I grew up in the streets of Los Angeles in 'situational poverty.' I have dealt with criminals and violent people all my life -- both personally and professionally. I have written 15 books and 6 videos on surviving street violence. I was originally published under the name Marc Animal MacYoung. (Animal was my street name). I've taught police and military both internationally and within the US. I've lectured at universities, academies and done countless TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews. I'm a professional speaker on crime avoidance and personal safety. And I am an expert witness recognized by the US court system. My bio is at My abridged CV (Curriculum Vitae) is at

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Read "In the Name of Self-Defense" the streets don't give a Ph.D in scuffle.

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