The Paradox of Unstable Stability in Human Action Presentation in the embodiment conference – October 16, 2020, Friday, at 6pm IST
The physical/mechanical definition of balance is a situation where the center of gravity is above the base of the support. However, this is not just a physical issue. Balance and striving to remain balanced express a mental state. For instance, the fear of losing your balance or the panic that overwhelms you when you lose your balance are embodiments of a mental state. The responsibility for maintaining balance falls to stability, either static or dynamic, which governs the continuity of balance when external and internal forces work on the body.
The height of a body’s center of gravity, relative to the width of the base, determines the potency of the balance. In other words, a low center of gravity over a wide base is a situation of stable stability; a higher center of gravity over a narrower base is unstable stability.
"We are used to hear extolled the extreme “stability” of the judo expert and it sounds somewhat paradoxical to find the word “unstable” used to describe his action.” (Feldenkrais 1949). The judo master has the skills to command a situation by exploiting unstable stability while he simultaneously seeks to undermine his opponent’s stability. Thus, the power of stability is its ability to create support and use that support to ensure balance, thus allowing voluntary movement that is motivated by will or by necessity.
The well-known judo technique Tomoe-Nage illustrates how sacrificing one’s balance, and even falling, is a sophisticated strategy for controlling the situation and emerging victorious. This paradoxical move illustrates the power of unstable stability. “It is the perfect knowledge of balance, the manner of breaking it and of recovering it which enables the Ju-Jitsian to throw the opponent to the ground with ease without “using force” in the usual sense of the term “(Uyenishi 1905).
The ability to fall completes and complements stability. One can even argue that knowing how to fall enhances the ability to act in an unstable situation.
In my presentation I will expand on Unstable Stability from different aspects, and I’ll use a short process of movement to let everyone experience sacrificing stability and safely controlling balance through movement.