My son Sam stole my balance today!
I had squatted down on the balls of my feet this morning to give Sam a hug, and he leaned towards me enough that I started falling over backwards. Sam on weighs about 40 pounds, but it took very little pressure from him to almost totally unbalance me: I was practically on my toes already and in a very precarious position.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, balance stealing is a tactic used in Aikido and Bagua Zhang (and other arts as well, I’m sure) to subtly get your opponent off balance and then do terrible things to them. I find a nice applications demo on Youtube that illustrates the application here (requires Flash, sorry).
I felt pretty conflicted at that moment, because morning hugs are a big deal in our house, and I let the kids hug me until they feel like they’ve had enough. I work a lot and I want my time with the kids to count, so telling him that he had to stop was unappealing.
Fortunately, we were in the kitchen, and our kitchen island (which is on wheels) was just within reach. I reached out and hooked a single finger behind one of the table legs and the problem was solved.
All of this illustrates the beauty and power of balance stealing: I could cancel out the force he was exerting on me with one finger, but without that stabilizing force, I was helpless.