In Search of Efficiency – Part Eight: Empty Space

I intend to write an entire book on how to see and fighting in empty space so this brief introduction will hardly do this principle justice but the fact I want to write a book on it should impart how important I think this is.

Using empty space is the key to not fighting force on force. Fighting force on force and winning requires either being stronger or making use of some other principles to come. Using empty space to fight means not ever going force on force and you can still add the other principles to come.

How do we use empty space? We can use empty space to move the Aggressor and we can use empty space in our movement.

A simple example of how to use empty space to move an Aggressor is, if you think of a person standing and you place you hand on top of their shoulder and press directly down you can picture your action will have little effect. It has little effect because you are pressing into the person’s body (their structure). Directly behind the person’s shoulder is – nothing. No other body parts. No structure. The space behind their shoulder is empty. If we press their shoulder into that Empty Space we will have an effect on their body.

A way to think of using empty space in movement to is if you were trying to catch an elevator and the doors were almost closed you would angle your body and slide through the open space between the doors. You would never think of trying to bash through the doors to get in; therefore, we apply the same approach when we move dealing with an Aggressor.

Always move into empty space and always take the Aggressor into empty space. There is always empty space. Which empty space do you go to? The one that will have the most effect which is often the biggest empty space (but not always).

While reality based practitioners frown at Aikido it is a style that, when done properly, makes fantastic use of empty space. They step into empty space and the take the Aggressor’s limbs into empty space. Empty space is constantly used. Watch good BJJ and see how they slip through empty space on the ground. Watch an excellent striker slip through the empty space between the Aggressor’s guards to strike. Empty space is an efficiency multiplier.

Empty space can, for some, have a beneficial side effect. We often become very entangled in what the Aggressor is trying to do to use and when we think of empty space that focus can remove that entanglement. I consider empty space a “must have” principle to improve any actions.

Watch clips of people you admire and look to see if they use an attribute such as speed or strength the be successful or if they use empty space. I have found the ones I admire most use empty space.