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Trainer Talk

Balance is Everything — Understanding the Pyramid Concept

Balance is Everything — Understanding the Pyramid Concept


The 1980 edition of Law and Order magazine included an article written by ASP founder and CEO Kevin Parsons. It was called “The Seven Components of Power,” and its principles hold true to this day. The first and most fundamental of the components of power is balance. Balance applies to any athletic endeavor, including the physical and tactical demands of Law Enforcement. An officer needs to be able to control a confrontation, while minimizing the risk of injury. The biggest and strongest person can be very weak if he or she is exhausted or off balance. 

What is balance?

Balance Is defined as the body’s ability to maintain its center of mass over the base of support. This is, of course, most important during an emergency—whether running, jumping, room clearing, protecting from an attack or riot formations. Balance plays a critical role and is best achieved by using the Pyramid Concept, which is the most stable platform for defensive measures. It is also the foundation of all ASP techniques.

The Pyramid stance is wider and deeper than the interview stance, and is taught in a progressive format. It works for one-on-one instruction, or when teaching a large group. Its principles work for a seasoned fighter, or a rookie police recruit. It consists of 4 easy steps:

1) Wide Base

The feet are approximately shoulder width apart, and weight is evenly distributed over both feet. This establishes lateral balance.

2) Deep Base

A deep base is achieved by moving your weapon leg (dominant side) to the rear. This will increase linear balance and the stability of your stance. For a right handed person this would normally mean moving the right leg back. Don't compromise the shoulder width stance established in step one; keep your stance wide as you now make it deep.

3) Low Center

A slight knee bend (equal in both legs) will achieve a low center. This is not a squat—just lower your center a little. You will now start to feel balanced and stable.

4) Head over Center

The final element of the Pyramid is to keep your head over center. We do not want to compromise our balance by having our weight too far forward or rearward. Keeping the head over center keeps the shoulders over the hips, and provides a lot of strength for even a small statured individual. We have all heard “wherever the head goes the body follows,” and it is easy to destabilize yourself by not keeping your head over center. 

Once you’ve established your pyramid stance, raise your hands up with your fists (or open hands) at about chin level. This hand position is the exact same whether it is empty hand or holding a baton, handcuffs or flashlight.

As with most effective and repeatable techniques and training, bear in mind the “KISS” principle: Keep It Short and Simple. The more you train these concepts, the sooner the pyramid will become automatic and easy to recall under stress.

Jim Klauba

Chicago Police Department (Ret.)

ASP Trainer since 2011