I can’t be the only one this has happened to. Your riding the train, minding your business, when all of a sudden, out of spite, the mean ole train conductor pulls to an abrupt stop nearly making you tumble head over heels.Okay, okay, perhaps the train conductor isn’t doing it out of spite, I wouldn’t imagine so at least. But the fact remains that sometimes trains may shift suddenly. I think it’s tough for people to keep their balance while standing on trains because unlike a buses, another common mode of transport, you can’t necessarily see what’s happening outside of the train. The train tunnels can be quite dark and it can be hard to tell when the rail is about to make a turn. Also with stops, it can be a bit tricky to judge exactly when the train conductor is going to hit the brakes. With buses you can judge these factors pretty easily, right? Because you have windows, open roads you can see, and you can see the same stop lights/signs that the driver sees.
On the way home from work I decided to stand up during my 20 minute commute. After having that 39.9゜fever (I’m not exactly sure what caused it) a little while back, I decided not to use the support handles hanging from the crossbars on the train. When the Tsukuba Express pulled to the first stop, Miraidaira (みらいだいら), though it was only a small stumble, I lost my balance. The second stop Midorino (みどりの) was very much the same thing, a slight stumble. Initially I wasn’t using the handle supports because I was being slightly germophobic (I’m not usually) but ended up wanting to figure out how I could keep my balance with no stumbles. I was kind of like a game for me.
Being that I didn’t want to make a scene by simply levitating (sigh…you know how people can be when you show off your mutant powers 😉 ), I thought about my karate training. In Kyokushin karate, there is a stance called sanchin dachi (三ちん立ち) or the three-fights stance (I don’t know why it’s called that). In this stance you step back with the right or left foot, elbows braced into your sides, forearms extended and fists raised, with your toes pointed inward at 45 degree angles:
This is generally used as a training stance (not really for fighting) and it allows the karateka (karate practitioner) to keep their balance quite well. I wasn’t going start doing these forceful inhale/exhale exercises (like the man in the video above) on the train and break out into a formal Kyokushin stance, elbows in position and fists raised…because that would be embarrassing and just a tad weird. Can you imagine the looks you’d get on the train?
But one thing I did take from this stance was the foot position. In the sanchin stance, the toes of both feet are pointing inward, which means that your heels point outward. I tried this while riding, and for the Bampaku Kinen Koen, Kenkyu Gakuen, and Tsukuba stops, I was able to keep my balance without trouble. I was actually able to get a better sense of my balance and the train’s movement by standing this way…now if I can just learn that blasted fireball!
So the next time you’re standing on the train and you can’t reach one of the support handles try a little experiment: 1. first face one of the exit doors (it’s much more effective this way) and 2.try pointing your toes in just a bit and flaring your heels out just a bit. It kind of looks like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz just before she’s about to click her heels to get back home, except your heels will stay in contact with the floor:
I found this trick works for stops and starts (at least for me it does). Keeping your balance without the hand supports while the train is shifting and in motion is a little different and a little more difficult to do. Is there anything special you do to keep your balance on the train?