Being grounded can mean being aware of the ground and your connection to it. In yoga and in martial arts, being grounded can mean using your feet while standing to create a stable foundation. You can also use your feet, and your connection to the earth to feel where your center of gravity is.
Being Centered and Controlling
Being centered can mean being aware of where your center of gravity is, perhaps in part by being aware of your feet. But it can also mean unifying your body in such a way that each part is “connected” to the next.
But the body is all ready connected you might point out.
Yes, the parts of the body are connected, but due to the nature of our body we can change the quality of the connection between the parts.
By positioning the parts of our body with respect to gravity or using muscle power (or a combination of both) we can make the connections between the parts of our body more rigid. This can be advantageous if we want to create stability or the foundation for some sort of attacking action but it can also be dangerous in that an opponent can use this same rigidity to pull us of balance or throw us.
In addition, by unifying the parts of our body, by rigidly connecting each part to the next, we solidly position our center of gravity relative to our body as a whole.
If we do the opposite and go completely flaccid then we cannot stand up. We become like a sandbag. In such a state we no longer have a center of gravity. Instead, our weight is evenly dispersed throughout our body and if someone pushes pulls or prods us, our body no longer moves as one. It instead absorbs and dissipates the energy of whatever is being done to us.
With this understanding we can redefine being centered as the ability to control the parts of our body so that we can create a center of gravity, shift it, or disperse it at will.
Being Grounded and Sensitive
Meanwhile, what of grounding. With grounding we can feel where our center of gravity is, assuming we are sensitive enough. If we are upright we can have a part of ourselves stable and other parts not so solid. We can support relaxedness with stability and vary somewhere between the two. The more relaxed we are the easier we can use our senses, the more sensitive we become. If we make our feet soft enough that we can feel where our center is and yet firm enough to control our body and help to keep it upright we can stay balanced.
If we apply this idea of sensitivity to other parts of our body, say our hands, we can use our hands to feel where our partner or opponent is. We can then learn to sense what they are doing and depending on the extent of how rigid they are we can then use our “connection” to our opponent to help control them.
In real life terms, being grounded and being centered we can stay balanced whether we are trying to remain balanced with respect to the earth or whether we are engaged with a partner.
Being grounded we use connection to feel. Being Centered we control connections. The sum total of both is being present. Being present we can sense change in whatever form it takes and we can create the change that we desire.