Settling could have several different connotations that are related to the martial arts. The first is the common idea of settling for what you already know how to do. In short, deciding what you know is sufficient and you settle for that knowledge rather than striving for something more. Clearly this is contrary to the philosophies and practices of Tensoku Ryu.
A second way to think of the term settling refers to movement. This is a conscious effort to allow your center of gravity to move downward. The simplest example is to imagine you are standing on your toes. When you decide to lower your heels back to the floor you are undergoing a settling movement. Your center of gravity is now lower than it was previously. It has also moved back somewhat.
We use settling for a variety of offensive and defensive purposes. Consider an example where you move to the side of your opponent and place the back of your calf against the back of his or her calf with your heel raised off the floor. Now you press your heel back toward the floor so that your calf pushes into the opponent’s calf and your center of gravity affects the opponent’s structure. This is a settling movement that may impact the structural integrity of the opponent.
We might use this concept in a defensive manner as well. Raising your left heel slightly may cause you to lean a bit to the right, even though you maintain the same amount of weight on the left leg. This may cause an assailant to strike toward your head in its leaning location. As the attack is initiated simply settling back on the left heel will quickly move your head to the left. With a slightly concurrent rotation you will move completely off the line of attack.
You will notice settling throughout Tensoku Ryu movements. We may use more than our feet to accomplish these movements. Bending one or both knees causes you to settle. Adopting a Juji Dachi or Soft Bow stance causes you to settle. There are innumerable ways in which one can initiate and create an opportunity for a settling action.
Settling could be used to allow you to strike with a weapon from an unexpected angle. It might also allow you, in some cases, to avoid a strike or grasp. The primary use of these movements though is when you are in close contact with an opponent. As you settle your opponent’s structure will be affected. Settling will likely cause you to move into a more stable position, while it will probably cause your opponent to become less stable. Just make sure the settling action causes both yourself and your opponent to move (and not just yourself).
These movements do not need to be dramatic. Often a very subtle and nearly undetectable settling action can be more effective than a larger movement. Since subtle movements tend to be smaller it is likely that you will be able to move more quickly onto a subsequent action if you have used a more subtle settling action.