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How does kuzushi REALLY work?

So, we've been discussing how kuzushi (unbalancing) works in general and in the context of aikido and judo especially. In a desperate attempt to get more commentary on these blog posts (HINT) I put up a PollDaddy poll so y'all could tell me how you think it works. Well, with a sample size of 10, 80% said that uke is always unbalanced, 50% followed that up by saying that tori has to learn to recognize and use uke's perpetual unbalance and another 30% said that tori has to actually work to keep from putting uke back on balance. Only 20% said that they thought tori had to do a specific thing to uke to get them off balanced.
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Interesting results. I would have bet that more folks would have answered, "Tori has to do something to get uke offbalance." I mean, come on. Look at the Tomiki system - it teaches the shichihon no kuzushi (7 forms of offbalance). The Kodokan guys outline happo no kuzushi (8 forms of offbalance).  These are pretty bright guys explicitly telling us, "Do this to get uke offbalance - then throw."
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Well, the correct answer to the poll is... (drumroll, please), "Yes." Or maybe, "mu." All of these responses are different facets of kuzushi. Uke is a two-legged, moving thing, so of course he is inherently unstable. But we are wired to be very good at compensating for that unbalance to avoid falling, so tori typically hs to do something to accentuate the offbalance or to make it happen in a specific way at a particular time so it is usable. Tori also has to watch out for uke trying to use him as a crutch to regain balance. So, all the answers are partially right. Look back at yesterday's shomenate example. If you follow along with the sequence of events in that technique, I said that the explicit, technical execution of proper kuzushi was secondary to the evasion and the actual execution of the technique.
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Now hold on! Before y'all get to screaming 'heretic,' let me finish. I agree that kuzushi is crucial to a good technique. You can't do a throw unless a condition of unbalance exists beforehand. That must mean... You guessed it! If tori can do shomenate without first doing a kuzushi that must mean a state of unbalance already existed - without tori doing it. Now, I also said in the previous post that tori could often make the kuzushi better, or use it to effect a better throw if tori does something to create a specific offbalance before the throw.
So, you're all right. Sorta. I promise the next poll won't be a trick question!
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Here's y'all a decent basic reference video on how to do shomenate.


4 comments:

  1. Not a bad video on shomen-ate, but tori is striking too quickly, at least on the last version. Uke's foot is still way off the ground, giving him the slight chance to step out of the technique.

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  2. Yep, you're right, Scott. Maybe not perfect form, but overall a decent video to demonstrate the basic form a time or two and to give my non-aikido readers an idea of what I'm talking about.

    Hey, Scott. I like keeping up with your blog and I especially like the videos you posted a while back and the pictures you posted on your last post or two. I'm dying to see more pics and vids of what goes on in Clearlake!

    Maybe you can post a video response to this one in which you show some more pointers on shomenate.

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  3. Pat you are working hard to get everyone on the internet playground.
    I think that we need to have a better definition of being kuzushi.
    Right now it seems like you're saying any type of unbalanced state is kuzushi. Well then, as you say, walking down the street puts you in a constant state of kuzushi. That seems a bit broad to me.

    Instead I suggest we use the term to mean a state from which you must take an unnatural movement to prevent falling down.

    We can of course argue about what unnatural movements are :)

    That being said, you must do something, even if its getting out of the way to put someone kuzushi unless they're doing some sort of insane off the top rope type of attack.

    All types of kuzushi occur pretty much by tori doing something, even though that something is often just relaxing.

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  4. as to definition i like Moose's reiteration of KG' description which was actually more broad-- He told me that kuzushi is evident in any action that your opponent did not plan to make -- i take this to mean everything from a shift in stepping or posture all the way down to a shift in focus or intention, an eye blink, a glance, a flinch, a sudden realization ...

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