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Defining kuzushi

Photo courtesy of Colin Whittaker
There is a funny phenomenon about defining terms - you have to strike a balance (get it? ;-) between having a definition that is sufficiently broad and vague to encompass all of the meanings and connotations of the construct, and having a definition that is more specifically useful but which leaves out part of the meaning of the construct.
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For instance, the definitions that we typically find most useful in judo and aikido are so broad as to be nearly useless to the beginner.
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Offbalance is catching the opponent unprepared
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Offbalance is when the opponent has to make an additional arbitrary motion before they can continue fighting effectively.
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The immediate first question is always, "Well, how do I do that?"  These conditions can be easy to achieve but difficult to know how to use effectively and systematically.
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But on the other hand, you could define kuzushi as when the opponent's center of balance is teetering over the edge of their base of support and their posture is completely wrecked.  This is a offbalance condition that is easier to use but harder to find or achieve - you just can't get the enemy to hold still in that wrecked posture long enough for you to do something to him.
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As you move beyond the uttermost basic levels in aikido or judo and you begin to make a study of kuzushi and how to attain it and how to use it, you will find that the previous, more broad definitions are far more useful. 
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Kuzushi is everywhere.  It is in us and all around us.  We just have to figure out how to recognize it and how to put it to use.
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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