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Kuzushi is positioning plus timing

Typically in judo you begin learning throws by making an agreement that uke will stand still and let you push and pull him into the right shape for the throw. Then it is sort of assumed that you can, over time, figure out how to get uke into that shape in randori or shiai. The problem with that assumption is the opponent never stands still! Never - Ever! So, it is really hard to translate the so-called skills that you are alledgedly learning in kihon practice into resistive randori practice.
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Part of this problem is a misunderstanding of what kuzushi (offbalance) is. Kuzushi is not just a positional challenge for uke. You do not necessarily attain kuzushi by pushing or pulling uke into a certain posture - even if you do the pushing/pulling exactly right. You can do everything that sensei tells you, consistently right every time, and sometimes you get a true offbalance condition and sometimes you don't.
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The secret: Kuzushi is not just a positional thing, but it is also a timing event! If you do something close to right positionally, and you do it with close to the right timing, you get a reliable offbalance condition nearly every time! So, what's the magical timing?
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The instant that uke's moving foot hits the ground is the time to do an offbalance. You can perhaps find other times, but this is the only reliable one that is easy to use. As uke moves either foot, watch for it to land and then do your offbalance push or pull that sensei taught you. You'll get much more mileage!
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PS. This is equally applicable in aikido, judo, or karate!
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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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