Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Kuzushi in deashibarai

Have you smelled the smoke yet?  The smoke coming from the grinding of the gears in my head?  It's Sean's fault because of his article he posted this morning at Northern Wind Budo Blog.
And when the gears start a grindin' and the smoke starts a pourin' like that, there's no telling what might result.  I thought I'd try my hand at describing just where the kuzushi is at in several throws.  I thought I'd start at the very beginning (a very good place to start) with deashibarai.
First, based on a couple of previous articles, we can say a pretty good definition of kuzushi is "a properly timed and directed application of force that causes uke to make an action that he had not planned to make."  Sure, there are some weird, spooky ways to get some interesting offbalances, but for the most part you have to push or pull uke in a certain direction at a certain time, and that causes him to make some unintended action that you can exploit.  So, in order to describe a kuzushi, I'll have to describe the timing and direction of the push/pull as well as the unintended action that uke makes.
So, how is this done in deashibarai (at least in the deashibarai we usually teach beginners and pracice the most)?
  • timing - right when uke's foot touches the ground on a backward step.
  • direction - push their torso in the direction of their back foot
  • unintended action - uke puts more weight than he wanted to in his back foot, then rocks back forward.
  • exploitation - as uke starts to rock back forward, you sweep his unweighted front foot.
One of the biggest problems with a lot of people's deashi is that instead of a sharp "on-off" sort of push which causes uke to rock back then forward, tori pushes too hard and long which causes uke to rock back and then step backward out of your deashi.  In this case, the unintended action (kuzushi) is uke stepping back with the leg you were intending to sweep so your exploitation is to step with uke and then do deashi on the other leg. 
Patrick Parker
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