Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Call me "Trim Tab Sensei"

This weekend I'm going to be talking at Union University about kuzushi (off-balance) among other things.  
Kuzushi is a force magnifier.  Suppose, in a given situation, it would take 100 units of force to throw your opponent, and you only have 50 units at your disposal.  Unless you do something to weaken uke or make him at least 50 units more susceptible then you will not be doing your technique.
That is not too hard to imagine, but what if you only have 10 units of force at your disposal... Do you suppose you still might find a long enough lever to do a 100 unit technique?
What if you only have 1/2 unit of force that you can use... Is that sort of force magnification even possible?  I mean sure, Copernicus or someone said if you give him a lever long enough and a place to stand he'd move the Earth,  but I'm talking about in real-world situations.  Is it possible to get good enough at actual skills (not jedi magic tricks) that you can magnify your potential 200x or minimize the opponent's strength by 200x?
Sure.  There are examples from physics of force magnification much greater than that.  For instance, from the Wikipedia article on trim tabs...
The engineer Buckminster Fuller is often cited for his use of trim tabs as a metaphor for leadership and personal empowerment. In the February 1972 issue of Playboy, Fuller said: "Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary—the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there's a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab. It's a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it's going right by you, that it's left you altogether. But if you're doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go. So I said, call me Trim Tab."
Apparently the old dead Chinese dudes were right when they suggested that a force of an ounce could turn a force of 1000 pounds.

It's not too much of a stretch to believe that this sort of leverage exists.  The REAL trick is learning to do it on a scale that is useful in combat, without tools, in real time, and under stress.


photo courtesy of JD Hancock

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Patrick Parker
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