Monday, March 31, 2014


We are indoctrinated from day-1 in judo and aikido that the pre-requisites to doing a technique include...

  • you have to have uke off-balanced (kuzushi)
  • you have to move yourself to the right place (tsukuri)

Most everyone buys into this kuzushi-tsukuri-kake idea, but sometimes it can be difficult to tell if uke is offbalanced - or if he is off-balanced enough that you can do your technique.  If you think that kuzushi means to make uke lean, then how far do you have to lean him?  And then you come across people that can still bust you even when they are leaning and you thought they should have been off-balance.
For a while now I've been trying to find simple, functional, reliable indicators of kuzushi.
Some of my betters define kuzushi as "any time that uke has to take at least one unintended step before they can attack you effectively."
If tori is able to get into shikaku (the dead zone behind uke's shoulder) then even if uke is not obviously leaning, he is (by definition) off-balance, because to continue to attack effectively uke will have to turn to face tori.
So, the act of moving behind uke is tsukuri for many throws, and it is also creating a condition of kuzushi.
The systematic way that we train tori to move behind uke we call hanasu (releases) and some clubs call it musubi renshu (connection practice) and other clubs just call it shichihon no kuzushi (7 offbalances).  The objective of each release is to place tori behind uke (in shikaku) and at the same time create a condition of offbalance (kuzushi).  So, since we train releases so much, you can use finishing the release as your heuristic-
If you are able to finish a release then uke is (by definition) off-balance and you are in position for a technique.

[photo courtesy of wikipedia]

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Patrick Parker
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