Monday, July 07, 2008

The Broader Meaning of Kuzushi

The first and most important step in applying a throwing technique [ideally: any technique] is to first employ kuzushi. Usually, I would explain kuzushi as "unbalancing", but delving a little deeper we find that kuzushi derives from the verb kuzusu, meaning "to level, pull down, or demolish".

Looking more broadly at the problem of "leveling" an aggressor, any or all of the following means can contribute to the cause:
  • Unbalancing: Bringing the aggressor's center of gravity beyond his or her base of support
  • Mis-alignment: Moving parts of the aggressor into an awkward configuration
  • Distraction
  • Pain (which can also be a distraction)
All of these measures help to reduce the aggressor's ability to resist the remainder of the technique. However, for subtle kuzushi, it is best when there is neither too much nor too little of the contributing components. Too little, and there is no effect. Too much, and your intentions are telegraphed.

By practicing cooperatively we can learn to sense when our (or our partner's) balance is lost, and where our (or our partner's) alignment is compromised. Developing sensitivity, and an acute feeling for the interplay of these factors can help to make the application of kuzushi elegant and irresistible.