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Old 07-30-2015, 09:20 PM   #1
Peter Boylan
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Kuzushi Is More Than Off-balancing

I've been working a lot on kuzushi lately. I've heard it talked about a lot, but I'm not really happy with the usual translation of "off-balancing.' So I wrote this blog to explore my thoughts on kuzushi.

http://budobum.blogspot.com/2015/07/...balancing.html

What do you think? Did I stretch it too far?

Peter Boylan
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Old 07-31-2015, 01:16 AM   #2
Dan Richards
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Re: Kuzushi Is More Than Off-balancing

Peter, I think you're getting way too much into what someone is "doing" to another.

You could, in another way, condense your article to one word.

"Cut."

Simply cut the cord.
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Old 07-31-2015, 07:56 AM   #3
Peter Boylan
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Re: Kuzushi Is More Than Off-balancing

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Peter, I think you're getting way too much into what someone is "doing" to another.

You could, in another way, condense your article to one word.

"Cut."

Simply cut the cord.
Dan,

I'm sorry, but I'm afraid that's just a little too cryptic for me. Can you explain further?

Peter Boylan
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Old 07-31-2015, 05:20 PM   #4
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Kuzushi Is More Than Off-balancing

1 The first technique twists his structure to the left and off his center.
Yes - but that does not always mean he is off-balanced. He was forced into that but through training he has learned to move there and keep his balance - maybe. But an untrained person ...

2 The second technique, a stop strike, drives the swordsman’s head and upper body back and slightly off balance.
As above. If someone strikes me and I move back I avoid, so, the swordsman is learning to avoid and may or may not be on or off balance depending upon the skill. Of course, if I have to avoid I am already on the run and it is weak and even if physically balanced I may be mentally unbalanced ...

Of course, the kata may teach and require this or that principle but by being uke and being supposed to be off balance we actually learn to keep our balance. You can only really learn this stuff by testing it out on people (with crafty exercises).

Kuzushi is super important but not always necessary. For example, the swordsman can cut you in half or a knife can slash you whether you are on balance or not. Being a good uke and becoming 'slippery' and 'seemingly off balance in an Aikido context would for better defence ... would it not ...

Kuzushi, tsukuri and kakke should happen at the same time in good Judo - so a teacher once told me. The less kuzushi uke feels the more likely it will work. And better, if you create and predict the future by manipulating your partner (body/mind) and your body is already where uke is 'going to be' ... if you know what I mean. In effect, it happens to uke rather than you make it happen actively. Does that even make sense? I could debate this stuff for hours ...

Aiki is not kuzushi, in my opinion. Aiki is flow, so you match and redirect your partner's flow, and that is aiki. Of course, you can off balance him with aiki, or not, but aiki is the flow of it. Locking his joints up is an irimi kind of flow - a reversal, releasing and going with ... is like tenkan. Obviously, uke may become unbalanced, but a good Aikido uke becomes more skilled at maintaining balance (or so he should) ... which is why uke learns more than tori ...which is how I see it.

Last edited by Rupert Atkinson : 07-31-2015 at 05:25 PM.

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Old 07-31-2015, 07:00 PM   #5
rugwithlegs
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Re: Kuzushi Is More Than Off-balancing

I played with the idea of moving to greatly restrict Uke's options during freestyle with a Jo last night. Very instructive. Not having Uke falling over, but instead unable to strike with any force or leaving an opening. Maybe not what you mean, but I liked it.
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Old 08-02-2015, 09:29 AM   #6
Peter Boylan
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Re: Kuzushi Is More Than Off-balancing

Quote:
John Hillson wrote: View Post
I played with the idea of moving to greatly restrict Uke's options during freestyle with a Jo last night. Very instructive. Not having Uke falling over, but instead unable to strike with any force or leaving an opening. Maybe not what you mean, but I liked it.
That's certainly one way of using kuzushi. If set someone up so they cannot access their power, you've certainly destabilized them. I hadn't been thinking of using it like that, but I like it.

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Old 08-04-2015, 08:51 AM   #7
Dan Richards
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Re: Kuzushi Is More Than Off-balancing

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
Dan,

I'm sorry, but I'm afraid that's just a little too cryptic for me. Can you explain further?
Well, we could approach it as something energetic, instead of physical/mechanical.

Why would it be necessary to "off balance" anything, when the power to manifest any sort of threat just doesn't exist?

It's like trying to move a refrigerator, in all the crafty and engineered ways would could, versus, well, you could sign a paper that moved the fridge to wherever you wished it to be.

Or, the job of moving the fridge, simply doesn't exist.

Too much of rudimentary aikido delves into problems that—don't exist.

The only thing you have to move—is yourself.

There's nothing there to "off balance."

Use the cut of the sword to correct, only.

The balance is natural, and is intrinsically in place within "the other."

And the beauty is—there is no "other."

There's nothing to move.
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Old 08-04-2015, 10:42 AM   #8
ken king
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Re: Kuzushi Is More Than Off-balancing

Imo, kuzushi comes from what I do to my own body. If the intent is to do something to someone one else, you will often be met with resistance.
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Old 08-04-2015, 11:23 AM   #9
jonreading
 
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Re: Kuzushi Is More Than Off-balancing

Over a variety of arts, I think kuzushi has the flexibility to meet the needs of the art. There are plenty of good judo players who can achieve kuzushi in a manner different than us aikido people or Daito Ryu people or weapons people.

For me, I am moving away from associating kuzushi with balance. Taking someone off balance is not sufficient at higher levels of training, since we will correct our balance with time. At some level, the correction will take place within a time frame in which I cannot do anything. I have also moved away from the idea that kuzushi is something you "do" to somebody. At higher levels of training, you simply can't force your will on your partner if she is better than you. I think some of what we know about kuzushi is flavored by a poor understanding of balance and connectedness - that is to say that in our early training, we are not connected and our [poor] balance is one of the more obvious illustrations of our disconnected state. It is not that kuzushi is breaking our balance, its breaking our structure - it just looks like our balance is the thing affected.

That said, I am starting to favor the idea that kuzushi is a state created with aiki, negatively impacting my partner who comes into contact with me. This is "kuzushi on contact." Proper kuzushi has a greater impact not just on balance, but it disrupts the center and structure of your partner. In judo, we see kuzushi as the thing that precedes the shape of a throw (tsukuri). In aikido, we see kuzushi as the thing that precedes kata (as Kuriowa used to say, kihon no kata... the root of technique) - this is aiki for us.

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Old 08-04-2015, 11:56 AM   #10
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Kuzushi Is More Than Off-balancing

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
I've been working a lot on kuzushi lately. I've heard it talked about a lot, but I'm not really happy with the usual translation of "off-balancing.' So I wrote this blog to explore my thoughts on kuzushi.

http://budobum.blogspot.com/2015/07/...balancing.html

What do you think? Did I stretch it too far?
Quote:
Getting someone off-balance is nice, but they can recover...We’re destabilizing them...makes your body’s structure, the bones and joints, lock up and become unable to adjust to changes as they are designed to.
I really like this idea. I'm very ignorant so I likely don't understand much of it, but my sense of unbalancing seems to fit with this idea of destabilizing; controlling the initiative through the contact point(s), such that aite/uke cannot create slack without collapsing the structure in some way. Since tori is connected and has the initiative, that would mean an open doorway through which to pin or throw. So unbalancing relates to unbalancing the structure enough to allow us to penetrate/control the center.
Thanks for the great food for thought, Peter!

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 08-04-2015, 12:06 PM   #11
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Kuzushi Is More Than Off-balancing

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Well, we could approach it as something energetic, instead of physical/mechanical.
Quote:
Use the cut of the sword to correct, only.
Quote:
The only thing you have to move—is yourself.
Quote:
It's like trying to move a refrigerator, in all the crafty and engineered ways would could, versus, well, you could sign a paper that moved the fridge to wherever you wished it to be.
Do you mean having someone else use their crafty engineering ways to move?
Are you saying that through the apparent strengths of the situaiton within your structure and position, uke will naturally move around or with your motion/intent?

Quote:
There's nothing to move.
Except yourself, by way of "natural movement?"

Last edited by mathewjgano : 08-04-2015 at 12:12 PM.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 08-04-2015, 06:46 PM   #12
JP3
 
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Re: Kuzushi Is More Than Off-balancing

The short-hand way I talk about kuzushi to new students is to "break the other person's posture." But, that's not really so good as the word "break" isn't quite right.

So, when they're ready (meaning they are asking questions about what I really mean), then we get into all the various levels about what Kuzushi can be, e.g. rendering uke into a posture where they have to recover before they can affect me, or stepping where they didn't want to step, or having to fix something I've done to them before they can act on me or disengage from something I've done to them are all examples, but each is very different in feel.

I find it interesting that the kanji character for kuzushi illustrates a mountain falling on a house.
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