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Kuzushi
Kuzushi
by Ross Robertson
11-17-2011
Kuzushi

Kuzushi, the taking or breaking of balance, does not hold the same primacy for my aikido as I have observed it in others.

It's something I practice, of course. It is a part of the tools in my medicine kit. But it's not the main thing for me, it's not a necessary part of my waza, and I believe I'm doing better aikido when I don't need to employ it.

There are those who say that simply walking requires a constant oscillation between losing and quickly catching your balance. I think this is nonsense -- balance is dynamic and fluid. Balance can shift and move and relocate and still not be lost. Losing balance means losing the ability to control and direct it. Sometimes we are required to move our balance, and so we do. This is still not a loss.

For me, aikido is mainly about preserving balance... within myself, and in my relationship to the world around me. Imbalances occur all the time, and need constant correcting, so it's important that we understand the dynamic of balance and imbalance. The degree of dynamic equilibrium in a system is a measure of its health and vitality. Aikido, as a healing art, should therefore prioritize the maintenance of balance and the swift recovery from imbalance. Not just for the self, but for the system that the self is involved with.

So what about throwing? Why do we practice throwing if aikido is an art of balance? Throwing is an attack, not a defense. For the same reasons we practice striking, locking, and choking, we practice throwing. In themselves, they are good things to know if we really need them, but also because they give our partners a chance to practice the retention of balance in the face of adversity.

Can you fall, and still keep your balance? Yes, you can, but it takes practice. Can you be thrown and still keep your balance? Yes, but it helps if you throw yourself as your partner tries to throw you.

On the defensive side of my aikido, I prefer not to take or break balance. I prefer not to throw. I prefer my attacker to be balanced rather than unbalanced. If they are falling toward me, I consider it my job to keep us safe and to avoid collision. If the attacker loses their balance at any point, perhaps because I've taken steps to avoid an expected collision, I consider it my job to catch them as they fall and ease them to a more grounded state. If I do find it necessary or useful to pin them momentarily until the energy is settled, it is better for everyone if I am able to help restore their balance and get them back on their feet as quickly as possible. This is also true of shime waza.

I'm not sure what word I would use to describe what it is I try to do. Kuzushi is clearly not the right word, but if I could modify its definition, I would. I would like to see it extended to include the concept of receiving balance, or of sharing balance. This is how I see a successful aiki encounter. Sometimes your partner may hand you their balance, so the practice is to manage it wisely. In this case, "taking" balance means receiving it gracefully, rather than "taking" in the sense of "stealing."

Once you have it, what can you do with another's balance? Many things. You can abuse it if you choose. You can exploit it for your own gain or to diminish the other. Or you can direct it toward safer outcomes for all concerned. Occasionally you can synergize another's balance with your own, such that each of you come away enhanced.

Such talk of "helping the enemy" may seem paradoxical, counterintuitive, or downright foolish. Yet Chinese military strategists have advocated similarly for centuries. In the latest issue of Time magazine, the current US Secretary of State talks about how essential and urgent the use of "soft power" is. Meanwhile in the same issue, the former Secretary of State, who in many respects should be the political rival of the current one, speaks instead with admiration and respect and endorsement of the policy. This from two very powerful people in one of the most powerful nations in the world.

That's not to say that hard power does not have its place, or is somehow "un-aiki." Any expression of power is costly to the extent that power is extended. It takes energy to deploy power. When power is extended to avoid loss, it is necessary, but to a balanced measure of cost. When power is extended for gain, then the rewards must be worth the investment. Short-term gains must be weighed against long-term consequences.

What should not be controversial is the idea that a more balanced economy, society, and ecology will lead to a better world. The practice of balance, and the extension of balance to others, should therefore be integral to any martial policy or practice.

Yet much of the aikido that I witness does not seem to express this clearly. Often an attacker is thrown in such a way that harm would surely come to one unskilled in ukemi. Or else, they are subdued in a clear demonstration of dominance and submission, with no allowance for what comes next.

If the best we can do is to break balance, take away power, domineer the assailant or worse, then so be it. We need these skills of hard power for self-preservation and for the protection of others. We should rehearse accordingly. But our practice should also contain a balanced portion of soft power, where our waza clearly reinforces the habit of extending freedom rather than restricting it, and of reinforcing balance rather than undermining it.

I find it odd that I should have to say this. Aikido is often regarded by many as one of the "soft" forms. It can be, but it can also easily maim and be lethal. The Founder recognized this. It is dangerous to believe we are practicing an art of peace, love, and reconciliation if our skills are likely to harm the uninitiated when applied. It is dangerous to believe we are practicing something deadly when all the necessary artifices of safe practice lead to effete habits that fail to be effective. What is needed, is balance.

If you still need convincing, all I can say is, try it. Within the bounds of what your instructor is teaching, try to commit the next 10 practices to not throwing, to not breaking balance. Try not to judge the success of your technique by whether your partner winds up on the ground. Try to find ways of extending the freedom, offering them more choices rather than fewer.

Yes, it's difficult. Do it wrong and you end up more vulnerable than ever. But do it even remotely right, and you may find that things flow more effortlessly, more possibilities open up, and your own safety and balance are enhanced rather than diminished. Practice this, and you can find the ways in which it can work, and you can find the limitations where it may not. Knowing the difference is part of the practice.

Our experience on the mat is supposed to reflect how we live our lives off the mat. We can't go around throwing everyone, keeping our partners and lovers and family and friends perpetually off balance and torqued by our will and masterful skills. If our aikido is to have meaning beyond insurance against a dreadful day of assault and intrusion, then it needs to live in our everyday interactions. For that, we need to have a direct understanding of why kotegaeshi connects us, how nikyo relieves pain and suffering, and why kokyunage preserves balance rather than throws it away.

We can make a better, more balanced world, you and I. We can restore balance to the economy, we can reduce inequity, and we can build friendships across borders and ideologies. We can foster beauty and pleasure and dignity and humor. It may not seem so, just the few of us, but we get better if we just practice it.

If we find that the habit of breaking balance is too ingrained, then may we not start with the practice of breaking habits?

2011.11.01
Ross Robertson
Still Point Aikido Systems
Honmatsu Aikido
Austin TX, USA

www.stillpointaikido.com
www.rariora.org/writing/articles
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Old 11-17-2011, 12:37 PM   #2
graham christian
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Re: Kuzushi

Hi Ross.
I agree with your views here. I actually feel when I see ukes flailing around when the teacher is making them fly up and down that the misiing bit a lot of times is the students being taught how to keep centered etc.

I actually teach it this way (regarding kuzushi); I explain that the aim is not to take their balance it's actually an action of restoration. Restoring the attacker back to balance and harmony.

My simplicity is this: A person attacking, being angry or upset, mad or violent, etc. is already unbalanced and your job in Aikido is to bring them back to a better condition. So for me it's restoring kuzushi. Quite the opposite of the norm.

Regards.G.
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Old 11-18-2011, 05:06 AM   #3
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Re: Kuzushi

Nicely said.
Compliments and appreciation.
Wisdom and serenity can come from knowing when to take balance and when to maintain it.
Thanks.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-18-2011, 01:13 PM   #4
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Re: Kuzushi

To restore balance, this implies something was lost in the first place, this logically can only be uke`s balance. we restore balance by making sure at the end of the encounter he is safe and uninjured, I also am safe and uninjured, and balance has been restored.
But for his balance to be restored, we must have first displaced ukes balance, then we restore it.
Thats the way I see it, for what its worth.

In Budo

Andy B

Last edited by TheAikidoka : 11-18-2011 at 01:15 PM. Reason: spelling mistake
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Old 11-19-2011, 12:40 AM   #5
Mario Tobias
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Re: Kuzushi

Nice post. Maybe you are talking about keeping the techniques "alive" as Endo sensei puts it? Keeping the connection between uke and nage active and in a constant state of flux between taking balance and restoring balance, so the interaction now is two way rather than one sided.
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Old 11-19-2011, 01:52 AM   #6
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Re: Kuzushi

Sorry but In true aikido you never give balance back at any stage. Thats not to say you have to do hard technique..or even throw like many think...but..doing "soft" technique and giving back balance is also not true aikido..though its nice for your partner and university girls love it ^^.

Your trying to fit some nice/kind philosophy to basically not really having a true understanding..that's understandable but doesn't make it right.

The "better" condition in aikido is when no one in their right mind really wants to attack you..you remove their fighting spirit....not through nice words and explanations but basically owning/controlling them in a way they don't understand....verrryyyy few people can really do this. Most are not even close.

To be honest imho Kuzushi as known by many comes to nothing but forced connection....

Your ideology seems nice..but thats all it is...if you just want to stand there and not interact/practise with sincerity then you shouldn't be in a dojo...you're wasting other peoples time....go sit in a park or on a mountain..might actually do you more good.

Last edited by wxyzabc : 11-19-2011 at 02:06 AM.
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Old 12-09-2011, 11:49 AM   #7
R.A. Robertson
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Re: Kuzushi

@Graham: I agree with you, but caution about the bit about all attacks being unbalanced. Many are by their very nature, but not all need be.

@Lynn: I believe, sir, you have placed your finger lightly on the exact point I was hoping to make.

@Andrew: Our primary strategy is to maintain and preserve. Being imperfect, our strategy must also include tactics of restoration. Better an ounce of prevention, but always prudent to keep the pound of cure handy as well.

@Mario: I have not yet had the honor of training with Endo Sensei, but some of those who have have suggested that our approaches are compatible. Your description of the "aliveness" in waza, sound very much in accord, and the two-way nature of the encounter is spot on.
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Old 12-09-2011, 02:40 PM   #8
graham christian
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Re: Kuzushi

In what way would they not be?

Regards.G.
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Old 12-09-2011, 07:33 PM   #9
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Re: Kuzushi

@Graham: Answering out of turn, I can make a diagonal sword cut, with a heavy bokken, full speed, bringing it to a natural full stop, while standing on one foot. Not bragging, it's a basic skill and anybody out there who can't do it already can learn it fairly quickly.

But if you get in the way of that bokken, you're going to be sorry. In what way is this attack unbalanced?
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Old 12-13-2011, 12:14 PM   #10
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Re: Kuzushi

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
In what way would they not be?

Regards.G.
I suppose at some point we'd need to have a discussion on what we mean by words like "attack" and "balance."

To expand on what Hugh said, I think of "attack" as morally neutral. An attack may or may not be aiki. It may or may not be balanced. My body's immune system attacks pathogens. When in balance, it kills and destroys in a proper proportion. When not in balance, its response is too little and I become ill. When exaggerated, I have an allergic reaction.

Predators attack prey. Success in survival is often a matter of being able to attack while closely adhering to a zone of balance. On the mat, we spend around half our time learning how to be the attacker, and none of this should be time spent outside of aiki. I might go so far as to say that without uke, there is no aikido.

Uke may sometimes simulate the bad guy, in order to help tori learn. But some encounters (on or off the mat) require us to be primarily uke, and in this mode I believe we still should try our utmost to exemplify aiki and the qualities of balance.

Just a thought.
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Old 12-13-2011, 02:04 PM   #11
graham christian
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Re: Kuzushi

Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
@Graham: Answering out of turn, I can make a diagonal sword cut, with a heavy bokken, full speed, bringing it to a natural full stop, while standing on one foot. Not bragging, it's a basic skill and anybody out there who can't do it already can learn it fairly quickly.

But if you get in the way of that bokken, you're going to be sorry. In what way is this attack unbalanced?
I could say a madman who can do the same thing. He's unbalanced.

The theory works if you only consider physical.

Regards.G.
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Old 12-13-2011, 02:53 PM   #12
graham christian
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Re: Kuzushi

Quote:
Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
I suppose at some point we'd need to have a discussion on what we mean by words like "attack" and "balance."

To expand on what Hugh said, I think of "attack" as morally neutral. An attack may or may not be aiki. It may or may not be balanced. My body's immune system attacks pathogens. When in balance, it kills and destroys in a proper proportion. When not in balance, its response is too little and I become ill. When exaggerated, I have an allergic reaction.

Predators attack prey. Success in survival is often a matter of being able to attack while closely adhering to a zone of balance. On the mat, we spend around half our time learning how to be the attacker, and none of this should be time spent outside of aiki. I might go so far as to say that without uke, there is no aikido.

Uke may sometimes simulate the bad guy, in order to help tori learn. But some encounters (on or off the mat) require us to be primarily uke, and in this mode I believe we still should try our utmost to exemplify aiki and the qualities of balance.

Just a thought.
Hi Ross.
I would reverse what you say there myself. From the view of spiritual, mental and physical.

When you say morally neutral I would say that equals no need to attack anything.

So I would say when unbalanced is when something or someone attacks.

Philosophically I would say predators had to learn to kill due to lack of available dead food. (for they are meat eaters)

Does a body attack pathogens? Yes, when it's unbalanced. When in good balance it's healthy and merely utilizes what comes in and disposes of the rest. But there again are we not trying to be better, more enlghtened, improved?

Most like to think it's natural or normal to kill and often point to 'nature' as a justification. Thus no matter how technically advanced they get they are still unadvanced themselves, unbalanced.

Thus kuzushi, taking balance. Physical. Lead the mind and that's mental. But get good enough and I say you can return balance to the unbalanced attacker and so it would be more of giving back kazushi or balance.

It can be done and Aikido can do this.

Anyway, such is my way.

Regards.G.
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Old 12-13-2011, 03:43 PM   #13
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Re: Kuzushi

Quote:
So what about throwing? Why do we practice throwing if aikido is an art of balance? Throwing is an attack, not a defense.
I have been thinking a lot about "breaking balance and throwing". What comes to mind is that when Uke "attacks" he brings energy and intention to the encounter. The moment after the "attack" Uke must start to receive the energy from Nage. Nage at the moment of "attack" needs to receive the energy. Uke and Nage actually both receive after the energy has been introduced to the encounter. As Ross said it will not always result in a "throw". In fact if Nage forces a "throw" he becomes open to a counter. If Uke resists he becomes open to injury and will never be in a place to counter a technique. As both receive a mutual harmony is achieved.

I love this quote from Paolo Corallini Shihan
"In Aikido one plus one should become one."

Love the thread.
Cheers,
Jeff
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Old 12-13-2011, 06:08 PM   #14
Mario Tobias
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Re: Kuzushi

Throwing should not be percieved as an attack or a defense by nage. Nage is just a medium where he sets up the optimal environment where uke throws himself. Uke's main opponent is the physical laws, not nage per se. It can be physical or mental, but mental (taking the mind) would also result to taking the physical balance as an end result. The lesser nage is in the picture during the technique, the better the technique imho.

The best example that I can think of is Endo sensei, no grabbing whatsoever, just redirecting. He let's gravity and physics work its magic but he's just there to set it up initially or continuously manipulates uke where these are optimal for uke to fall. Maintaining balance is after all working against gravity, its not working against nage. That's my theory anyway.

Last edited by Mario Tobias : 12-13-2011 at 06:11 PM.
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Old 01-06-2012, 03:00 PM   #15
R.A. Robertson
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Re: Kuzushi

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
Hi Ross.
I would reverse what you say there myself. From the view of spiritual, mental and physical.
When you say morally neutral I would say that equals no need to attack anything.[\]
I have come to believe that there is such a thing as an aiki attack. I also think that balance, and therefore any discussion of kuzushi, has to include the mental and emotional components. So no, I never was intending to focus on the purely physical aspect, though it does provide a good analogue for the rest.

Yes, the body attacks pathogens when there is an imbalance. But I would maintain that it is just such an attack that restores balance. And this is one illustration of how we may strive to become better, more evolved. We need to consider seriously the notion that there can be such a thing as a constructive attack, and that our aiki can embrace conflict creatively.

Of course, many are those who would be eager to justify any hostile action by way of analogy with the surgeon's knife or with bitter medicine. That such analogies can be perverted does not make them less useful.

Where I think we agree is that our studies and our goals and our actions should be directed toward health and vitality, to the greatest extent possible.
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Old 01-06-2012, 03:04 PM   #16
R.A. Robertson
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Re: Kuzushi

Quote:
Jeff Black wrote: View Post
[\]I love this quote from Paolo Corallini Shihan
"In Aikido one plus one should become one."
Another once said that 1 + 1 = 0.
I think there's a lot to be gained in that as well.

So Jeff, when in the world are we ever going to get on the mat together?
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Old 01-06-2012, 03:24 PM   #17
R.A. Robertson
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Re: Kuzushi

Quote:
Mario Tobias wrote: View Post
Throwing should not be percieved as an attack or a defense by nage.
In my own personal experience, I have found there's a pitfall on both sides of the narrow way.

If we fixate on attack and defense, or winning and losing, then we perpetuate the separation from the moment. Divided, it is more difficult to act coherently.

But if we do arrive at a moment of oneness, it is easy to think that such things as attack and defense no longer pertain. Yet they do, even within oneness.

It seems to me that the difference comes when we are able to operate as one, recognizing and encapsulating the manifest nature of things within the one -- as opposed to working only in the world of division and strife.

I've occasionally told my students, blending isn't something we do. It's something we remember. Trying to become one only emphasizes the perception that we are separate.

And I think that's a bit of the (apparent) paradox you're hinting at. If we are attacked, or if we try to throw, we may become fixated on the strife. If we ignore them or pretend they are not real, then we may suffer delusion and harm. By seeing the attack for what it truly is and joining with it, by becoming the attack itself, the attack is fulfilled.

It disappears at the moment it is realized.
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Old 01-06-2012, 04:03 PM   #18
graham christian
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Re: Kuzushi

Quote:
Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
I have come to believe that there is such a thing as an aiki attack. I also think that balance, and therefore any discussion of kuzushi, has to include the mental and emotional components. So no, I never was intending to focus on the purely physical aspect, though it does provide a good analogue for the rest.

Yes, the body attacks pathogens when there is an imbalance. But I would maintain that it is just such an attack that restores balance. And this is one illustration of how we may strive to become better, more evolved. We need to consider seriously the notion that there can be such a thing as a constructive attack, and that our aiki can embrace conflict creatively.

Of course, many are those who would be eager to justify any hostile action by way of analogy with the surgeon's knife or with bitter medicine. That such analogies can be perverted does not make them less useful.

Where I think we agree is that our studies and our goals and our actions should be directed toward health and vitality, to the greatest extent possible.
Hi Ross.
I agree with the basic of what you say there but question the word or rather 'use' of the word attack. When you give the body and pathogens as an example then I assume you mean direct destructive attack.

Here's the thing for me: First to look at what you are attacking, look at the truth of that or even the reality of that. What is it that anyone or anything is attacking?

Basically it's something they want ie: dinner if you're an animal or mugging someone would be again for something you want but can't (in your mind anyway) naturally have. Hence force etc.

Otherwise it's to get rid of, destroy, something you don't want, something unwanted be it an illness or someone grabbing you.

So you attack an unwanted something and thus the aim is to get rid of and bring back to a good condition.

All that said it does one thing and one thing only, it justifies that thing called attack and makes it 'obviously' needed.

Now I give you beyond that, based on let's imagine attack is wrong. Let's imagine attack is not Aikido. Let's imagine attack is self defeating. If we imagine that then we would have to see what is needed if it's not an attack and yet is even more effective and brings better and longer lasting results.

Only then would we see the truth and realize the truth of attack is not an attack for that word would no longer be the one to be used.

Regards.G.
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Old 01-13-2012, 12:57 PM   #19
R.A. Robertson
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Re: Kuzushi

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
Hi Ross.
[\] Basically it's something they want ie: dinner if you're an animal or mugging someone would be again for something you want but can't (in your mind anyway) naturally have. Hence force etc.

Otherwise it's to get rid of, destroy, something you don't want, something unwanted be it an illness or someone grabbing you.

So you attack an unwanted something and thus the aim is to get rid of and bring back to a good condition. [\]
Hi Graham,

I had said much earlier that we would eventually need to come down to semantics, and so we have. That's not a bad thing.

If we stipulate that "attack" = "bad," then of course I agree with you. But then we do need words that are appropriate for necessary destructive behavior.

For me, it makes more sense to distinguish between good attacks and bad (or with a bit more nuance, "better" and "worse"). More aiki, or less aiki.

I still maintain that predators attack, that the immune system attacks, and doctors sometimes destroy in order to promote healing. All of these things may be aiki. Yes, this can easily be perverted to justify heinous behavior, but an opportunistic spin doesn't change essential truth.

My question to you: When you are being uke, are you still doing aikido? Is what you are simulating aiki?

I want all my time on the mat, as much as possible, to be doing aikido. I want to be doing aiki as tori, and I want to be doing aiki as uke. In fact, to me it seems that aiki really only arises in the interaction between uke and tori. Neither does it alone.

I used to believe that there was no attack in aikido. For my own personal experience, this came to appear increasingly dishonest. I now know that my aikido must perforce always contain an element of attack, so the challenge to me is to find the most appropriate, measured, balanced, and aiki manner of attack.

It is hard to explain sometimes, because my overarching aim is to be as gentle as possible, to promote fitness and vitality for all involved.
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Old 01-13-2012, 05:01 PM   #20
graham christian
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Re: Kuzushi

Quote:
Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
Hi Graham,

I had said much earlier that we would eventually need to come down to semantics, and so we have. That's not a bad thing.

If we stipulate that "attack" = "bad," then of course I agree with you. But then we do need words that are appropriate for necessary destructive behavior.

For me, it makes more sense to distinguish between good attacks and bad (or with a bit more nuance, "better" and "worse"). More aiki, or less aiki.

I still maintain that predators attack, that the immune system attacks, and doctors sometimes destroy in order to promote healing. All of these things may be aiki. Yes, this can easily be perverted to justify heinous behavior, but an opportunistic spin doesn't change essential truth.

My question to you: When you are being uke, are you still doing aikido? Is what you are simulating aiki?

I want all my time on the mat, as much as possible, to be doing aikido. I want to be doing aiki as tori, and I want to be doing aiki as uke. In fact, to me it seems that aiki really only arises in the interaction between uke and tori. Neither does it alone.

I used to believe that there was no attack in aikido. For my own personal experience, this came to appear increasingly dishonest. I now know that my aikido must perforce always contain an element of attack, so the challenge to me is to find the most appropriate, measured, balanced, and aiki manner of attack.

It is hard to explain sometimes, because my overarching aim is to be as gentle as possible, to promote fitness and vitality for all involved.
Hi Ross.
What I said above is not me using semantics although I understand you seeing it as such.

In answer to your question as to if I see me doing an attack as aikido then I will say of itself then the answer is no. Thus I would say that your past view was correct.

Now, as being training in Aikido I would then say yes it is part of training in Aikido. I would then go on to say that the activity called aikido training is a joint activity and from that viewpoint it is thus 'aikido'

Attack is therefore still the word to be understood in it's fullness. Is the purpose or aim of the immune system really to attack, to destroy? Or is it to remove what is unwanted and not welcome or needed?

A purification system of any kind doesn't generally have the purpose of destruction. It does have the purpose of purifying though and thus the functions of removing and expelling as waste.

On the subject of health I am quite well adept at. Apart from ki atsu and restoring energy balance I am well acquainted with the field of and principles of nutrition. Thus the basic theory is that illness due to a lack of some nutrients and that the body is asking for what's missing for it knows how to be healthy, we don't. We don't listen to it.

Thus we once again thing a destructive drug is what it's calling for. We are lazy, we are unaware, we are not wise. That's our problem and thus we turn to destructive things to 'get rid of'.

Just checking certain principles of aikido we can gain insights as to what an attack is and what is not. For example space.

Invasion of anothers' space. That's an attack. That's not a loving or ethical or harmonious thing to do is it? Thus it's not of itself ai or ki or aiki. The fact there there is no invitation makes it an attack. The fact that it is not two agrred upon wants rather than just one persons wants makes it an attack.

Thus we see that something given that is unasked for and unwanted is actually an attack.

That's why I say that in the activity of Aikido training, a joint activity, then it becomes aikido as both parties want it. Hence training in.

Hope this gives an insight into my view.

Thanks for discussing. G.
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Old 01-14-2012, 01:51 AM   #21
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Kuzushi

I just read through a few of the above posts with interest becuase I could not understand any of it. Kuzushi is taking balance. It is what tori aims to do. And once you take balance you aim to keep it that way to immobilise or throw uke. I have spent more than half my life trying to do this and now I have kinda half sussed it. I don't think I'm going to change because of this thread.

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Old 01-14-2012, 07:21 AM   #22
graham christian
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Re: Kuzushi

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
I just read through a few of the above posts with interest becuase I could not understand any of it. Kuzushi is taking balance. It is what tori aims to do. And once you take balance you aim to keep it that way to immobilise or throw uke. I have spent more than half my life trying to do this and now I have kinda half sussed it. I don't think I'm going to change because of this thread.
Hi there.
This topic of Kuzushi. What you say and how you explain it above is fine and may I say is the generally held and understood view of the matter.

The viewpoint I am coming from, the attitude I use and the way of my Aikido is however different. This is why what I say here may be hard to relate to the subject of kuzushi.

Why? Because when it comes to Kuzushi in my Aikido the aim is Not to take the opponents balance.

The focus is different in my Aikido, so rather than to take the opponents balance it is rather how to keep your own and share that with the opponent.

So in my Aikido we do not take any balance we give balance back to.

So Kuzushi for us is the giving of balance to thus the reverse of what is generally done.

Regards.G.
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Old 01-14-2012, 04:12 PM   #23
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Kuzushi

The original poster wrote, "Why do we practice throwing if aikido is an art of balance?". He goes on to say, "Kuzushi is clearly not the right word ..."

Seems to me he must be talking about something else, certainly not kuzushi.

Aikido is not the art of balance. What we do is, literally, The Way of Aiki. It is aiki that we must seek and develop. The main aim is not harmony, the way of harmony, the way of peace, loving your neighbour - none of that hairy fairy stuff (they play a minor role). The main aim, in my opinion, should be The Way of Aiki. Kuzushi is just one principle we find along the Way, and it's a pretty important one if you ask me becuase not until you take uke's balance can you actually do anything to them (in Aikido).

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Old 01-27-2012, 11:56 AM   #24
R.A. Robertson
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Re: Kuzushi

@Graham

One of the things that gets me in a tangle with others is that I tend not to emphasize things like intent or purpose. They're a part of the equation of course, but I prefer to look at outcomes and consequences.

This is why discussing the semantics can be important, to discover if we (any of us) are having the same discussion.

I'd been doing aikido for a long time, fairly confident that I was never doing it to attack anyone (except maybe as uke, but that was just to be a helpful simulacrum). But the more I looked at it, the more I realized that there often was an element of attack, despite my purest intent.

An attack may be an action undertaken which causes harm. An attack may also be an action undertaken which limits function, even if no structural harm results. If I throw someone with exquisite delicacy, but they don't know how to fall, they may be harmed. I would hope to be held blameless in a court of law, but if harm is likely to result from my action, regardless of motive, I think it best to characterize it as an attack. Similarly if I try to unbalance or pin someone. Done well, these cause no harm to the body, but while being performed they are an assault on another individual's function.

I cannot say that I would never under any circumstances harm someone. I can envision circumstances where I most definitely would intend it, and I hope my aikido training would help me do it masterfully.

But my larger purpose is to reduce the amount of harm my actions cause.

I return again and again to the analogy to medicine. Physicians are supposed to follow the dictum of "First, do no harm." Yet clearly many procedures are harmful or hurtful, even if it's a necessary harm to promote a greater good. The patient may be poked with needles, cut with knives, poisoned with chemicals, irradiated, cauterized, amputated, and lots of other things.

Under only slightly other circumstances, these very same actions would be characterized as torture. Yes, the intent is almost certainly different, but it's the outcome that really defines action. Is the recipient improved or diminished?

Budo, like medicine, is on a trajectory of better procedures. Less invasive, less hurtful, more efficient, less collateral damage, longer lasting benefit, better diagnostic tools, and gentler, more proactive interventions. There is even the possibility of working cooperatively with the conflicted area.

This is the way it should be, and this is the trajectory that I support. For me personally, I feel that I cannot make progress in that direction unless I'm able to identify the harm that I do. If I must do harm, then I want to do it as skillfully and mindfully as possible, and without hesitation once the necessity is clear. Without this, my art and craft would be diminished.

At the same time, I would measure my success as a healer by finding less and less necessity for harm.
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