Dojo Files ~ Kuzushi

“Do not chase after secret techniques for everything is right before your eyes.” ~ Morehei Ueshiba

This is a classic comment from O’Sensei. One of the things that is “right before your eyes” is kuzushi.

Kuzushi is a Japanese term for unbalancing an opponent in martial arts.

The noun comes from the intransitive verb, kuzusu, meaning to level, pull down, or demolish. As such, it is refers to not just an unbalancing, but the process of getting an opponent into a position where his stability, and thus ability to regain balance, is destroyed.

In aikido, it is an essential principle and the first of three stages to a successful throwing technique: entering, off-balance, throw [sabaki, kuzushi, waza].

At its simplest level, kuzushi means off balance and involves the use of the other person’s motion. While most people understand this they do not incorporate that understanding into every part of their Aikido practice. Every technique requires kuzushi, taking your uke’s balance. Without kuzushi the technique becomes difficult and laboured or maybe impossible.

However, if you take someone’s balance their ability to press the attack or resist your technique is removed. Using kuzushi you can then achieve a level of harmony, “aiki”, with your uke.

To achieve kuzushi you need to move your body as one from your hara (your centre) not from your extremities. The movement of your arms and legs should be a result of moving your centre in concert with your assailant.

Secondly – become one with the other person. Physically you move when they move, at the speed they move and blend your movement with their attack. You keep blending with them until they hit the ground. Only by fully accepting his attack and allowing your assailant to move in the direction he wants, can you use your technique to the fullest without allowing him an opportunity to counter.

Thirdly – although I believe this only develops with training, there is a psychological element to kuzushi. That is off balancing your uke at the moment they attack. There is not room to deal with it here but it can easily be seen in the fabled story of the duel between Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro.

If you want to improve your aikido then one way is to improve kuzushi. When you train be aware and look for kuzushi in every technique. Practice it. And of course the most important thing is practice often!!

~ Dent




Take ownership for all of your actions and that will moderate what you undertake. Only in full truth to yourself will you ever realise the full potential of your own life and experience fulfilment.

No Remote

The way to enlightenment is not necessarily by the direct path. The crooked path can be far more interesting and the point is not to arrive as soon as possible, but to actually arrive.

It’s not where you walk. It’s how you walk! This is what I always told my dojo students.

“See first with your mind, then with your eyes, and finally with your body” – Yagyu Munenori

Some people go through life totally oblivious to the havoc they wreck due to their indifference and lack of consideration for others. Like a bull in a china shop they have no comprehension of the finer points of life nor any inkling that their own lives could even be made richer if they actually opened their eyes and made an effort to understand the true depths of human interaction, expectations and social empathy .

“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself” – Chinese Proverb

A lot of the current social situations in the “civilised” world today seem to be the product of inept thinking and limited understanding. Too many people are happy to be ill informed and gaining real understanding of any situation, process or viewpoint is just too hard.

Similarly, I hear many people grumble and whine about the sorry state of the country, society and their own lot in life, yet when it comes to doing something about it – “It’s not my job!

So, if life is not what you expected get out there and change it — Jump in at the deep end.

When it comes to martial arts, there are those who want to learn and other who want to be taught. No amount of teaching will help those in the later group fully grasp the intricacies of true Budo technique. They expect to be given the secrets to “the hidden arts” but without expending effort to truely understand the underlying ethos that drives the final mastering of the skills.

Instructors can show you the path to the top of the mountain, but you must walk it yourself.

~ Dent

Footnote – Yagyu Munenori (1571 – 1646) was a swordmaster, teacher of sword to the first Shogun and head of the Palace Guard of the Tokugawa Shogunate at Nijo Castle. Also a contemporary of both Miyamoto Musashi and Takuan Soho the zenmaster.

Photo – When it rains, go shopping!