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Entering, Capturing, and Unbalancing – An Introduction to the Roots of Grappling

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Understanding the relationship of Kuzushi and Tsukuri in grappling is one of the most misunderstood but fundamental skills needed.

Kuzushi is a Japanese term for unbalancing an opponent. It refers to not just an unbalancing, but the process of putting an opponent in a position, where his stability, hence the ability to regain uncompromised balance for attacking is destroyed. It is considered an essential principle and the first of three stages to a successful throwing technique: kuzushi, tsukuri (fitting or entering) and kake (execution).

The methods of effecting kuzushi depend on maai (combative distance) and other circumstances. It can be achieved using tai sabaki (body positioning and weak lines), taking advantage of the opponents actions (push when pulled, pull when pushed), atemi (strikes), or a combination of all three. Included means of applying kuzushi is by either direct action, induced action or direct action of your opponent as in countering technique.

The nine actions utilized by Tori (applying technique) to overcome the defensive standing of Uke (receiving technique) are:

1. Tobi Komi – jumping in

2. Mawarikomi – spinning in

3. Hikidashi – pulling out

4. Oikomi – dashing in

5. Daki – to hug holding

6. Debana -Thwarting the opponent

7. Nidan Biki – two stage pull

8. Ashimoki – leg grab

9. Sutemi – body drop

To apply kuzushi the tori must start by turning the legs, utilizing the full body to create optimal range positioning and strengthen the posture while opening the angle to attack the trunk of uki.

In addition to proper kuzushi, tori should turn shoulders, create a hip-shoulder torsion along with an inclination post-turning and a vertical anterior-posterior lettingdown to create tsukuri.

If done effectively the combination of kuzushi and tsukuri along with increased turning, increased forward unbalancing, forward propulsion and angled attack will allow the application of kake.

The whole Kuzushi Tsukuri Kake effective movement is without separation. Effective technique comes from minimizing the amount of energy expended along with shortening the motion path for correct positioning.


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