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Why Kuzushi is so important for Judo and life

Why Kuzushi is so important for Judo and life

I have been practising Judo now for over 6 years now and thought it would be nice to talk about the importance of Kuzushi. Obviously, Kuzushi is a big deal in Judo, but I still feel that it doesn't get enough credit. It seems to be Judo's best-kept secret - and whilst all of the older black belts will preach about its importance, a lot of younger Judoka's fail to really take it in.

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For those that don't know, Kuzushi is the art of unbalancing the opponent. This is where you will win or lose and set up victory or defeat. Of course, there are other concepts that are very important such as grip fighting, and these need to be addressed before trying to do Kuzushi. Too often though, people will get to a throwing position and then try to spam the same move over and over.

An example of this could be trying to constantly hit an osoto gari. If you keep trying the same move then you probably won't hit the throw, especially against a skilled Judoka. Now, imagine chaining it in with an ouchi gari. This adds a new dimension to your attack and makes you way less predictable. Further, imagine having a few more throws and trips from the same entry. This is arguably when you're at black belt level.

Defensive Judo

The same goes for defensive Judo too. If you're caught on the wrong side of Kuzushi then you will probably get thrown, so it's important to learn the benefits of how to defend and keep your balance. Whilst keeping a solid base is ideal, once your bodyweight shifts and you become unbalanced, you will get thrown.

Interestingly, you can also apply Kuzushi with other martial arts as well. In boxing, if you unbalance an opponent you can probably hit them with a hard punch as a result. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kuzushi is also literally used due to it being a close descendant of Judo. Often in BJJ, this is referred to as chaining attacks together which is when you off-balance the opponent to open up reversals or submissions.

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You Can Also Apply This Concept To Life

Without getting too pseudo-philosophical, you can also apply this concept to life in general. If you fail to innovate or stand still, you will probably get passed by. As ever with Judo, this is a good example of how a concept is a physical yet also mental challenge too. On the one hand, we're all aware that we have to keep moving and improving, but on the other hand, many people simply don't live out these ideas.

Again, without sounding corny - this is literally the purpose of Judo (according to its founder) which is that the lessons in Judo should be applied to real-life scenarios too. Jigaro Kano is famously quoted as saying "The purpose of the study of Judo is to perfect yourself and contribute to society." As seen, if something can be done in Judo, it can also be done outside of the dojo.

In Summary

In summary, Judo is a beautiful art to learn but if you fail to learn the fundamental concepts, then you will never get anywhere. Whilst it's good to have a main set of reliable moves, it's also not good to be too static and avoidant of using other techniques. This is why learning Kuzushi and trying to hit it during randori is so important, as otherwise, your Judo will suffer massively.

As ever, when looking at Judo we can also see reflections of wider areas of life. This is what makes martial arts so beautiful, as they can teach us so much about the physical and spiritual sides of ourselves. Hopefully, this will serve as a good example of why Kuzushi is so important and relevant for everyone.

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