Archive for June, 2010


Thoughts on “ji-shu ” ( waza or technique)

Once again -been awhile. I have been very busy with continued development of the school. Yet, as I always am, I have been thinking about the arts. There is a place in my mind that never shuts off when it comes to my arts. I have been ruminating on technique for some time and so want to offer my comments on what the Chinese call ” ji-shu” ( the Japanese call “waza”). Specifically, I want to explore the idea of what in judo is called ” kuzushi ” i.e. ” destroying the opponents balance “. I think that this concept is sometimes misunderstood. What I mean is that many practitioners know only one side of the coin of kuzushi…they know the physical. To ” destroy the opponents balance ” physically is critical when applying a technique, especially in any type of a throwing / take down technique. But the physical destruction of the opponents balance also applies in the execution of techniques such as arm bars ( for instance – stepping into an opponent inside his striking arm and executing a wrap of his arm off of your inside block. If this wrap/lock is done correctly, the opponent will feel great pressure on his arm, and twisting of the shoulder resulting in him raising up his shoulder and even rising up in his toes in order to alleviate the sudden pain he is experiencing. This pain is a part of and cause of the “destruction ” of balance as is the physical reaction of his body trying to separate itself from the pain. The moment of this occurence allows the completion of our technique – say a powerful swinging elbow strike with our free arm across the opponents chest then an outer reap take down.) Even an ” outside cross body ” type block can result in the occurence of kuzushi. If this type of block is timed while stepping into and outside of the opponents jab, such force can be excerted that the opponents arm is flung out way from you, throwing him off balance and exposing his rib cage to a straight in elbow strike made with the blocking arm. Any hooking type block – think Mantis or Crane – or any type of grabbing/wrapping block – think Dragon / Tiger / Snake / Eagle / Pointing Hand – will also result in the occurence of kuzushi if properly executed. But all this is the physical side of the kuzushi coin. The other  is the mental /psychological side of the kuzushi coin. And this has a greater effect than the physical. This is most definitely the case in a ” street ” situation. I describe it to my students like this ; there is a little play going on…in this play there is the character of the Predator and the character if the Prey. Police would label them Assailant and Victim. In this play, the Predator has in his mind a version of the script that he perceives as being pre-determined,especially in the outcome. He sees the Prey as an easy target and confidently ( albeit sneakily in many cases ) closes distance until he is at what he believes is the right place and right moment and engages in his attack. Suddenly, his eyes are watering, his nasal passages are closing, he feels blood pouring from his nose and /or mouth and he is experiencing great pain. He steps back, shakes his head in an attempt to clear his eyes and mind to discover that his Prey is now standing in the crouch of a fighting stance…he takes a tentative step forward to receive a viscious kick to his knee. Kuzushi has been experienced mentally /psychologically. The Predator has had the balance of his mind destroyed…the script he had in his mind did not at all play out the way he had it all conceived. He can now only question his mistake in picking this target that has just countered his assault with devastating results. Nothing in this scenario played out the way he believed it would. This same sort of thing can happen in a formal competition. As early into the match as is possible the opponent should be made to think that his being in this place at this time was an egregious error in judgement. His mental/psychological balance must be ” destroyed ” as quickly as is possible. If this is accomplished, the opponent will react by either becoming angry and losing control or will cacoon into a purely defensive posture. He will be questioning his actions, his abilities, himself. He will be consumed with doubt. From this moment forward, the competition will be very one sided, the outcome determined, and the physical breaking of the opponents balance easily accomplished. In fact, in proper execution of technique – where one is in complete harmony with the opponent and technique from moment of engagement to moment of completion is one seemless movement – both the mental/ psychological destruction of balance and the physical destruction occur simultaneously. Keep these thoughts in mind when analyzing technique. As Musashi stated ” do nothing useless “.

June 2010