Kuzushi

Kuzushi is breaking the opponent's balance.  This is the key to just about all Judo throws.  Once you have them off balance, they are relatively easy to throw.  If you don't break their balance, you can still throw them if you are larger and stronger than they are.  However, if you are of similar size to, or smaller than, the opponent, breaking their balance is critical.

The basic kuzushi technique we have been learning is a step in followed by a sharp pull with the arms.  Starting with a right hand grip (right hand holding the opponent's left collar, left hand holding their right sleeve), step forward and in with the right foot.  Your right foot and the opponent's two feet form a roughly equilateral triangle.  Bring the left foot up and behind the right foot so that the legs are crossed.  This seems to work best when your feet are positioned so that a simple turn of hips and torso, without moving your feet any farther, would leave you facing the way you came with your feet about shoulder width apart.  Once your feet are in position, turn your torso slightly to the right and pull sharply up and back with both arms.  It doesn't have to be a hard pull if it's sudden enough.  This puts you in a position to do many different throws including Seioinage, Tai-otoshi, Harai-Goshi, and others.

There are variations we've learned using different steps and foot positions, but that's the basic motion.

In addition to initiating the balance breaking yourself. you can use the opponent's own motion.  As the opponent steps forward there will be an instant as weight comes down on the lead foot  where their balance is broken forward and a number of throws can be executed.

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