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Its a game of balance

posted Apr 29, 2009, 12:07 AM by Robert Collins II   [ updated Apr 29, 2009, 1:16 AM ]
Today I participated in Sensei Gravelle's class on Tuite in Seattle.  It was a great class with some wonderful students and I was very honored to share the dojo space with all of them.  In any event, it got me thinking as to why Tuite, or Joint Locking, works.  There are many things to think about with Tuite such as body position, angles, hand position, foot position, grip, change body, and so on and so forth.  While all of these concepts are important, one of the major concepts of Tuite and Karate, relies on Kuzushi, which is Japanese for balance.  The game is to take away your opponents while maintaining your own.

If you think about most tuite moves, they start with a distraction or misdirection, both types are excellent at upsetting Kuzushi.  Purple Belt Tuite finds us starting moves in the opposite direction (misdirection) as when we finish.  This causes our opponent to resist into the direction we want them to go making it easier to disrupt their Kuzushi.  White Belt Tuite starts with a kick to the leg (distraction) in order to disrupt their Kuzushi and then we proceed to the lock out.  Both of these, while simple examples, help to show how disrupting Kuzushi is embedded in what we do.  Go ahead, analyze your tuite / kata and you'll find that all throughout are things similar that disrupts our opponents Kuzushi before we actually lock or apply the technique.

Misdirection / distraction, while essential are often left out by lower ranked students who are eager to rush to the "actual" technique.  This mistake would render the technique useless on the street as without disrupting your opponents Kuzushi, you are seriously left at a disadvantage since now you are on relatively similar playing fields.  In a real combat situation, it is imperative to take advantage of your skills and to push the playing field to your advantage.  We must disrupt our opponents balance quickly and without warning to gain the upper hand and win.  So to take your Karate and Tuite to the next level start looking for the little ways that we disrupt Kuzushi in our opponents before we apply the "actual" technique.  This can be found in Tuite and in kata and I challenge you to look to find it.  Once you have taken the upper hand its easier to win as after all, its a game of balance.

Homework Assignment:  This is an addition to the last homework assignment.  Take the Kata that you have chosen to consciously practice and look into it for the moves that cause misdirection or distraction.  We will discuss them at next Tuesday's class during our Seiza Talk Period so be sure to have one or two examples for us to discuss.