Mastering Kuzushi

Why is Kuzushi so important?

Kuzushi (崩し:くずし) is a Japanese term for unbalancing an opponent in the martial arts. The noun comes from the intransitive verb, kuzusu, meaning to level, pull down, or demolish. As such, it is refers to not just an unbalancing, but the process of getting an opponent into a position where his stability, and hence ability to regain uncompromised balance, is destroyed.

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.

There are three primary ways of applying kuzushi in judo:

  • direct action (e.g. pulling or pushing while entering for a throw);
  • inducing opponent’s action (e.g. a feint or combination attack);
  • direct action by opponent (e.g. a counter throw).
Kuzushi Drills:

Paired Walking Kuzushi Drills: